Review: Were it not for dusty-fingered crate diggers, obscure early '80s electrofunk outfit Gift of Dreams would be merely a footnote in p-funk history. Serious boogie collectors, though, have long considered their five-piece's debut album, The Gift, as something of a "Holy Grail" - a ridiculously hard-to-find set that regularly changes hands for hundreds of pounds online. Happily, Dutch imprint Everland has decided to give the album the reissue treatment, in the process delivering this first official CD edition. It's a breathlessly brilliant set, all told, with the crew's hard, synth-driven dancefloor workouts being joined by sunny, soul-fired jazz-funk grooves, loved-up sing-alongs and sparkling, Solar System style Jheri Curl anthems.
TB Funk - "Free Blow" (the dub version - G&D edit) (5:01)
Kenny Pierce - "Done Been" (5:13)
Those Good Intentions - "We Know How To Boogie" (6:50)
Sherman Hunter - "Dance To Freedom" (8:12)
Gospel Keepers - "Never Gonna Give You Up" (5:38)
Living Color - "Plastic People" (G&D edit) (4:57)
Roller Disco - "Stone Luv" (4:15)
Carol Meriwether - "Love Ain't Just (A Physical Thing)" (9:35)
William Barlak - "Ain't No Doubt About It" (3:42)
Review: The Grasso is greener in Bologna: home to two of the most well-connected collectors in Italy. Suppliers to the likes of Kenny Dope, Phil Asher and Dimitri, Gino and Federico have carved their crate craft to insane levels over the last 30+ years... As shown on this detailed, widescreen boogie, funk and disco collection for BBC. Splattering the vibrant collection with a handful of their own edits (TB Funk's salubrious struts on "Free Blow", fly-by boogie falsettos on Living Color's "Plastic People"), the Grasso bro's have put together a package that's eye-opening, enlightening and damn fine to party to. See you on the other side.
Review: The Stone LP is what really made Billy Green the artist that he is today. Starting off as a rhythm and blues guitar player back in the '60s, the cult movie saw him move onto more experimental territories, and enter the broad genre that is referred to as 'prog-rock'. This album is much more than that, however, and the opening track "Eco Blue / Toadstrip" is a clear signal of the madness and experimentation that's to quickly follow suit on the remainder of the LP. You have everything from fast percussion sequences, to gnarly guitar riffs, and distorted voices, all wrapped in an early, gritty electronic bed of sound. This one is clearly for the samplers, a diggers dream come true; and now available again in its original format. Recommended.
Review: There's been a trend in recent times to reissue previously hidden gems from around the world. It would be fair to say that Anatolian Break Dance, the first and only album from Turkish outfit Group Titan, comes under that category. It's undeniably odd, but also rather magical. As the title suggests, it was partly inspired by the break dancing craze of the '80s, and fuses drum machine electro rhythms and nifty synthesizer work with the kind of melodies and musical motifs more frequently found in traditional Persian music. While it's not all outstanding - occasional tracks feel a little like mid-80s hotel lift music - for the most part it's hugely entertaining.
Review: According to the label, Nigerian singer Kiki Gyan's star "didn't burn long, but it burned bright." As a member of Afro funk super group Osibisa at 15; he was millionaire by 18 and regarded as one of the best keyboardists in the world at the tender age of 21. In 1983 he 'dived head first into the New York party scene', took a lot of drugs, spent a lot of time in clubs and got together a team of crack local musicians to record Feelin' Alright. All the artist's trademark elements are present and in full effect on this LP. The album contains irresistible elements of electronic funk, boogie and disco with the track "Rosemary" becoming a hit across Nigeria and Ghana. Kiki Gyan would never quite better this moment, for his addictions eventually took hold and he died aged only 47 at a church in Ghana. This very album 'remains one of the brightest stars in his extraordinary constellation.'
Review: Joni Haastrup's classic, cosmic disco LP is among the best of the best in terms of Afrobeat. What is particularly special about it is its 1978 release date - this was miles ahead of everyone else at that stage of African disco music - and the fact that it was the only piece of music to be released under the artist's real name. There is not much we can say about this absolute gem of an album, apart from the fact that it should not be missing from your own shelves, or DJ bag, for that matter. On the latter point, these six tunes are perfect for just about any situation requiring a dance. This is top Afrobeat beat music in all its glory. NOT to be missed. Warmly recommended...
Review: Classic jazz funk album from the legendary Johnny 'Hammond' Smith with a special version with six previously unissued bonus out-takes. Released in 1975 and his 32nd long player, it heralded a fresh chapter in his career that saw him exploring more electronic instrumentation and deeper shades of funk in a similar way to Roy Ayers or Bob James. The result was a timeless document that carries motifs of many of today's artists; the harmonies of "Can't We Smile?", for instance, smack of Plantlife while the punctuated piano work and mirrored squiggling synths on "Song For The Family" echoes with Flying Lotus-style whim. Also a key source of breaks for many junglists, Gears is a historic document that's not only played a strong role in electronic music but still sounds incredible today.
Review: By the time he was asked to compose the music for Blaxploitation movie Shaft, Isaac Hayes had already established himself as a talent on the rise. While he'd enjoyed modest success as a session musician, producer and vocalist, it would be his score for Shaft - a triumphant blend of dancefloor-friendly funk and soul, evocative downtempo moments, sweeping orchestration and rich, intricately composed musicality - that would turn Hayes into an internationally recognized star. 45 years after it was first recorded, Shaft still sounds superb, as this weighty double vinyl reissue - complete with MP3 download code - neatly proves. If it's not in your record collection already, it should be.