Review: Clear the way when you see them coming through! Three albums deep since 2016, Jalapeno's in-house funk machine The Allergies wheel up with more brand new material. "Every Trick In The Book" shakes and slides with a wry psychedelic groove, a familiar vocal, big horns and lavish dollops of the feel-good flare the Bristol duo have made their signature. Need something spicier? Flip over for "Nuff Respect" where long-standing MC partner in vibes Andy Cooper steps up to cover one of the all time OGs: Big Daddy Kane. Back up and bow.
Review: Surprisingly, Don Blackman originally wrote and recorded "Just Can't Stay Away" to play as the recorded message on his girlfriend's answering machine. He later included it - tweaked and turned into a mid-80s style boogie banger reminiscent of his work during that decade - on his second and final album, 2002's CD-only "Listen". Here it finally gets a vinyl release thanks to reissue specialists Melodies International. If you're a fan of boogie, electrofunk and synth-soul it should be an essential purchase, not least because it's every bit as good as more celebrated Blackman productions made earlier in his career. There are "Stereo" and "Mono" mixes to enjoy, with the former naturally offering a more refined and intoxicating listening experience.
Review: American funk band Breakwater is best known for their hit "Release The Beast," which gets a reissue treatment by Be With. Even if you don't know the name, you'll recognise the track's withering lead riff because it was sampled by Daft Punk for their iconic "Robot Rock". It's mad to think such a futuristic sound was created somewhere in Philly in 1979, but it was. The flip side houses the smooth and buttery "Let Love In", a feel good, deep cut funk gem with vocal harmonies, bulbous bass and hip swinging claps.
Review: As anyone who has picked up any of his previous seven-inch singles will tell you, break-diggin' rework merchant DJ DSK can usually be relied upon to deliver the goods. This second volume in his ongoing "DNA Edits" series hits the spot, offering up two tidy, dancefloor-focused revisions. On side A he turns his attention to SM AOR classic "Fly Like An Eagle", subtly beefing it up via sweaty new hip-hop style drums whilst retaining the original guitars, vocals, bass and elongated organ chords. On side B he gets to work on Panamanian salsa classic "Maltrato", adding even more salsa shuffle and contemporary dancefloor weight to the much-adored 1975 Freddy y Sus Afro Latinos' classic.
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: Since launching last year, Lil Static has offered up new, lightly altered editions of classic tracks from Jeru the Damaja, Kraftwerk, Run-DMC, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. Here they continue to serve up vital beats for break-digging DJs via classic cuts from Eric B. & Rakim and Mountain. The A side sports an edited version of 1986 cut "Eric B. Is President", a synth-bass propelled NYC hip-hop gem rich in unmistakable rap vocals and tight scratching. Over on side B there's a chance to savour Mountain's late '60s rock cut that provided the Eric B. & Rakim track (and so many others since) with its distinctive drum break, "Long Red". This edited version gives more prominence to the breaks, making it an ideal mixing tool for hip-hop DJs.
Melody Nelson (unreleased instrumental edit) (3:50)
Cargo Culte (unreleased instrumental edit) (3:58)
Review: This rather tidy, limited-edition "45" offers up two previously unheard instrumental edits of stone cold classics from the bulging back catalogue of Chanson hero and sleazy but chic singer Serge Gainsbourg. Side A boasts a superb revision of "Melody Nelson", a sweeping, string-drenched affair underpinned by sweaty drumming that arguably benefits from the removal of Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's vocals. Over on side B you'll find an equally evocative version of Beck favourite "Cargo Culte". Stripped of the original lead vocals, the track sounds like a lo-fi art-rock instrumental smothered in ghostly choral vocals and creepy, foreboding musical flourishes. Top stuff!
Review: Rocafort Records has excelled itself once again with this release, a four-track journey into "oriental jazz" by a quartet of international musicians helmed by young Turkish pianist, composer and arranger Gokhan Surer. He describes his style as "world, fusion, jazz", which is a neat summary of the exotic, evocative and emotion-rich material on offer. Check first the warm occidental jazz shuffle of "Chimera" before recoiling in wonder at the Turkish strings, double bass, hushed percussion and jazz-funk style electric piano solos of "Dere". Over on side B, "Makam Rasta" is an inspired fusion of reggae, jazz-funk and Arabian instrumentation, while "Onbesli" is a rolling fusion cut underpinned by hip-hop style beats.
Review: Funk Night Records were quick to snap up some newly recorded material from Philly psych band Grimace Federation as soon as they heard it, and for good reason. These tracks were recorded during a weekend in a session with producer John McEntire and manage to sound raw and distorted yet seductive. "Dotsero" echoes the magic of Adrian Younge with its big horns and stirring soul, while "Starspots" is a more expansive track, with nebulous chords, busy drum playing and plenty of jazz elements making it a real cosmic voyage.
Review: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.
Review: Way back in 1970, People In The News released their sole single on Knap Town, a tiny label based in Indiana. Original copies of that funk "45" are notoriously hard to find, thanks in no small part to the quality of both cuts. Step forward Athens Of The North boss Euan Fryer, who has secured the rights to reissue the single for the first time. A-side "Color Me" is the real bomb: a down-low chunk of mid-tempo funk with politically charged group vocals, rasping guitar licks and hip-hop style drum breaks. Over on side B, "Misty Shade Of Pink" is the kind of rock solid instrumental funk workout you'd expect to hear from the Meters.
Review: Stefano Tirone has been a stalwart of the Italian scene since making his debut on legendary Italian house label Calypso Records way back in 1992. Since then, his productions have become increasingly more jazz and soul focused, with a sizeable side order of groovy downtempo beats. His latest seven-inch single begins with "Try My Love", a hazy chunk of head-nodding jazz-funk/soul fusion rich in languid synthesizer solos, lazy grooves, hazy horns and soulful vocals. It's really good all told, though we'd argue that flipside "Odoya" - a wiggling chunk of Afro-tinged mid-tempo funk - is even better. Either way, it's another rock solid release from the effervescent Tirone.
Review: Two all time funk/soul classics from the Skull Snaps - a funk group active between 1963 and 1973. They were known as The Diplomats up until 1970 and released a number of singles with moderate success. Renamed Skull Snaps, they released an eponymous album on the small GSF label in 1973, before disappearing into obscurity. These selections are from the said album. New 7" reissue label Dynamite Cuts is releasing these two gems as a limited edition 500 only pressing, showcasing the two best tracks on the LP. Both have been heavily sampled in many hip-hop and club classics by Eric B. & Rakim, Digable Planets, DJ Shadow, The Prodigy and Panjabi MC to name but a few.
Review: Ubiquity is back with another of its two part 7"s, this time from contemporary soul group The Soul Surfers. Experts at covering the greats, they recently turned their hand to a classic from The JB's, while this time out it is Kool & The Gang's classic "Summer Madness" that gets a deep-cut and sexy make over. Part 1 is a sensuous slow burner with downtempo drums and heavenly guitar playing, while part 2 has harder drum grooves and dreamy , psyched-out guitars. It's another ageless rework that you need in your life.
Review: With the state of world politics at the moment, we could all do with the occasional pick me up. Enter The Pharaohs who link with Chicago natives Spencer Jackson Family for "Bring Back Peace To The World", which gets a timely reissue on Ubiquity. It's a spiritual bit of jazz funk with sax lines to get you grooving, deep soul vocals that stir you from the inside out and gospel overtones that get anyone ready to rejoice. Each part is as essential as the other and despite adding up to just over five minutes in total, both cuts will no doubt enhance your mood.
Karate Boogaloo - "Do You Even Know What A Passport Is" (4:35)
Review: The second salvo from Aussie imprint College Of Knowledge offers up two sizzling sides of revivalist instrumental soul and funk from bands who've yet to make their mark outside of the Southern hemisphere. Surprise Chef, who helped launched the label earlier in year, handle side A, offering up a loose, percussive and hugely attractive number rich in mazy organ lines, fuzzy bass and classic funk guitar licks. Karate Boogaloo take a slightly more relaxed approach on the flip, layering fluid guitar solos and sustained, elongated Hammond organ chords over a bluesy soul groove.
Review: It seems so obvious you wonder why it doesn't happen more often: Stefano Torossi's "Feelings" album from 2000 was made up of track titles that convey certain situations and emotions that he masterfully reflects in the music. This new double 7" includes the highlights, such as the racing jazz and trumpet stabs of "Running Fast," the sustained and uneasy chords of "Fearing Much" and "Feeling Tense," which is actually a pretty lush bit of smooth jazz. "Walking In The Dark" rounds off the double pack with playful guitars and luxuriant synths that are pure soundtrack goodness. Ace.
Review: In 2016, Family Groove Records released a 12" of previously unheard 1979 demo recordings by Webster Station, a boogie-funk band from Dayton, Ohio whose studio efforts were initially binned by Warner Brothers for not being commercial enough. Demand for Family Groove's limited 12" of their recordings has remained high, so the label has decided to do a reissue. There's much to admire throughout, from the high-octane thrills of opener "Are You For Real" and the spacey warmth of the super-soulful "Can You Feel My Love", to the sugary sweetness of the Latin tinged ballad "Lady" and righteous closer "If You Feel Like Dancing", a killer combination of spacey synths, crunchy drums, urgent vocals and killer Clavinet lines.
Review: Described in the accompanying press release as "the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic", Rupa Biswas' 1982 debut "Disco Jazz" has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered diggers with a healthy bank balance and a penchant for the quirky. All four tracks are cheery, charming and superior to many "Bollywood disco" records produced in the same period. The sunny disco-boogie of "Moja Bhari Moja" is followed on side A by the delightfully eccentric, bass-powered AOR-disco/funk-rock fusion of "East West Shuffle" and the effortlessly Balearic cheeriness of "Aaj Shanibar". Best of all, though, is the exotic and intoxicating flipside cut "Ayee Morshume Be-Reham Duniya" which expertly joins the dots between cosmic rock and Balearic disco grooves for 16 spellbinding minutes.
Review: The jazz and broken beat revival continues apace as we race through 2019, so original pioneers of the sound are rightly coming back into focus. Enter the Brand New Heavies, one of the key acts of the mid-eighties who sound as good on this brand new album as ever. It's littered with funk-licked pop, crystalline acid jazz and singalong songs that range from tender ballads to soaring soul. Angie Stone, Beverley Knight and other vocalists lend their tones along the way, but importantly TBNH is not a revival or self-satisfied celebration. Instead, it feels like a forward-looking and accomplished album that takes the band in subtle new directions.
Review: Best known for being the backing band for countless soul singers - most notably Emilia Sisco, Willie West and Thee Baby Cuffs - Timmion Records regulars Cold Diamond & Mink have finally been given a chance to take centre stage. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" is the tight funk and soul combo's debut album and contains ten killer cuts from the Finnish combo in their usual jazz-flecked 1960s/early '70s funk and soul sound. Highlights are plentiful from start to finish, with the hazy bustle of "Remember Me", the super-sweet and glistening "Ain't That Love" and rush-inducing "This Is What Love Looks Like!" amongst our current favourites.