Review: Following an impressive, low-key cassette release on Kitty Play in 2016, Amsterdam-based artist Aan Zee makes the leap to vinyl with this appearance on Pleasure Wave, a label which has already made some waves with releases from g-Marie, Jonny 5 and Miskotom. The Aan Zee sound is a lot to digest, spanning all kinds of cosmic funk, sky-scraping electronics and outernational influences, often all fired off at the same time. Just sink your teeth into "Persona/Funny Berber" for a taste and you'll understand. "Vacation" is equally adventurous, with all kinds of melodic layering and instrument flexing in pursuit of an exotic new brew that doesn't shirk on the groove.
Review: Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy project continues to blaze into the year with pure molten lava grooves. "Daddy's Groove" is a perfect summer heater with its laid back horns that ooze over the wah wah licks and strutting rim-shots. "Let Me Be Your Lover" takes more of a Latin approach with its upbeat rhythm and bossa tendencies. Listen out for those cosmic guitars in the background... Dreamy business.
Review: Afrodesia may come on like another dusted down gem from those dedicated detectives at Best, but it is in fact a modern construction from the talented studio trysts of Mystic Jungle and Whodamanny from the Periodica camp. These Italian producers have more than proved their knack for crafting sublime, honey-smooth jams with a nod to the golden studio era of the 70s and 80s, and they're more than up to the task on this killer 12" of heavy funking jams with a dose of boogie and a nod to Ivory Coast disco. It's quite simply perfection, rendered with love and attention to detail, but utterly natural in its feel and flavour.
Trouble In My Way (Afshin & Kiss My Black Jazz edit) (7:42)
The Riot (Afshin & Kiss My Black Jazz edit) (6:00)
Review: Something a little different from G.A.M.M here, as Parisian DJ Afshin joins forces with the mysterious Kiss My Black Jazz to offer up two incendiary edits. The real surprise killer is A-side "Trouble In My Way", which subtly turns a blues-era recording of a traditional slave sing-along into a handclap-heavy chunk of infectious gospel-house brilliance. It takes a little time to build up, but when the heavier beats drop midway through you'll have dancers eating out of the palm of your hand. Flipside "The Riot" sees them make merry with a Hammond-heavy chunk of 1960s jazz-funk, extending and reworking the cut to make it suitably sweaty, heavy and life affirming.
Review: Earlier in the month, Parisian producer Afshin joined forces with Kiss My Black Jazz and served up a brilliant, two-track missive of jazz-funk and blues-house reworks on G.A.M.M. Here they reunite for round two. This time round, they begin by reworking a shuffling, chant-along Afro-Brazilian gem of unknown origin, extending the carnival-ready percussive intro before unleashing the shuffling, sun-kissed samba rhythm and some of the sweetest vocals this side of a sing-along in a chocolate factory. Over on side B they give a similar tune to a killer chunk of reggae-funk fusion rich in warm dub bass, bongo-laden beats, bluesy guitar solos, fuzzy horns and James Brown style guttural vocals.
Review: The UK's Mr Bongo has been reissuing old music and putting out new tunes since the late 1980's, and the label is still going strong in 2015. This latest 7" features two of Ethiopia's greatest musicians, Alemayehu Eshete and Mahmoud Ahmed, in a head to head, split EP. On the A-side, Mr Bongo has resurfaced Eshete's "Tchero Adari Negn", a supremely funky piece with the man's own voice gliding effortlessly over hard drums and fuzy guitar riffs; "Bemim Sebeb Litlash" goes deeper and more psychedelic on the flip, and Ahmed's voice is a pleasure as always. Check their other material on Mississippi for a broader introspective.
Fade Away (feat Andy Cooper From Ugly Duckling) (2:59)
Review: Aside from releasing 2 albums for the imprint, Bristol's The Allergies have been a pillar of the Jalapeno label's success over the years, helping the label find its feet amid the ever-growing broken beat scene. The duo return to the catalogue with a classic helping of their very own breakbeat science, first up with the vocal-led charm of "Dance Now", a commercially-minded dancehall anthem that strays into pop and r&b with utter ease. On the flip, Andy Cooper features on the rap-pop hybrid vocals of "Fade Away", a feel-good party tune that is solely focused on getting you to move!
Review: Brand new funk from Bristol-based duo The Allergies, these two pant-swinging numbers mark the build up to their third album Steal The Show. As always, it's an all-out funkathon with full eyes on the party prize. "Can't Keep Working This Hard" jumps with a classic JB style break with some gutsy, raw soul vocal chops while "Run It Back" sees them tagging up with Andy Cooper once again with another classic spitfire rap jam that you know you'll be air rapping to within two or three listens. Yeah you will.
Review: What a trip it's been for The Allergies; rolling from one killer album to the next, funk is flying from their HQ at a rate of knots. Here are two fine examples from their last LP Push On, both featuring their long-time friend and MC from Andy Cooper. Best known for his witty wordplay and character on Ugly Duckling records, here Andy gets to show off both sides to his expansive flow; "Main Event" is a chubby disco groove laced with mountains of funk, creating space for Andy's laidback-but-hypey charm. In perfect contrast "Buzzsaw" is a much sweatier funk jam allowing Cooper to get rapid and tongue-twisty in a way that only he knows how. Keep on pushing...
Review: Altin Gun are the hottest property to come out of Istanbul in the last ten years. Fact. Led by Jacco Gardner, the 7-piece outfit specialise in the deepest, most wild-eyed psych funk available at the moment and this was clearly visible from their recent debut LP, On. A similar narrative continues here, one which resonates so well with the traditional sound of 70s Turku-funk from pioneers such as Erkin Koray or Baris Manco, and there is, quite simply, something very honest about this band. O this new 7" from the banging Bongo Joe we have "Tatli Dile Guler Yuze", a seductive vocal groove filled with aptly trippy guitar funk and Merve Dasdemir's sublime voice waving in the distance, and the quirky sounds of the instrumental cut "Hababam" - making this one of Bongo Joe's best EPs to date, and another proof-point for Altin Gun's quality. Highly recommended.
Review: Soul4Real has gotten 'soulful for real' with this third outing, coming through in the form of 2 previously unreleased gems from US band The Anglos. This is some pretty niche gear, what with the band having only put out a handful of 7s back in the 60, so it feels like a special occasion to have some new material from them on our shelves. These tunes were apparently destined to land on the Botanic imprint back in the day, and are famously produced and engineered by the great Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, which is why they have a certain roughness that is rarely heard on other soul records. "Broke Down Piece Of Man" is a fast, beat-heavy number with a psychedelic edge that reflects the state of mind back then, while "Four Walls Of Gloom" takes the gospel tradition as its main ingredient, offering a wonderfully uplifting midtempo rocker for the heart and soul.
Review: Comprised of Uhuru Dance Band members Ebo Taylor and Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, The Apagya Showband only delivered a handful of releases but they're all worth digging out. Mr Bongo have started the excavation with these two 1974 vintage licks; "Tamfo" is concentrated uplift with big horns and an unescapable highlife guitar lick. "Mumude" is a deeper, drum-heavy jam that switches suddenly with the help of big organ splashes and sermonised spoken word.
Review: Destination '77: Nigerian troupe The Apostles lay down their third album Banko Woman. And, with it, this widescreen vibe excursion that's been a go-to for Afrobeat diggers since it was released on Love Day 40 years ago. "Banko Woman" is a firing, energetic funk jam layered with vibrant levels of instrumentation that gradually strip back at points to let you feel the raw tempo of the groove. "Faith Luck & Music" is at once both more bluesy, thanks to the sliding, melting guitars, and spiritual, thanks to the traditional rhythm and chords. A rare and long-awaited reissue.
Review: Aside from reissuing a whole heap of glorious boogie material from the 1980'sm People's Potential Unlimited also have their own distribution roster, and Cosmic Chronic is right up there waving the flag for the US stable. To kick-start 2016, we have a four-tracker from newcomer Arcade Odyssey, and as you'd expect, they're every but as funky and lo-fi as those instrumentals from back in the day. "Spring Yard Zone" kicks off with massive electro baseline, tropical melodies, and a hazy vibe, while "Beautiful Forest" breaks the beat down and goes Eastern with its synths. Flip the plate and you'll be confronted by the huge, stabbing bassline and fast beats of the utterly gnarly "Neon Night Riders" - easily the gem of the lot - and wound down thanks to the gentler, more tame waters of "Port Town". Sick.
Review: Earlier in the year, the Marseille crew behind the Wewillalwaysbealovesong label DJ'd alongside Art Of Tones and wowed at some of the self-made reworks and re-edits he was dropping in his set. A short time later they'd reached an agreement to release this EP of revisions from the French producer's vaults. Our pick of the bunch is the driving, housed-up gospel disco revision "Back Again", though the similarly raw and guttural gospel funk re-edit on the B-side, "Good To Me", is equally as potent. A-side "At The Club In Lagos", a brilliant blend of R&B style male soul vocals, fuzzy Afrobeat horns and jaunty disco grooves, is also wonderful.
Review: Mario Miranda aka Asterix Music hails from Carson, California and this is his debut, a banging little 7" by the name of Stud. Oh yes, super fitting, indeed! Out through Firehouse Sound Labs, the EP opens with the funky-ass boogie bass of "She'll Take U Down", a killer dance floor burner for the party vibes. On the B-side, "First Date" drops some heavy electro swings over sweet, seductive r&b vocals.
Review: Kylie Auldist is a heavyweight Aussie soul singer whose powerful lungs have graced many a hit over the years. Now, with the help of Lance Ferguson and Graeme Pogson, she's recorded a solo album, Family Tree, and this here EP features a selection of tracks from it. Gone is the raw funk vibes of old with Auldist opting for a bright and synthetic mid-'80s pop-soul sound instead. It largely works too with the Donna Allen-esque "Sensational", the chrome and carpet grooves of "Family Tree" and the late-'70s US funk style of "Rewards" as standouts.
Review: A self-titled opus, the OG presses of Aura's one and only album have been known to fetch over L100 while the 2016 Aloha Got Soul reissue was supported across the board from Theo Parrish to Giles Peterson. Here are two of the most delectable highlights in bright white 45" form; "Let Me Say Dis About Dat" is all about the crunchy riffs and rock funk fusion while "No Beginning, No End" is a thrilling disco funk cut that has aged to perfection. Limited and likely to fly.
Review: If you're a DJ who digs funk, soul and disco, there's a fair chance that you are familiar with Average White Band classic "Pick Up The Pieces", a staple of those kinds of sets - and, of course, hip-hop, where its killer break has been looped countless times over the years - since its initial release in 1974. Should you not own a copy of the distinctive, horn-heavy classic, we'd suggest picking up this reissue, not least because it also boasts the band's lesser-known cover of Ned Doheny classic "Get It Up For Love", featuring vocals from no less than Ben E King, on the flip. Their version of the hazy blue-eyed soul gem sits somewhere between Doheny's original version and the arguably better known Tata Vega disco cover.
Review: Afro 45's / Mr Bongo show no signs of stopping their tireless run of form and, 7" after 7", they just keep on producing the goods. There's yet more '70s goodness with this new little scorcher: the A-side is 1973's "Tessassategn Eko" by Bahta Gebre Hiwot, a pensive Ethiopian pop hit for all sorts of music fans to enjoy, but "Ayalqem Tedqem" by Alemayehu Eshete on the B-side is where it's at... just listen to that bass and you'll instantly recognize this wonderful little cover.
Review: Serial alias addict, Kris Holmes returns with a double side of split personality: The Disciples is a rough, bluesy layered piece of slo-mo surf rock where the drums only just keep up and the organs provide heavy soul salvation. "He Spoke" shows Kris on much more of an African inspired trip. Similarly hefty organs power the main groove but there's more uplift in the riff and instrumentation. Insatiable.
Review: "Der Say Ah" has long been a banger on dance floors tuned into international sounds. It's the sort of bouncy afrobeat and sax-laced classic that has been fetching huge amounts online. DJs like Gilles Peterson and Nightmare on Wax have been playing it for yonks and now, after many years of it being out of print, it is back courtesy of Push The Fader. The Akoya Re-Rub mix here was mixed by Ben Kane who worked on D'Angelo's Black Messiah, so this sounds beyond good. The 7" version comes from DJ Spinna with extra keys from Ticklah, psyched out bass and extra dub feelings.
Kool & The Gang, Gene Redd - "Give It Up" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (4:04)
Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (3:30)
Review: Fast-fingered mash-up merchant and lauded scalpel fiend DJ Soopasoul can usually be relied upon to bring the goods. In fact, we've yet to hear an edition of his "Soopastole Edits" series that doesn't include the kind of sure-fire, party-starting fare guaranteed to get any DJ out of a dancefloor hole of their own making. Should you still doubt the validity of this statement, we suggest you check this timely reissue of the series' second volume, which has been going for serious bucks online. On side A you'll find a suitably punchy, funky and chunky revision of Kool & The Gang's Gene Redd produced 1970 jam "Give It Up" - the original source of one of hip-hops most familiar breakbeats - with a tight, club-ready revision of Aretha Franklin classic "Rock Steady" on the flip.
Apollo Studio Band - "Honkey Tonk Woman" (instrumental) (2:39)
Review: For their latest deep dive into the world of obscure funk, Vienna's Record Shack has decided to reissue two hard-to-find gems from the Just Brothers and Apollo Studio Band. The former's "Honey" was recorded in the 1970s but first released in 2001. Full of their trademark surf style guitars, stomping Northern Soul style beats and dreamy, psychedelic era vocals, it remains one of the outfit's greatest tracks. On the reverse you'll find the thrillingly fuzzy "Honky Tonk Woman (Instrumental)" by the Apollo Studio Band. We found next to no information about the outfit online, suggesting the track was taken from a lauded, private press release. Either way, it's a prime chunk of Northern Soul style instrumental fuzziness that's worth the admission price alone.
Review: The Mushi 45 label doesn't release all that much, but what it does put out is invariably insanely good. For the avoidance of doubt, this two-track missive sits in that category. It serves up two rare, sought-after 1970s gems from Rinsyoe Kida, Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes, who made some of the tidiest Japanese funk, jazz-rock and jazz-funk of the period. A-side "Tan To Setsu" is superb, with the assembled players brilliantly blending traditional Japanese style melodic motifs - played on traditional instruments - with a riotous, high octane funk backing track rich in heavy bass and fiery horn lines. "Jongara Bushi" is similarly inclined and every bit as raucous.
Review: Following Hot Casa's reissue of his second album The Black Isaiah Of Africa in 2017, here comes the long awaited repress of Kingsley Aigbologa Bucknor's incredible debut album. Rarer than hen's teeth, known to pass hands for triple figures and so vibrantly freeform and longform; both extensive 15+ minute tracks take up a side each as Kings and his 16 player / 10 backing singer Afrodisk Beat 79 troupe lay down two crisp Afrofunk trips. Singular.
I Don't Want No-Body (To Tell Me What To Do) (4:49)
Review: Also known as the Heads Funk Band, Akwassa were a Nigerian afrobeat ensemble who only produced a few LPs under that particular moniker, but they're ones that have lasted well in the memories of collectors worldwide. La'lla was their 1975 debut, originally out on the Afrodisia label, and we have it here once again in reissue format by PMG out of Austria. "Funky Girl" kicks the party off with a groove that is might difficult not to like - upbeat vocals meet funky synth lines and quirky organs to make a true summer blazer - but the rest of the album follows in a similarly excellent style. "Orule", for example, is one of the best undiscovered afro bombs we've heard in time, those sweet soulful vocals riding high amid a fast-paced percussion rhythm, while others are deeper still and evoke the true spirit of African soul. Very highly recommended.
Review: Since its release in 1999, Tony Allen's Black Voices album has earned a reputation as an overlooked modern classic. While a scaled-down reissue appeared on Kindred Spirits in 2014, this edition marks the first "full repress" of the original double-album version. The Doctor L-produced set remains hugely alluring, thanks largely to the warm and attractive mixture of Allen's loose and languid Afrobeat rhythms, fluid jazz and jazz-funk instrumentation and vocals that recall the legendary drummer's work with Fela Kuti. Like the original set, you'll find a number of tasty dancefloor reworks nestled on the second disc, with the fuzzy and disco-fied PsychojujuMix of "Ariya" - complete with rubbery bass and sweaty drum solos - standing out.
Review: Boom: three years, three albums. No biggie for Bristol duo The Allergies, Jalapeno's biggest success story since Kraak & Smaak. Each album shows them getting deeper into the groove, creeping away from the cheeky samples and sculpting their own pedigree funk originals. With Ugly Ducking Andy Cooper onside through the mix from the wild ride vibing "Fade Away" to the white knuckle lyrical fire of "Run It Back", there's a real band feeling to the whole album as familiar voices thread throughout the jams... including that of UK hip hop legend Dr Syntax.
Review: The Allergies' debut album introduced the world to the way they effortlessly fuse funk, soul, disco, hip-hop and breaks into dancefloor-ready nuggets of ear candy. Taking classic sounds and reshaping them for the modern age is the signature that won them plaudits across the globe. Not ones to rest on their laurels, it hasn't taken long for them to deliver more of the goods on their second full-length album. As well as taking the successful formula of the first record and expanding on their sound, the band enlisted two giants of underground hip-hop to bless mics on the album as well. After a hugely successful collaboration on their debut LP, once again the dynamic lyricism and production skills of the inimitable Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling) are present and correct in this new collection.
Review: Gbubemi Amas is hardly Nigeria's most famous musical export. He began his career at the dawn of the 1980s, enjoying a certain level of success with debut album Grill. That set, reissued here for the first time since, was in many ways typical of developments in Nigerian popular music at the time. Amas was one of a new generation of artists moving away from the Afrobeat and Highlife styles that had dominated Lagos in the 1970s, instead laying down punchy, pop-tinged cuts heavily influenced by both American dance music (and in particular disco and boogie), and AOR rock. Highlights include the tasty disco-boogie of "Slow Down", the horn-heavy dancefloor sweetness of "For You", and the atmospheric synth-pop of closer "Listen".
Review: For the uninitiated, Ambiance was an American jazz-funk, fusion and boogie outfit fronted by spiritually minded, Nigerean born saxophonist, flautist and clarinetist Daoud Abubakar Balewa. The band's 1979 album, "Ebun", has long been sought-after by collectors, hence this timely High Jazz reissue. There's much to admire amongst the eight tracks on show, from the Afro-tinged Latin fusion flex of "Bossa Moniife" and Azymuth style jazz-funk of "Camouflage" and "Ebun", to the high-tempo intergalactic goodness of "Turnaround". Closing cut "Last Tango", a high-octane fusion of operatic style female backing vocals, dueling instrument solos and skittish jazz drums, is also sublime.
Review: Initially released in South Africa in 1982, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley's sophomore set is now regarded as a boogie-era Highlife classic. Here issued on CD for the very first time via Mr Bongo, the album features the Ghanaian star brilliantly joining the dots between driving disco-funk, jazz-funk, intoxicating slow jams, calypso, dub reggae and his beloved highlife. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, with standouts including heavy percussion jam "Simigwa", the boogie-dub skank of "Adwoa", the down-low grooves of "Walking Down The Street" and the killer disco highlife anthem "It's High Life". Simply essential.
Review: 1975's "Simigwa" album not only launched the career of Afro-funk fusionist and eventual Highlife great Gyedu Blay Ambolley, but also inspired a Ghanaian dance craze. The album was co-produced by another Highlife great, Ebo Taylor, and has long been exceptionally hard to find on vinyl. For this official vinyl reissue on Mr Bongo, Ambolley's landmark set has been fully re-mastered for the very first time. It sounds spectacular, with great clarity on the ear-catching brass solos, serious weight to the bass and superb stereo separation. Highlights include - but certainly aren't limited to - the Afro-blues brilliance of "Toffie", the jaunty dancefloor fuzziness of "This Hustling World" and the heavyweight swing of ear-catching opener "Kwaakwaa".
Review: The Kalita crew step up with another finely chosen reissue gem from the history of African dance music, this time welcoming Ghanaian disco maestro Okyerema Asante to the fold with two utterly infectious party starters laced with ample feel good vibes. "Sabi (Get Down)" is a slinky groover with a killer bassline and sweet guitar licks for the heads down crew to bust out some serious moves. "That's My Girl" is a more sizzling affair with a brighter outlook, riding high on soaring brass and woodwind and packing a heartfelt message of love that everyone can vibe with.
Review: Celebrating 50 years of one of the most definitive fusion records ever made, Now Again present the most fitting remaster Axelrod's critically acclaimed debut album Song Of Innocence has ever had. An immense piece of work that pays homage to William Blake and brought together nodes and notions of rock, classical, funk, psychedelic and boogaloo, this reissue comes straight from the original masters with engineering and consultation from Axelrod's production partner H B Barnum, original keyboardist Don Randi, his widow Terri and producer T-Ray. Still as complex and cosmic and sounding better than ever.
Review: David Axelrod's 1969 album Songs of Experience - the now legendary follow-up to 1668's similarly acclaimed Songs of Innocence - has long been regarded as something of a classic, not to mention a constant source of samples for hip-hop producers such as DJ Shadow, Pete Rock, Madlib and KRS-One. As this reissue proves, it remains a peerless release. While it was inspired by the poems of William Blake, the album's tracks brilliantly fuse elements of jazz, European classical music, jazz-funk, rock, pop and traditional British and Irish folk music. It's a stunning set of instrumental tracks, all told - a kind of imaginary soundtrack to the best film never made.
Review: Far Out takes a second deep dive into the previously unheard early demos of Brazilian jazz-funk greats Azymuth, offering up more unpolished gems recorded during the years as one of Brazil's most sought-after session bands. Interestingly, much of the material is closer in tone and style to their subsequent releases, though some of the rhythms, solos and basslines are arguably a little wilder and more experimental. Highlights include the fizzing opener "Duro De Roer", the sweaty and percussive brilliance of "Bateria Do Mamao", the Blaxploitation influenced spy-chase madness of "Quem Tem Medo" and the surprisingly smooth "Manha", the demo that eventually earned Azymuth a recording contract.
Review: Before they found fame with their 1975 debut album, Azymuth divided their time between working as backing musicians (attending recording sessions with some of Brazil's top talent) and recording experimental home demos. Recently rediscovered, these demos are finally being given a release thanks to the efforts of Far Out chief Joe Davis. There's much to admire on this first batch (a second volume is also available) of previously unheard early recordings, from the high-octane Brazilian funk insanity of "Prefacio" and Jimmy Smith-esque "Melo De Cuica", to the spacey samba/jazz-funk fusion of "Xingo (Version One)" and the relaxed, slow-burn brilliance of seven minute B-side opener "Laranjeiras".
Review: Some dusty-fingered diggers may be familiar with "World Full Of People", an insanely rare and suitably sought-after 1976 7" by a little-known band called Everyday People. Most thought that was their only release; in fact, they also released a full-length the same year under the People's Pleasure alias. That album is apparently even harder to find, making this first ever vinyl reissue a must-have for fans of quality funk and soul. Much of the material sits somewhere between rubbery funk, jaunty jazz-funk and storming soul, with highlights including the laidback bliss of "Heavenly Feeling" (very Idris Muhammad), the righteous, horn-heavy "World Full of People" and the seductive, synth-laden slow jam "Fantasies and Dreams".