Review: Over the last couple of years, Matasuna Records has developed a tried-and-tested formula. It revolves around finding and licensing killer cuts - think funk, Afrobeat, tropical flavours and Latin beats - and then pairing them with a fresh, floor-friendly re-edit. Their latest find is something of an overlooked gem: a gorgeously sunny 1983 number from Ghanaian musician Mawuli Decker that's piled high with infectious, EWE-language vocals, Highlife guitars, spacey Moog sounds and cute electric piano solos. The accompanying Renegades of Jazz re-edit is pleasingly faithful to its source material, deftly showcasing Decker's brilliant music while beefing up the bass, subtly tightening up the drums and layering on some complimentary hand percussion.
Review: He's hardly prolific, but DJ/producer Del Gazeebo has been offering up occasional re-edits, mash-ups and bootleg reworks for longer than some of us have been alive. Here he begins 2020 in fine fashion with two party-hearty reworks guaranteed to get the dancefloor moving. Aside "Barbara Don't Love Me" is a bouncy, subtly beefed-up take on a horn-heavy 1960s soul/rhythm and blues classic that sounds like it would go down well at parties that love Northern Soul. Flipside "Dat Ting" meanwhile is a head-nodding take on a punchy soulful reggae cut underpinned by weighty bass and tight hip-hop beats.
Review: Pepite Records have a brilliant Holy Grail reissue on their hands here with two world music oddities that send seasoned collectors into fits of excitement. They come from French composer Jean Claude Oliver, who was a noted talent in his day and possible the first Parisian to own a sitar in the sixties. He worked with Serge Gainsbourg amongst others, while also working as Derboukas. Two of his finest experiments are served up for the first time here and mixes oriental vibes with eastern bossa. The original of the a-side is impossible to find and the 'Caravan March' gem on the B-side is a welcome addition that fuses psychedelic pop grooves with lush cello.
Review: Californian artist Diamond Ortiz makes his Neon Finger debut and in doing so brings plenty of his homeland's sunny soul to the fore. This magnificent 7" brims with West Coast influences and low riding beats. The original version on the a-side, '4 Really Tho', is all filtered vocals and squelchy boogie bass that is impossible warm and smooth. Dazzling chords and big hand claps complete the vital cut and then the flip removes the vocal and allows the majestic chords and bass to really shine. This sure is an essential cop for all funk lovers.
Review: Ultra Vybe remain deep in their Brunswick excavations with these two sublime cuts from the label's super troupe of session players Directions and their one and only album. Released 1976, OG copies fetch almost L200 and just these two tracks alone hint at why. Shimmering with a strong Faze-O feel with an evocative contrast of falsetto and deep baritone and twinkling instrumentation, both tracks swoon with everything that was so smooth and emotional about the label who gave the world Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites and Gene Chandler. Show some love.
Review: Dirty Harry is a real maestro with his MPC and after too long without hearing from him, he is now back on the buttons and seemingly in fine form. The London born artist is a real jazz, rap and funk veteran with years of knowledge and he brings all that to the table each and every time. His frequent collaborator is Nat Lover, whom he met while travelling in New Zealand, and together they deliver some real rawness here. "Combat" is a flurry of chords, scratching and New York street breaks that hits hard and "The Lovers Revenge" carries on in much the same fashion.
Review: Disco Dub Band's "For The Love of Money", a one-off collaboration between producer Davitt Sigerson and reggae musician Mike Dorane, has long been considered something of a classic by those who like their disco to come with a big dose of dub-wise flavour. Here the instrumental O'Jays cover, which originally appeared on the Movers label in 1976, is given the remix treatment by long-time fans Mr Bongo. The superb A-side, in which Dorane's instrumental talents take centre stage, naturally comes accompanied by the frequently played Dub interpretation, a typically wild and bass-heavy affair that sounds like it was mixed "live" in one take in true Lee Perry/King Tubby style. If it's not already in your collection, it should be.
Review: The DNA Edits label gets right to the heart of the music it reworks and adds to, subtracts from, or extends all the key elements required to make it absolute dance floor dynamite. DJ DSK is behind the sixth EP - which lands just ahead of a very fun 7" that is made up of short samples from various Street Fighter console games. Once again here the crate digging, breaks making splicer and dicer comes correct across a duo of beefy beats, sunny soul jams and funked up loops that will get you in the mood to groove.
Review: DJ DSK has released some heavyweight seven-inch singles over the years, with his 2016 45 "Laminate" - an original slab of funk made in cahoots with the previously unheralded "Lost Soul Collective". Here he gathers together the band once more for a follow-up four years in the making. "Lost Soul" is a two-part affair in keeping with the funk tradition. The A-side is an infectious vocal number that sits somewhere between Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and the more psychedelic flavour associated with turn-of-the-70s San Francisco soul. As you'd expect, the flipside "Part 2" version strips out most of the vocals to allow the band's warm and heady instrumentation room to breathe.
Review: DJ Moves has a new album coming, Moves Presents Hiss 3 Hissterectomy, and this new single on the a-side is taken from it. Touch provides the raps to Moves' beats and the whole thing is a big ode to the herb, with chunky and funky bass riffs, rumbling drums and laid back vibes. On the flip, its the booze that gets the spotlight with an ode to drinking. It's super quick and slick and is taken from the Low Pressure Records album "Fatt Matt and Big Moves Rusty Hooks" released in 2010. Both tracks bang with tongue in cheek messages and sound real ripe in warm summer days.
Review: Last summer, Evo and Soulstice launched Adventures in Paradise with a fine 7" of tooled-up funk reworks by J Sole and J Boogie. Here, the label returns to action with two more guaranteed party-starters. Fittingly, Evo makes his first appearance on the label with B-side "Mandingo Boogie", a killer edit of a low-slung disco-boogie heater rich in rubbery bass guitar, twinkling electric piano parts, spiraling electronic effects and punchy horns. While impressive, we can imagine DJs getting far more rotations from DJ Smash's cheeky A-side, "Your Pants Are Hot", which peppers a snappy, synth bass-propelled groove with samples from a well-known Godfather of Soul favourite.
Review: For the latest hot-to-trot missive on his popular Soopastole Edits imprint, DJ Soopasoul has decided to pay tribute to funk's most sampled sticks-man, the late Clyde Stubblefield. Fittingly, he's chosen to do that by chopping up James Brown's 'Funky Drummer', whose much-sampled break was played by Stubblefield and has appeared on countless hip-hop cuts over the years. 'Ode to Clyde (Part 1)' naturally gives Stubblefield's break plenty of airtime, along with the song's hazy funk instrumentation and Brown's rasping lead vocal. Over on the flip Brown takes second billing to a spate of horn solos lifted from the legendary nine-minute version of 'Funky Drummer', with Stubblefield's incredible drumming providing constant dancefloor pressure.
James Brown & The Crooklyn Dodgers - "More Sex Cream" (Crooklyn Style) (3:44)
James Brown - "More Sex Cream" (instrumental mix) (3:44)
Review: Earlier this summer, mash-up maestro DJ Soopasoul raised our temperatures by layering Wu-Tang Clan vocals over a chunky, funk-fuelled backing track crafted from snippets of James Brown jams. He called it "Sex Cream", and now he's back with more sickly-sweet goodness based around the down-low greatness of the Godfather of Soul. A-side "More Sex Cream (Crooklyn Style)" delivers a similar-sounding JB-inspired beat, this time peppered with rhymes from "Crooklyn". It works wonderfully, of course, as does the flipside instrumental version. Bare party-starting fun for funk-loving hip-hop heads!
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.
Review: What could be more exciting for the funk lover in your life (whether that's you or someone else) than an insanely limited-edition, festively themed "45" from famously reliable party-starter DJ Tron and his regular vocalist Luana? If that sets your bells jingling (sorry), we'd suggest diving straight into A-side 'Merry Christmas', a veritable yuletide feast of boisterous drum-breaks, gravelly guitar riffs, rising horns and sleigh bells, all topped off by a few choice samples and another superb lead vocal from Luana. The pair continue on a similar tip on flipside 'Santa's Coming', a funk-breaks masterclass dedicated to the jolly, chimney-bothering present delivery guy. Only 95 of these hand-numbered sevens were ever pressed, so act fast if you want to grab a copy.
Review: We could all do with a little more love, peace and unity in our life and DJ Tron is happy to oblige on his new one with Luana. The title track is an old school bit of hip hop with huge drum breaks, fills and a sing-along-chorus that's all about the good times. "Soul In Ya Mind" is a deeper and more considered jam with golden era flow and warmer chords, put still plenty of playful stabs and breaks to get you moving. Limited to just 100 copies but in three different colours, this one is sure to shift fast.
Melbourne Douglas - "Rudy Skankin On The Moon" (3:14)
The Regulators - "Caymanas Park Rocket" (2:30)
Melbourne Douglas - "Rude Boy Don't Fight" (2:50)
King Deadly - "Joshua A Mek Riddim Run" (2:46)
Review: Having already delivered a multi-artist EP of Reggae Dynamite earlier in the year, nostalgia-fired producer Neil Anderson serves up a speedy sequel on his popular Original Gravity label. Toaster Melbourne Douglas kicks things off with the ska-flavoured cheeriness of 'Rudy Skanking on the Moon', before returning later in the EP with slowed-down, rocksteady style reggae fuzziness of 'Rude Boy Don't Fight'. Elsewhere, label regulars (sorry) the Regulators deliver a high-tempo, Hammond-heavy instrumental workout (the excellent 'Caymanas Park Rocket'), while King Deadly layers languid organ solos over a more dub-wise groove on EP standout 'Joshua a Mek Riddim Run'.
Review: Dr Rubberfunk's sound has become more reliant on organic instrumentation over the years, but at heart he's still a turntablist with a love of Steinski and Coldcut style cut-and-paste productions. So while his recent My Life in 45 album was a kaleidoscopic musical smorgasbord of sounds, this follow-up single is a much more back-to-basics banger tailor-made for excitable DJs and even more excited breakdancers. 'Come Back Breaker' is a rolling, fun-fuelled number in which a plethora of quirky spoken word snippets and cut-up, energy-packed drum-breaks vie for attention with warm bass and guitar sounds seemingly lifted from old funk and soul jams. He continues this approach on the more jazz-funk influenced workout 'Beats Working', before showcasing his sweaty breaks on the short, DJ-friendly rhythm track 'Drums Working'.
Review: Dr Rubberfunk (AKA long-serving DJ/producer Simon Ward) may have reached the start of middle age, but he's showing no signs of succumbing to a typical "midlife crisis". In fact, his recent releases have been among the strongest of his career to date. The third part of his ongoing "My Life At 45" series is another belter, with opener "A Matter of Time" - featuring talented, fast-rising vocalist Izo FitzRoy - being a particularly strong exercise in revivalist 1960s soul. Elsewhere across the EP, "Slim's Mood" is a fine chunk of hazy rhythm and blues featuring some awesome, Peter Green style jazz guitar solos, while closing cut "Moody Drums" is a chunky beats track tailor-made for funk and hip-hop DJs who like to get busy in the mix.
Review: Matasuna's latest must-have release comes courtesy of Dubben, an artist whose tasty, dub-fired mid-2000s reworks of Afro-Cuban and Latin tracks remain some of G.A.M.M.'s most potent moments. This is the producer's first release of any sort for nearly five years and continues in a similar vein. Check first A-side "Jesus Boogie", a samba-soaked, dub-funk fuelled revision of what sounds like a mid-1970s Brazilian MPB workout. Sweatier flavours are provided on B-side cut "Cachaca", where he dubs out and tools up a punchy affair that boasts a killer horn part reminiscent of The Champs classic "Tequila".
Review: Doris Duke's version of Marlena Shaw's seminal, powerful "Woman Of The Ghetto" originally appeared on her third album Woman in 1975. It's a searing version, Duke's full-bodied and fierce voice adding even more urgency to the searing social commentary embedded in the lyrics. Added to that is the stunning orchestral arrangement, which gets a full instrumental airing on the B side of this reissue from SAM - the soaring strings whip up a rich, cinematic strain of soul with a weighty groove underneath it. The song has never sounded better thanks to some fresh mastering, and it looks great too on red 7".
Review: Anyone getting approval from Ill Considered has got to be worth a pop, dip and spin. In the cradle of one of the UK's leading exponents of improvised, modernist jazz funk, Leroy Duncann comes correct with a new hand-stamped 7" weighted down by some seriously heavy grooves. "Too Late" is an instrumental beast with a tough drop on the one and ample dynamic shifts to keep your ears attentive to the sound. "Tough Love" on the flip is a tight affair too, worming its way through some deadly key shifts and a hefty dose of psych-rock to keep things freaky and far from formal.
Review: DJ Danny Dan The Beat Mann steps out of the Dusty Fingers shadows with a full live band for this new edition of one of the most comprehensive break collection series known to man. Four breaks, all wrapped up in their own unique vibe, there's a cinematic feel running throughout tapping into the OST source so many samples are taken from. Hungry for tension? Get yourself some "Blood Lust". Need that moody atmosphere vibe to break up the intensity? "The Biler Room" is for you. A little hazy magic to whisk your mix away? You need "It's Just A Dream". Finally, if you're after a more swing and party feel then you can't fail with "Man Hunt". Pure drum magic; get those fingers flexing.
Review: If you heard this collaboration between female vocal duo Ekkah and Dam Funk without knowing the identities of those involved, you would automatically assume that it was a little-known '80s soul EP. Both of the original tracks showcased here - "What's Up" and "Space Between Us" - sparkle with authentic 1980s synth-soul flavours, from the use of distinctive TR-808 cowbells and tactile synthesized basslines, to the vibrant colours of producer Dam Funk's colourful chords and melodies. Ekkah's vocals, too, are deliciously evocative and emotion-rich, conjuring images of cruising down Sunset Boulevard in the early hours in a soft-top convertible, killer boogie jams playing on the radio. The silkscreen sleeve is a thing of rare beauty, too.