Review: Two more rare grooves purloined from Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul and delivered on a sweet 45: Celia's "A Hora E Essa" is a steamy Latin funk workout from 72; all horns, cuicas and soft, honeyed vocals. Franco's "Ei, Voce, Psiu!" takes a more US funk idea with Franco's spoken vocals giving off a strong air of bandleader as the band lock down a tight groove beneath. Watch out for samba flip towards the end. Blink and you'll miss it.
Review: Way back in 1999, Acid Jazz Records launched an offshoot dedicated to disco edits: Original Sound Track Recordings. The best of the series' many superb reworks were later gathered together on a compilation album on EMI that now changes hands for significant sums online. Happily, they've decided to reissue some of their early releases, beginning with this 7" of Family Tree featuring Sharon Brown's "Family Tree". You'll find the peerless original - a breakbeat-driven chunk of lolloping funk brilliance - on Side A, with the label's 2002 "Super Disco Break Beat" version on the flip. Inspired by hip-hop DJs doubling up the track's brilliant drum breaks, it's a killer percussion workout with a few quick blasts of funk energy and carefully placed special effects (think flanged drums, reversed sections and so on).
Review: New Zealand-born Lance Ferguson has been the beating heart of Melbourne's modern funk and soul scene for the best part of two decades. It's this that allowed him to gather many of the city's best musicians together to record "Rare Groove Spectrum", an album of fresh covers of rare and classic funk, soul and Latin jams. This sampler seven-inch contains two killer covers. On the A you'll find Ferguson and company charging through the deep funk brilliance of "Egg Roll", an instrumental track that first rose to prominence when Keb Darge reissued an un-credited test pressing of mysterious origin. Over on the flip, Ferguson's charges deliver a heady, exotic and intoxicating interpretation of "The Dump" by Soul Vibrations.
Review: Taken from Lee's brand new album Special Night "Make The World" is Fields at his finest, fieriest and funkiest - a message of clear unity delivered with his signature gutsy vocals over a beautifully tight groove from The Expressions. Rolling with a real sense of momentum and cool drama, Fields and his troupe still have heaps of love to give. The feeling's mutual too.
Review: The Foster Jackson Group are one of those forgotten but highly coveted one-hit disco wonders that exist in the bottomless pit that is often classed simply as 'soul'. All that aside, these people made an incredible 12" back in 1979 that has been going for serious bucks on the second-hand market, but thankfully the prodigious P&P Records have saved the day yet again. "Feel The Spirit" is a devilish, inimitable disco jingle that is split between the more percussion ridden "Long Disco Version", and a more contained, more floor-focussed "Disco Version" They both contain that instantly addictive dose of piano, though. Check it out, you'll know what we mean...
Review: "One Step Ahead" by American soul singer Aretha Franklin was released by Columbia Records in 1965. The A-side of the single reached the Rhythm & Blues singles chart of the time and ranked at #18. On the flip, "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face" was taken from her 1964 album entitled Runnin' Out Of Fools. The single was released two years before Aretha achieved stardom when she joined Atlantic Records. The A side cut was not included on any of her Columbia studio albums and remains one of her rarest releases. The song has risen in familiarity due to its use in recent films, such as the music documentary Muscle Shoals and in the Academy Award winning drama Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins.
Review: Soul Brother present two sublime cuts by Carolyn Franklin, younger sister to Aretha, for their debut appearance on the seven inch format. On top of her significant body of work as a songwriter and background artist for Aretha and several other acts of the 60s and 70s, Carolyn Franklin record four solo albums and several singles for the RCA label. Rare groove heads favour Franklin's fourth LP If You Want Me in particular, issued in 1976 but originally recorded three years earlier, and Soul Brother have licensed two highlights for this 7" which demonstrate Carolyn's range for anyone not familiar with her work. "Sunshine Holiday" is a psyche delight akin to Linda Lewis' "Reach For The Truth" whilst "Deal With It" is pure funk.
Review: Raw, unfettered funk from one of LA's hardest working live outfits, Ray Frazier and Shades Of Madness recorded a criminal amount of 45s... One of which - "My Baby's Hand" - regularly fetches the handsome sum of L1000 between collectors. Instantly triggering the biggest northern soul sensations (stomping beats, relentless super-tight grooves, show-stopping splashes of bold soul), this will resonate with, and unite all, funk and soul aficionados across the globe. Highlights include the strident string-led blues riff on the aforementioned "My Baby's Hand", the chop-slapping JB-echoing tightness of "I Who Have Nothing" and the lazier, luxurious swing of "Gonna Get Your Love". Presented as a trio of sweet 45s, Jazzman have curated an exceptional document right here.
Review: One of 2016's finest funk stories was, without question, when AOTN suddenly dropped this incredible unreleased album by criminally slept-on Jacksonville troupe Fruit. A stunning piece of work, even by Fryer's standards it was a coup-de-grace. Now two of the album's finest, funkiest, sweatiest jams are available on limited 45. Instant floor burners, just like the rest of the album, before the tracks are over you'll feel you and your floor have known them forever.
Review: The love of all things Soviet and disco has been established by French/German duo Fulgeance and Scientist for several years now, having reached a peak last year with their album The Soviet Tape on First Word. Now they return with their own edit series on brand new label Excursions. With eyes squared fully on the floor, each obscurity is given some serious groove muscle for the floor... Charaunitsy's soulful croons and yearning horns are given an additional kick/snare swing, Latvia's Mirdza gets a deliciously camp turbo charge while Ukraine's Tatyana Kochergina gets a full-on Philly treatment with lavish strings and a bassline that won't say nyet.
Review: Back in 2014, Timewarp Music asked DJ Soopasoul to remix "Inside Man", one of the strongest cuts from Croatian producer Funky Destination's funk-fuelled debut album, Revolution is Only Solution. While one mix appeared on a digital-only label compilation, Soopasoul actually handed in two reworks. Here both get an outing on wax for the first time. The A-side version is particularly sweet, with Soopasoul layering the original's meandering and lilting trumpet solo over a rolling funk groove rich in big bass, jangling guitars and frenetic drum breaks. The flipside revision emphasizes this groove more, looping and extending the breaks for easier DJ use and a livelier dancefloor response.
Review: The latest limited 7" single from the Beats & Breaks camp features subtle, DJ-friendly edits of two break-diggin' favourites. On the A-side, Juice's 1976 jazz-funk B-side "Catch a Groove" gets tweaked and extended, with lengthier passages of drum breaks at the beginning and end, as well as a sizeable percussion workout midway through. Turn to the flip for a similarly minded treat of Fuzzy Haskins' album-only cut "The Fuz & The Dog", where jazzy guitar licks and riotous horns buzz around a heavy, Blaxploitation-inspired funk groove. While less well known than the A-side, it's arguably the stronger of the two tracks; certainly, its extended percussive break is particularly suitable for hip-hop style doubling up.
Review: Tennessee's legendary jazz pianist, Harold Mabern, is surely one of the kings of the mighty Prestige label, and his material helped bridge the gap between jazz and funk back in the 1970s, alongside the likes of Idris Muhammad, The Jimmy Castor Bunch and all those geniuses. "I Want You Back" is a stone-cold classic and contains one of the most hummable trumpet lines ever, and if you hear closely it's been reworked and sampled by none other than the King of pop when he was only a little one. Funk Inc's sublime "Sister Janie" resides on the flip, a more lo-fi funk bullett for the diggers, and complete with a dusty organ!
Review: The latest 7" missive from the Outta Sight camp features two more impossible-to-find rarities. On the A-side you'll find a storming chunk of horn-heavy, Hammond-rich funk from obscure US psychedelic band Mr Floods Party. Originally released on GM Records in 1971, the cut has long been an in-demand amongst Northern Soul collectors thanks to its stomping beat and impassioned vocals. Speaking of Northern Soul favourites, flip to the B-side for the greatest moment from short-lived Detroit soul group Fork In The Road. Originally released in 1970, "Can't Turn Around Now" is a thrillingly energetic workout full of heavy instrumentation, surging vocals and an even heavier backbeat.
Take It Personally (Exclusive unreleased instrumental) (1:30)
Review: Mukatsuku's latest must-have release offers another opportunity to own early Freddie Cruger AKA Red Astaire favourite "Take It Personally". The wonderfully dusty, smoky and life-affirming hip-hop-soul cut first appeared as a Swedish only CD single in 2001, before later being included on the Stockholm stalwart's 2006 debut album "Soul Search". This time round, the inspired original - all head-nodding beats, sumptuous strings and sugary-sweet vocals from guest Desmond Foster - comes accompanied by a previously unreleased instrumental take. This vocal-free version is superb, offering listeners a chance to wallow in the quality of the Swedish veteran's bumpin' beats and intoxicating, head-in-the-clouds production. In the record box of Danny Krivit,DJ Spinna, Kid Koala and more! Only 300 hand-numbered copies and strictly no repress. Juno copies come exclusively in additional hand stamped kraft paper inner sleeve and branded card outer sleeve. Don't sleep !
Review: New Zealand-born Lance Ferguson has been the beating heart of Melbourne's modern funk and soul scene for the best part of two decades. It's this that allowed him to gather many of the city's best musicians together to record "Rare Groove Spectrum", an album of fresh covers of rare and classic funk, soul and Latin jams. There are some killer versions to be found amongst the 11 tracks on offer. We're particularly enjoying the collective's riotous instrumental revision of Pleasure classic "Joyous", the strutting deep funk heaviness of "Egg Roll" (a similarly restless cover of a mysterious but much-played cut that should be familiar to dusty-fingered diggers and knowledgeable dancers) and the sumptuous summer breeze that is the combo's meandering take on Earth, Wind and Fire staple "Brazilian Rhyme". It is, though, all superb.
Review: Once known as Little JB, Lee Fields continues to deliver his distinctive, heartfelt goods with as much power, weight and soul as ever. Well over 12 albums deep into his 45 year career, he still sounds as clear and emphatic today as he did in 1969, as proved by this broad range of timeless flavours: from the touching JJ Cale cover "Magnolia" to the big band insistency of "Eye To Eye" via the bluesy minor key funk of "All I Need", Lee Fields is one of the few original soul soldiers still recording. What's more, he's recording with welcomed purpose. An essential slice of modern soul history.
Review: 17 albums deep and Lee Fields still has something to say. Arm in arm with longstanding band The Expressions, the troupe dig deep an impeccable roll of soul: The soft harmonies and yearning horns of "I'm Coming Home", the light electronic elements on the rhythm of the hazy, laidback torch song "Never Be Another You", the swooning blues of "Let Him In", the almost highlife sparkle to the guitars on "Where Is The Love"... Each of the ten tracks hits with a freshness, energy and realness that few - if any - 70s troubled troubadours could muster. Essential.
Watch What You're Doin' To Me (instrumental) (3:37)
Yes, Oui, Si (6:24)
The Scamp (4:39)
Watch What You're Doin' To Me (feat Brendan Reilly) (3:35)
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (feat Brendan Reilly) (4:54)
Iguana Strut (5:06)
Review: Forget the Hateful Eight, cos The Filthy Six are back in town with a new album! More Filth is the jazz sextet's third album, arriving via regular home Acid Jazz, and features their Michael Jackson cover "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" which has already been burning up dancefloors. The rest of the album is geared towards the dance too, taking influence from Staxx as much as it does Blue Note or Prestige. Ray Charles was the inspiration for "Watch What You're Doing To Me", whilst the remainder is filled with what we've come to expect from Nick Etwell, Dan Drury, Mark Brown, Nick Nigel Price, Pete Whittaker and Simon Lea. A rock-solid rhythm section, smooth organ lines, tight brass and taut guitar.
Review: With a long line of Tru Thoughts documents in his back cat going back to the mid-2000s, and a damn fine comeback on Lack of Afro's label a few years back, Flevans delivers his third album on the mighty Jalapeno. The perfect playground for his wide-armed hook-laden musical funk, and home to his prominent band members Elliott Cole and Izo FitzRoy, it's a match made in groove heaven. The sleazy prowls of "Two Steps", the delicious jazz funk of "Part Time Millionaire", the gilded feel good soul of "15,000 Words" and the straight up shape cutter "Invisible" are just some of the on-point highlights. And that's before we even get to the smouldering Lauryn Hill cover "Ex Factor". Part time millionaire, full time musical brilliance.
Review: Admirable reissue imprint Comb & Razor Sound continues to unearth, license and re-print lesser-known gems from around the world. Their latest find is Fire Woman, the incredibly rare third album from little-known nine-piece Foundars 15. Interestingly, the album's tracks are not straight-up Afro-funk or Afro-beat workouts. Instead, they various take in Cymande style reggae/soul fusion, psychedelic '60s style pop, wild funk rock/Afrobeat fusion, Hammond-laden torch songs, and skewed Afro-jazz. It's a curious but hugely entertaining hotch-potch of styles that makes for hugely enjoyable listening from start to finish. Highlights include fuzzy, solo-laden closer "Ekele", the anthem-like "Simin Boogie" and Fela Kuti-ish "True Light".
Review: In 1974, trained jazz pianist Edson Frederico quit his job as an arranger and musician on a Brazilian TV channel. Less than a year later he released his first and only solo album, the now sought-after "Edson Frederico E A Transa". As the sleeve credits for this limited Record Store Day reissue prove, it was never really a solo affair; in fact, the multi-talented pianist and organist was joined in the studio by a multitude of vocalists and musicians. The result is a warm and breezy set of songs that perfectly encapsulate the musical melting pot that was Brazilian popular music at the time (think samba, MPB, jazz-funk, fusion, soul, funk and '60s beat music). Frederico's impeccable electric piano and organ playing feature heavily throughout, though they never dominate. Superb stuff all told.
Living In A Lie (feat Ale Chambers & De Konichiwa) (5:08)
I Can't Help Myself (feat Francoise D'Argent) (5:34)
Seal The Deal (feat Myles G) (4:28)
Gotta Give Up (My Love) (4:17)
By My Side (feat Rose Lemonade) (5:01)
Friend Or Freek (feat Cazeaux OSLO) (5:24)
Cafe Eliza (feat Myles G) (3:31)
Love Me Down (unreleased demo) (4:14)
Review: The Freekwency quartet are back with their second LP and, as you'd imagine, it's another high-calibre boogie trip that filters down into house and electro - precisely what you need on a mid-August weekender! Seal The Deal is choc-a-block with cameos, from peeps like Myles G or Francoise D'Argent, who respectively explore all the various elements of proto-house - from the vintage house of "I Can't Help Myself" to the classic, SAM-style boogie of "Gotta Give Up (My Love)". In essence, this album is a sure way to get people dancing, and by people we mean everyone in the damn room! Not a bum track in sight on here, so dig in and have a boogie or two...
Review: Durng the mid-to-late 1970s, the music scene in Nigeria was dominated by releases emerging from the recording studios of Lagos. Yet across in the Eastern city of Aba, groups who drew inspiration as much from American West Coast rock as the hard-edged funk of James Brown were making serious waves. Amongst these was the eight-piece Friimen Musik Company, whose obscure, 1978 album We Can Get It On has long been considered an overlooked classic. This reissue confirms that its fusion charms - think Afro-funk meets Steely Dan via Boz Scaggs and early Bee Gees - have not been eroded by the passage of time.