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: 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.
You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure (Alton Miller mix) (5:17)
Get Your Ass Off & Jam (Marcellus Pittman remix) (6:46)
Cosmic Slop (Moodymann mix) (9:26)
Music For My Mother (Andres Wo Ahh Ay vocal mix) (5:23)
Super Stupid (Dirtbombs version) (4:30)
Music 4 My Mother (Underground Resistance mix) (5:41)
Undisco Kidd (Gay Marvine edit) (5:46)
Take Your Dead Ass Home (The Fantasy version) (7:46)
Let's Take It To The Stage (Amp Fiddler Laugin @ Ya mix) (6:11)
Standing On The Verge (Anthony Shake Shakir & T Dancer remix) (5:37)
You & Your Folks (Claude Young Jr club mix) (6:43)
Be My Beach (Mophono & Tom Thump mix) (6:08)
You & Your Folks (Claude Young Jr dub) (5:55)
Let's Make It Last (Kenny Dixon Jr edit) (7:32)
Looking Back At You (Ectomorph Stripped & dubbed) (6:12)
Maggot Brain (BMG dub) (10:09)
Review: Given the brilliantly simple concept behind this fine compilation - contemporary Detroit producers remix Funkadelic - we're rather surprised nobody's done it before. With 17 varied re-rubs stretched across three slabs of wax, there's naturally plenty to enjoy. Highlights come thick and fast, from the deep house/P-funk fusion of Alton Miller's take on "Get Your Ass Off and Jam" and Andres' loose, hip-hop influenced revision of "Music For My Mother", to the thrusting loops and heady late night hypnotism of Anthony Shake Shakir and T-Dancer's version of "Standing on the Verge". While many of the versions stay relatively faithful to the original, the more "out-there" interpretations - see BMG's outer-space ambient dub of "Maggot Brain" and Moodymann's epic revision of "Cosmic Slop" - are also consistently impressive.