Seyoum Gebreyes & Wallias Band - "Muziqa Muziqa" (3:42)
Wallias Band - "Muziqawi Silt" (3:44)
Review: Destination Ethiopia: The Wallias Band are one of the country's longest standing troupes with over 20 years service to their name from the early 70s to early 90s and serious accomplishments such as being the first Ethiopian band to tour the USA. Here they're represented in all their full spread glory; "Muziqa Muziqa" has an almost northern soul dynamic with its speed and wily sax blasts from Seyoum while "Muziqawi Silt" is a much more measured, introspective affair. Beautiful.
Review: For their latest trawl into the world of rare soul and funk, Outta Sight has decided to reissue Lou Lawton's brilliant "Knick Knack Patty Wack", a punchy, horn-heavy and occasionally stomping 1967 cut that regularly changes hands for eye-watering sums online. Part of the appeal to collectors and DJs is the track's association with the British northern soul scene. The same could be said of Walter Wilson's "Love Keeps Me Crying", another 1967 recording that was only ever released in limited quantities as a "promo-only" 7" single. While not as sought-after as the Lou Lawton track on the A-side, its every bit as cheery and life affirming (despite the presence of rather melancholy lyrics above the driving Motor City production).
Review: The 62nd single in Mr Bongo's long-running Brazil 45s series is notable for containing Jose Prates' "Nana Imboro", a deep, hypnotic and intoxicating samba cut that was initially recorded and released way back in 1958. Relatively slow and steady by samba standards, its chanted refrain is thought to be the inspiration for Jorge Ben's much better known "Mas Que Nada". Wisely, Mr Bongo has backed Prates' sublime original with a 1960 cover by obscure Polish outfit Wroblewski Jazz Quintet. This dispenses with the chanting, instead increasing the number of intertwined horn parts. Given that original copies of the rare Polish EP it first appeared on will set you back serious money, it's great to see this fine cover included here.
Review: Outta Sight's latest monthly rare soul missive contains hard-to-find and overlooked classics from "hard-hitting" New Jersey vocal group Soul Brothers Six and New Orleans Rhythm and Blues man Willie Tee. It's the former's wonderfully sweet and loose "I'll Be Loving You" (first released in 1966, fact fans) that takes pride of place on the A-side, serving up a lightly sauteed soul take on the rhythm and blues template. Willie Tee's 1967 jam "Walking Up A One Way Street", a summery affair blessed with a superb horn section, leisurely groove and brilliant lead vocal from the man himself, can be found on the B-side.
Review: Beating Heart has shared the late Hugh Tracey's archive at the International Library of African Music (ILAM) with contemporary producers and keeping in line with Tracey's vision, all proceeds will be used to assist people in the areas where the music was originally recorded. This time, Warp Records and all round UK electronica legend Luke Vibert gives us the delightful oddball groove that is "Africable", Italian DJ Clap! Clap! Gives us the African polyrhythms via Detroit high-tech soul on "Kulira" while Los Angeles duo With You give us the sublime "No Resistance". Each 1500 albums sold will feed a school of 500 forever! Support a great cause and feed your ears with some wonderful music while you're at it.
Review: While he lived a musical life that spanned from boogie to gospel before he passed away in 2016, Nairobi's David Waciuma didn't get to record much. He was known much more for his live performances with bands such as The Monks Experience then, later, Rapture Voices who he recorded these two records in the mid-70s. "Devil Go" is a thumping rhythm and blues call and response piece while "Jesu Kristo" hits with more of a frazzled bluesy funk. Both make you wish he recorded much more.
Review: Back in the autumn, Wack Wack Rhythm Band launched the WWRB label, in the process dropping their first single in six years. This speedy follow-up is similarly impressive. For us, it's all-about A-side "Madras Express", a speeding, funk-fuelled journey through meandering saxophone solos, punchy horn breaks, fast-fingered electric bass, spacey Moog motifs and all manner of layered additional percussion. That said, there's also much to admire about Hammond funk workout "Stay Pressed", where jammed out solos and lead lines come accompanied by sharp guitar riffs, Mod-era lead guitar solos and the kind of stomping beat that would excite even the most miserable of Northern Soul enthusiasts. It also contains an absolutely killer drum solo, which is something we at least can't get enough of.
Review: Released in celebration of Expansion's recent re-serving of two of Leon's early 80s albums - Rockin' You Eternally and Leon Ware - here's a delightful 45 that reminds us of his finest solo moments. "Why I Came To California" is a sun-kissed soul boogie groove with big horns and even bigger chorus. "Rockin' You Eternally" (which is, let's face it, one of the smoothest song titles to ever come from the 80s) showcases Leon's softer side. A ballad steeped in sentiment, play this loud enough and everyone in a five mile radius will stop and get smoochy.
Review: Gene Washington, a modern US soul man, appears here for Colemine alongside The Ironsides in what is perhaps the label's best single in a good while. "Next To You" is a gorgeous song, the sort of soul slinger that instantly turns the heads and lifts the moods without any fancy tricks, just powerful vocals. "I Still Love Them All" is equally stunning, but it's moodier, a more pensive soul tune that evokes feelings of euphoria in moments of self-healing and self-reflection. Recommended.
Review: The music that makes up Harmony of Difference, Kamasi Washington's first EP of note since the release of acclaimed 2015 album The Epic, was premiered live as a "six-track movement" earlier this year. The "suite" - here stretched across both sides of an essential 12" - sees Washington continue to explore the idea of what it means to be black in America in the 21st century. Musically, the EP contains some of his smoothest and most laidback compositions yet, with all his musical collaborators being on fine form. The headline attraction is undoubtedly 14-minute flipside "The Truth", an almost operatic jazz epic full of swelling choral contributions, fizzing drum solos, rising horns and, of course, plenty of Washington's distinctive saxophone.
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: A brief glance at a high-profile second-hand vinyl website confirms that original copies of Henry Wenceslas Thenard's obscure 1985 zouk cut "Ne Dis Pas Cela" (or, as we say in English, "Don't Say That") are not only incredibly hard to come by, but also change hands for extortionate amounts. This reissue, then, is rather handy for those without super-sized record-buying budgets. Thenard's jaunty, horn-heavy and sun-kissed original version resides on the A-side, with Mr Bird providing fresh reworks on the flip. On his "Rework", the French scene veteran gives the cut a disco-zouk feel, placing choice elements of Thenard's original mix (mainly the horns and vocals) above a chunky new beat. That beat naturally comes to the fore on his admirably percussive DJ Tool.
Review: Stunning stuff here from the mysterious but utterly intriguing West Loop Chicago, an outfit only known for two previous releases on City Volt and nothing else. Taking cues from the broken beat and jazz scenes, this new record is a force to be reckoned with, not least as "The Serpent" comes wheeling in with a skittering drum funk and bugging synth lines to send you pinging into the cosmos. On the flip, "Divinity" has a more organic feel with Rhodes keys and piano dancing across the rhythms - these aren't specifically billed as edits, but given the project's background in disco re-rubs it's safe to assume these are two soul jazz bombs buffed up for your wild card spinning pleasure. There's even bonus beats for each track included - how considerate!
Review: When it comes to contemporary takes on '80s synth-soul and drum machine heavy boogie-funk, few labels are quite as consistent as Omega Supreme. The U.S imprint's latest missive is another synthesizer-driven revivalist masterpiece. It comes from Westbrook, a new alias of Venturi man Olivier Azemar. A-side "Makin' Clouds" is slow, spacey and atmospheric, with Azemar wrapping cute synth motifs and dreamy electronic chords around rich boogie bass and ricocheting, delay-laden drums. If anything, flipside "Situations" is even better. It cleverly alternates between spacey sections rich in high register lead lines and rubbery grooves that recall the greats of turn-of-the-80s P-funk.
Review: Since launching last year, the Dynamite Cuts has delivered a string of killer seven-inch singles featuring sought-after cuts from fantastic old albums and this is another must-have along the same lines. It boasts two tracks from Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers' 1970 debut album, "Doing What We Wanna Do", neither of which have appeared on a "45" before. You'll find a riotous Hammond funk explosion rich in energetic, break-driven drumming and wild trumpet and organ solos on the B-side, with the similarly sweaty title track nestling on the A. This insatiable number is altogether deeper and looser in feel, with tasty group vocals rising above bustling drums, warm Hammond lines and punchy sax solos.
Review: Having bubbled away in the LA funk scene since forming in 2015, the trio comprising drummer Michael Duffy, organist Frank Carey and guitarist Matt Hornbeck finally unleash their debut recording and it's a serious mission of funk intent. "Get To Steppin'" fulfils its motivational title with rapid boogaloo pace and wild jazz fusion in both the organ and guitar leads. "Blinded" is more of a classic instrumental funk piece with yet more wily organ adventures taking the lead over an insanely tight groove. Blinding.