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).
Good Good Lovin' (Hifi Sean & Yam Who? edit) (3:58)
Review: Recently, legendary American dance producer Arthur Baker discovered two tracks in his storage on 1/4" tape recorded in 1979. He asked Hifi Sean (aka Sean Dickson of The Soup Dragons) to rework them - who brought on board Riot Recordings boss Yam Who? and they quickly got to work resurrecting these soulful disco anthems. On the A side, we have the souled-up disco power of "Reachin'" featuring Minnie Gardner's powerful vocals, then get prepared to get down proper to the group vocals and epic brass section in the uplifting "Good Good Lovin'" (Hifi Sean & Yam Who? edit) all accompanied by Baker's immaculate production style.
Review: Baby Ford's minimal minded label is back in action with some psyched-out goodness from Alex Celler. The long-serving Greek producer has many strings to his bow, but this release finds him tapping into his foundational sound as a steady ticking groove carries a richly produced bed of chimes and tones for the deepest moments in the dance. Where "Feudade" is a lilting, soothing trip, "Vis A Vis" heads into a more mysterious headspace peppered with nagging rhythmic trysts, crafty licks and fulsome bass to get the synapses popping. It's exactly how stripped down house music should be done, inventive to the last and yet utterly danceable.
Review: New York City-based trio Escort are back for the first time since their Animal Nature LP from 2015. Their new track "Slide" was co-written with NYC soul artist Denitia and drives you gently with this west coast influenced roller produced by Eugene Cho and Jkriv - and featuring Adeline's wonderful vocal delivery. We absolutely adored this slick and low slung boogie-down number. For something more uplifting (and with dancefloor dynamics) you can try the classic '70s disco explosion of "Ride" (feat Brian Jackson) on the flip, which calls to mind the classic vibe of masters like Salsoul, Moulton Studios et al.
This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
All The Way (feat Tyler Daley & Kaidi Tatham) (4:00)
All The Way (feat Tyler Daley & Kaidi Tatham - Flutestrumental) (3:59)
Review: A warm welcome back to the Darkhouse Family, Cardiff's finest purveyors of soul-fired instrumental hip-hop and jazz-funk flavoured broken beats. The good news is that "All The Way", which features the combined talents of guests Tyler Daley and Kaidi Tatham, is every bit as good as anything on their superb 2017 album "The Offering". The A-side original version, in particular, is superb - a languid chunk of head-nodding hip-hop soul rich in double bass, drowsy jazz horns, twinkling pianos and impassioned, emotive vocals. That said, the instrumental flipside revision, which includes extended flute solos where the vocals once say, is also impeccable.
Review: Owen Jay & Melchior Sultana's track Contrasts featuring singer Mykle Anthony which was originally released on BBR07 on Kiss The Sun EP receives the remix treatment from the Spanish Brothers, Dubbyman & Above Smoke. Both tracks have the distinct Deep Explorer Sound of real depth and warm grooves. This is the first vinyl from a forthcoming series of 10".
Review: "Is the Cornuta Sound's return after a long resting time. This new 10" contains one of the most saved songs by Above Smoke (Deep Explorer) that runs into the jazz world and an outro take for djs. The flipside brings a great rework by the label boss (W&P Hgg)."
Review: Is It Balearic? started the Uber sublabel up a few years ago, but 2017 has undoubtedly been the strongest year so far for the imprint. Following excellent stints from Serene, Wawawiwas and Bonnie & Klein, Max Manetti makes a debut appearance with a self-titled EP loaded with just the kind of slick, instrument-led island grooves we've come to expect from the Uber stamp. From the dense tropical trip of "Jungle Prayer" to the laconic guitar licks of "Dub Macumba", the cyclical mysticism of "Changuinola" on to "Garrison" with its considered piano chops and stiff breaks, this is an EP of proficient musicianship and eclectic funk for all manner of situations.
Review: Although well known on the funk circuit for their incendiary live performances, the Soul Grenades have yet to translate their hard-hitting, horn-heavy sound to wax. It's for this reason that "A Blast Of Funk!", their debut single, has caused such a commotion. It boasts fresh recordings of two of the most popular cover versions in their armoury. The pick of the pair is undoubtedly their riotous rendition of "Get Lucky", which is re-imagined as a tasty funk-soul work out smothered in headline-grabbing, New Orleans style brass. That said, their version of "Louie Louie" is rather good, too, especially the addition of Meters style Hammond organ licks. As played by Craig Charles on BBC 6,The Allergies, Snowboy, Smoov,Boca 45 , Voodoo Cuts, Aldo Vanucci, Daytoner,Dom Servini, Jack & Wayne Hemingway. Don't sleep!
Review: If you're a talented soul vocalist who wants an authentically fuzzy late 1960s sound, you could do worse than join forces with Timmion Records' in-house backing band, Cold Diamond & Mink. They're in fine form here providing admirable backing to rising star Carlton Jumel Smith. "Love Our Love Affair" is undeniably attractive, with Smith's confident and emotion-rich vocal rising above the band's hazy horns, languid trumpet solos, sun-bright guitar licks and lolloping, hip-hop style funk-soul beats. As is customary, the band's tidy instrumental version can be found - and enjoyed - on the flip.
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Review: Following a strong cast including Myles Serge, John Barera, DJ Skull and Hakim Murphy, Mentha continues its strong run of form with a various artists 12" that broadens the horizons of the high-grade deep house label. Michael Lovatt keeps things groovy and understated on "Tides", while Kareen Ali gets into a slow and trippy mood on "Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez". Anaxander's "Unspoken" brings some neo-soul synth lines to the table, and Michael Zucker turns out a brooding, introspective workout. Each track may have its own traits, but the whole record hangs together as a fine next step for a promising label.
Review: Steve Kahn & Co. are yet another of those curios of the early 80s that Best Italy have dug out, dusted down, spruced up and repressed for your eclectic party pleasure. "Got To Have Your Loving" is a pure feel good jam at every turn - it's got a very natural, live band sound mixed by the legendary Tee Scott that especially makes the aqueous bass playing shine through. Whether you plump for the vocal or the instrumental, this is the kind of record that could set a wedding party on fire as much as a serious heads-down disco funk session. You'll no doubt get a lot of mileage out of this one, and have a great time in the process.
Review: The Bush is a homage to the place where I have lived for the last decade (Askew Road). The Askew Road itself is slowly changing so I wanted to document all the places that play a big part in mine and my families' lives before they eventually get sold for more flats or Tescos. 002 was all about the mighty Sun pub which has now been sold and transformed into a Costa coffee and an estate agents. Next up is our local park which hopefully will never see change as its been our little slice of heaven in w12 since we moved here.
Review: In what is surely an unexpected collaboration in the field of house and techno, Mosaic mastermind Steve O'Sullivan teams up with Ricardo Villalobos for a hypnotic trip through minimal landscapes that plays to both of their strengths. The rock-solid rhythm of "Sullric" surely belongs to O'Sullivan while the rich, subtle layers of samples, tones and other such sonic decorations come straight from the Villalobos school of production. The two mixes on this 12" only have minor differences - whichever side you drop things will get considerably deeper than they were previously. Of such ingredients are classy, immersive techno joints made.
Review: The Bassiani label is the platform for the infamous Georgian club to present its sound to the wider world, and it does so in fantastic fashion with this run of various artist releases. This fourth release kicks off with the dark, textured and brilliantly rendered techno immersion of Cassegrain's "Departure Seven", while Ersatz Olfolks gets a little more heated with the strafing synth work that courses out of "Straight Road". Hector Oaks is also in a rowdy frame of mind with the peak time belter "Move In Circles, Walk On Lines", and it's down to Thomas Hessler to cool things off with the heart-rending electro of "Memories".
Review: It's quite a surprise that perennial Italian disco jammer DJ Rocca hasn't linked up with Rothmans before, but on the label's first release of 2016 he makes up for lost time with a grip of tracks positively dripping with full-fat synthy goodness. "Kratos" packs in a serious Italo thrum with its wonderful arpeggio bassline, bursting with optimism as every buoyant lead line piles on top of the forward-marching beat. "400 Fonk" meanwhile flips the script with a cheeky, bouncy beast of an analogue jam to get heads nodding like Wally Badarou just took the controls. Daniele Baldelli then blasts "Kratos" into the stratosphere with his muscular "Electropsychomix".
Review: Mukatsuku's long running "Afro Funk & Disco Gems" series has always been a reliable source of obscure, high-quality dancefloor material from the African continent. This tenth edition is another must-have - on the A-side you'll find the synth-laden, boogie-era sunshine of "Everybody Dance", one of the undisputed highlights of Peter Yamson's in-demand (and notably hard to find) "Son Of Africa" LP. With wonderful vocals, glistening guitars, lolloping drum machine beats and some stellar synth work, the track ticks all the right boxes. Over on the flip there's a chance to own Cameroon legend Tala Andre Marie's 1981 classic "Get Up Tchamassi", whose snaking sax lines, elastic slap bass and dreamy chords are nothing less than sensational.As played by The Allergies,Joe Claussell,Smoov,Kalita, Faze Action,DJ Moar etc
Review: Bonnie & Klein can often be found cruising round labels like Music For Dreams and Leng, imparting tender touches of Balearic finery for those who like to cruise on the slinkiest of 80s flavoured jams. They're on cracking form for this return to Uber, kicking off with the sultry "Tones Of Ballad", which gets a subtle beefing up from Drifts Projects on the remix. "Pretty Lake" is the cut for those who want to achieve pure transcendental bliss by way of canned slap bass and sustained chords, and then "Snowdrifts" finishes the EP off with a thoughtful piece shaped out by sweet piano and stirring strings.
Review: Coming to life on a hazy cloud of natural instrumentation and meditative composition, Modern Manners tap into the appetite for delicate new age musings beautifully on this debut release. "Amor Y Odio" is laced with Spanish guitar musings that spiral out over a simple but effective drum break that harks back to classic downtempo, while "Running With Me" edges towards a more sprightly lounge headspace while retaining the rich musicality felt on the first track. "Instant Illusion" is propelled by a bassline that wouldn't sound out of place on a house track, but here its punching out in a subtle, laid back environment that aims to get you horizontal in the most sophisticated way possible.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: After years of staggering second hand prices, London's Silverlining is addressing the demand for some of his early work by issuing a series of 12"s with some of the finest tracks from his mid '90s era. This time around the tracks come from releases on Wiggle and Wrong, and they sound like they haven't aged one bit. "Pleasures & Treasures" is an upfront burner steeped in 909 drums and hubby synth tones, while "Ni-Cd Deluxe" works up a nagging line in emotive electro. "Spannered In Dub" may well be the track that gets the most airings with its minimal disposition, strong rhythm section and utterly addictive groove.
Jeremy Castillo - "Beat Dat" (feat Vin Sol) (4:24)
Review: Unknown To The Unknown spreads its wings with a new sublabel dedicated specifically to jacking house jams for proper white-knuckle party times. Steven BC turns the acid intensity up to 11 with the devastatingly on-point "Flanger Zone", while Mall Grab reaches for a classic bit of disco funk to sample and filter mercilessly. Lawrence Lee meanwhile opts for a playful, budget take on Eastern electro on "Pyongyang Rhythm" before Jeremy Castillo and Vin Sol return to primal Trax Records territory for "Beat Dat". It's a release that marks House Crimes out as a natural descendant from UTTU's irreverent approach to dance music, without compromising on the quality.
Review: Wow, classics don't come much more special than this. A like-for-like repress of the 1970 RCA release, both sides here are soaked in Scott Heron's raw troubled soul. The endlessly sampled, hugely powerful and perfectly funky "Revolution" remains almost as poignant and prophetic as it was the day it was penned. "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is much more personal and reveals his talent as a singer as much as the lead track boasts his poetry and ability to deliver a strong message.