Blackbird (Joaquin edits & Overdubs bonus beats Organ dub) (8:16)
Rebel Nina (1:24)
Review: Here's a special club 12" for serious heads dealing in a set of mixes of "Blackbird". You have to come correct when you dare step to Nina Simone, but you know full well the cast of characters assembled on this 12" can be trusted with the high priestess of soul. Timmy Regisford is up first, bringing some intense organ lines and Lately bass into the mix with a perfect balance between jubilant expression and tension. Joe Claussell then steps up with two different edit and overdub versions, where the organs get poured on more liberally and the whole jam boils over. As a wonderful bonus element, you get a powerful acapella monologue from Nina Simone to close out the B side.
Review: The tireless team at Mukatsuku are back with another of their carefully curated volumes of Original Ghanaian Highlife & Afrobeat Classics. This is another monster offering that this time focusses on two legends of the scene. ''What Is Life'' from Ebo Taylor & Uhuru Yenzu's 1980 album ''Conflict Nkru!" has next level brass and flute playing and afro rhythms driving you onwards. It has earworms a plenty and stays long in the memory. The fipside is a first ever appearance for ''Gyae Su'' from Pat Thomas - who was also on Volume 1. His version is jangly, full of licks and feel good afro grooves.
Review: American hip hop gang The Ultramagnetic MCs hail from the Bronx and bring that real rawness each and every time. Founded by Kool Keith in 1984, the group also included Ced Gee, TR Love and Moe Love and their 1989 classic "Give The Drummer Some" is a stone cold rhyme that is well worth reissuing. It has drums tighter than tennis racket strings and crisp wooden hits, tons of vinyl crackle and of course some slick verse work. "Moe Luv's Theme" brings the funky breaks and scratching, reversed stabs and lively rhymes. As far as pieces of early hip hop history go, they don't come much finer.
Review: Juno colour vinyl exclusive ! Back in 1992, Billy Garner's "Brand New Girl" was unearthed in the vast vaults of New Day owner Dave Hamilton. He soon got it out there and it just as quickly became an instant deep funk classic. It was only a limited release, though, so it has since gone on to become much sought after and rather pricey little number. Now given a new lease of life, it sounds as vital and moving as it did back then, so is sure to remain a grail record for soul lovers everywhere. "I Got Some" (part 1) is less hard hitting, but strikes an equally impactful emotional note.
Review: Five years on from the release of the first seven-inch, Mako and Mr Bristow's Soul Edits" series reaches volume six. On the A-side's "Stealin Alright" they get to work on a riotous slab of funk-rock heaviness from the golden age of the sound - albeit one whose sweaty drum breaks, weighty bass and gravelly guitars also come accompanied by steel pan melodies. It's an odd combination but one that works really well. Over on side B, "Stealin' Nolan" is a tidy edit of another rhythm and blues style dancefloor workout, this time rich in stomping drums, memorable guitar riffs and stomping, Northern Soul style drums.
Billy Hawks - "(O Baby) I Do Believe I'm Losing You" (3:03)
Review: This Juno colour vinyl exclusive finds Linda Lyndell serve up her own majestic cover of the classic "What A Man." Her vocal is smooth and buttery but also laden with gravitas, while the sweeping horns and jazzy keys all around her help to lift the spirits. On the flip is an ice cold slice of funk from Billy Hawks in the form of his "(O Baby) I Do Believe I'm Losing You". It's raw soul that glides at high speed with plenty of hip swinging claps. This is a much sought after reissue that will shift quick, so make sure you do too.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "Remember Me" (feat Cold Diamond & Mink) (4:09)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Remember Me" (4:18)
Review: "Remember Me" was one of the most effervescent and up-tempo moments on Carlton Jumel Smith's 2019 album "1634 Lexington Avenue", so it's terrific to see Timmion giving the song a seven-inch single release. Backed by in-house Timmion band Cold Diamond & Mink, New York's modern "Mr Soul" delivers a scintillating lead vocal above a rousing 1960s soul instrumental laden with killer bass, sustained horns and bustling breakbeats. It comes accompanied by Cold Diamond and Mink's instrumental version, which as usual with Timmion is exclusive to this "45" release. If fresh, sixties-sounding soul is your thing, you need this in your life.
Review: Although they would go on to become one of New York's most iconic hip-hop crews, the Ultramagnetic MC's were fresh-faced newcomers when they first popped up on Next Plateau Records - an imprint better-known for its proto-house and post-boogie releases - in 1986 with debut single "Ego Trippin". As this first ever seven-inch edition proves, it remains a stone cold classic: a heavy, stripped-back "golden era" gem in which the group's multiple MC's aim to get the party started over an iconic beat and weighty electronic bassline. As with the original version, it comes backed by flipside "Funky Potion", a scratch-happy, similarly constructed number full to bursting with effervescent rhymes, crunchy beats and distinctive bass.
Review: Back in 2014 Galcher Lustwerk and Palms Trax were both emergent artists making their first tentative steps into the scene. While they may be thoroughly distinct in their sounds, they found some crossover in an exchange of remixes, with Lustwerk's take on "Forever" appearing on Lobster Theremin. Palms Trax returned the favour with a version of Lustwerk's "Soul Control" which never saw the light of day until now. While it's certainly redolent of the earlier phase of Palms Trax's career, the effervescent musicality at the heart of the release is still completely in step with Palmsy as we know and love him today, replete with Lustwerk's inimitable laconic vocal delivery over the top.
Review: There's been plenty of great "golden era" hip-hop reissued on wax lately, mostly via tidy and on-point seven-inch singles. Here's another, as Mr Bongo offers up a replica edition of the increasingly scarce "45" of Black Sheep's 1991 scene anthem "Strobelite Honey" - a playful and fun-packed affair that still gets feet moving 29 years after it first hit clubs. On the A-side you'll find the superior "Maybe We Did Remix", in which Dres's entertaining lyrics about courting a woman at a club ride crunchy drums, scratches, squally high pitched horn sounds and a wealth of killer samples. Turn to the flip for the far funkier original version, which lifts warm, squelchy and groovy elements from early '80s disco cuts by Change and Luther Vandross.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "Help Me (Save Me From Myself)" (feat Cold Diamond & Mink) (3:31)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Help Me (Save Me From Myself)" (instrumental) (3:34)
Review: Since first joining forces with Timmion's in-house band Cold Diamond & Mink two years ago, New York singer Carlton Jumel Smith has delivered a string of sublime singles and a must-check album, 2019's "1634 Lexington Avenue". It's from that set that his latest single is taken. "Help Me (Save Me From Myself)" is another emotive, 1960s soul style gem in which Smith passionately cries for help from a mystery woman over a typically on-point Cold Diamond & Mink backing track rich in hazy horns, wah-wah guitars and a laidback mid-tempo groove. The quality of the group's playing and production is laid bare in all its glory on the flipside instrumental version, which is naturally exclusive to this "45" release. Like the rest of Smith's singles, this is a must-have.
Review: Reggae veteran Nick Manasseh, and David Hill formerly of the Ballistic Brothers, here make a welcome return to Acid Jazz for a first new offering since their 1998 album Shining. The results have already been getting high praise from reggae don David Rodigan and and radio tastemaker Giles Peterson, and the single is a hard-hitting one with nice fluid, silky guitar from Ernest Ranglin riding up top. This comes on the heels of Soul Revivers digital debut "Harder" which got plenty of plaudits, and is just as essential.
Review: This is the second reissue of godlier standard early rap and hip hop work from The Ultramagnetic MCs that is out this month. "Traveling At The Speed Of Thought" comes from their debut Critical Beatdown album in 1989 and is a real hard hitting tune stuffed with all sorts of punchy breaks that are easily recognisable and have since been heavily sampled by the likes of The Beastie Boys. The Ultramagnetic MC's were pioneers of hip hop in the late '80s and this shows why with its confident lyrical flow, big beats and brash vibes. Mr Bongo, of course, always do it right and that's the truth again here with this vital 7".
Review: Chicago veteran Boo Williams has put out almost as many records as his good friend Glenn Underground, and almost all of them are high-class. His latest limited-edition missive is, somewhat predictably, another gem. Opener "Tribulation" is sweet and spacey, with Williams wrapping fizzing, techno-tempo drums and bubbly bass in intergalactic synths sounds and chords so emotive you might start blubbing on the dancefloor. It comes accompanied by a deeper, acid-flecked flipside dub that also boasts some exciting new synth solos (track three) and a slightly slower, but no less energetic or musically positive, bonus cut called "Mental State". Predictably, this is every bit as alluring as the EP's other tracks.
Review: On the fifth volume in his 2020 Donuts series of party-starting "45s", Bristolian break-digger and beat-maker Boca 45 joins forces with Ash the Author, a Reading-based mic man who has been tipped for great things by a number of more experienced MCs. He makes his presence felt on "Party Rockers", delivering distinctive lyrics over a rock-solid beat peppered with tight scratches and moody, horn style stabs. Boca 45 ups the tempo on heavyweight flipside "Batacuda Battlebox", a riotous cut-and-paste affair crafted from Latin style drum samples, booming bass and the West Country producer's usual sneaky and inventive instrumental snippets.
Review: Over the past few years, Johnny Rock has proved to be one of the shrewdest re-editors around, delivering must-check reworks of thoroughly obscure gems that tend towards the exotic and intoxicating. Further proof of his dusty-fingered, scalpel-wielding genius can be found on this Orange Tree Edits outing. Check first the rubbery, off-kilter '80s electro-flex of "Kat-Woman Do", before admiring the Mascara-sporting, New Romantic style synth-pop goodness of "Bitter Juice". Elsewhere, he offers up some skewed, percussion-rich late-night eccentricity (the delightfully weird "Hippie Jam") and successfully dances his way through some Communism-era Yugoslav post-punk heaviness ("Streets of Belgrade").
Review: Over the last few years, Gigi Testa has become renowned for delivering sun-kissed tracks and re-edits that variously draw influence from deep house, Afro-cosmic, Balearica, and jazz-funk. This edit-focused two-tracker continues on a similar theme. "Latin Jazz-Dance (Voodoo Edit)" is simply superb - an effervescent, rush-inducing re-model of a Latin jazz-funk number rich in layered percussion, breezy flute solos, bouncy piano riffs and suitably ambidextrous fretless bass. In contrast, "Electric Counterpoint (Dream Edit)" is a totally beat-free affair. It sees him go to work on the Steve Reich/Pat Metheny classic of the same name, adding dubbed-out effects and subtle vocal overdubs here and there. Like the original version, it's blissful, awe-inspiring stuff.
Review: Bristol beat-maker, break-digger and turntablist Boca 45 has released some pretty special material this year, most of it on the 2020 Donuts imprint he inaugurated back in January. There's naturally much to set the pulse racing on the series fourth instalment, a highly limited green vinyl affair that we think will simply fly out of stores. A-side "Take You Higher" is a bustling instrumental hip-hop number based around slack-tuned breakbeats, heavyweight bass, cut-up guitar riffs and all manner of cheeky spoken word snippets. Vocalist Alison Garner guests on superb flipside "Hummingbird", a hybrid hip-hop/bossa-nova number blessed with mazy Hammond organ solos, bold piano stabs and extra-special percussion.
Review: Philly soul star Billy Paul made some great records during his mid 1970s heyday, though few are quite as sublime as "Let The Dollar Circulate", a passionate plea for economic equality that adds sumptuous orchestration and serious dancefloor chops to the then popular conscious soul template. Paul's lead vocal is superb, while Gamble and Huff's production is as good as you'd expect. Remarkably, this is the first time the track has featured on a 12" single, so props to Be With Records for spotting a gap in the market. You certainly need it in your life - honestly, it's incredible - while flipside "East", an incredible chunk of spiritual soul recorded in 1971, is every bit as awesome. Recommended.
Review: Isle of Jura boss Kev Griffiths has spent a lot of time digging into the Caribbean disco-reggae scene over the last few years, so it should come as no surprise that he's uncovered a slew of gems from obscure Jamaican duo The Pearls to reissue. Norman Watson and Stanley Shaw originally made their name in the late 1970s with a string of dancefloor-focused disco-rap and disco-reggae records, but it's 1980's "On & On" - here issued for the first time on 12"- that could well be their finest hour. It's a sparse, squelchy mixture of rubbery synth-bass, light disco instrumentation and party-starting rap vocals. It comes accompanied by the original "all-star" dub mix, and a brilliant new extended edit from Waxist that makes the most of elements from both versions.
Review: A Black Man's Soul is an instrumental album by Ike Turner & the Kings of Rhythm from 1969. Turner wrote the songs with a host of other musicians and it showed off a side to him that hadn't been heard before. It was packed with traditional and simple funk that was as raw and lo-fi as you like, and one of the bigger tracks from it was "Getting Nasty" which has been synced to a number of films and adverts over the years. It's an authentic cut that bristles with gauzy textures and realness. On the flip, "Getting Nasty" (Conomark & Hong Kong edit) is more playful and funky.
Review: The man with the Masterplan returns to Daptone after last year's "Casual Encounter". Once again it's a two-sides-two-vibes situation as the 30-year-standing funk veteran flexes his strengths. "Get With The Program" lives up to its name with total boogie badness, falsetto fire and a bassline so juicy Dapton's vaults have been flooded. "Heads Or Tails" flips to reveal Shorts' smoochier palette. Rich, honeyed vocals and a steamy message: everyone's a winner.
Review: Dial into some super smooth soul vibes on this fine reissue of some classic 1980 action from Floridian artist Charles Jonson. It's a formidable offering that gets you on a glow slow mood on opener "Baby I Cried Cried Cried". The languid vocals are stretched over gently tumbling drums, chord stabs pick you up before then dropping you back down into a romantic late night vibe. "Never Had A Love So Good" is more upbeat but just as silky and seductive, with deft hi hats and student drums taking you home.
Review: Hot new French label Happiness Therapy run by ascendant DJ/producer Crowd Control proudly presents a brilliant double header following up a great inauguration by CC himself and Popka. HT02 features Vancouverite Jesse Bru on the A side, with the late night dusty deepness of "Uncle Frank" (which ventures into hypnotic acid territory later on) followed by the emotive and bittersweet vibe of "Good Life" which is absolutely wonderful. On the flip, rising Welshman Harrison BDP brings the goods as always: with the immersive dub techno flavour of "Eternal Space" followed by "Parallax" which similarly explores the cavernous and glacial aesthetics of Basic Channel and Echospace.
Review: Shawn Lee's country-soul album "Rides Again" was well received in late 2019 and saw him play it in full at shows across Europe. On one of the days off from the show, the band head to Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Studio and recorded this new single direct to tape, and it was mixed by studio owner Dennis Rux. Lee himself says the "Wichita Lineman" original by Jimmy Webb is a real masterpiece that means a lot to him and he has recorded a number of versions over the years. He adds his own unique spin to it here and backs it up with "Joyland," which is just ass magic.
Review: Dana Ruh's third album, a vinyl-only affair stretched across three slabs of wax, is undoubtedly her most expansive and ambitious set to date. Yet while musically eclectic - compare and contrast the spaced-out ambient style minimalist electronica of "Revertigo", the jazz-flecked tech-house hypnotism of "Mr Bang", the bustling breakbeat sweetness of "Gran" and 15-minute fusion of two-step and St Germain style jazz-tronica warmth of fine closing cut "Cross My Mind" - the whole thing hangs together impressively thanks to the German producer's extensive use of dreamy pads, glassy-eyed instrumentation, and the kind of yearning melodies that were once the preserve of turn-of-the-'90s Italian deep house producers. It's a smart and addictive combination that makes for hugely enjoyable listening.
Give Myself To You (DJ Spinna Galactic Soul remix vocal) (8:01)
Give Myself To You (DJ Spinna Galactic Soul remix instrumental) (8:00)
Review: GLOW is a team of composers, producer and songwriters who work on solo projects as well as part of various groups, and they have a lush indie soul sound. Their "Ten of Diamonds" featuring the legendary voice of UK soul, Omar, is now revisited and remixed by a crack team of artists. Don-E goes first with a laidback, sun kissed version to make you well up with romantic feels. After an album version and a cosmic tinged, slow motion funk and soul jam known as "Track 3", the ever on point DJ Spinna serves up two fresh versions with jazzy chords and deep soul vibes that take you late into the night.
Review: On his previous EPs and singles for the likes of Natural Sciences and Emotsiya, Vaseline Sunny Seppa AKA Sansibar has proved adept at delivering otherworldly, off-kilter electro that pairs icy melodies with warm chords, angular acid lines and beats that pop and crackle with giddy dancefloor intensity. "Targeted Individuals", his debut album, expands on this, in part by wrapping his futurist visions in emotive chord sequences, melancholic motifs and occasional bouts of paranoid intensity. It's a blueprint that guarantees far-sighted and ear-catching thrills, with the album's brazen club cuts - see the foreboding hustle of "My Mind" and deliciously Kraftwerkian "Body Rock" - being outnumbered by deeper, more contemplative compositions. Impressive.
Review: There are certain songs so eternal they could be re-edited and repressed into infinity and never grow old. There are also certain remixers and re-editors that can be trusted with even the biggest of anthems, and Psychemagick are surely up there. Taking on Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place" and Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere" is no mean feat, when the originals were such pop perfection to begin with. Balancing the scales between a fresh treatment and solemn respect for the sanctity of the original versions, these versions simply add a little oomph in the rhythm section and apply smatterings of blissful, dubbed-out FX where it counts to send these perennial favourites into the stratosphere.
Review: This is the first time ever you can own The Beasties' entire set, as performed at the Open Air Festival in St Gallen, on vinyl. This, then, also marks the first live release of this period from the band's long and illustrious career, and one of the first to feature the legendary Mix Master Mike on stage with the rest of the crew. He takes care of the intro and then its straight into hard bars and crashing hits, blistering drum rhythms and mad scratching. This is an essential cop for any and all Beastie Boys fans.
Review: Surreal was a sublabel of Swag Records that operated around the tech house scene of the mid to late '90s. After 17 years of silence, the label awakens from its slumber to repress a few of the choicest cuts from the back catalogue. First up is Ron & Roland, otherwise known as Laurant Webb, whose acid-laced "Nassaur Bassed Party" sounds as fresh and infectious as it did back in '96. Spacebunny's self-titled opus takes thing deeper, but there's still a strident metallic groove that harks back to the early days of tech house in fine style. Cheeky trio Coke, Stoned & Bailey's only made a couple of drops on Surreal, but "Your Dad" is surely one of the strongest - a rubbery acid line and splashes of dub all over the shop.
Review: Matthew "Bushwacka!" B may not be as high profile a producer as he once was, but it's worth remembering that he was once one of the leading lights of both the early UK tech-house movement and the recently revived breakbeat house sound. The two tracks featured here touch on both styles in a roundabout way, and were first released way back in 1997. "Traffic Jam" is an insatiable, funk-fuelled peak-time workout that sees the London scene mainstay pepper a vintage, electro-influenced breakbeat house groove with UK garage style bass, fizzing scratch sounds, warm deep house chords and selected vocal samples. "Bus Stop" meanwhile is jaunty and melodious, with chiming, ear-pleasing riffs riding crunchy house drums and the kind of booming bassline that was all the rage in London at the time of recording.
Review: It's been a while since Zolta Pal last used the Jaffa Surfa alias. In fact, his last outing under the pseudonym dropped three years ago on Houseworx (the US garage-flavoured Pimpin' EP). This three-tracker happily finds him in fine form, delivering a more tech-tinged trio of aquatic deep house cuts. There's naturally plenty to enjoy, from the subterranean shuffle and liquid melodies of "Bazz" and heavy percussive bump of "Psy Lance" - all thickset, multi-tracked drums, calming pads and fizzing electronics - to the beatless bliss of "Preacha Bonus", which - unsurprisingly given the title - features a deep south preacher chatting over heady ambient chords.
Review: Limited white vinyl reissue....Chicago's Pastor T.L. Barrett has been known for more than four decades as an activist and pastor and for a certain scandal in the late '80s but most of all for gospel records "Like A Ship...(Without A Sail)" as well as this very album that gets a much needed reissue on the Gospel Roots label who have also brought us the likes of Roscoe Robinson and The Dixie Hummingbirds. Originally recorded at the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Universal Awareness, "Do Not Pass Me By" and seen on Miami's TK Disco offshoot. As a press release describes best it "is a real Gospel beauty and features eight tracks of resplendent hands in the air rejoicement.". Worth the price alone for ''I want To Be In Love''....The album comes with the original sleeve artwork and design
Review: Fresh from an impressive outing on Lazare Hoche Records, rejuvenated duo Zoo Look pop up on E-Beamz with two righteous slabs of mystical peak-time goodness. A-side "Direct Contact" offers a near perfect blend of rugged, undulated acid lines, bustling hardcore-style breakbeats and shimmering, sci-fi inspired chords. While undeniably fresh sounding, there's no denying the early '90s rave influences at play. There's a similarly retro-futurist feel to flipside "Ravioli Ocean", a wonderfully glassy-eyed, sunrise-ready affair that smothers a driving beat in tactile chords, morning-fresh synthesizer flourishes and undulating piano lines that sent shivers up and down our spines.
Review: Legendary Norwegian eight-piece Jaga Jazzist are back with a new album that takes a plunge into myriad musical worlds. Post-rock, jazz and psychedelia influences all abound across the four lengthy pieces that make up the Brainfeeder released LP. It was recorded in just two weeks of focussed sessions with plenty of impromptu jams and never too much over-analysis, but plenty of experimentation. It is the band's first self-produced album and overflows with musical stories form the off with synth heavy pieces and afro tinged drum rhythms. Bandleader Lars says: "I felt that this album is a small symphony, each part containing its own rooms to explore."