Review: Astonishingly, Boogaloo's re-make of Pharoah Sanders classic "You've Gotta Have Freedom" is now 24 years old. It was originally included on the B-side of the jazz-loving Swedish hip-hop outfit's 1995 EP "Humongous Steps (Back Down To London)", but arguably became more widely known when it was reissued by G.A.M.M. on 12" in 2003. Here it appears on 7" for the first time, with the band's vocal version - a positive, life-affirming delight that brilliantly flits between sections faithful to Sanders' version and rapped section underpinned by live hip-hop breaks - being accompanied by an equally impressive instrumental take. If it's not already in your collection, this edition should be an essential purchase.
You're The Only One (feat Bonnie Blanchard & The Mean Machine)
Right On Time (feat The Mean Machine)
Review: For their latest must-check rare soul reissue, German crate diggers TRAMP Records take us back to 1969 and the sole single from Philadelphia outfit Andy Aaron & the Mean Machine. A-side "You're The Only One" is a superb chunk of bass-heavy soul full of energetic drumming, fuzzy horn motifs, inspired lead vocals by Bonnie Blanchard and sax solos from none other than Grover Washington (then a young musician and member of the Mean Machine). Equally as potent is instrumental flipside "Right On Time", which is a riotous funk workout that boasts more lung-busting solos from an on form Washington.
Review: In 1972, Marvin Gaye set to work recording what was scheduled to become the follow-up to his greatest single studio album, the previous year's "What's Going On". In the end, only one single from that mooted set ever appeared - "You're The Man", a weary assessment of that year's U.S Presidential Election - and Gaye's bitter arguments with Motown continued. This intriguing album tries to set the record straight, gathering together work completed for the shelved album with newly mixed songs based around previously unfinished works. There's much to admire throughout, with the material flitting between the kind of lusciously orchestrated, conscious songs featured on Gaye's previous set and more commercial-sounding Motown pop (much of which was produced by Willie Hutch).
Review: Many disco-era modern soul collectors regard, Larom Baker's "You're The Best", which initially appeared in 1978 on an impossible to find, single-sided 7" single, as one of the style's genuine "Holy Grail" records. It's good news, then, that Athens Of The North has secured the rights to reissue it, releasing the full studio version (rather than the shorter edit that was released all those years ago) for the very first time. It's a genuine gem, with Baker's deliciously breezy West Coast soul vocal seemingly floating over a killer backing track rich in hazy horns, bustling slap bass and crunchy Clavinet lines. Turn to the flipside for the more disco-minded "Train Of Thought", one of a string of recently discovered Baker recordings that form the basis of a forthcoming album of previously unreleased tracks.
Review: Whilst it's now impossible to view Leonard Cohen's final album outside the context of his passing, the fact of the matter is that this lugubrious sage had been ruminating on the nature of endings and goodbyes for much of his near half-century of artistry, and it's hard to think of a figure who's been quite so eloquent and wise in this endeavour. 'You Want It Darker' seem may a fitting way to bow out, but moreso it bears testimony to the fact that Cohen's questing spirit remained undimmed right until the last, and his travails in the exploration of faith, romance and the human condition were never to lose their finesse and bite.
Review: Ooof! Two forever-scorching disco gems from the one and only Cheryl Lynn. This extended version of the screaming funklet "You Saved My Day" has only been available on rare promo, while the full version of her seminal party jam "To Be Real" enjoys pride of place on the B. 40 years young and still untouchable.
Review: Clarence Mann is from Alabama. He was 14 years old when he completed his first recording with a high school choral group on RCA Records. After high school, he sang with various bands while attending college. In 1973, he released his first single entitled "Man's Temptation / Have Faith In Me" on T&M Records followed by "Please Accept My Love" and "You Met Your Match" respectively. After his solo career, he joined the group True Image as lead vocalist. Their recordings were released on a subsidiary of the famed TK Productions. The group continued with the independent Alabama label Juana Records when T.K. closed its doors. True Image released two singles in 1980. After these recordings Clarence Mann did several different versions of the song "Come What May". The original recording was recorded by John Gary Williams in 1973 and was released on Stax Records. Although Clarence Mann did several versions of it, only two of them with True Image have seen the spotlight.
You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (Michael Gray remix) (7:33)
You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (Michael Gray dub mix) (7:38)
Review: What more needs to be said about this timeless disco hit? A staple of DJ sets by everyone from Derrick May and Laurent Garnier to James Murphy, this Harvey Fuqua and Patrick Cowley production from 1979 is a truly timeless classic whose spirit still lives to this day on modern dancefloors. Here we are treated to a rework by Britain's undisputed king of funky house Michael Gray (Full Intention) on his Sultra label. With full respect to the original, Gray's rework injects some dancefloor dynamics for the modern sound system. You even get a bonus instrumental "Dub Mix" on the flip!
Patrick Cowley & Jorge Socarras - "You Laugh At My Face" (Tobias version) (7:15)
Half Hawaii - "Watch The Flash" (6:07)
Review: For the latest release on his quietly impressive Foom label, Ben Freeney has secured the rights to release two killer cuts, both of which are significant in their own way. On the A you'll find a previously unreleased Tobias Freund remix of "You Laugh at My Face", an obscure late '70s proto-new wave collaboration between legendary disco producer Patrick Cowley and art-punk vocalist Jorge Socarras (best known for being part of San Fran band Indoor Life). Freund's version is undulating and evocative, with spacey analogue synth motifs and drowsy vocals rising above a pitched-down breakbeat groove. On the flip, German duo Half Hawaii return to action after a six-year break, offering up a slow-burn delight rich in drowsy, melancholic motifs, shuffling drums and dewy-eyed vocals.
Review: PPU may have expanded its remit to issue contemporary acts like Pender Street Steppers and, soon, Beautiful Swimmers but the label is still digging through the soul and boogie archives of forgotten US acts. The work of George Franklin Smallwood has provided a source of much inspiration for Peoples Potential Unlimited over the years with the archivally minded label issuing several singles, a DVD and a Christmas album from the local Washington DC artist. Here PPU grant Smallwood's soul gem "You Know I Love" it's first 12" release having first surfaced at some unspecified time in the early '80s and is worth investigating for the drum machine heavy dub version on the flip!
Review: Two Arista classics from 79/78 respectively, the cult (not to mention heavily sampled) charms of Pittsburgh soul queen Hyman are presented immaculately right here on this heavyweight vinyl double-A. "You Know How To Love Me", taken from the 79 album of the same name, is a straight up disco stomper that should be recognisable to all with its distinctive horn fill and rousing backing vocals while "Living Inside Your Love" (from her 78 album Somewhere In My Lifetime) is a slinkier, sultry affair with some sizzling scat vocal flare and harmonies that will have you weak at the knees. It's all love.
Review: During the early 1990s, British four-piece Mother Earth was one of the most active bands on the acid jazz scene. While they never had the runaway success of, say, Incognito or Galliano, they produced a string of quietly impressive albums. You Have Been Watching first appeared 22 years ago in 1995 and remains notable for its heady mix of psychedelic rock, Hammond funk, soul and jazz-rock influences. While much of the acid jazz music from that period hasn't dated well, Mother Earth's songs still resonate all the years on - a reflection, perhaps, of the weighty subjects and themes often covered in their politically aware lyrics.
Review: The hardest-working man in West London is back! By now we've become accustomed to Kaidi Tatham offering up regular doses of soul and jazz-funk-fired dancefloor goodness, but even by his high standards "You Find That I Got It" is something special. Warm, woozy, groovy and full of intricate musical details - brief synth solos, subtle orchestration and so on - the A-side title track is a wonderfully sunny slice of instrumental boogie-soul. Tatham's world-renowned keys playing comes to the fore on the organic broken beat/jazz-funk fusion of "Mjuvi", a flipside cut that's almost as good as the exceptional title track.