Melody Nelson (unreleased instrumental edit) (3:50)
Cargo Culte (unreleased instrumental edit) (3:58)
Review: This rather tidy, limited-edition "45" offers up two previously unheard instrumental edits of stone cold classics from the bulging back catalogue of Chanson hero and sleazy but chic singer Serge Gainsbourg. Side A boasts a superb revision of "Melody Nelson", a sweeping, string-drenched affair underpinned by sweaty drumming that arguably benefits from the removal of Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's vocals. Over on side B you'll find an equally evocative version of Beck favourite "Cargo Culte". Stripped of the original lead vocals, the track sounds like a lo-fi art-rock instrumental smothered in ghostly choral vocals and creepy, foreboding musical flourishes. Top stuff!
Review: Surprisingly, Don Blackman originally wrote and recorded "Just Can't Stay Away" to play as the recorded message on his girlfriend's answering machine. He later included it - tweaked and turned into a mid-80s style boogie banger reminiscent of his work during that decade - on his second and final album, 2002's CD-only "Listen". Here it finally gets a vinyl release thanks to reissue specialists Melodies International. If you're a fan of boogie, electrofunk and synth-soul it should be an essential purchase, not least because it's every bit as good as more celebrated Blackman productions made earlier in his career. There are "Stereo" and "Mono" mixes to enjoy, with the former naturally offering a more refined and intoxicating listening experience.
Vibes From The Tribe (Al Breadwinner dub mix) (4:42)
Review: Recorded at Sam Shepherd's Floating Productions Studio, this superb seven-inch sees contemporary space-age jazzman Emanative join forces with legendary trombonist Phil Ranelin. In its original form, "Vibes From The Tribe" is a deliciously warm and hazy chunk of intergalactic dancefloor jazz rich in skittish, post-hip-hop drums, gently rising horns, spacey effects and spiritual spoken word vocals. It's utterly brilliant as is Al Breadwinner's flipside dub, which takes the pair's original version even deeper into space via copious amounts of reverb, tape-echo and traditional Jamaican dub production techniques. We actually like this revision even more than the original, which tells you how good the seven-inch single is. Essential!
Review: As anyone who has picked up any of his previous seven-inch singles will tell you, break-diggin' rework merchant DJ DSK can usually be relied upon to deliver the goods. This second volume in his ongoing "DNA Edits" series hits the spot, offering up two tidy, dancefloor-focused revisions. On side A he turns his attention to SM AOR classic "Fly Like An Eagle", subtly beefing it up via sweaty new hip-hop style drums whilst retaining the original guitars, vocals, bass and elongated organ chords. On side B he gets to work on Panamanian salsa classic "Maltrato", adding even more salsa shuffle and contemporary dancefloor weight to the much-adored 1975 Freddy y Sus Afro Latinos' classic.
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.
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: Two all time funk/soul classics from the Skull Snaps - a funk group active between 1963 and 1973. They were known as The Diplomats up until 1970 and released a number of singles with moderate success. Renamed Skull Snaps, they released an eponymous album on the small GSF label in 1973, before disappearing into obscurity. These selections are from the said album. New 7" reissue label Dynamite Cuts is releasing these two gems as a limited edition 500 only pressing, showcasing the two best tracks on the LP. Both have been heavily sampled in many hip-hop and club classics by Eric B. & Rakim, Digable Planets, DJ Shadow, The Prodigy and Panjabi MC to name but a few.
Review: Anyone who takes their electronic music history seriously should already be hip to this one, but a brief rundown for those new to the roots of electro and techno. Cybotron were the project from Richard Davis and Juan Atkins, who went on to help forge the sound of Detroit techno as Model 500. Released in 1983, their debut album "Enter" was a blueprint for so much music that came after, with "Clear" being the standout track that send 80s heads spinning into a state of funky future shock. This tasty little 7" reissue puts "Clear" on the A side, and 1981 sci-fi boogie belter "Alleys Of Your Mind" on the flip. Two evergreen gems no machine music aficionado should be without.
Review: Given that they started out 12 years ago making soul-fired 21st century jazz-funk and bustling broken beat, it seems fitting that their latest single features the honeyed lead vocals of Xantone Blacq, an artist whose early singles explored bruk and future jazz. "You Said" is a wonderful chunk of laidback disco-soul tailor made for sun-kissed afternoons and sweltering early evening dances. Blacq is in fine form singing over the duo's Nile Rodgers style guitars, Bernard Edwards-seque bass and intricately programmed percussion. Over on the flip the pair dons their J & J guys to offer up a largely instrumental edit for those who prefer to get lost in the groove.
Review: Garden Of Eden was another one of those obscure, one-shot bands who released a sole single at some point in the 1970s and then promptly vanished from view. That single, "Everybody's On A Trip", has long been sought-after amongst collectors of intergalactic disco-funk, hence this reissue from the Backatcha crew. The title track is a downlow delight, with flanged guitar riffs, spacey synth lines, punchy horns and quality male vocals rising above a hot and heavy groove. Over on the flip "It Takes Two" is sweet, slow and dewy-eyed in the tried-and-tested tradition of B-side ballads.
Review: Since its release in 1973, Ze Roberto's debut single "Lotus 72 D" has become something of an in-demand item amongst collectors of soul-fired Brazilian "MPB". So much so, in fact, that Mr Bongo has licensed it and served up this 7" reissue. In its original A-side form, the track is a carnival-ready slab of samba-soul brilliance rich in razor-sharp horn blasts, rich bass guitar, punchy hand-percussion and twinkling jazz piano solos. Roberto's confident vocals take centre stage, inviting us towards the dancefloor. Over on the flip you'll find a "Fast Version" of Roberto's tribute to 1972 Formula 1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi. This has a slightly more dancefloor-centric tempo, an effect achieved when it was accidentally pitched up for inclusion on a 2001 compilation.
Review: It's been a minute or two since Renault cooked us something special but here is on Takeaway and it's a premier delivery service. Both pure disco crackers, "Law Of Love" runs with a succulent bassline and writhing pianos running amok while "More Loving" goes for much more of a smoochy end-of-night feel with sultry vocals, an unhurried groove and a big late 70s production feel. Drop it and watch those love birds fly. Feel the love.
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).
Lafayette Afro Rock Band - "Hihache" (extended Breaks Special edition version) (4:23)
Gaz - "Sing Sing" (extended Breaks Special edition version) (4:27)
Review: More sneaky 45 action from the Breaks & Beats crew, a shadowy organization whose tried-and-tested re-edits offer DJ-friendly extensions of popular break-digging favourites (many of which were sampled on classic hip-hop cuts). Their latest seven-inch excursion begins with a tidy revision of Lafayette Afro-Rock Band's brilliant "Hihache", a low-slung favourite rich in lolloping, head nodding drum breaks, jazzy bass, flanged funk guitars and fuzzy horn motifs. The new version is deferential towards its source material, extending breaks here and there whilst leaving much of the tune in tact. One of the most doubled-up drum breaks in hip-hop history takes pride of place on side B, where Gaz's Salsoul released wiggler "Sing Sing" gets the re-edit treatment.
Billy Squier - "The Big Beat" (extended Breaks Special edition) (2:54)
Le Pamplemousse - "Gimmie What You Got" (extended Breaks Special edition) (4:12)
Review: We've said this before, but there's something brilliantly simple about the Beats & Breaks label's "Extended Breaks" series of seven-inch re-edits. There's no superfluous fluff or needless rearrangement, just solid and matter-or-fact extensions of key drum breaks to both aid mixing and light up dancefloors. For proof, check the mysterious re-editors' take on Billy Squier's 1980 heavy rock workout "The Big Beat", which prioritizes the track's fat, bottom-heavy drums and the singer's impassioned vocal yelps while stripping out most of the gnarled guitar riffs. If you need a bit of a breather from the heavy dancefloor pressure, the crew's subtle revision of Le Pamplemousse's drowsy, synth-laden deep disco shuffler "Gimme What You Got" - a string-laden slice of sun-kissed sweetness - should do the trick.