Review: More from the bulging back catalogue of Park Rangers, an obscure Japanese reggae band who have spent the last decade delivering surprising cover versions of well-known pop, rock and disco songs. On side A there's another chance to wonder at their 1960s rocksteady style re-make of Pharrell Williams' mega-hit happy, in which the Neptunes star's lead vocal is replaces with a cheery Hammond organ solo. It's the kind of cover that can't help but put a smile on your face. The same could be said about their similarly minded flipside cover of Prince classic 'Kiss'. While it's not as instantly recognisable, it has a similar feel thanks to the band's canny fusion of tuneful Hammond organ solos and retro-futurist reggae riddims.
Review: Mash-up maestro, bootleg remix king and talented beat-maker Jim Sharp launched the Soul By The Pound label last year to offer up sneaky re-edits of classic soul and funk jams from the '60s and '70s. Here he finally delivers the imprint's second-single, delivering some Blaxploitation-era goodness that should tickle the fancy of all those who like their funk energetic and enthusiastic. A-side "I Got It Funky" more than lives up to its name, with call-and-response vocals, wah-wah guitars, tasty Hammond licks and rising horns riding a snappy, breakbeat-driven groove. He switches focus a little on flipside "Trippin' Out", adding bouncy hip-hop beats to a dewy-eyed, string-laden slab of Curtis Mayfield style soul.
Review: A few weeks ago, the sneaky Soul Masters label launched via a must-have "45" featuring two 1960s soul bombs from Welsh sex-machine Mr Jones. For this sequel, the limited-edition imprint has dipped into the back catalogue of premier Motown legends and chosen two killer covers of songs first made famous by other artists on the iconic soul label's roster. On the A-side you'll find their storming version of Stevie Wonder hit 'Uptight (Everything's All Right)', a take that's just as stomping and horn-heavy as the more familiar original, with the added bonus of smoother soul vocals from the ladies. Turn to the flip for their interpretation of Barrett Strong hit 'Money (That's What I Want)', a more fuzzy and sax-laden affair of a song that was famously also covered by the Beatles on With The Beatles.
Review: Shniece has become a key collaborator of Prince Fatty's having made such a fine impression when she guested on his 'In The Viper's Shadow' album last year. This new hook up is a winding journey that opens with some truly mind bending and psyched out 60s sounds riding on a trippy dub, and littered with samples from a public service broadcast on drugs. It's somehow a dark yet euphoric dub with a killer backbeat and futuristic edge A dub version peels things back to the drum work and lets the magic of this fine partnership shine.
Party starters, get this on in the bag immediately, It is pure fire in 7" form, a record bursting with Latin flavours, bristling percussion and jazz-sing beats that will lift anyone off their seat and right into the thick of it. The samples are easy enough to spot but that doesn't stop the a-side doing plenty of damage. Then on the flip, classic soul anthem 'I'm a Believer' gets a big beat and funky bridge extension that will keep people stomping for days. This black version has only been pressed 200 times, so one quick.
Review: Stockholm label Omena raise a glass to celebrate one year of business with this special RSD 7" from the ubiquitous HNNY. Johan Cederberg was responsible for the label's debut release so it seems quite fitting he's back with more sweet HNNY business to usher in the second year of Omena. Up top, "Cheer Up My Brother" finds HNNY in laid back form, adding some subtle downbeat funk touches to the lazy afternoon groove of "Farther Along", transforming the gospel staple into an essential summer sizzler. It's complemented well by the B-side track "There Is No One Else" which ups both the tempo and temperature into something of a French Touch stunner.
Review: Given that few clubs are open worldwide, it feels wrong to talk about potential 2020 summer anthems. That said, were dancing outside under a blanket of stars be allowed, we have no doubt that Social Lovers' new single would be getting plenty of spins. Warm, synth-heavy and sweet, it's a deliciously good lover's rock style cover of Evelyn "Champagne" King's '80s electrofunk classic "Love Come Down". Over on the flip the fast-rising outfit offers up another killer cover, re-imagining Sha-Lor's 1988 garage-house gem "I'm In Love" as a super-smooth and dreamy slab of proto-house/80s soul fusion rich in Fairlight stabs, spacey synth riffs and warming chords. Don't sleep on this one: it's a genuine gem.
I Don't Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky (Fashion remix) (3:50)
Review: Legendary 70s funk band Ripple are back with two original members making new music again. Curtis "Kazoo" Reynolds & Keith "Doc" Samuels now go by the name of Ripple 2.20 and their first work is a new version of John Edwards' "Exercise My Love." It is a cover, but not as we usually know it - they lay down an incredible new vocal and play the parts with a real sense of sensuousness. On the flip is a new remix of some of Ripple's original material in the form of Fashion's take on "I Don't Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky", a raw, dirty, sleazy jam to get you in a sweat.
Review: Japanese heavyweights HHV continue their ongoing trawl through the back catalogue of long-serving hip-hop producer, DJ, record collector and self-styled King of Diggin', Muro. Here they present the second part of the dusty-fingered hero's turn-of-the-millennium Pan Rhythm series of 12" singles, this time presenting it on a tidy seven inch single. 'Hip-Hop Band' is a weighty, floor friendly, horn-heavy re-make of the Stetsasonic song of the same name, with local mic man Boo delivering tweaked versions of the U.S crew's verses in his native Japanese. While jazzy, the bombastic backing track - which can be heard in full on the flipside instrumental version - is forthright and club-ready, making the single a must-have for working hip-hop DJs and those who love the more up-tempo end of the rap spectrum.
Review: Party starters, get this one in the bag immediately. It is pure fire in 7" form, a record bursting with Latin flavours, bristling percussion and jazz-sing beats that will lift anyone off their seat and right into the thick of it. The samples are easy enough to spot but that doesn't stop the a-side doing plenty of damage. Then on the flip, classic soul anthem 'I'm a Believer' gets a big beat and funky bridge extension that will keep people stomping for days. This black version has only been pressed 200 times, so one quick.
Review: More Toxic Funk flavours from the Breakbeat Paradise crew, who've cannily snapped up a couple of killer collaborations from Prosper and Badboe. The experienced pair predictably goes in hard on A-side 'Beastie Lifestyle', where a classic Beastie Boys acapella is slapped down hard on a brand-new heavy funk-meets-breakbeat backing track that comes laden with mazy electric piano solos and fiery horns courtesy of Le Marabout. They change tack slightly on 'Without Funk', joining the dots between a handful of killer samples on a P-funk flavoured workout that's every bit as addictive and ear-pleasing as the duo's A-side banger.
Arnold Layne (Recorded live At The Barbican Centre, London At The Syd Barrett Tribute Concert) (3:47)
Review: Here's a Record Store Day 2020 special that all Pink Floyd fans will want to take a look at: an etched, single-sided seven-inch single featuring a previously unreleased version of Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era favourite 'Arnold Lane'. It was recorded at The Madcaps Last Laugh concert in 2007, a tribute to band co-founder Syd Barrett. It features three Floyd members - David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright - alongside vocalist Jon Carin, whose singing is very similar to that of Barrett, and bassist Andy Bell. It's a fairly faithful rendition all told, and one with added weight given the travails of Barrett after he left Pink Floyd in the late 1960s.
Review: It's almost 30 years since Queen Latifah's 'U.N.I.T.Y.' as part of her Grammy Award-winning album Black Reign but it still gets the plaudits it always has. Heat Rock Records now revisits it for a sixth entry into their catalogue. Chicago's Altered Tapes is the man stepping up to remix and he serves up a big, hard hitting breakbeat version laden with sax lines and crisp drumming. An instrumental version on the reverse is more designed for the dance floor and is perfect for all the scratching and juggling needs of any hard working turntablist.
Review: Led Zeppelin and Roger Daltrey from The Who have recently covered this much loved soul gem recently, but now we get two remastered versions of the original from the source tapes. 'As Long As I Have You' was the title track of Garnet Mimms' 1964 debut solo album and if you can find a 7" original now it'll set you back a monkey, at least. A single version, which is slightly extended, is included on the reverse and features brass additions from The Senate. It's another pricy one if you can find it, but both tunes hit hard, with deep cut Northern Soul grooves and driving swing that you simply cannot resist.
Review: Fontaines D.C. is one of the most exciting new bands to have emerged in the last year. Their debut Dogrel was a standout offering that turned plenty of heads and now under a year later they are back with more brilliance. The grizzly, punk laced 'A Hero's Death' has snarling vocal work from the front man while big walls of impenetrable guitars wash over you in arresting ways. On the flip, 'I Don't Belong' is less angsty, with a more subdued sound and forlorn sounding voice repeating the title's refrain to sombre effect.
Review: It was way back in 1998 when Japan's undisputed King of Diggin', DJ.producer/mix-maker and dedicated record collector Muro, first released 'Han-Tome'. These days, it's regarded as a Japanese hip-hop classic, and listening back to this reissue it's easy to see why: the beats are dope, the producer's jazz and orchestral samples beautifully incorporated into the backing track, and the combination of Japanese rap verses and R&B style sung choruses every bit as good as those you'd expect on big-name American tracks from the same period. As it did first time around, the track comes backed by the superb 'Flutestrumental Mix'. This adds sun-kissed keyboard stabs and flighty flute solos to Muro's formidably head-nodding beats..
Review: Pepite Records have a brilliant Holy Grail reissue on their hands here with two world music oddities that send seasoned collectors into fits of excitement. They come from French composer Jean Claude Oliver, who was a noted talent in his day and possible the first Parisian to own a sitar in the sixties. He worked with Serge Gainsbourg amongst others, while also working as Derboukas. Two of his finest experiments are served up for the first time here and mixes oriental vibes with eastern bossa. The original of the a-side is impossible to find and the 'Caravan March' gem on the B-side is a welcome addition that fuses psychedelic pop grooves with lush cello.
Je Disparais Dans Tes Bras (Studios Saint Germain Session) (4:00)
Mountains (We Met) (2:48)
Mountains (We Met) (Studios Saint Germain Session) (2:48)
Thought provoking, heart aching French pop star Christine and the Queens serves up two brand new tunes' and brand new piano and vocal versions for a special, double 7" Record Store Day release. The latter two versions were recorded specially for the occasion in the famous Studios Saint Germain and have never been released before - they are emotive affair that will proved plenty of new joys for fans. In original form, 'Je Disparais Dans Tes Bras' is the sort of clean and crisp but catchy pop that has made this artist such a phenomenon.
Review: Ian Ash - a resident DJ of the World-famous Montreux Jazz Festival - is also known as "H" and Sunny G and he is a new singing to the Boogie Butt Records label. For his first outing he delivers a massive boogie house track with filtered vibes, lush synths and live sounding drums. His mix of 'So What U Want' really is a thing of joy, with camp vocals from R&B singer Djemaili that work their way into your affections and noodling riffs that will have you miming along. The flip side is a Lord Funk remix that brings dance floor busting electro funk vibes and is sure to work in any setting from the beach to the pool to the club.
Review: Here's something for those looking to fill in the gaps in their classic hip-hop collection: a sizzling seven-inch boasting two of the Jungle Brothers hottest hits. On the A-side you'll find "Because I Got It Like That", a lolloping party hip-hop jam built around an assortment of complimentary samples, most notably a lift from Sly and the Family Stone's killer cut "You Can Make It If You Try". Over on the flip you'll find one of the most recognizable dance anthems of the late '80s, the early hip-house classic that is "I'll House You". Based on Todd Terry's similarly big "Can You Party", the tune is a warehouse-ready bounce-along that sounds as fresh now as it did way back in 1988.
Jim Dunloop - "Espirito Do Rio" (Brazil Wave edit) (3:13)
Jim Dunloop & GRZLY Adams - "Different Sweetnuts" (Walk In The Shade edit) (3:58)
Review: For the latest "45" in the Dusty Donuts series of edits and mash ups, the Berlin-based crew has turned to long-time crew member Jim Dunloop, a jazz-trained pianist-turned-producer best known for his work alongside Marc Hype. He begins with "Spirit De Rio", a wonderfully warm, head-nodding, hip-hop style revision of a summery-sounding old samba gem rich in dewy-eyed female vocals and glistening guitars. Long-time friend, and occasional collaborator Grizzly Adams lends a hand on flipside cut "Different Sweetnuts", a deep and woozy revision of a fragile, female-fronted soul number that wraps drowsy elements from the pair's source material around a bass-heavy beat.
Review: Canadian Jorun Bombay is a long time remix master who now lands on Soundweight Records with his latest cut up and reworking efforts. The A-side finds him take on Blondie's legendary 'Rapture', which mixed slick raps with post-punk guitars. Here it becomes sweet rolling funk gem with molten chords and plenty of soul. The flip-side is a tropical rework of 'Don't Pay Any Fuller' that ups the bass and beefs out the drums, while layering in steamy chords and percussion that brim with character. These are two more classics in the spotless catalogue of Jorun Bombay.
Review: Here's something to seriously set the pulse racing: a limited-edition quintuple "Brazil 45s" boxset curated by the effervescent DJ Format, and featuring ten tracks unearthed on his most recent crate-digging trip to South America. In keeping with his much-loved style, most of the material can be loosely described as "psyche break-beat", all of which was initially recorded and released in the 1960s and '70s. That means a blend of hallucinatory Brazilian funk and soul rich in sweaty, often densely layered drums, booming basslines, trippy vocals, eccentric production, mazy Hammond organ lines and rousing horns. The quality bar is set so high that picking individual highlights is tough; suffice to say, you need all ten tunes in your life (and in your record box).
Review: For the latest edition in their ongoing series of golden-era hip-hop seven-inch reissues, Mr Bongo is taking us back to 1992 and Positive K's biggest hit - the 500,000-selling ode to unrequited love, "I Got A Man". Lyrically impressive, with the Bronx mic man delivering both male and "female" rap parts (the latter via voice-changing studio trickery), the song owes its success in part to a beat that makes great use of a funky loop from A Taste of Honey's "Rescue Me", which famously also formed the backbone of Funky Four + 1's early hip-hop classic "That's The Joint". Over on the flip you'll find the hazier and jazzier "SHakin", whose killer beat boasts judicious lifts from tracks by Wade Marcus and the D.O.C. In a word: essential.
Review: In his career to date, Jim Sharp has proved to be one of the bootleg remix and mash-up scene's smartest and most successful producers - a man capable of brilliantly breathing new life into a string of familiar favourites. He's at it again here, offering up fresh reconstructions of N.W.A's gangster rap classic "F*ck Tha Police". The killer flip is his A-side "Main Mix", in which he places the L.A crew's iconic acapella over a jumpy, party starting hip-hop beat rich in sampled short funk guitar riffs, snare and kick-heavy drums, James Brown style yelps and tight scratches. It's a great beat - so good, in fact, that the flipside instrumental mix is equally as essential as the club-rocking vocal version.
Beastie Boys vs MFSB - "Check It Out People" (4:19)
MFSB - "People All Over The World" (dub) (4:11)
Review: On his last two singles on Soopastole, mash-up maestro DJ Soopasoul smashed together elements of Stevie Wonder and Redman/Method Man, and James Brown and Crooklyn Dodgers. For his latest trick he's decided to pepper an edited version of "People All Over The World" by Philadelphia Soul legends MFSB, with raps from a stone cold classic Beastie Boys tune. It's the sort of thing that shouldn't work, but the Beasties' flows work perfectly over the flanged guitars, undulating bass and unfussy 4-to-the-floor Philly Soul grooves of the MFSB track. You can hear his instrumental rework of that track on the flip; it's so good that it's arguably worth the entrance price on its own.
Review: For this year's Record Store Day, Biffy Clyro has decided to cover two big tunes, and has said he will donate all proceeds to Tiny Changes, a mental health charity set up in memory of Scott Hutchison. A-side 'Modern Leper' is a dense, angst ridden rework that previously was available on a Frightened Rabbit tribute album, while flip over this limited white 7" and you'll find 'Modern Love' which was performed at Howard Stern's Bowie tribute concert in 2019. There's rawness in the whole thing, from the wailing vocals to the walls of fuzzy guitar.