Review: One of the leading cuts from Tramps' Moments Vol 9 collection, Connie Kaye Trio's super rare "Woman" playfully riffs on Peggy Lee's "Fever" riff but comes with a completely subverted message and mood behind the lyrics and a powerful northern soul stomp. Strident, striking and full of drive, this special 45 release has been long overdue. Catch it while you can.
Review: Leroi's back! Well... He never went away. As a studiosmith and designer his fingerprints are all over many of Colemine's on-point curations, but now we're about to enjoy a whole new tonne of Conroy as he prepares to drop his debut album. These two heavyweight instrumentals set the scene perfectly; "Tiger Trot" looks east for melodic inspiration with a touch of New Orleans in the swampy sweaty delivery. "Enter" hits with more of a jazzier, freeform air as we spiral into trumpet dizziness into deep bluesy introspection and some damn fine breaks from fellow Colemine consistency Rob Houk. Only 300 copies pressed.
Review: Storied Latin-jazz artist, composer, producer, and DJ Nicola Conte lays down a marker for his upcoming fifth studio album Free Souls with this delightful 7" of the same name. Brandishing two gens from the album, Conte's channelling soul jazz at it's purest on the title track, with a rhythm and blues arrangement that provides the perfect backing for Bridgette Amofah's gliding vocal delivery. On the B Side, "Shades Of Joy" is equally as memorable with Marvin Parks' soft croon enveloped in the smooth double bass and horn section. On the basis of this, the forthcoming album should be one of Conte's finest yet!
Review: Two big cuts taken from the Melbourne trio's sixth album Blind Bet, here the band flip two sides of a ridiculously funky coin. "Mind Made Up" features the vocals of Tru Thoughts starlet Kylie Auldist. Her rich emphatic vocals fit the 70s soul licks perfectly. Smooth and dynamically delivered with big horns, subtle strings, major chords and an instantly catchy chorus, you'll make your mind up on this long before the last horns blast a final cheerio. "Skeletor", meanwhile, is a much more party-focussed jam where big breakbeats provide the back bone for sharp horns, heavy Hammond slapping and warm gravelly vocals.
Review: From the kitchen to the laboratory, longstanding Aussie groove troupe Cookin' On 3 Burners don the hazmats for their fourth album Lab Experiments and these are just two of the flaming funk potions from their findings. "Real Life Baby" is a slinky pop-tinged new soul affair with swooning spaces for Emmi to flex her distinctive vocals and show us exactly what her kinda swag is. Meanwhile on the B, "Enter Sandman" is exactly what you think it is... A full-throttle trip to never never land with every dramatic organ slapping you could ever dream of. Enter night!
Review: Dreamy mid '70s funk from Caribbean (St Maarten to be precise) trio Cool Creations: "Wish Upon Love" struts with a Boz Scaggs-style confidence and a deep, cloudy finish that would make Faze-O proud. Flip for a straight-up cloud burst as "Night On Beach Island" lives up to its name with measured pace, cosmic trumpets, sandy pianos and lavish, lolloping wave-lapping double bass. Beautiful.
Review: Tramp dig deep into the San Diego soul vaults and strike gold with this fiscal funk fire 45" from Dede Copeland on Big Daddy Rucker's short-lived GME imprint. Straight up soul with a strong emphasis on feels and finances; "Price I Had To Pay" rolls with a bluesy tone, swooning chords and a powerful backing vocals while "You Gotta Give Up Some Money" plays the consummate riposte with an upbeat unashamed request for investment. Shake your money makers.
Don't Let Love Walk Out In Us (T Groove mix) (3:47)
Review: Paul Craver's smooth strain of jazzed-out house music has been MIA since 2013, and we're glad to hear some of it back on our charts with such fervor. The man returns to Sundae Soul Recordings with two fine-ass cuts, the first of which is an edit of a certain track called "Back To You" (unnamed for legal reasons), and it's one of those seductive soul ballads that sounds just perfect on the dancefloor. On the flip, T Groove drops a mix of "Don't Let Love Walk Out In Us" and, once again, we have a lovely blend of disco-leaning soul on our hands - perfect for just about any situation involving lovers and the moonlight. Gorgeous.
Review: Another tape extracted from the Sony vault for the first time since the record was released in 1980. A floaty disco masterpiece by an American group that has been on the soul scene for time, but deserves a broader appreciation. Edinburgh's Athens Of The North (premium licensed rare music done right!) present this in a rare issue format, with the emotive and uplifting soul power of "Just You & Me" on the A side and the beautiful ballad "Blame It On Me" on the flip - apparently most original copies are missing this track. How the band never made it past one single is a complete mystery, as both of the tracks are incredible.
Review: Athens of the North founder Euan Fryer has described Willie Dale's "Let Your Light Shine" as "one of the best discoveries in the last 15 years". Only five copies of the original 7" single have surfaced to date, with the most recent changing hands for eye-watering sums of money. You can see why Fryer was so excited by "Let Your Light Shine": while rooted in both funk and soul, the track also draws heavily on psychedelic rock and the fuzzy, funk-rock fusion brilliance of Sly Stone. Original B-side "Somebody Help Me" is an altogether more laidback affair, with Dale offering impassioned and melancholic lyrics over a psychedelic era take on old rhythm & blues ballads.
Review: Goosepimples aplenty as Kent Records pulls out its ace card with a superb slice of feel good classic soul music from Darondo. Darondo, who was bought up in the San Franciso Bay area, led a colourful life, becoming a Pimp in the 1960s. He eventually gave that up and knocked out this wonderful piece of guitar balladry. Underneath a sublime Al Green/Curtis Mayfield like vocal performance you'll discover a simple string arrangement that compliments Darondo's falsetto vocal to brilliant effect. No doubt this will feature as one of the best 45 soul reissues of 2012.
Review: The hard-touring, heavy-funking, Craig Charles-endorsed Cornish six piece Daytona tease us for their album with this cheeky double-A 45". "Needed You" is a straight up northern soul thumper with relentlessly driving beat, gutsy vocals, big piano rolls and crucial flutes while "Sicka" takes us right back to the sixties with a fiery ode to a greenback classic. Sweaty, forthright and tighter than a nun's purse, bring on the album already!
Review: Dallas troupe The Demands gigged for 20 years right up to the late 80s but only ever released a handful of singles. This was their first, in 1973, and its original pressings on Clem Records regularly go for triple figures. It's not hard to hear why; "Say It Again" is straight out of the Northern Soul songbook with its feel-good chorus and stomping momentum while "Let Me Be Myself" plays perfect counterpoint with a slow and smoky soul ballad that could woo the trousers off a statue. They weren't called The Demands for nothing.
Review: Very little is known about disco troupe The Devoted Souls besides the fact they have a link with musical director extraordinaire Stu Gardner which is where the original master tapes were found. Pure unreleased gold from 1980, there's a bubbly harmonic soul laced throughout the original with just nuances of a more psychedelic trip while Kon searches even deeper into the cosmos with trippy double ups and blissful breakdowns. Get devoted.
Review: Powerful new soul from the exciting new collective at Gemco in Little Five Points, Atlanta; Diamond Street Rhythm Machine provide dreamy, slick vibrations with a tight groove and fluttering melodic motifs with its flute, brass and blissful keys. It's powerful enough for an instrumental but it's also subtle enough to carry Lo Carter's incredible vocals on the A-side. Gutsy old soul with raw emotion, Lo makes the gem in Gemco truly shine.
Review: Destination Loveland for another deep dig from Colemine's Remined project. Washington soul troupe The Diplomats later went on to become Skull Snaps whose "A New Day" track gave the world one of the finest breaks ever to run through an MPC. Here we find their first ever a-side (which sells for triple figures on the regs) and it's backed with "Don't Ever Go", a big swooning, crooning bluesy ballad that's never been released before. Both stun you down to the very soul. Diplomatic immunity? No chance.
Review: Ultra Vybe remain deep in their Brunswick excavations with these two sublime cuts from the label's super troupe of session players Directions and their one and only album. Released 1976, OG copies fetch almost L200 and just these two tracks alone hint at why. Shimmering with a strong Faze-O feel with an evocative contrast of falsetto and deep baritone and twinkling instrumentation, both tracks swoon with everything that was so smooth and emotional about the label who gave the world Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites and Gene Chandler. Show some love.
Review: Serial alias addict, Kris Holmes returns with a double side of split personality: The Disciples is a rough, bluesy layered piece of slo-mo surf rock where the drums only just keep up and the organs provide heavy soul salvation. "He Spoke" shows Kris on much more of an African inspired trip. Similarly hefty organs power the main groove but there's more uplift in the riff and instrumentation. Insatiable.
Review: Athens Of The North triumph once again with two incredible slices of crossover, feel good soul from the early 70s. Douglas & Lonero enjoyed a good vein of major form on Columbia for a while, including a live album Live At Charley Brown's, but this 1975-released RCA 45 has been the most collectable (with OG copies of the double-sided pressing fetching over 500 pounds sterling in the past) Fully remastered from the original tapes, this is the clearest, sharpest and sweatiest Douglas & Lonero have ever sounded.