Review: Soul Brother present two sublime cuts by Carolyn Franklin, younger sister to Aretha, for their debut appearance on the seven inch format. On top of her significant body of work as a songwriter and background artist for Aretha and several other acts of the 60s and 70s, Carolyn Franklin record four solo albums and several singles for the RCA label. Rare groove heads favour Franklin's fourth LP If You Want Me in particular, issued in 1976 but originally recorded three years earlier, and Soul Brother have licensed two highlights for this 7" which demonstrate Carolyn's range for anyone not familiar with her work. "Sunshine Holiday" is a psyche delight akin to Linda Lewis' "Reach For The Truth" whilst "Deal With It" is pure funk.
Review: Izipho Soul recently described Frederick Davis as "one of Cleveland's hidden gems". This tasty seven-inch, which contains two tracks recorded way back in 1992 but never before issued, certainly backs up their assertion. A-side "Shoulder to Cry On" is something of a sparkling, late night synth-soul treat - a close-dancing slow jam that sees Davis's fine vocal rise above a backing track rich in chiming electronic melodies, post New Jack Swing R&B style beats and sensual saxophone solos. Flip for the similarly minded but arguably more elastic "Let Go", where the unheralded Cleveland singer whispers seductively over a killer synth bassline and more cascading '80s soul melodies.
Review: Little is known about Friction Band's hyper-rare 45" besides the fact it's a brilliant example of outsider, slightly experimental style of modern soul, it's passed hands for strong triple figures in recent years and it's just been injected with a whole new lease of life by Fryer. "Watchin' You" is a footloose boogie jam with unabashed use of freeform keys while "To The Sky" flips for a softer, more sentimental soul affair that's fringed by just the right amount of dreamy cosmicity. Another precision find by AOTN.
Review: Out as a reissue through the same label that put it out way back in 1971, the aptly named Dig, Friday, Saturday & Sunday appear on our shelves like nothing's happened, and we're still here wandering what the hell happened! "Potato Salad" is a hard nugget to find as an original, but its also such a groovy, light-hearted tune that is a perfect example of why disco was what it was, and why it was so fun - a super recommended tune. "There Must Be Something" is equally good and powerful when played out, and although it doesn't have the same charm as the A-side, it's still a rocking soul classic.
Review: April Fulladosa grew up in Los Angeles, California. She begun writing songs at school when she was only 16 years old going onto write most of the tracks by 19 years of age for her sought after independent limited release 'Home Base' album from 1978. This single on new label imprint Reference Point showcases the talent of this lesser known artist who deserves to be heard by a brand new audience.
Review: Here's something rather tasty: a joint release between Expansions and Philadelphia International that brings together two hard-to-find tracks from Philly Soul group The Futures. On the A-side you'll find rare groove scene favourite "Ain't No Time Fa Nuthin", a typically sumptuous and musically rich affair that places the group's inspired soul vocals at the centre of a sugary-sweet Philadelphia Soul groove. B-side "Party Time Man" is a more traditional vocal soul stomper from the turn of the '70s, with sweeping strings and punchy horn lines tracking the group's sweet, sweet harmonies, which is great for getting the dancefloor going.
What's Going On (original mono single version) (3:57)
God Is Love (original mono single version) (2:48)
What's Going On (feat BJ The Chicago Kid) (5:03)
What's Going On (Coffeehouse Mix) (3:59)
Review: One of the most important and influential records in both Marvin and Motown's history, "What's Going On" celebrates 45 years with a revisit that includes some of the oldest mono versions of "What's Going On" and "God Is Love" and brand new twists including a superbly mixed posthumous duet with BJ The Chicago Kid which truly feels like they're in the same room together and an Elevado-mixed acoustic Coffeehouse mix where Marvin's vocals and sentiments are given even more muscle due to their forefront position.
Jackpot (feat Anne Frankenstein - BJ Smith remix) (7:15)
Review: The Gene Dudley Group's debut album, Zambidoose, included one of the highlights of Summer 2015 - a righteous, brass-heavy funk cover of Todd Terje's nu-disco anthem "Inspector Norse". Here, other tracks from that set are given a new lease of life via three new remixes. Alexander Lay-Far kicks things off, subtly turning "Do The Cookie Dough Throw" into a righteous chunk of swinging, offbeat Latin house/funk fusion. In contrast, mixing desk maestro Wrongtom delivers a booming, bass-heavy dub reggae interpretation of "Tiger Jaw", while BJ Smith goes all warm, organic and Balearic on his invitingly sunny mix of "Jackpot", complete with dreamy vocals from Anne Frankenstein.
Review: Fresh from 1968, this Dionne Warwick-affiliated double-sided one-off by The Gentlemen Four returns in its original glory courtesy of Soul 7 and Jazzman. "You Can't Keep A Good Man Down" is a straight-up northern soul stomper with big drums, powerful momentum and emphatic harmonies. Looking for a more tender moment? Flip for the show-stopped ballad "It Won't Hurt" where the harmonies play an even more pivotal role in the dynamic. Nothing hurts with records like this.
Review: When Jazzman themselves describe a release as 'hopelessly obscure' and 'off the radar to even the most dedicated' you know you've got something special. There's a really raw rusty garage funk to both sides here; both the classic R&B swing, majestic organs and powerful vocals of "Look Out" and the sweaty instrumental frenzy "Mother Duck" instantly enrapture and make you ponder the age-old question... HOW has this gone unnoticed for so long?
Review: Tramp Records has stayed close to home for this release, reissuing two killer cuts from the 1981 album "Mittwochs In Marl" album by Tyree Glenn Jr. While he is American - his father, Glenn senior, was famously Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong's trombonist - Glenn Jr had moved to Germany (where he still resides) around the time that the album was recorded. Lead cut "Superbad" is a genuinely heavy, full-throttle funk beast, with Glenn Jr doing his best James Brown impression over an insatiable groove and rousing sax solos. "Ma(r)l Sehen", on the other hand, is a much more breezy affair - an instrumental jazz-funk outing rich in dueling sax and electric piano solos.
Review: Cordial Recordings has dug deep for this third release. It comes from the Arthur Goodjoin-helmed Singing Tornados, a band that emanated in the 1950s and are still performing locally in South Carolina today. The two songs showcased here naturally come from their most hard-to-find 7" (an original copy would set you back a four-figure sum). "Travelling Through The Land" is an impassioned soul number that sits somewhere between the stomping sound of Detroit and the more orchestral Philadelphia International sound. Typically, B-side "Stop This Fussing & Fighting" is a more laidback - if no less impassioned - affair, with Goodjoin pleading for World peace over a sumptuous, slow and groovy backing track.
Review: Penny Goodwin's material is hard enough to come by in LP format, but the 7"s really are a sight for sore eyes. Luckily, we got Athens Form The North on our side, a stupendous soul and funk reissuer that has been delivering some serious heat over the last three years. "Too Soon You're Old" is a 1973 soul charmer, full of mystique and sensuality, the track moves slowly but with a great deal of funky swing to its bass. "Lady Day & John Coltrane" is a different kind of swinger, an uptempo funk ballad backed by flurries of organs and drum rolls, whereas "What's Going On" heads down a spiritual jazz tip to complete what is the most diverse soul single we've got to offer this week!
Review: "Love Ritual" has long been one of Al Green's best-loved cuts. It first appeared on 1975's Al Green In Love and has since appeared on countless compilations. This, though, appears to be the first time the track has appeared on a 7" single. You'll find the peerless original version - an urgent, organ-heavy affair in which Green's impassioned vocals ride a surprisingly tribal, Afro-influenced groove - on the A-side, with the later BWANA Mix on the flip. This sparkling remix and re-master, which creates a little more dancefloor pandemonium by including an extended passage of drums, freestyle vocals and organ solos, became an anthem on London's rare groove scene during the '80s.
Review: ATO Records' RSD 2018 offering is a collaborative affair featuring previously unheard songs from psychedelic soul artist Nick Hakim and Onyx Collective, an outfit that has a rising reputation on NYC blossoming modern jazz scene. Hakim's "Vincent Tyler", in particular, is superb; a loose, languid, string-laden soul torch song that will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. In contrast, the two Onyx Collective offerings are fuzzy chunks of slightly psychedelic post-rock madness with occasional wild post-punk sax solos. While nowhere near as emotive as the A-side, they're certainly very satisfying.
Review: Following the success of 1980 disco classic "I Like What You're Doing To Me", Young & Company ended up in a long contract dispute with their label, Brunswick. Co-producer Buddy Hankerson used the time to record a set of tracks with a new collection of musicians, the Shine Band. Sadly, none of these recordings were released at the time, making this Time Capsule 7" from the Super Disco Edits camp something of a red-hot exclusive. Rescued from reel-to-reel tapes found in Hankerson's brother's loft, both "Try Your Love" and "Close To You" are superb. While the latter - a leisurely chunk of boogie-soul that sits somewhere between two other Hankerson produced acts, Aurra and Slave - is impressive, it's the livelier, jauntier A-side (very Young & Company) that makes this 7" so desirable.
Review: Previously spotted adding his potent dulcets to the work of Kejam, US soul governor Terry Harris returns solo with his new album Prince Of Stepping. This striking 45 on Izipho Soul gives us an apt snapshot of the LP as "On The Floor" hits hard with its O'Neal level vocal soul syrup trickling down your ears like some type of life preserving elixir while Harris' "It Never Rains" is subtly transformed into deep, sweet shuffling house by way of the Effex Desert Soul remix. Turn the lights down, Harris is here to stay.
Review: Finnish revivalist funk combo the Soul Investigators are no strangers to collaboration, having previously provided backing for Nicole Willis, Myron and Ernie Hawks. Here, they once again join forces with the latter for two more chunks of instrumental funk and soul goodness. A-side "Scorpio Walk" is the kind of cut that should come with its own named dance; a shuffling, mid-tempo funk affair that layers Spaghetti Western guitar solos and fluttering flute lines over a backing track rich in flanged guitar licks, bustling bass guitar and on-point drum breaks. Flipside "Message of Love" is an altogether deeper and more dewy-eyed affair, with woozy backing vocals and electric piano solos rising above a shuffling groove.
Review: Giving Nicole a rare night off, inimitable troupe The Soul Investigators team up with killer flautist Ernie Hawks for two impeccable instrumentals. "Scorpio Man Theme" is all slinky 70s cinematica with a wry nod towards Lalo Schifrin while "Journey To The Bottom" adopts a more languid perspective with slower beats, a smouldering groove and a flute line that takes us right down to the bottom of our souls and right back up again. Beautiful.
Review: John Heartsman and Circles are precisely the sort of fellas you'd expect to see land on Athens Of The North, the most recent boogie-jazz reissuers to come out of the US of A. This material from the late 70's is like gold on the second hand market, and more like a mirage given the fact that original copies are her impossible to come by. Anyhow, this is proper soul-jazz goodness at its best, so if that's your thing, then get on it real fast. "Mr Magic" appears here as an edit from Fryers, but it's not million miles away from the original, its subtle organs still intact and that catch, funky swing still very much at the core of the tune. Heard the Idris Muhammad version? Check it to compare. "Talking About My Baby" is looser, more soulful affair with a faster tempo and Heartsman's rugged vocals in its underbelly. Quality.
Review: Previously, Philadelphia outfit Heem The Music Monsters was most famous for the sought-after 1976 psych-funk 7" "Wake Up People". It turns out, though, that the Hubert Willis-produced band recorded tons of other material in the same period, almost all of which has never seen the light of day before. The two tracks featured here are two such examples. "Keep God On Your Side" is a pleasingly sweet and dreamy chunk of life-affirming warmth that sits somewhere between classic Philly Soul and the more conscious vibes of the Mighty Ryeders. B-side instrumental "Going Down (Incognito)" is arguably even better, mixing as it does the inspired fusion of Brit-funk combo Cymande with heavy Clavinet lines, breathy backing vocals and dueling horn solos.
Review: Incredible late night smoochy stuff right here from one of the most decorated bassists of all time. A major figure in the bands of Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder, Henderson was also a killer solo artist amassing eight artist albums between 76-86. This AOTN "45 showcases his true breadth as "Let Love Enter" lilts on a soft bossa with rising horns, velvet backing vocals and an unabashed come-to-bed message. "Come To Me" gets even deeper under the sheets with as he goes toe-to-toe, cheek-to-cheek with Rena Scott with smoking results.