Review: Bjorn Wagner's Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band combo recently returned from a two-year hiatus with a killer new album, "The Serpent's Mouth". It's that set - a glorious fusion of funk, soul, disco, jazz and Trinidadian steel band music - from which these two top tracks are taken from. A-side "1 Thing" is particularly glorious. As one quick listen to the clips will confirm, it's a riotous instrumental cover of the Amerie R&B classic of the same name, which replaces the singer's vocals with ear-catching steel drums. The same killer combination of flash-friend funk guitars, bustling drums and tropical steel drum sounds can also be heard on B-side "Hoopla Hoop", which also boasts some suitably fuzzy horns.
Review: Since launching last year, the Dynamite Cuts has delivered a string of killer seven-inch singles featuring sought-after cuts from fantastic old albums and this is another must-have along the same lines. It boasts two tracks from Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers' 1970 debut album, "Doing What We Wanna Do", neither of which have appeared on a "45" before. You'll find a riotous Hammond funk explosion rich in energetic, break-driven drumming and wild trumpet and organ solos on the B-side, with the similarly sweaty title track nestling on the A. This insatiable number is altogether deeper and looser in feel, with tasty group vocals rising above bustling drums, warm Hammond lines and punchy sax solos.
Review: Suncut's latest release offers up an affordably priced reissue of obscure US outfit, Pages' "Heartaches & Pain", a sought-after seven-inch single from 1979. Given that copies of the Sunstruck Records original regularly change hands for several hundred pounds a time, you could argue that they've done soul and funk DJs a massive service. The title track, which was apparently recorded in 1971 by producer Travis Biggs and the obscure Pages, is something of a breezy soul treat - a two-and-a-half minute slab of sweetness rich in attractive vocals, rising horns and a bustling bottom-end groove. Arguably even more impressive is Blaxploitation funk style flipside "Mack", where flanged guitars, punchy horns, sample-ready drum breaks and down-low vocals combine with devastating effect.
Review: Vital Italian library music from the 70s right here. Initially excavated by Strut then issued on a limited 45 last year, this is reissue is back by popular demand and highly recommended. Vital, airy jazz funk charged by the super tight breaks of renowned Italian drummer Tullio De Piscopo, Paolo Zavallone's compositions are lively and full of surprises; "Yellow Fever" is a Hammond powered long summer drive with the top down and no obstacles while "Papillon Rouge" hits with more of a Bob James feel as the keys take on a life of their own, backed up by equally mischievous horns.
Arnold Albury & The Casuals - "That's A Bet" (3:44)
You & I - "Make Time" (2:04)
The Standing Ovation - "CGO" (3:46)
Combo Guarajeo - "Alamo" (2:09)
Willie Johnson - "Lay It On Me" (1:58)
Mark McIver - "Soul Thing" (2:11)
Dayton Sidewinders - "Go Ahead On" (2:33)
Thee Midniters - "Chicano Power" (3:02)
The Hitchikers - "Mr Fortune" (feat The Mighty Pope) (2:43)
John Fitch & Associates - "Romantic Attitude" (3:15)
Living Color - "Plastic People" (vocal) (3:15)
Black Earth Plus - "How Can You Say You Love Me" (part 1) (4:09)
Sloan Bey - "Look At Your Brother" (2:16)
Review: Funk 45s collector Robert Perlman was once the Beastie Boys' "go-to" man when it came to copping obscure breaks and samples. These days, he's better known for his long running Funk For The People blog, which has been posting MP3s of little-known and impossible to find funk sevens since 2009. Here he's teamed up with deep funk specialists Rocafort Records to showcase 15 of his favourite obscure "sides" on one LP-length slab of wax. All of the selections are spot on, from the 60s-pop-influenced dreaminess of Arnold Albury & The Casuals' "That's A Bet" and the Tower of Power style bagginess of The Standing Ovation's "CGO", to the horn-fired dancefloor heaviness of Dayton Sidewinders' "Go Ahead On" and the anthem-like brilliance of "Plastic People" by Living Color.
Review: New London reissue label Zel Zele launches with a reissue of a 'holy grail' by Umit Aksu Orkestrasi - a band formed by Turkish pianist, composer and arranger Umit Aksu. Originally released in 1975, Bermuda Seytan Ucgeni is an outstanding experimentation of forward-thinking jazz-funk, played by some of Turkey's most talented musicians. On the A side," Bermuda Seytan Ucgeni" is the sound of the '70's at its finest featuring a roaring horn section. Experience the uplifting vibes of "Bogazici Koprusu" on the flip, which is reminiscent of old Italian library recordings, as described by the label.
Review: Boom: three years, three albums. No biggie for Bristol duo The Allergies, Jalapeno's biggest success story since Kraak & Smaak. Each album shows them getting deeper into the groove, creeping away from the cheeky samples and sculpting their own pedigree funk originals. With Ugly Ducking Andy Cooper onside through the mix from the wild ride vibing "Fade Away" to the white knuckle lyrical fire of "Run It Back", there's a real band feeling to the whole album as familiar voices thread throughout the jams... including that of UK hip hop legend Dr Syntax.
Tecumsay Roberts - "It Makes Me Dance & Sing" (5:44)
Monad & The Electrons - "Foam Song" (4:00)
Geri Baird - "Backside Of The Desert" (3:52)
Road Runners - "Pretty Me" (2:08)
Bush Telegraph - "Lazy Day" (3:16)
Ocean - "The Jesus Pill" (1:55)
Enzo Del Re - "Il Banditore" (4:07)
Commy Bassey - "We Want Togetherness" (4:37)
Sunny Boy - "Love Affair" (3:39)
The Weeden Family Singers - "In The Kingdom Of The Lord" (3:59)
Mike Slaughter - "In Time" (4:36)
Lotte Kaersa - "Prov Og Gor Li'Som Jeg" (2:56)
Trio Ternura - "A Gira" (3:04)
Review: Compiled by Scottish crate digger Stephen Marshall , Screamers, Bangers and Cosmic Synths was arguably one of 2017's most entertaining and eye-opening compilations. Happily, we can report that this sequel is every bit as good. Highlights come thick and fast from the word go, from the bouncy, Moog-laden reggae-funk of Tecumsay Roberts' "It Makes Me Dance and Sing" and the intoxicating, dub disco-influenced AOR bounce of Geri Baird's "Backside of the Desert", to the percussive voodoo of Enzo Del Re's "Il Banditore" and the low-slung, lo-fi synth-funk oddness of Sunny Boy's delightfully quirky "Love Affair". Oh, and the left-of-central gospel-funk of The Weeden Family Singers' "In The Kingdom of the Lord", which is strangely magnificent. In other words, it's another fine collection of dusty cuts you've never heard of. What's not to like?
Review: Boogaloo bandit and all-round organ slapping sugar man Adam Scone and his extensive troupe begin to tease us with sounds from their forthcoming sophomore album Blast Furnace. Landing a whole decade after their debut LP Mind Blower, you'll be pleased to hear they've not lost an ounce of their bite and mind-blowingly tight groovemanship. As always the organs take the lead but it's the full band laying down on both the sleazy, funk / boogaloo hybrid "Old Faithful" (watch out for those beautiful clean breaks) and the Booker T style blues workout on the B "Algiers Connection". Get to the furnace!
Review: Penny deliver's a flute led Jazz version of Marvin's soul classic flipped by a funky organ backed version of Gil Scott Heron's Lady Day & John Coltrane with both tracks lifted from the Portrait Of A Gemini LP.
Review: A key accelerant in the early 70s MPB melting pot; decorated sessionist, composer and band leader Salvador's 1971-released album is a fizzing brew of bossa, samba, funk, carioca brought together with energy and a fused rawness that has led to OG copies regularly going for around L200. The range is everything in this fourth album; from the sudden floor filling party flourish of the opener "Uma Vida" to the Beatles-like narrative oddity "O Rio" to the orchestral boogaloo of "Number One", this is Salvador at the peak of his fusionista powers.
Review: As the '70s dawned and Motown relocated to the West Coast, the era of their honey-toned '60s girl groups came to a resounding halt. The Sisters Love were the antithesis of the traditional Motown group and came to the label from A&M, armed with a lot of funk, sass and attitude.
Paired with some of Motown's finest writers and producers - Hal Davis, Gloria Jones, Pamela Sawyer, Paul Riser and Willie Hutch - they got off to a rousing start with the gritty "Mr. Fix-It Man" and went into high gear for the UK only release "I'm Learning To Trust My Man".
Motown had them playing arenas with The Jackson Five (probably not their smartest move!), issued the odd single and scheduled more but Sisters Love's anticipated breakthrough didn't happen.
In 1980 New York DJ Danny Krivit pressed up an extended eight-minute re-edit of "Give Me Your Love", an old B-side from a 1973 single! That song was somewhat of an underground classic but the Krivit mix brought in a whole new legion of fans amongst the rare groove crowd, both in the US and the UK.
Sisters Love had long been rumored to have recorded a complete album for the Motown subsidiary MoWest. Get On Down Records combed the vaults with Motown's help and the result is the original 10 cut album, plus a bonus cut, "Give Me Your Love."
Review: While officially pressed in 1976, Washington DC's funk troupe Coque never actually publicly distributed their socially conscious epic psych funk rock romp "People Let's Communicate". Most copies were damaged in a flood but a limited amount escape and were excavated 10 years ago. Now available for the first time, both sides can be digested in all their fusion and positive glory. Part one slides and glides with a little Sly Stone style smooth funk while part two gets a little crunchier. It's time to talk.
Review: The spirit of Zapp lives on in Bay Area maverick Diamond Ortiz as he follows up his Street Funk edition with his first original 45 this year. Both loaded with that crucial Cali vibe, juicy synth bass and sleazy talkbox fronting, "Poster Girl" is the real street stalker that's loaded with such a tightly coiled swagger it wobbles. "In The Cut Like Whaat" turns down the tempo to turn the heat. Powerful, emotional and timeless. Shine on.
Review: Earlier this year American Shawn Lee and The Soul Surfers formed an unlikely but seriously funky alliance. The result is a Russian/US super group via London and they've already released a full eponymous album. Here are two of the LP's many highlights; first we have the deep swing and jazzy wafts of the ETA-style "Jose Chicago" where things develop into some divine clean breaks towards the end before dropping into much more of a cosmic pastoral idyll on "Four Track Mind". Stunning.
Review: Skull Snaps' eponymous 1973 debut album has long been regarded as one of funk's greatest albums, not to mention one of the most sampled of all time. Many of the set's killer drum breaks have been recycled on hip-hop and dance records over the years, including those by the Prodigy, the Pharcyde, Gang Starr, DJ Shadow, Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Thanks to a fresh studio remaster, the album sounds heavier than ever on this licensed Mr Bongo reissue. Highlights include opening stomper "My Hang Up Is You", the sweet and relaxed "Didn't I Do It To You", the head nodding "Bus Stop" bounce of "It's A New Day" and the driving soul brilliance of "I'm Your Pimp".
Review: In recent years, demand for vinyl copies of Japanese keyboardist Hiroshi Sato's 1979 jazz-funk classic Orient has rocketed. Given that few have the means to pay several hundred pounds for an original copy, this reissue - the first vinyl edition in 39 years - is more than welcome. It remains a delightful set, full of fluid and ear-pleasing tracks that variously doff a cap to disco, Brazilian boogie, classic jazz-funk, low slung early electrofunk and the kind of woozy, laid-back soundscapes more associated with early '80s New Age and ambient sets. Naturally, Sato's playing takes centre stage throughout, but the standard of the musicianship elsewhere is incredibly impressive, too. Shigeru Suzuki's guitar playing, in particular, stands out.