Review: Top-notch mash-up merchant turned fast-fingered re-editor Jim Sharp is back with more dancefloor treats. This time round, he's turned his attention not to dusty old funk and soul jams, but rather killer R&B and modern soul cuts from the last two decades. "Edit In Love" sees Sharp rearrange Beyonce's "Crazy In Love", extending the infamous Chi-Lites breaks to allow for greater dancefloor pleasure. On the flip he switches to remix mode, expertly layering a sugary-sweet, well-known R&B vocal atop his own punchy hip-hop beats and warm Rhodes riffs. It's pretty tasty, all told, just like his "Crazy In Love" revision.
Review: Galaxy Sound bust open a new bottle of 2019 by dusting off two jazz funk classics and giving them just a little tweak for these floor-primed 45s. John Klemmer's wyled out sax on the totally uncaged and freeform "Free Soul" says all you need; spirited, unpredictable and full of energy. Ray Bryant's "Up Above The Rock" brings us back down to earth with its trident piano strikes and that classic break that's been sampled by everyone from Roni Size to the Wiseguys. Now time to hit the source.
Review: Following Hot Casa's reissue of his second album The Black Isaiah Of Africa in 2017, here comes the long awaited repress of Kingsley Aigbologa Bucknor's incredible debut album. Rarer than hen's teeth, known to pass hands for triple figures and so vibrantly freeform and longform; both extensive 15+ minute tracks take up a side each as Kings and his 16 player / 10 backing singer Afrodisk Beat 79 troupe lay down two crisp Afrofunk trips. Singular.
Review: New Zealand-born Lance Ferguson has been the beating heart of Melbourne's modern funk and soul scene for the best part of two decades. It's this that allowed him to gather many of the city's best musicians together to record "Rare Groove Spectrum", an album of fresh covers of rare and classic funk, soul and Latin jams. There are some killer versions to be found amongst the 11 tracks on offer. We're particularly enjoying the collective's riotous instrumental revision of Pleasure classic "Joyous", the strutting deep funk heaviness of "Egg Roll" (a similarly restless cover of a mysterious but much-played cut that should be familiar to dusty-fingered diggers and knowledgeable dancers) and the sumptuous summer breeze that is the combo's meandering take on Earth, Wind and Fire staple "Brazilian Rhyme". It is, though, all superb.
Review: It's a while since we last heard from Breakdown Brass, an ensemble whose epic line-up includes members of almost every major contemporary Brooklyn-based soul and funk act. "Next Episode" isn't a new jam, but rather a timely reissue of their sought-after 2015 cover of Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg's 1999 hip-hop anthem of the same name. It's an absolutely killer cover, all told, with the band replacing all of the original's distinctive sampled loops with heavy brass parts and a range of dizzying instrumental solos. B-side "Monmouth" - an original composition by bandleader Nadav Nirenberg - is almost as good, offering a ballsy bland of fuzzy brass parts and chunky, hip-hop style beats.
Review: Mr Bongo recently reissued the obscure - but also thoroughly brilliant - 1975 debut album by Los Angles soul/rock fusionists Spaceark. Here they continue to mine the band's slim body of work by offering up a new edition of 1976 single "Don't Stop". Available in vocal and instrumental variations, the track is a wonderfully warm and inviting affair, with sweet male and female vocals rising above a grandiose backing track rich in sustained Hammond organ chords, soaring instrumentation, snaking saxophone solos and an unfussy but tight groove. While the vocal version is undeniably great, there's something extra special about the thrusting solos and urgent backing vocals that surge from the speakers during the Instrumental mix.
Impeach The President (UB instrumental mix) (4:19)
Review: Nubian Crackers member The Undercover Brother (AKA veteran Queens, New York-based beat-maker Victor Piagneri) fires up his U.B.'s project and delivers another taster for the forthcoming "Ultimate Covers w/Breaks" LP. On the A-side you'll find his instrumental interpretation of Frederick Knight cut "Uphill Peace Of Mind", a heavy, stripped-back revision rich in killer drum breaks, Red Hot Chili Peppers style funk-rock guitars and life-affirming piano solos. Turn to the flip for Piagneri's vocal-free version of The Honey Drippers' 1973 anti-Nixon anthem "Impeach The President". He allows the track's much-sampled opening drum break a little more room to breathe, before carefully layering up Hammond organ riffs and a snaking saxophone solo that effectively replaces the original vocals.
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: Instead of getting introspective when he hit 45, Dr Rubberfunk decided to get back in the studio and make music born from his experiences as a long-serving DJ and producer. If this second volume in the "My Life at 45" series is anything to go by, he's in fine fettle. He hits the ground running with "Canvas Cathedral", where Ben Castle's snaking saxophone solos wind their way around a laidback, breakbeat-driven groove. Arguably even better is "A Little Blahzay", a wonderfully stoned modern soul song whose lyrics deal with the kind of pointlessly cyclical and bitter arguments that come with long-term relationships at times. If that wasn't enough to set the pulse racing, check out closer "Canvas Beats" (a tasty version of A-side opener "Canvas Cathedral").
Review: Back in the autumn, Wack Wack Rhythm Band launched the WWRB label, in the process dropping their first single in six years. This speedy follow-up is similarly impressive. For us, it's all-about A-side "Madras Express", a speeding, funk-fuelled journey through meandering saxophone solos, punchy horn breaks, fast-fingered electric bass, spacey Moog motifs and all manner of layered additional percussion. That said, there's also much to admire about Hammond funk workout "Stay Pressed", where jammed out solos and lead lines come accompanied by sharp guitar riffs, Mod-era lead guitar solos and the kind of stomping beat that would excite even the most miserable of Northern Soul enthusiasts. It also contains an absolutely killer drum solo, which is something we at least can't get enough of.