Review: For their latest dive into the depths of funk history, Athens of the North travels back to 1978 and the debut of John Hawes and Velma Bunch's obscure Hard Drivers project. The record initially appeared on Hawes' own short-lived imprint, and his since become a sought after 7" amongst serious collectors. "Since I Was A Little Girl" is a disco-era funk gem, with guest singer Vivian Lee providing a brilliantly confident vocal to compliment Hawes and Bunch's driving, horn-heavy backing track. On the flip you'll find original B-side "Straight Talk", a touching torch song full of harmony backing vocals, impassioned builds, and lyrics capable of melting even the stoniest of hearts.
Review: London's Soul Brother unit has been out of the picture for a little while, but you can always rest assured that the mythical Putney-based shop will come up with some solid reissue goodness. This time, the gold comes through a resurrection of Bill Harris' material, a legendary jazz trombonist who started his trade way back in the late 1950's. There's two versions of "Am I Hot Am I Cold" here, a short version for the dance, and a long version that delves deeper into the percussion, goes heavier on the drum breaks and lifts the track to higher grounds thanks to those prophetic vocals. A certified jazz-funk monster.
Review: This more than handy 7" single brings together two classic disco-era cuts from soul legend Willie Hutch. A-side "Easy Does It", which was originally featured on 1978's In Tune album, features Hutch in full-on Curtis Mayfield mode, singing passionately over a jaunty, jazz-funk influenced backing track laden with swirling strings, choral backing vocals (think Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" album) and Dexter Wansel style synthesizer solos. It's undoubtedly one of Hutch's finest moments and deserves to be in any serious soul head's collection. Flip for 1979's "Kelly Green", a sumptuous soul slow jam in which Hutch pines over a lost lover.