Review: For a brief period between 1968 and 1975, Peruvian band Black Sugar recorded some seriously heavy fusions of soul, rock and jazz. It's because of this that both of their self-titled albums now exchange hands for eye-watering sums online, as does their 1971 debut single "Viajecito". Helpfully, Matasuna Records has done a deal to reissue the latter. The track itself remains a rare treat; a gloriously sunny, horn-heavy fusion of Latin jazz rhythms, spacey sounds, jaunty group vocals and twinkling pianos. B-side "Too Late", a sumptuous, boogaloo-sounding soul number in which the group sings in English over a Blackbyrds-esque backing track, is similarly impressive.
Review: Surprisingly, Don Blackman originally wrote and recorded "Just Can't Stay Away" to play as the recorded message on his girlfriend's answering machine. He later included it - tweaked and turned into a mid-80s style boogie banger reminiscent of his work during that decade - on his second and final album, 2002's CD-only "Listen". Here it finally gets a vinyl release thanks to reissue specialists Melodies International. If you're a fan of boogie, electrofunk and synth-soul it should be an essential purchase, not least because it's every bit as good as more celebrated Blackman productions made earlier in his career. There are "Stereo" and "Mono" mixes to enjoy, with the former naturally offering a more refined and intoxicating listening experience.
Sweet Daddy Floyd - "I Just Can't Help Myself" (extended Break edit) (4:17)
Review: This tasty, DJ-friendly 7" single boasts two extended, break-heavy reworks of obscure and in-demand soul workouts. On the A-side you'll find a tasty extension of Melvin Bliss's superb, piano-heavy 1983 cut "Synthetic Substitution". While Bliss's brilliant original - all heartfelt vocals, jaunty keys and warm bass - is largely kept in tact, the mystery re-editor naturally makes more of the opening breakbeat, which was sampled several times during hip-hop's "golden era". Flip for a similarly tasty rearrangement of Sweet Daddy Floyd's 1978 Blaxploitation style disco-funk shuffler "I Just Can't Help Myself", a cut rich in rolling breaks, densely layered percussion, punchy orchestration and "Shaft"-style guitar licks.
Review: 1970s "Getting To The Middle" by Edwin 'Eddie' Joseph Bocage, or simply Eddie Bo, is one sublime EP in a sea of infinite soul releases from the New Orleans singer and composer. He was famous for his seductive vocal waves, but this particular single lies more on the funk end of the soul spectrum, and both parts 1 and 2 of the single instantly provoke that indescribable 'get down' feeling. Part 1 is for the party people and Part 2 is for the DJs, the latter leaving thing nice and instrumental.
Review: Destination 78/79: Expansion take us deep into the illustrious back cat of revered boogaloo fusionist Willie Bobo for two of his many fiery delights. Side A is his feel-heavy cult instrumental take on Ronnie Laws' disco classic "Always There" while Side B throws us into the heart of his 1979 album Bobo with gutsy raw soul power (and just a few cheeky funk slap bass twangs for good measure) Two stone cold classics together for the first time on 45.
Review: When it comes to break-driven dancefloor reworks and cheeky re-edits, Canada-based cut-and-paste merchant Jorun Bombay has a very impressive track record. Here he returns to Scarborough stable Soundweight with two more chunks of break-heavy goodness. On the A-side you'll find "Edits Theme", a tasty fusion of extended James Brown style drum-breaks, meandering sax solos and sumptuous, orchestra-enhanced orchestration. Over on Side B, "Editing Gears" sees Bombay serve up a bustling re-work of Johnny Hammond classic "Shifting Gears" rich in fluid electric piano solos, extended drum breaks, flanged funk guitars and delay-laden vocal snippets.
Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
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: American funk band Breakwater is best known for their hit "Release The Beast," which gets a reissue treatment by Be With. Even if you don't know the name, you'll recognise the track's withering lead riff because it was sampled by Daft Punk for their iconic "Robot Rock". It's mad to think such a futuristic sound was created somewhere in Philly in 1979, but it was. The flip side houses the smooth and buttery "Let Love In", a feel good, deep cut funk gem with vocal harmonies, bulbous bass and hip swinging claps.
James Brown - "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" (DJP edit) (3:44)
Eddie Floyd - "Knock On Wood" (DJP edit) (3:59)
Review: Flipping heck! Soul Flip invite everyone's favourite big glasses wearing editor DJP to the fold for some twists on two seminal, genre-affirming party joints. James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" gets a cheeky beat facelift with a fresh set of peppy breaks while Eddie Floyd's tree chopping sing-along enjoys a similar mix-friendly shake-up with a slower, roomier drum arrangement ensuring all the power of the '67 original is kept in check. Flip some switches.
Review: Feeling lucky? With grooves as raw, sizzling and energetic as these, there's a strong chance you might be. Hot on the heels of their "Mesquite Beat" 45 comes this equally earthy and frank doublet. "'Bout To Blow" is a big pant swinging blues affair while "Saints & Beggars" takes us up a notch with a whirling 6/8 signature whirling waltz where the horns and drums take the lead and we follow in their every dreamy footstep. Look out for the album Mesquite Suite coming on Tramp very soon.
Review: A serious self-press rarity from the heart of Clarksville, Suggs never achieved the recognition he deserved during his tenure as a band leading soul man. Still in Clarksville and now a missionary, the sentiments of this recording history peak resonate with what he does now: "Everything That Looks Good" is a JB style message on the lure of temptation while "You Don't Deserve", an instrumental that sees Bubba switching his vocals for equally commanding sax, is a moment for poignant, soul-searching reflection. Lord have mercy.
Review: Calvin Carr's wonderful gospel-soul has been a digger's favourite for yonks, often being cited and used by the very best selectors in the game. This 1878 single, originally out on Philadelphia United Records, is aptly named "Without Christ" and it offers listeners, dancers and lovers an opportunity for positive redemption. Much like the rest of the gospel world, this is perhaps the best way to convert people into enlightenment and keep them positive - there is absolutely no way that this disco-tinged gem cannot make you jump up with joy and excitement. The instrumental cut is pretty killer, too. BIG.
Review: Two more rare grooves purloined from Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul and delivered on a sweet 45: Celia's "A Hora E Essa" is a steamy Latin funk workout from 72; all horns, cuicas and soft, honeyed vocals. Franco's "Ei, Voce, Psiu!" takes a more US funk idea with Franco's spoken vocals giving off a strong air of bandleader as the band lock down a tight groove beneath. Watch out for samba flip towards the end. Blink and you'll miss it.
Review: Bay City claim that between the 60s and 70s, the music scene "was so fertile that the speed with which tastes changed left a colossal amount of incredible music to gather dust - perhaps most famously a profusion of funk, soul and rock." This resulted in many local bands who released their music independently without a label. The rather short lived, James Brown indebted Chain were one of those bands. These impressive two tracks feature hard drums, sharp horns, raw vocals, and supercool guitar licks. And a whole lot of soul, of course!
Review: For their latest essential seven-inch single, the Dynamite Cuts crew has raided Chicago Gangsters' 1975 debut album, "Blind Over You". Neither of the two tracks on offer has been featured on a "45" before. On the A-side you'll find "Gangster Boogie", a seriously heavy, Clavinet and saxophone-laden funk wriggler whose snappy drum break has appeared on numerous hip-hop jams over the years (including LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out"). On the flip you'll find the even more riotous and life-affirming funk-rock masterpiece "Why Did You Do It". Rich in rasping horns, wild organ lines and gnarly guitar riffs, it's just crying out to be played loud over a heavy soundsystem.
Review: Two powerful soul sessions from Alice Clark's eponymous debut 1972 album. "Don't You Care" is a hard-hitting soul standard (that became very popular in acid jazz scene in the early 90s) where Alice opens her heart for all to see while her incredible band ebb and flow with Clark's emotions. "Never Did I Stop Loving You", meanwhile, languishes in sentiment at a slightly lower tempo that allows her to really dig deep for those low notes. The real fun happens as we reach momentum towards the end and every band member brings out their A-game and bounces off each other - backing up Alice every step of the way. You will care about this.
Review: Two of Funk Night Records' most distinctive and innovative acts join forces for two outstanding pieces of psychedelic fiery funk fusion. Estonian duo Misha Panfilov Sound Combo set the bedrock on "Soul Strut". All fuzzy, unkempt and energetic, it sets the scene for Detroit's Coco Buttafli to lay her scorched heart on the line in an almost metal-like style. "Electrifying Woman" takes us even deeper into the psychedelic mindset as the groove is given a swampy, dizzying feeling while Coco spits spoken word with such a savage honesty you can't helped but get sucked into the story. Two of a kind.