Review: Alex Puddu's Afro Soul Prophecy project continues to blaze into the year with pure molten lava grooves. "Daddy's Groove" is a perfect summer heater with its laid back horns that ooze over the wah wah licks and strutting rim-shots. "Let Me Be Your Lover" takes more of a Latin approach with its upbeat rhythm and bossa tendencies. Listen out for those cosmic guitars in the background... Dreamy business.
Review: What a trip it's been for The Allergies; rolling from one killer album to the next, funk is flying from their HQ at a rate of knots. Here are two fine examples from their last LP Push On, both featuring their long-time friend and MC from Andy Cooper. Best known for his witty wordplay and character on Ugly Duckling records, here Andy gets to show off both sides to his expansive flow; "Main Event" is a chubby disco groove laced with mountains of funk, creating space for Andy's laidback-but-hypey charm. In perfect contrast "Buzzsaw" is a much sweatier funk jam allowing Cooper to get rapid and tongue-twisty in a way that only he knows how. Keep on pushing...
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: 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: Two big cuts taken from the Melbourne trio's sixth album Blind Bet, here the band flip two sides of a ridiculously funky coin. "Mind Made Up" features the vocals of Tru Thoughts starlet Kylie Auldist. Her rich emphatic vocals fit the 70s soul licks perfectly. Smooth and dynamically delivered with big horns, subtle strings, major chords and an instantly catchy chorus, you'll make your mind up on this long before the last horns blast a final cheerio. "Skeletor", meanwhile, is a much more party-focussed jam where big breakbeats provide the back bone for sharp horns, heavy Hammond slapping and warm gravelly vocals.
Review: Dreamy mid '70s funk from Caribbean (St Maarten to be precise) trio Cool Creations: "Wish Upon Love" struts with a Boz Scaggs-style confidence and a deep, cloudy finish that would make Faze-O proud. Flip for a straight-up cloud burst as "Night On Beach Island" lives up to its name with measured pace, cosmic trumpets, sandy pianos and lavish, lolloping wave-lapping double bass. Beautiful.
Review: One of 2016's finest funk stories was, without question, when AOTN suddenly dropped this incredible unreleased album by criminally slept-on Jacksonville troupe Fruit. A stunning piece of work, even by Fryer's standards it was a coup-de-grace. Now two of the album's finest, funkiest, sweatiest jams are available on limited 45. Instant floor burners, just like the rest of the album, before the tracks are over you'll feel you and your floor have known them forever.
Review: Released in 1971 and written and recorded by Dave Hamilton (one of Motown's most prolific and influential session players), Sugar Billy Garner plays the consummate band leader over a relentless groove that rolls with drama. Billy gets sweatier, the guitars get busier, the dynamic gets heavier and heavier... So heavy it rolls into a second part. Primed for the floor, it still hits hard 44 years after its release.
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: 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: Ernie Hawks & The Soul Investigators return to Timmion with a pair of brand-new soul scorchers, and this ain't no reissue business. For real. As per usual, the imprint know exactly where to source the very best in the contemporary gear while everyone else is looking to the 70s for that adrenaline rush. As it turns out, this is some marvellously constructed soul music, right from the heart and soul, with "Cold Turkey Last Time" and "Trackin' Down" containing all the elements of fine ballads that are both future-proof and utterly stand-out. Check it and don't wreck it.
Review: The Incredible Bongo Band were a loose studio collective interpreting classics of the day in their own inimitable percussive fashion .They are of course most famous for their ultimate b-boy classic version of "Apache". This particular 7" however features two Incredible Bongo Band cuts that have not previously featured on any albums. "The Riot" is a frenetic drum workout and has been championed by the likes of the Chemical Brothers. "Ohkey Dokey (Part 2)" takes on a somewhat more subdued hue in comparison, but has some dope funky clavinet in the mix. Well worth checking.
Review: Soul Tribe celebrate the epic legacy of Chess subsidiary Argo with two of the label's many outstanding soul burners. Etta's big swing sauce-pot number takes pride of place with all 55 years of sultry devotion still deeply embedded into the recording. Banks' slightly lesser known pastoral ballad sets up camp on the B. Lilting and lolloping with horseback storytelling, it's the perfect foil both musically and narratively.
Review: Jimmy Lane recorded this single in the summer of 1969 in upstate New York. The title stems from arriving at the recording studio without any lyrics prepared, and when asked by the producer what he was going to sing he replied "Oh, we’ll deal with it later". Another Funk Classic from Funk 45.
Review: Should you require further evidence of the all-round genius of Curtis Mayfield, look no further than this early '70s funk gem from Patti Jo. "Make Me Believe In You" was written and produced by the velvety-voiced musician in 1973, one of just a few singles released by Patti Jo but undoubtedly now an all-time classic. That rolling drum intro, the ear-wagging piano, the subtle orchestration and, above all, Patti Jo's killer vocal all combine for a perfect example of the halcyon days when funk was beginning to transform into disco. Mayfield himself later covered the track for the closer to his Sweet Exorcist LP! This BGP 7" sees Tom Moulton's extension of "Make Me Believe In You" combined with his remix of the other Patti Jo burner, "Ain't No Love Lost". Any self-respecting DJ needs the A-side though.
Review: This desirable 7" single brings together two of the many highlights from the bulging catalogue of New Orleans soul singer Ernie K Doe. On the A-side you'll find 1961's "A Certain Girl", a sweet rhythm and blues number from the dawn of the soul era that ticks all the right boxes (strong lead vocal, jaunty piano lines, lolloping groove, question-asking female backing vocals). Arguably even better is the better known "Here Come The Girls", a later K-Doe recording that was produced by the song's writer, Allen Toussaint, and originally appeared on the artist's eponymous 1972 album. We all know it, of course, but it still remains a sing-along soul staple.
Review: Neo soul evangelist Adam Gibbons - aka Lack Of Afro - is back with the euphoric, cathartic release of "Freedom", a retro jam that totally evokes the hazy Easy Rider age of American funk rock, featuring the talents of Jack Tyson-Charles. "Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances" meanwhile is a riot of Blow Up-era Swinging Sixties vintage funk - both cuts are highly recommended.
Review: When you talk about 'kid funk', it's always long-lost B-sides that record collectors talk about like myths. But, Athens Of the North have managed to get their hands on the masters of a super-rare Virtue 7" that goes for no less that L1000 on the second-hand market in its original form. "Listen" is a deep, sublimely odd little funk tune that is as deep as you can get for boogie and funk; "Party" on the flip is no less of a gem, backed by Little George's supreme vocals and a tight little break, too. Sick.