Review: Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul unleashes two more once-rare gems on 45: recently spotted on The Man From Unkle soundtrack, tropicalia fusionist Tommy Ze gets fuzzy and frenetic with "Jimmy Renda Se". With its deep cut, loose string riff, rhythmic Q&A vocals and occasional strings, it's one of many reminders of how out there Tommy was. Flip for the equally unique and alluring "Kizumbau" where Eduardo and his troupe let us imagine what life would have been like if The Doors and Babe Ruth were Brazilian and collaborated.
Disco Baby (Floating Points & Red Greg edit) (3:55)
Review: If online chatter is to be believed, this tasty 7" from Floating Points' Melodies label is one of the most keenly anticipated disco releases of the year. For starters, the A-side boasts an obscure (but in demand) solo production from Manhattan Transfer keyboardist Yaron Gershovsky. "Disco Baby" is a prime chunk of jaunty, jazz-funk influenced disco-funk, the keyboardist's own jammed-out riffs and solos taking pride of place in the mix alongside punchy horns and a lolloping groove. Arguably even better, though, is Floating Points and Red Greg's flipside re-edit, which plays around with the original version's all-too-short drum break before letting the synths, keys and horns really sparkle.
Review: Born on the French Island of Martinique, Louis Xavier later settled in France where he discovered the freedom of jazz, and an idea to mix his influences into a global melting pot of sound. He formed his band (Synchro Rhythmic Eclectic Language) in Paris in the early '70s, making music that was both spiritual and eclectic for its time. Both tracks are jazz in essence but with instrumental funky rhythms infused with intricate percussion and electric keys.
Review: Classic funky soul in the true sense of the word and now presented with a Japan only exclusive edit from hip hop don J Rocc intended for the japan only market ! Nice pic sleeve too. What yo waitin for ? !!
Review: Rare Betty Wright sup[er soulness reissued with artwork for the Japan market on a tasty little 45. not many stores got this outside of the land of the rising sun ....Don't sleep on this beauty !
Review: 40 years young: Wood, Brass & Steel's eponymous debut album enjoys a highly timely reissue and it still sounds every bit as funky ("Theme Song"), soulful ("Working On A Dream") and emotional ("My Darling Baby") as it did in 76. Complete with cult dancefloor hit "Funkanova" and the crossover disco hit "Always There", this LP has aged with real maturity and clout. Considering what the members did next (Tackheads, Sugarhill and Fats Comet) Wood, Brass & Steel was something of a supergroup in hindsight... And this album is where it all began.
Review: For their latest on-point reissue, the Dynamite Cuts crew has raided the bulging back catalogue of soul organist Reuben Wilson. Or, to be more specific, the Cadet-released 1975 set "Got To Get Your Own". Sadly, there's not enough space for the full version of the album's celebrated title track, so Dynamite Cuts has prompted for the no less essential seven-inch edit instead. It remains a stone cold killer that no soul or funk DJ should be without, even in its shortened form. The lesser-known "Tight Money" is no less essential - or heavy, for that matter - with Wilson and pals strutting through a heavyweight Blaxploitation funk cut whose lyrics riff on poverty and Black America's mid-'70s financial crisis.
Review: Japanese imprint Ultra Vybe is midway through a seven-inch series focusing on some of the many gems tucked away on albums released by legendary U.S "funky jazz" label Groove Merchant in their early 1970s. Their latest picks are taken from pianist Larry Willis's 1973 set "Inner Crisis". You'll find the album's title track - a warm, mesmerizing and surprisingly melancholic fusion of restless organ lines, jammed-out electric piano solos, classic jazz horns and fussy grooves - on side B, with "Out On The Coast" on the A. This jaunty jazz-funk affair is far more hard-hitting, thanks in no small part to some rousing sax lines, blistering funk drums, razor-sharp jazz guitars and a seriously heavy bassline.
Review: Mushi 45 is a new, limited-edition 7" series aimed at those DJs who wish that their favourite obscure funk and soul tracks came with longer drum breaks. On the A-side you'll find a "Break Edit" of Ricky Williams' sought-after 1971 cut "Discotheque Soul (Part II)". In keeping with the vibe of the original, the tasty re-edit is a whirlwind trip through Hammond-laden party funk territory - all wild instrument solos and extended percussion workouts. On the flip, the un-credited editor takes his or her scalpel to Les Baxter's "Hogin Machine", a harmonica-heavy rhythm and blues slammer that first appeared on the artist's 1969 soundtrack to the largely forgotten film Hell's Belles. Since Baxter's original version is little over 90 seconds long, this extended, break-driven re-edit is arguably much needed.
Review: During the "rare groove" boom in London during the 1980s, Linda Williams' 1979 album track "Elevate Our Minds" became something of an anthem. Curiously, it was never released as a single at the time, making this surprise 7" edition something of a bonus for those still searching for the track. It remains a fine song, with Williams' brilliant vocals rising above bossa-influenced beats, warm bass, luscious boogie orchestration and gentle Latin style horn lines. The flipside features "City Living", the title track from the very same 1979 LP that "Elevate Our Minds" was taken. It's far funkier and more elastic in feel, with horn arrangements and a chunky groove reminiscent of some Teena Marie tracks from the same period.
Review: Emotional Rescue previously dived into the plush, soulful and verdant sound of Jaki Whitren and John Cartwright with the reissue of their essential International Times album back in 2013. Sadly Whitren and Cartwright passed away two years ago, and this 7" of previously CD/digital-only material materialises in tribute to these wonderfully talented souls. "That Will Be That" is an effervescent boogie jam with rich synths that interplay beautifully with Whitren's stunning vocal, while "This Time" takes a starkly opposite approach with just the most delicate of keys lingering behind Whitren's powerful, echoing vocal. It's a poignant note of remembrance for two gifted musicians who shone their light into the world.
Review: Having bubbled away in the LA funk scene since forming in 2015, the trio comprising drummer Michael Duffy, organist Frank Carey and guitarist Matt Hornbeck finally unleash their debut recording and it's a serious mission of funk intent. "Get To Steppin'" fulfils its motivational title with rapid boogaloo pace and wild jazz fusion in both the organ and guitar leads. "Blinded" is more of a classic instrumental funk piece with yet more wily organ adventures taking the lead over an insanely tight groove. Blinding.
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: When it comes to contemporary takes on '80s synth-soul and drum machine heavy boogie-funk, few labels are quite as consistent as Omega Supreme. The U.S imprint's latest missive is another synthesizer-driven revivalist masterpiece. It comes from Westbrook, a new alias of Venturi man Olivier Azemar. A-side "Makin' Clouds" is slow, spacey and atmospheric, with Azemar wrapping cute synth motifs and dreamy electronic chords around rich boogie bass and ricocheting, delay-laden drums. If anything, flipside "Situations" is even better. It cleverly alternates between spacey sections rich in high register lead lines and rubbery grooves that recall the greats of turn-of-the-80s P-funk.
Review: According to the South American music specialists at Matasuna Records, Ralph Weeks' 1971 single "Let Me Do My Thing" - recorded alongside backing Los Dinamicos Exciters - is arguably the most sought-after Panamanian soul record around. As this reissue proves, Weeks' original version is rubbery, heavy and rousing, with the singer's rasping lead vocal soaring above a weighty backing track that sounds like a breezier take on the New York boogaloo sound. On the flip, Voodoocuts tools it up for modern dancefloors, underpinning his club-ready edit with punchy new drums that give the cut more of a breakbeat style swing.
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.
Review: While he lived a musical life that spanned from boogie to gospel before he passed away in 2016, Nairobi's David Waciuma didn't get to record much. He was known much more for his live performances with bands such as The Monks Experience then, later, Rapture Voices who he recorded these two records in the mid-70s. "Devil Go" is a thumping rhythm and blues call and response piece while "Jesu Kristo" hits with more of a frazzled bluesy funk. Both make you wish he recorded much more.
Review: Those who watch the X-Factor may remember Voices With Soul; the trio, which is made up of three female members of the Campbell family (Grace, Hilda and Corene) reached the last six of the TV talent competition back in the late noughties. Here, they're in full-on contemporary gospel mode, layering their impassioned, righteous vocals over a lushly produced, slow-burning backing track full of chiming synthesizer melodies, bustling synth bass and tumbling electronic sax solos. Arguably even better is the flipside "Promo Mix", which doffs a cap to classic British street soul - a homegrown 1980s variant that is constantly overlooked by dance music scholars - via tactile hip-hop beats and Soul II Soul style production.
Review: The Voices Of East Harlem were an ensemble of vocalists who for Just Sunshine Records recorded two albums under the direction of Leroy Hutson and Curtis Mayfield. "Cashing In" is one of their most classic songs, a highly sought after track on original 7" fetches a small fortune on the collectors market. First recorded and released in 1973, it has all the hallmarks of a Leroy Hutson composition and an established audience that crosses the boundaries of northern, crossover and modern soul. The song is coupled here with "Take A Stand', another highly regarded and sought after modern soul room dance floor tracks, never previously released on 7" single until now
Review: As part of the label's 15th birthday celebrations, the Tramp Records crew has decided to serve up some seriously heavy deep funk. Given that the imprint first found fame championing similarly weight, B-Boy-friendly funk jams, it's rather fitting. The two showcased tracks come courtesy of St Petersburg band the Vicious Seeds, who have slowly been picking up plaudits since making their vinyl debut in 2016. A-side "Illegal Delivery" is something of a dancefloor beast, with razor-sharp guitars riding sweaty, all-action funk drums and a booming, metronomic bassline. "Happy Lobster", on the other hand, is a little more relaxed but no less potent, with the Russian combo wrapping jazzy guitar motifs around a bustling groove.
Review: Two premium Latin funk documents on one limited 45, Mr Bongo deliver once again: Marcos Valle needs no introduction to Brazilian music enthusiasts. "Mentira" is a self-cover as Valle takes his 69 classic "Mentira Carioca" and develops the dynamic with a vocal style that's highly reminiscent of Donovan. Flip for Toni Tornado's Black Rio anthem "Me Libertei". Fusing sleazy rock n roll with jazzy Latin soul, madly this is the first time it's ever graced a 45!
Review: For the latest volume in their ongoing Brazil 45s series, Mr Bongo has decided to change tack. The two tracks showcased here are from the golden age of Brazilian boogie. On the A-side you'll find Marcos Valle's "A Paraiba Nao E Chicago", a largely overlooked cut from his 1981 full-length Vontade De Rever Voce. While not as instantly as infectious as some of his better-known singles, it's still superb; a breezy, blue-eyed soul cut full of rising horns and sweet Portuguese vocals. On the B-side, you'll find Don Beto's 1978 disco-funk jam "Nao Quero Mais", a superb track that was seemingly inspired by the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Running".