Review: Anticipation for the northern duo's fifth album Mount Pleasant continues to rise as the Jalapeno funksters drop another cheeky doublet ahead of the release. Two sides, two very distinct vibes: "I Feel Alive" tips a wee nod at their label mates Kraak & Smaak with its fluttering space disco elements and hip-strutting beats while "Mr Hyde" takes us up a notch with a sweaty northern soul twist. Bring on the album.
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: Funky Geordies Smoove & Turrell return to London's spiciest funk indie with the first single from their forthcoming new album Mount Pleasant. Two sides, two vibes: "You're Gone" is an uptempo pop funk jam with a wry dash of disco, Rodgers style strums, big horn blasts, rhythmic vocal calls and a subtle harmony between Turrell and new Jalapeno signing Izo FitzRoy. Flip for a little twist of melancholy as the blues groove and yearning tones of "A Deckham Love Song" ooze into your soul. Most pleasant.
Review: Madrid four-piece come correct with another sweet and sweaty 45". "Escuela De Calor" does well to share the spotlight between the incredible talent of the pressure cooker horns and arsonist organs that fire up feelings you didn't even know you had. "Zumo De Pina" struts with bigger jazzy flourishes as the sax grabs full lead, taking us to places we didn't even know existed. Precision-timed for summer fun.
Review: After releases on a dozen labels, one of Britain's finest funk groups Speedometer unleash their new single "The Shakedown(Say Yeah)" on Freestyle. Their current vocalist is none other than the legendary Martha High, a long time vocalist with James Brown until 1995 when she left to tour globally with James's sax player Maceo Parker. Does it hit all the right spots? Does it tick all the boxes? Hell yeah! Martha is firing on all four cylinders, ably assisted by UK soul man Myles Sanko whilst a killer guitar licked, punchy brass groove carries things on at a furious pace. "Dragging Me Down" on the flip sports a crystal clear performance from Martha as the band cook the bubbling organ tempo on gas mark 10; oven gloves at the ready people.
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: 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: 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: 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.
Take It Personally (Exclusive unreleased instrumental) (1:30)
Review: Mukatsuku's latest must-have release offers another opportunity to own early Freddie Cruger AKA Red Astaire favourite "Take It Personally". The wonderfully dusty, smoky and life-affirming hip-hop-soul cut first appeared as a Swedish only CD single in 2001, before later being included on the Stockholm stalwart's 2006 debut album "Soul Search". This time round, the inspired original - all head-nodding beats, sumptuous strings and sugary-sweet vocals from guest Desmond Foster - comes accompanied by a previously unreleased instrumental take. This vocal-free version is superb, offering listeners a chance to wallow in the quality of the Swedish veteran's bumpin' beats and intoxicating, head-in-the-clouds production. In the record box of Danny Krivit,DJ Spinna, Kid Koala and more! Only 300 hand-numbered copies and strictly no repress. Juno copies come exclusively in additional hand stamped kraft paper inner sleeve and branded card outer sleeve. Don't sleep !
Review: Mukatsuku's long running "Afro Funk & Disco Gems" series has always been a reliable source of obscure, high-quality dancefloor material from the African continent. This tenth edition is another must-have - on the A-side you'll find the synth-laden, boogie-era sunshine of "Everybody Dance", one of the undisputed highlights of Peter Yamson's in-demand (and notably hard to find) "Son Of Africa" LP. With wonderful vocals, glistening guitars, lolloping drum machine beats and some stellar synth work, the track ticks all the right boxes. Over on the flip there's a chance to own Cameroon legend Tala Andre Marie's 1981 classic "Get Up Tchamassi", whose snaking sax lines, elastic slap bass and dreamy chords are nothing less than sensational.As played by The Allergies,Joe Claussell,Smoov,Kalita, Faze Action,DJ Moar etc
Review: Although well known on the funk circuit for their incendiary live performances, the Soul Grenades have yet to translate their hard-hitting, horn-heavy sound to wax. It's for this reason that "A Blast Of Funk!", their debut single, has caused such a commotion. It boasts fresh recordings of two of the most popular cover versions in their armoury. The pick of the pair is undoubtedly their riotous rendition of "Get Lucky", which is re-imagined as a tasty funk-soul work out smothered in headline-grabbing, New Orleans style brass. That said, their version of "Louie Louie" is rather good, too, especially the addition of Meters style Hammond organ licks. As played by Craig Charles on BBC 6,The Allergies, Snowboy, Smoov,Boca 45 , Voodoo Cuts, Aldo Vanucci, Daytoner,Dom Servini, Jack & Wayne Hemingway. Don't sleep!
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: 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: The Fryers sub-label of Jazzman Records come correct once again with this crucial 7" reissue from The Isley Brothers! With a career spanning some 50 years and covering R&B, Rock, Funk, Soul and Disco, it's fair to say The Isley Brothers have been one of the most influential groups on how 20th Century music turned out, yet few people actually know that their universally regarded 1973 hit "That Lady" was in fact a cover version of a track they'd previously recorded a decade earlier. Presented here in all its dusty glory, "Who's That Lady" is a jazzy doo-wop workout that will have the collectors out there running towards the turntables to find out whose version it is. On the flip is their wonderful version of the Blues standard "St. Louis Blues" which has been freshly pressed from the original master tapes!
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: 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: Please welcome new LA Afrofunk troupe Mestizo Beat. Previously known as Soulfire Collective, this debut 45 marks a clear line in the sand and an exciting future. Sweaty, energetic, tightly woven instrumentals we kick off with "Featherbed Lane", a boogie-based jam with spiralling sax leads and a guitar solo so hot you could cook a banquet on it. "Handcuffed To The Shovel", meanwhile, gets to work with a rawness, persistence and infectious rhythmic motion. We know you're going to dig this!
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.