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.
Give Me Something Better (feat John McCallum - Werkha remix) (4:00)
Review: Northern collective The Haggis Horns have been at the forefront of the UK funk scene since they came to prominence as a horn section on the legendary album "Keb Darge Presents The New Mastersounds" in 2001. They then went on to form their own full band in 2004 and have three albums under their belt: "Hot Damn!", "Keep On Movin" (First Word Records) and recently released "What Comes To Mind" (Haggis Records). They've been rocking crowds the world over for years winning fans with their signature sound that crosses over with breakbeats, afrobeat, soul and hip-hop. The seven piece band call upon John McCallum on vocals and guitar for the absolute funk explosion that is "Outta My Head" while on the flip their track "Give Me Something Better" gets a lovely rework by Manchester's nu-jazz broken beat wunderkind Webkha.
Review: Legendary bandleader Eddie Palmieri took a rare groove excursion from his Latin legacy in the early 70s for two albums as Harlem River Drive. Criminally overlooked, Soul Brother have dusted off two of the many highlights from his self-titled debut; "Idle Hands" is a sleazy, Gaye-style message with an almost spoken word quality to the vocals and a smoky wooziness to the horns while "Seeds Of Life" is a real end-of-set belter that rises and rises with tight orchestration between the guitar, horns and drums. Incredible... This can't be slept on this time round.
You're Doing It With Her (When It Should Be With Me) (2:45)
Cry Myself To Sleep (2:06)
Review: Rhetta Hughes (Los Angeles, California, November 9, 1953) is a R&B singer and actress. She starred in the Broadway musicals Dreamgirls, Don't Play Us Cheap and Amen Corner: for which she was nominated for a Tony Award in the category for Best Actress in a Musical in 1984. She also appeared in the films Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, The Wiz (as a member of the choir) as well as the film version of Don't Play Us Cheap. She was also seen in the TV version of the musical Purlie, and appeared in an episode of Law & Order. In addition, Hughes had two entries on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart including "Angel Man (G.A.)" which hit #1 in 1983. "You're Doing It With Her (When It Should Be With Me)" is the kind of soul classic that the late Amy Winehouse could have taken her cues from while "Cry Myself To Sleep" appears on the flip.
Review: Since 2003, Record Kicks has been the "explosive sound of today's scene" and, by the looks of this latest nugget from Martha High, they're right on track to fulfill that promise! The talented US vocalist was on the front row of James Brown's hits in the 60's and 70's, but she's since then focused on her own glorious soul material. "A Little Taste Of Soul" comes as a ray of shining light on a wet October afternoon, full of funky sensibility and heartfelt vibes, making for the perfect dance number for those looking for that groovy thang. For the B-side, "Unwind Yourself" slows the tempo down, breaks up the groove, and unleashes High's Goddess-like voice amid those tasty breaks - what a winner!
Review: Late, great Japanese funk don Takehiro Honda's vaults get the treatment from HMV as two of his many famously fizzy jams enjoy a new lease of life. 1971's "Ain't It Funky Now" should be familiar by all as it subverts the good work of the greatest band leader of all time with mild jazz and funk fusion. "Greasy Spoon" on the B can be found a few years deeper into Takehiro's discography as part of his 1973 album "What's Going On". Another supreme, lucid fusion cut; not only does it still kick up a fuss on the dancefloor, it also salutes the best cooked breakfasts on the planet. Not to be slept on.
Review: Hot on the heels of "Outta My Head / Give Me Something" the Haggis comeback is in full effect as they drop another sure-fire brass-blasting blunderbuss: "Take It Back" features slippery lyricism of writer/comedian/MC extraordinaire Doc Brown alongside their signature tight groove and rolling sense of playful funk. Loaded with an instrumental on the B, this one is guaranteed to sizzle your summer.
Review: Two out-and-out rarities from Hancock's Columbia-era output. Strictly the sole preserve of DJ promo back in 79/80, the clue is in the title 'special' disco remixes. Smooth, soulful and arranged with such style, every element of Herbie's essential ingredients is brought to the fore in its own time with its own space. "Stars In Your Eyes" swoons with a soulful ballad feel while "Saturday Night" pumps and jumps with party-pulling allure. Simply essential.
Review: Best known amongst house heads for being the source of the lilting orchestral sample in Pepe Bradock's "Deep Burnt", Freddie Hubbard's 1979 version of "Little Sunflower" is a soul-jazz classic and a half. Since the full version of Hubbard's vocal re-make (the trumpeter first recorded an instrumental take in 1968) only ever appeared on a hard-to-find promo 12", this Record Store Day reissue should be an essential purchase. It remains a gentle, breezy and sunset-ready jazz-dance gem, with Hubbard's emotion-rich vocals and mazy trumpet solos riding Latin-tinged percussion, elastic double bass and some suitably jammed-out jazz pianos. In other words, it's the kind of life-affirming treat that's capable of spreading sunshine on even the cloudiest day.
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.
Gyedublay Ambolley & The Steneboofs - "Simigwado" (4:36)
Review: Mr Bongo come through with two pounding slabs of Ghanaian magic from 1973. Up top Honny & The Bees live up to their sweet name on "Psychedelic Woman," a hypnotic, insistent mid-tempo bell-bashing, string twanging nodder that really arrests when the big harmonic chorus heaves in. Complementing this, Gyedublay Ambolley & The Steneboofs offer "Simigwado" which will appeal to all break diggers; powerful JB-level horn heaven, it's concentrated funk of the highest order.
Review: In 1979, a year after he co-founded Yellow Magic Orchestra, Haruomi Hosono joined forces with acoustic guitarist Takahiko Ishikawa and keyboardist Masataka Matsutoya to record "The Aegean Sea", a gloriously sunny set of jazz-fusion, disco and jazz-funk cuts shot through with Mediterranean musical influences. It's the kind of thing that would now be considered "Balearic", so it's little surprise to see the set getting a European reissue for the very first time. There's much to admire throughout, from the funk-fuelled dancefloor cheeriness of "Reggae Aegean Woman" and Bob James/Jimmy Smith-influenced bliss of "Image", to the sun-baked gorgeousness of "Day Break" and thrillingly jaunty "Atlantis".
Review: By the time he was asked to compose the music for Blaxploitation movie Shaft, Isaac Hayes had already established himself as a talent on the rise. While he'd enjoyed modest success as a session musician, producer and vocalist, it would be his score for Shaft - a triumphant blend of dancefloor-friendly funk and soul, evocative downtempo moments, sweeping orchestration and rich, intricately composed musicality - that would turn Hayes into an internationally recognized star. 45 years after it was first recorded, Shaft still sounds superb, as this weighty double vinyl reissue - complete with MP3 download code - neatly proves. If it's not in your record collection already, it should be.
Johnny Dynell & New York 88 - "Jam Hot (Rhumba Rock)" (7:22)
Art Zoyd - "Sortie 134" (part 2) (3:45)
Adiche - "Chuka-Ja (Get Ready)" (6:56)
Class Action - "Weekend" (Larry Levan mix) (8:15)
Gray - "Cut It Up High Priest" (4:23)
Golden Flamingo Orchestra - "The Guardian Angel Is Watching Over Us" (6:50)
Extra T's - "ET Boogie" (5:30)
Fab 5 Freddy - "Change The Beat" (7:31)
Convertion - "Let's Do It" (6:40)
Yoko Ono - "Walking On The Thin Ice" (5:55)
Review: Curated as part of the iconic street artist's Tate exhibition this year, The World Of Keith Haring unites many of the talented souls Keith knew, or was inspired by, during his prolific rise as one of the most vital cultural spokesmen through the 70s and 80s. Soundtracking the gritty downtown NYC streets he made his first mark on, this limited collection captures the whole melting pot from b-boy culture with cuts such as "E.T Boogie" and "Bump N Grind", raw boogie and soul ("Over & Over") and pure drama ("The Guardian Angel Is Watching Over Us"). A powerful collection as striking and relatable as his own signature.
Review: Two albums deep, Karl Hector's troupe continue to join the dots between territories, decades and genres with hypnotic aplomb. A frenzy of Middle Eastern arrangements, densely weaved psychedelic motifs and super-tight instrumentation, each track spins a gorgeous hazy yarn. From the sunset serenade "Spirit Of Gine" to the fuzzier, off-kilter freneticism of "Transition T" via the overlapping melodies and yearning flutes of "Samai Thaqil" and the proggier, guitar-led "Nibunga", Unstraight Ahead carves a very clear path deep into the most unique, timeless pastures.