Review: Originally released in 1974, "For the Love of Money" is a soul/funk song that was recorded by Philadelphia soul group The O'Jays for the album Ship Ahoy. The lineup at the time comprised of Eddie Levert, William Powell and Walter Williams, It was written and composed by Anthony Jackson, Leon Huff & Kenneth Gamble, and produced on the latter's Philadelphia International Records. The original pressing was issued as a single in late 1973 with "People Keep Tellin' Me" as its B-side. The single peaked at number three on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart, and at No. 9 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart in spring 1974. "For the Love of Money" made the group Grammy Hall of Fame Inductees in 2016.
Review: Late last year, French imprint Chuwanag launched via a fine compilation exploring the early '80s Britfunk sound (think jazz-funk and electrofunk) in impressive detail. You'll find numerous aural nods to that style on this follow-up, a fine debut single from producer Koji Ono. Check, for example, the sparkling synthesizers, hustling guitars and house-tempo jazz-funk grooves of "So High", the wiggly Clavinet lines, whistling melodies and rubbery bass of "Inner Rhythms" and the luscious, misty-eyed warmth of ear-pleasing mid-tempo instrumental jam "Momoshima". All are exquisite examples of revivalist cuts that boast more than enough freshness and impeccable instrumentation to bear comparison to the records that inspired them.
Review: Mr Bongo hosts another deeply dug history lesson and we'd all be wise to attend. Here we find Jorge Ben's classic "Carolina Carol Bela" (which many may recognise in sample form from Marky's "LK") covered with psychedelic whimsy by the un-documented Rio band from the late 60s Os Brazoes. Meanwhile on the flip we're introduced to Tim Maia, a man who made his name with tongue-in-cheek off-beat twists on US funk during the late 70s. With its falsetto vocals and tight guitar and bass licks, there are great shades of disco and ESG-style post-funk fusion all wrapped up in a beautiful Brazilian bundle. Lesson over. Go to the top of the class.
Review: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Two luscious soul/folk/psychedelic funk crossover jams from American singer-songwriter Shuggie Otis are reissued and remastered 45 years after their first release for Record Store Day 2019. Equal parts groovy, dreamy, organically introspective and futuristic, "Inspiration Information" is the document of a young man who owns his inspired vision completely. We are particularly loving "Aht Uh Mi Hed" on the flip where filtered keyboard sounds blend with effortlessly graceful strings during the middle dream sequence of the track.
Review: ** REPRESS ALERT ** This timeless classic by American singer-songwriter Shuggie Otis is an instantly recognisable masterpiece of soul. 1971's "Strawberry Letter 23" from his album "Freedom Flight" has endured and become a rare groove touchstone. Flecked with elements of psych and breakbeat, it is prescient, and stuffed with neat tics and tricks. Turn to the flip for an added bonus - "Ice Cold Daydream" is a funk bomb full of bouncing organs and squelching wah wah guitars with Shuggie's trademark vocal tones laid over the top.
Review: Back in 2012, Will "Quantic" Holland joined forces with Colombian musician Mario Galeano to form Ondatropica. The eponymous debut album that followed was quietly impressive, fusing traditional South American styles - cumbia, champeta etc. - with elements of hip-hop and funk, with the assistance of musicians from the vibrant Colombian scene. For this belated follow-up, the duo has tweaked the formula slightly, incorporating more from the Caribbean and African influences that have seeped into the music made around Bogota and Old Providence Island. While the palette of influences made be broader, the resultant music is every bit as enjoyable and entertaining as that found on its predecessor.
Review: A lesson in how to follow up an incredible album: Tomorrow followed Onyeabor's incendiary Atomic Bomb immaculately. The title track instantly set the scene with more emphasis on electronic elements and studio techniques as William sermonises without pomp. "Why Go To War" is as insistent as its message thanks to a dense lolloping groove of highlife guitars and spiralling keys. "Fantastic Man", meanwhile, takes a leaf out of Parliament's playbook, rolls it up and smokes its own and "Try & Try" closes the show with country subtlety thanks to its slide guitars and blushing keys.
Review: Now a high chief and Kenyan diplomat, Onyeabor was once one of Africa's most forward-thinking popular music contributors. Released in 1983, toward the end of his eight album discography, the two extended cuts on Good Name reflect the emergence of electronic music and how it influenced African pop culture. With conscious lyrics about value and soul, both tracks capture one of the most exciting times in recent musical history. Truly unique.
Review: Even by the consistently high standards of Analog Africa, this release is something special. It consists entirely of previously unheard music by Orchestre Abass, an obscure outfit from Togo who released a handful of singles on Polydor Ghana in the early 1970s. Remarkably, all bar one of the tracks on "De Bassari Togo" were found on a long forgotten reel of tape that had sat on a shelf in a Ghanaian warehouse for the best part of 35 years. That was ten years ago; it's taken that long to track down the remaining members of the band and license the material. In truth, the tracks have aged exceptionally well, with the band's infectious, organ-led sound adding distinct Arabic influences (a result of the band members' time spent studying in Islamic schools) to their heavy funk rhythms and riotous Afro-funk vibes.
Review: The second salvo from "forgotten music" specialists Dig This Way Records takes us back to 1988 and the synthesizer and drum machine-driven Highlife antics of obscure outfit Ode-Omore Osarenren & Ewaen Osetin Stars. Even by the standards of Nigerian music, it's an obscurity, but also pretty special. Check, for example, the clicking machine drums, group vocals and exotic synthesizer lines of opener "Ukhiokhio", the gorgeous guitars, whistling synth melodies and percussive breeziness of "Omoto" and the trumpet-laden tropical brilliance that is closing cut "Enothiomwani". The set's most endearing quality is undoubtedly its inherent positivity, something that's only enhanced by the band's use of sparkling synthesizer sounds.
Review: A year shy of its 40th anniversary, Inspiration Information enjoys a reissue and it's still as sparkly and soul-laden as it was in 1974. Ranging from the guitar-twanging smoky blues funk of "Rainy Day" to the sultry, strutting title track, it's largely regarded as Otis's most comprehensive work of that time. According to legend it took him three years to create... 39 years later and it still sounds as good as this? We'd say that's time well spent!
Review: Out 2 is a project from Jeremy Campbell and R. Zanzibar, who have previously worked together on albums for L.I.E.S. and Lectric Sands under different aliases. They sound right at home on Emotional Response, channeling the influence of 1980s New York dancefloor hybridization into six original tracks and their counterpart dub versions. It's an impeccable tribute to the forefathers of new / no / minimal wave with the right kind of funk rubbed in the groove and ample space in the mix for all the live dubbing the style demands. "Moving" is a surefire death disco party starter, "Dancing" hovers in a beyond the grave island boogie reverie and "Some Air's Red There" heads out into exotically enhanced territory without losing that NYC grit. It's a marvelous record, with the dub versions adding new dimensions to the music rather than simply repeating the same tricks sans vocals.