Review: Earlier in the year, Italian reissue specialists offered up a tidy reissue of Ahmed Fakrun's "Nisyan", a sought-after chunk of Arabic blue-eyed soul that originally appeared as a seven-inch single in 1977. Here they offer up a new edition of its predecessor, which the Lebanese musician recording during the same recording sessions in Milan. With its flanged guitars, lolloping reggae-funk swing, spacey synths and warm bass, "Auidny" is particularly inspired, though the West Coast AOR-influenced warmth of flipside "Njoo El Leyl" is arguably equally as addictive. Both are superb, though, so it's great that Groovin' has slung them out again.
Review: One of Wilson Pickett's earlier bands, The Falcons unwittingly laid down a Northern Soul anthem in 1960 with "Good Good Feeling". Stomping drums, big horns and massive harmonies, it's still as sweaty and boisterous as it was 55 years ago. Flip for an interesting 1990 take on one of their most famous cuts "Standing On Guard". Subtle with the synths with full focus on the vocals, however many reincarnations the band has experienced in the 25 years that passed. Good feelings all round.
The Family Daptone - "Hey Brother (Do Unto Others)" (3:52)
Soul Fugue - "The 100 Knights Orchestra" (4:58)
Review: Soul and funk heads won't want to miss this very special seven-inch from the Daptone Records crew, and not just because it's the label's 100th "45". The A-side features an all-star '60s soul cover of the Frightnrs rock-steady cut featuring vocal contributions from Saun and Starr, James Hunter, Lee Fields, Naomi Shelton, Duke Amayo, the Frightnrs and two legends who are no longer with us: Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones. It's a one-off that won't be repeated for obvious reasons, but more importantly it's very, very good. Over on the flip main man Bosco Mann takes charge, conducting and producing "two opposing armies" of woodwind and horn players from the label's expansive musical roster. As you'd expect, it's something of an epic.
Review: Way back in 1999, Acid Jazz Records launched an offshoot dedicated to disco edits: Original Sound Track Recordings. The best of the series' many superb reworks were later gathered together on a compilation album on EMI that now changes hands for significant sums online. Happily, they've decided to reissue some of their early releases, beginning with this 7" of Family Tree featuring Sharon Brown's "Family Tree". You'll find the peerless original - a breakbeat-driven chunk of lolloping funk brilliance - on Side A, with the label's 2002 "Super Disco Break Beat" version on the flip. Inspired by hip-hop DJs doubling up the track's brilliant drum breaks, it's a killer percussion workout with a few quick blasts of funk energy and carefully placed special effects (think flanged drums, reversed sections and so on).
Hooked On Your Love (John Morales unreleased edit) (8:13)
Review: Serious Philly boogie business: In 1979 the Aleem brothers teamed up with serial hit maker Leroy Burgess for this outstanding bass slapping floor burner. Listen closely and you'll hear a young Luther Vandross on backing vocals as the twins bounce off each other with their signature high ranges. Meanwhile on the B we have a previously unreleased edit from one of the most vital, direction shaping remixers of the time; John Morales. Expect nothing but 8 minutes of pure disco bliss. We're hooked on this!
Mother Mother (Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy & Andy Yamwho Cosmodelica remix)
Never Moving (Ashely Beedle & Darren Morris Africanz On Marz remix)
Review: Fat Freddy's Drop tracks are so well written, arranged and delivered, the prospect of nailing a good remix of them must fill any producer's boots with dread. Not for super duos Cosmo & Yamwho and Beedle & Morris, both of whom have exceeded expectations. The former inject dangerous amounts of lolloping funk into "Mother Mother" while the latter apply a hot-stepping Afrobeat and touch of jazz soul to "Never Moving". Both takes complement Joe Dukie's vocals and the band's warm horns with perfection.
Review: New Zealand funk and reggae troupe Fat Freddy's Drop call on the man Theo Parrish to rework "Mother Mother" from last year's third LP Blackbird on the first of two planned remix 12" singles - watch out for the second featuring the handiwork of Cosmo, Yam Who and Ashley Beedle. In original form, "Mother Mother" was already quite a long track, clocking in at just under nine minutes and though this new rendition from the Sound Signature boss is not that much longer he does add his signature (sorry) twist to the track. There's also an instrumental on the B Side for those that aren't partial to Joe Dukie's distinctive tones but love the Parrish production.
Review: Faze Action last teamed up with Zeke Manyika, formerly of 80s funksters Orange Juice, for the effervescent "Mangwana" back in 2016. Now they're back in collaboration for more classically rooted house music with a deeply infectious African twist. "Kubatana" is punchy where it counts, but it's a light and springy proto house burner first and foremost, with Manyika's vocal sounding as smooth as silk in the middle of the mix. "Hapana" is equally rich in musicality and personality, albeit on a more simmering, meditative tip. On the B side, "Kubatana" gets reworked by Rudy Midnight Machine and Paradise, who turn in distinct versions without losing the overall 80s aesthetic that powers the release.
Review: New Zealand-born Lance Ferguson has been the beating heart of Melbourne's modern funk and soul scene for the best part of two decades. It's this that allowed him to gather many of the city's best musicians together to record "Rare Groove Spectrum", an album of fresh covers of rare and classic funk, soul and Latin jams. This sampler seven-inch contains two killer covers. On the A you'll find Ferguson and company charging through the deep funk brilliance of "Egg Roll", an instrumental track that first rose to prominence when Keb Darge reissued an un-credited test pressing of mysterious origin. Over on the flip, Ferguson's charges deliver a heady, exotic and intoxicating interpretation of "The Dump" by Soul Vibrations.
Review: Taken from Lee's brand new album Special Night "Make The World" is Fields at his finest, fieriest and funkiest - a message of clear unity delivered with his signature gutsy vocals over a beautifully tight groove from The Expressions. Rolling with a real sense of momentum and cool drama, Fields and his troupe still have heaps of love to give. The feeling's mutual too.
Review: Shirley Finney's 1979 debut album "Pray Again" has recently become something of a sought-after set amongst collectors of disco-era gospel soul. Original copies of the LP are expensive and hard to come by, so Rain & Shine has decided to stick two of the set's most admired tracks on one 7-inch single. "Pray Again" is rather wonderful, with Finney delivering a strong, heartfelt vocal above a backing track rich in sustained organ chords, jangling pianos and clipped guitars. "Give Your Best To The Master", meanwhile, is a more up-tempo and stomping gospel-disco affair that benefits greatly from some stellar choral backing vocals. It sounds like the sort of thing that Tony Humphries may have championed at Zanzibar in New Jersey back in the day.
Review: The Voodoo Funk label returns with a 12" maxi single of sublime spaced out disco funk from Nigerian group First Planet which concludes their excellent Lagos Disco Inferno series. Lead by the inimitable bass playing and vocals of Willy Nfor, First Planet released just the one self titled album together back in 1980 for the Zanidisco label and two of it's highlights have been licensed for this Voodoo Funk platter. If you known Nfor for his previous band the Mighty Flames, you'll notice the decidedly more disco edge to First Planet (whose whole aesthetic was a subtle nod to Parliament) and both "Top Of The World" and "I Want To Thank You Baby" are high grade slabs of harmony heavy afro funk with neat little p funk undertones.
Review: Given the critical reception rightly afforded to Tahliah Barnett's superb debut album as FKA Twigs, it makes perfect sense for Young Turks to rustle up a swift reissue of FKA Twigs, the four track 12" that announced her to the pop music world last year. This EP was the first instance of Barnett's ethereal vocals weaved in amidst production work from Arca that was at times floating, others crushingly pressurised. Naturally the effects of the music are heightened when combined with Jesse Kanda's mind bending videos ("Water Me" especially) but late comers to the magic of Twigs will be all over this. Do check "Papi Pacify" as Arca is on some "Cry Me A River" era Timbalaand tip.
Review: Famed for his classic slinky soul disco 1981 bomb "Don't Send Me Away" and his tenure in the Delphonics live band, Garfield Fleming returns to vinyl after almost 40 years thanks to Cordial. And he does so with brand new material. Taken from his eponymous six track mini album "Ain't Nothing Too Good For My Woman" is a shiny 80s soul gem with stacks of space for Garfield's signature soaring vocals and the purring female backing vocals while "Hustlin'" gets a lean strip-back to bare guitars, flutes and Fleming's naked vocals. What a comeback.
Review: Having co-founded the now mythical Eglo Records, Sam Shepherd aka Floating Points has, more recently, begun to release his music through his own Pluto label, an imprint with a clear vision from the music to the artwork. Moreover, the label also gives Shepherd room to explore outside of his more traditional housey framework, and the majority of the releases on Pluto have consisted of wild and diverse shreds of broken beat and nu jazz. "Kuiper" is his latest excursion and it's a psychedelic journey through high-powered percussion and airy synth experimentations all wrapped up in a suave jazz coating. "For Mamish (part 2)" is something altogether sparser and less concrete, but there is still plenty of movement amid Shepherd's crystal sounds and Balearic riffs in what sounds like the perfect new age sort of amalgamation. Excellent.
The Best Of My Love (John Morales M+M radio edit) (4:17)
Review: A highly limited RSD 45 taken from Ford's debut album on Spen's Quantize. "Here You Are" is an unabashed throwback to classic jazz sentiments and signatures; smoky, yearning and barbed with just the right amount of heartache. Flip for a remix from a true disco legend John Morales. With an editing, extending and remixing reputation that pre-dates even reel to reel machines, his M+M touch to "The Best Of My Love" is as polished and shiny as you'd want it to be.
Review: The Foster Jackson Group are one of those forgotten but highly coveted one-hit disco wonders that exist in the bottomless pit that is often classed simply as 'soul'. All that aside, these people made an incredible 12" back in 1979 that has been going for serious bucks on the second-hand market, but thankfully the prodigious P&P Records have saved the day yet again. "Feel The Spirit" is a devilish, inimitable disco jingle that is split between the more percussion ridden "Long Disco Version", and a more contained, more floor-focussed "Disco Version" They both contain that instantly addictive dose of piano, though. Check it out, you'll know what we mean...