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.
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: Having appeared on several EPs throughout the late '70s and early '80s on labels like Westbound and Capitol, most people think of Erasmus Hall as one person. Rather, they were actually a collective of artists that were given the name by grandmaster George Clinton of Parliament / P-Funk. This might not be immediately audible on the gentle waves of "Just Me & You", but the song does contain a certain air of oddity and conniving funkiness that rendered that period of disco just so damn enticing. The flip contains "Your Love Is My Desire", another gentle heart-warmer to stick on in those more intimate moments... What a delightful little 7"!
Review: Manchester's Gondwana Records, run by Matthew Halsall, has been a constant source of good vibes and inspiration. Leaning on a jazz note, most of the material is centred away from the dance floor and yet there is always plenty of movement and joyous rhythm, particularly from Halsall's appearances. Here, we have a reissue of 2015's "Journey In Satchidananda", a majestic wave of jazz flutes, seductive piano keys, in what is an altogether dreamy sort of setting, which is further evolved on the supremely euphoric waves of the unbeatable "Blue Nile". At last, some contemporary jazz on 12" that has left us blown away..!
Review: They may not have released many records, but samba/soul/jazz fusionists the Han Litz group have been mainstays of the Dutch scene for a decade. Here they return with a wonderfully breezy, samba-soaked collection of cuts that's remarkably their first ever outing on wax. The A-side begins with two warm, afternoon fresh tracks that sound like authentic Brazilian samba jams from the 1970s, before Litz and company indulge in a little flute-heavy jazz ("Preludia") and Afro-tinged broken beat/jazz fusion ("Yemaya Olodo"). Also impressive is closing cut "Epiphany", which has been transformed by Yoruba Soul man Osunlade into a sumptuous shuffle through deep house/samba fusion complete with Flamenco style Spanish guitar solos.
Review: Herbie Hancock has been responsible for many era-defining records over the years - "Rockit" being a particularly good example - but few of his compositions have been quite as game changing as "Chameleon". First featured on 1973 album "Head Hunters", the 15-minute epic was revolutionary in a number of ways, not least in its use of a killer 12-note bassline, "percussive" style guitar parts and loose-limbed funk beat. It remains one of the greatest jazz-funk moments of all time, as this timely reissue proves. This time round, it comes accompanied by another "Head Hunters" classic - Hancock's groovy, synth-laden re-recording of his own 1962 composition "Watermelon Man". Two stone cold classics for the price of one: what's not to like?
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: Warren Harris did a sterling job on his first outing for Perpetual Rhythms as Hanna, and he's back for round two. Things are just as deep as you would hope and expect, with Harris' unique take on the Detroit house formula present and correct on the cleverly executed "Lake Shore Dr." "Parallel" finds him exploring his penchant for snagged, off-kilter rhythms matched with deep house delicacy, and "Gold Coast" takes things into lounge territory without ever sounding insipid. Therein lies the magic of Hanna, and beautiful experiment "Khords 1" is on hand to finish the EP off as a statement of just how special and unique Harris' music is.
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: 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.
Review: London's Soul Brother unit has been out of the picture for a little while, but you can always rest assured that the mythical Putney-based shop will come up with some solid reissue goodness. This time, the gold comes through a resurrection of Bill Harris' material, a legendary jazz trombonist who started his trade way back in the late 1950's. There's two versions of "Am I Hot Am I Cold" here, a short version for the dance, and a long version that delves deeper into the percussion, goes heavier on the drum breaks and lifts the track to higher grounds thanks to those prophetic vocals. A certified jazz-funk monster.
Review: Athens Of The North celebrate the longstanding contributions of host, presenter, writer, personality and occasional singer Bernard "Spider" Harrison. Recorded sometime around 1970, and fetching large triple figures between collectors, the feel good bluesy soul cut "Beautiful Day" first landed on Lulu Records and has barely seen the light of day since... Until now. And it's loaded with a never-before-released drum cut. Don't sleep, though. Only 500 of these have been pressed.
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.
Review: Giving Nicole a rare night off, inimitable troupe The Soul Investigators team up with killer flautist Ernie Hawks for two impeccable instrumentals. "Scorpio Man Theme" is all slinky 70s cinematica with a wry nod towards Lalo Schifrin while "Journey To The Bottom" adopts a more languid perspective with slower beats, a smouldering groove and a flute line that takes us right down to the bottom of our souls and right back up again. Beautiful.
Review: John Heartsman and Circles are precisely the sort of fellas you'd expect to see land on Athens Of The North, the most recent boogie-jazz reissuers to come out of the US of A. This material from the late 70's is like gold on the second hand market, and more like a mirage given the fact that original copies are her impossible to come by. Anyhow, this is proper soul-jazz goodness at its best, so if that's your thing, then get on it real fast. "Mr Magic" appears here as an edit from Fryers, but it's not million miles away from the original, its subtle organs still intact and that catch, funky swing still very much at the core of the tune. Heard the Idris Muhammad version? Check it to compare. "Talking About My Baby" is looser, more soulful affair with a faster tempo and Heartsman's rugged vocals in its underbelly. Quality.
Review: Here's something to excite those who dig quality 1970s funk, soul and disco: a tidy 7" containing two stone cold classics from the Rod Temperton-helmed, UK-based "international band" Heatwave. Side A boasts one of the standout moments from the group's much-loved 1977 album "Central Heating", seductive, string-laden love song "The Star Of A Story". It's superbly arranged and brilliantly produced, with warm keys, Spanish guitar solos and rich orchestration combining beautifully with the band's slick and smooth vocals. Side B is taken up by 1976 single "Ain't No Half Steppin'", a bolder and more dancefloor-friendly chunk of warm and woozy dancefloor soul.
Review: Incredible late night smoochy stuff right here from one of the most decorated bassists of all time. A major figure in the bands of Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder, Henderson was also a killer solo artist amassing eight artist albums between 76-86. This AOTN "45 showcases his true breadth as "Let Love Enter" lilts on a soft bossa with rising horns, velvet backing vocals and an unabashed come-to-bed message. "Come To Me" gets even deeper under the sheets with as he goes toe-to-toe, cheek-to-cheek with Rena Scott with smoking results.
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!