Review: Despite Dave Grohl's position in the rock firmament, the man rarely seems content to rest on his laurels, and this is proven once again by the mission he and the band embarked on to come up with Sonic Highways, their eighth album proper. Travelling around America to simultaneously record this album and create the HBO documentary series based on the musical history and local scenes of eight cities, he took inspiration from those he interviewed - from Dolly Parton to Bad Brains - to craft an album rich with the passion that first compelled him to play music. The result is the most life-affirming Foo Fighters record in well over a decade - explosive, melodious and fierily idealistic, it's a modern rock masterclass.
Review: Although Main Ingredient member Cuba Gooding later scored a mid-'80s hit with a synth-heavy re-make of "Happiness Is Just Around The Bend", it's the band's 1974 album version that remains the superior version. Gently dubbed-out around the edges and rich in killer early disco instrumentation, it remains one of the band's standout moments and should be in any discerning DJ's collection. On this timely reissue, it comes accompanied by a slightly lesser known chunk of peak-time brilliance: string-laden 1981 underground anthem "Evening of Love". Although not particularly fast by disco standards (around 113 BPM if our calculations are correct), it's something of an energy-packed stormer.
Review: Previously only available on US promo 45 - these 1973 Afrodisiac-era cuts from The Main Ingredients are well overdue. First up is a beautiful take on the Isley Brothers 1972 classic "Work To Do" (also famed for its Average White Band cover in 1974) while the B is draped in the powerful vocal harmonies and lavish strings of "Instant Love". Proof that sometimes all you need are two ingredients to cook a beautiful feast for the soul.
Review: Third time around for Keni Burke's 1982 boogie-soul classic "Risin' To The Top", a track that remained such a favourite on the jazz-funk, rare groove and jazz-dance scenes that it was given the remix treatment in 1992. The slick and smooth cut is still capable of sending shivers down the spine, with Burke's impeccable lead vocal rising above rich electric pianos, a killer boogie bassline and the track's famous "give it all you've got" female backing vocals. This time round, the track comes backed by another stone cold classic and DJ favourite, the 1981 12" version of "You're The Best". More up-tempo and synth-heavy, it remains a favourite with both boogie DJs and jazz-funk fans.
Review: You'll struggle to find a more sumptuous of folk-soul bliss than Jon Lucien's 1973 single "Lady Love". Similar in tone to some of Terry Callier's finest works, it features Lucien delivering a smooth and sultry vocal over twittering flutes, soft-touch acoustic guitars and swirling instrumentation. This timely reissue pairs the full-length 'Rashida" album version with another cut from the same set, "Love Everlasting". This glassy-eyed affair boasts more of a samba shuffle than the better-known A-side, but a similar reliance on evocative orchestration and Lucien's wonderfully delivered lead vocals. In a word: essential.
Review: Ghanaian disco-funk stalwart Sidiku Buari initially broke through in his native country in 1975. Although it was his eponymous debut album that cemented his star status, it was the single that preceded the set, "Karam Bani", that established his reputation. Here it gets a deserved reissue, complete with original B-side "Ye Koaba". The title track is something of a beast: a driving, funk-fuelled work out rich in jammed-out electric piano lines, sweaty drums and soaring, life-affirming vocals. "Ye Koaba", meanwhile, is a little breezier and jolly in tone, but no less essential.
Review: It's testament to the enduring quality of Plush's 1982 boogie jam "Free and Easy" that this is the second time it's been reissued in less than four years. This time round, there's another chance to hear Better Days resident DJ Tee Scott's sparkling club mix of the Rene & Angela-produced anthem. You'll find this cheery, synth-heavy sing-along on the A-side, with two cuts from the band's eponymous debut album on the flip. There's "We've Got The Love", a smooth but sprightly affair with female lead vocals, and the saccharine-sweet "Livin' For Your Love". These are solid, but it is - of course - all about the superb A-side.
Review: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Good ole' foot stomping and hand clapping - this true Tony Humphries, Southport and soul collectors favourite finally gets a full single release. "Looking For You" is massive crossover hit from 2005 by American Gospel star Kirk Franklin, who marries Patrice Rushen's "Haven't You Heard" with R&B and hip-hop to produce an uplifting, inspiring and infectious feel good classic. Franklin pilots his ensemble through a joyful song that will have you tapping your feet and clapping your hands in no time - and if put the lyrics and sermon aside, this could be superb dance music, too.