Review: Hot on the heels of a re-work of Bobby Caldwell, edit stylist Caserta is back with another golden nugget. This time he turns his attention to the one and only Luther Vandross and serves up two equally essential but very different tunes that pay homage to his unique voice. The King Street Mix is all hip swinging claps and nodding bass riffs that are organic and heartfelt, whereas the Henry Street Mix nods to the '90s heyday of New York. With warm neon organ stabs that will get any floor pumping, both interpretations have Luther's soulful voice front and centre.
Review: Some fans argue that "It Ain't Hard To Tell" is the best production on Nas' legendary "Illmatic" album. Large Professor certainly did his job in making it pop: the beat is killer, and the whole thing is driven by a Michael Jackson sample of "Human Nature". As if that weren't enough, samples from Stanley Clarke and Mountain are layered in to perfection and the smooth, sweet rolling beat draws you in over and over and Nas' creamy delivery finishes it in style. Flip over for the instrumental and bask in the glow of it all. Classic.
Kool & The Gang, Gene Redd - "Give It Up" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (4:04)
Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (3:30)
Review: Fast-fingered mash-up merchant and lauded scalpel fiend DJ Soopasoul can usually be relied upon to bring the goods. In fact, we've yet to hear an edition of his "Soopastole Edits" series that doesn't include the kind of sure-fire, party-starting fare guaranteed to get any DJ out of a dancefloor hole of their own making. Should you still doubt the validity of this statement, we suggest you check this timely reissue of the series' second volume, which has been going for serious bucks online. On side A you'll find a suitably punchy, funky and chunky revision of Kool & The Gang's Gene Redd produced 1970 jam "Give It Up" - the original source of one of hip-hops most familiar breakbeats - with a tight, club-ready revision of Aretha Franklin classic "Rock Steady" on the flip.
Review: First time round, this bonafide classic reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the highest charting tune from the Geto Boys. Sampling Isaac Hayes' "Hung Up On My Baby", the Geto Boys' edit plays out in several movements and goes big and small. Stretched over a long legged beat with crisp snares and languid chords with lyrics that touch on a range of deep subjects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the track was originally destined for a Scarface solo album before it was decided it was more valuable as a Geto Boys single. Wise move.
Review: Since it was released on Springfield, Missouri label American Artists in 1975, Kansas City Express' sole seven-inch single has become something of a collector's item amongst dusty-fingered funk diggers. We should all thank Ocean Of Tears, then, for offering up this fully licensed reissue - the first time the "45" has been made available to a wider audience. "This Is The Place" is a wonderfully sweet and melancholic affair - a seductive, poetic soul song featuring both male and female lead vocalists and a languid, superbly produced backing track full of lilting trumpet lines, glacial vibraphone solos and jazzy guitars. That instrumental backing track takes pride of place on Side B, where you can hear the vocal-free mix for the very first time. Spoiler: it's superb.
Review: Mukatsuku struck gold again on this latest first time on a "45" issue. It boasts a couple of lesser-known jazz-funk fusion jams which originally featured on Argentine musician Jorge Navarro's 1977 album "Navarro Con Polenta", an LP that has never been issued outside of South America. A-side "Funk Yourself" is a bustling, high-octane jazz-funk Hammond licks and spiralling horns jumping above a Blaxploitation style backing track. "Repartamos El Funky" is a more laid back but no less musically intricate affair, with a variety of high-grade electric piano and guitar solos riding seemingly endless jazz style drum solos and rubbery bass. Juno hand-numbered copies come in exclusive sleeves and this 45 not be repressed. DJ Support comes from Ge-ology, Dom Servini, DJ Koco (Japan), DJ Food,The Allergies,45LIVE.net ,Dr Bob Jones,Rob Luis, Smoov and more
Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: Many disco-era modern soul collectors regard, Larom Baker's "You're The Best", which initially appeared in 1978 on an impossible to find, single-sided 7" single, as one of the style's genuine "Holy Grail" records. It's good news, then, that Athens Of The North has secured the rights to reissue it, releasing the full studio version (rather than the shorter edit that was released all those years ago) for the very first time. It's a genuine gem, with Baker's deliciously breezy West Coast soul vocal seemingly floating over a killer backing track rich in hazy horns, bustling slap bass and crunchy Clavinet lines. Turn to the flipside for the more disco-minded "Train Of Thought", one of a string of recently discovered Baker recordings that form the basis of a forthcoming album of previously unreleased tracks.
Barely Breaking Even (Louie Vega Boogie mix - radio edit) (3:33)
Barely Breaking Even (Louie Vega Boogie instrumental mix - radio edit) (3:31)
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: an all-star re-recording of Universal Robot Band's boogie classic "Barely Breaking Even" that brings together Masters At Work man Louie Vega, original vocalist and arranger Leroy Burgess, iconic disco producer Patrick Adams and an impressive backing band of hired musicians including Michael Kelley (better known in electronic music circles as Metro Area collaborator Kelley Polar). While there are plenty of audible nods towards the early '80s original - extensive use of cowbells, that oh-so familiar synth sound - the re-recording is altogether warmer, fuller and a more contemporary sounding affair rich in sweeping orchestration and tactile synth bass. Both the edited vocal and instrumental versions are superb.
Review: In 2009, two years after the original version appeared on Somi's debut album "Red Soil In My Eyes", Joaquin "Joe" Claussell and Brian Bacchus joined forces as Soul Feast to remix Fela Kuti cover "African Lady". A decade on, Claussell has decided to reissue the package's most potent and percussive moment, the layered "Drum Dub" on a tasty seven-inch single. While there are key elements of Somi's original version present - the killer bassline, some delay-laden horns and fleeting glimpses of guitar - the mix is dominated by layered Afro-house percussion. This time round, the mix comes backed with an "Acapella EFXS" version, which contains all of Somi's superb vocal and is closer in tone to the duo's 2009 club mix. Like the A-side, it's superb.
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: Funk fans hold tight: Food City have licensed a reissue of a holy grain tune from 1969 that would usually cost you a month's rent to purchase. The People's Choice were a short-lived group from Grand Rapids, Michigan who only put out a handful of tunes but still managed to leave their mark. "Destruction" is a raw jam with a consistent funky groove as a baseline weaves its way in and out. Big and expressive, it's bound to get any dancefloor going. Flip side "Off-spring" that's led by some florrid flute playing is just as effective.
Review: No longer dealing in edits, but instead long lost or out of print disco and soul gold, Super Disco Edits turn their focus to the early works of The Plainwrap Band here. These are all tracks produced and arranged by Marvin Augustus that were recorded to a dusty reel that ended up in the hands of producer Stu Gardner. He transferred the reels and once the label got wind they decided to track down Augustus. He'd forgotten all about the project but revelled that some of leading musicians from America's West Coast were called upon to play on these romantic, emotional and musical soul-groovers.
Review: Dr Rubberfunk (AKA long-serving DJ/producer Simon Ward) may have reached the start of middle age, but he's showing no signs of succumbing to a typical "midlife crisis". In fact, his recent releases have been among the strongest of his career to date. The third part of his ongoing "My Life At 45" series is another belter, with opener "A Matter of Time" - featuring talented, fast-rising vocalist Izo FitzRoy - being a particularly strong exercise in revivalist 1960s soul. Elsewhere across the EP, "Slim's Mood" is a fine chunk of hazy rhythm and blues featuring some awesome, Peter Green style jazz guitar solos, while closing cut "Moody Drums" is a chunky beats track tailor-made for funk and hip-hop DJs who like to get busy in the mix.
Review: New funk delivered the old way; Original Gravity follow up the 2017 hype of Floyd James & The GTs debut "The Switchback" with this powerful four-track EP. Charged with a strong northern soul feel both "Keep Lifting Me Higher" and "The Sweetest Thing" lead with the beat as Floyd and his super-tight band bounce back and forth. Flip for more energetic mischief as "The Wig" goes turbo blues while "Sweet Sweet Soul" closes on an epic, riffy sing-along. The title speaks for itself.
Review: Having previously toured with bands including Orgone and Monophonics, Venice Beach vocalist Terin Moswen Ector is trying his hand as a solo artist. Transistor Sound has snapped up his forthcoming debut album, and here offer up a tasty two-track teaser. "Rise" is utterly gorgeous and sees Moswen's inspired, Bob Marley influenced vocal rising above a brilliant bed of skittish, Afro-Cuban jazz influenced grooves, clipped guitars, fuzzy Hammond organ motifs and rich horns. He moves further towards Fela Kuti style Afrobeat territory on heavyweight flipside "Tobacco & Sage", a killer instrumental club-rocker and a half.
Review: The Disciples were formed in 1986 by brothers Lol and Russ Bell-Brown and went on to become pioneers in the UK scene. They produced exclusively for Jah Shaka and now we get to hear an unreleased gem thanks to Music Mania and Indica Dubs as part of their Mania Dub series. "African Odyssey" is an uplifting stepper thanks to the glorious top line and brightly coloured chords that light up the whole rumbling rhythm. "African Dub" on the flip is more pillowy and soft edged for you to sink into when you're at your highest.
Review: Music Mania and Indica Dubs are presenting a trio of colour 7" vinyl that celebrate the work of pioneering UK dub outfit The Disciples. They came together in 1986 and went on to make a big impact on the scene, most often producing exclusively for Jah Shaka. Some of their unrelated material has been unearth for this series, though, and "Deep Space" is a playful cut that tempts you to follow it with hypnotic chord vamps and a meandering bassline. The slippery drums are irresistible in the echo drenched "Deep Dub" on the flip which is arguably even more inviting.
Review: There is something about good 7"s that makes them seem extra special, and this is a prime example from City Baby Records: a double a-side of timeless grooves that are disco tinged exquisites from start to finish. The outfit behind them is Freaky, a soul gang from Minneapolis who apparently hide away deep in Tokyo's underground disco scene. "Running" is a delicate affair with neat bass riffs and happy chords that make for dreamy listening. "Sailin" is slower and more deep cut, with tooting leads and the sort of carefree vocals that will melt anyone's heart.
Review: October sees a wealth of previously unheard material from the Disciples hit the shelves thanks to a focussed mini-series brought to you by Music Mania and Indica Dubs. Mindful of the fact this 1986 band were amongst some of the UK's most vital producers they have put together a trio of coloured 7"s. These two straight up dubs somehow slipped through the net. Our pick out of the two is "True Love" - a slowed down roller with a frazzled lead synth line and stepping drums that'll make you move your body.
Review: Alchemy Dubs have cooked up more heat here with a ninth 7" that is a collaboration between Ojah and Jamaican singer Ras Tavaris. "Long Run" is a live mixed, proudly analogue cut with a stepper rhythm overlaid by Tavaris' important lyric work that muses on plenty of contemporary issues. Some lively percussion adds character and a flip-side instrumental dub lays even more fantastic studio work. That this one comes in a hand-stamped, hand-numbered, thick custom sleeve and is limited to 500 units makes it all the more collectable.
Round & Round (feat Darrion - Living Room version) (4:44)
Review: SimonAyEm has been collecting records and generally immersing himself in rap for a quarter of a century. He makes his own beats, held a rap show on Swiss national and here one of his homemade demos is presented on Burning Sole. The first version was a raw, made in the kitchen jam with rough drums and noodling keys next to a heady whistle, while the flip side is a more refined lounge version with a fuller, richer, warmer sound and more steamy chords, as well as a hook sung by the producer's own young son. Nice.