Review: You'd probably have to take out a loan to buy an original, second-hand copy of Master Force's sole single, 1979's "Hey Girl", so this dinky reissue is more than welcome. The title track is a dewy-eyed slice of two-step soul sweetness rich in Curtis Mayfield style lead vocals, glistening guitars and trumpet solos that sound like they've been lifted from an early Herb Alpert recording. Arguably better for dancefloor plays is "Don't Fight The Feeling", a Clavinet-heavy disco-funk affair that boasts some brilliant group backing vocals and heaps of authentic New York flavour.
Review: According to the South American music specialists at Matasuna Records, Ralph Weeks' 1971 single "Let Me Do My Thing" - recorded alongside backing Los Dinamicos Exciters - is arguably the most sought-after Panamanian soul record around. As this reissue proves, Weeks' original version is rubbery, heavy and rousing, with the singer's rasping lead vocal soaring above a weighty backing track that sounds like a breezier take on the New York boogaloo sound. On the flip, Voodoocuts tools it up for modern dancefloors, underpinning his club-ready edit with punchy new drums that give the cut more of a breakbeat style swing.
Just An Illusion (Ilija Rudman Night Institute mix) (3:04)
Don't Look Any Further (Ilija Rudman True Colours mix) (4:38)
Review: Off the back of the awesome "Sagittarii" LP on Stevie Kotey's Bear Funk earlier in the year, Croatian deep disco hero Ilija Rudman is back with a couple of sweet re-edits on Brooklyn Highs. He takes on Imagination's classic "Just An Illusion" for a "Night Institute Mix" where he pitches this sexy late night lovers anthem down a few notches for that good ol' low slung effect. On the flip, he delivers a respectful edit of Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett's 1984 classic "Don't Look Any Further" for a "True Colours Mix", which again goes for that slo-mo vibe just nicely.
Review: When it comes to break-driven dancefloor reworks and cheeky re-edits, Canada-based cut-and-paste merchant Jorun Bombay has a very impressive track record. Here he returns to Scarborough stable Soundweight with two more chunks of break-heavy goodness. On the A-side you'll find "Edits Theme", a tasty fusion of extended James Brown style drum-breaks, meandering sax solos and sumptuous, orchestra-enhanced orchestration. Over on Side B, "Editing Gears" sees Bombay serve up a bustling re-work of Johnny Hammond classic "Shifting Gears" rich in fluid electric piano solos, extended drum breaks, flanged funk guitars and delay-laden vocal snippets.
Review: It makes sense that Names You Can Trust would be fans of Conjunto Papa Upa - after all, the band's first two seven-inch singles (released in 2013 and 2015 respectively) offered a suitably psychedelic and soulful fusion of African, Caribbean and South America sounds fully in keeping with the Brooklyn label's open-minded ethos. This "45" is a teaser of sorts, offering as it does two cuts destined for the Amsterdam-based outfit's long promised, forthcoming debut album. A-side "El Secreto Del Metalero" is particularly potent, offering a suitably psychedelic, heavily electronic 21st century take on Cumbia full of weirdo electronics, twisted vocals, rumbling sub-bass and colourful synth lines. In contrast, "Chicarron Puelo" is a little more traditional-sounding, delivering a formidably fuzzy fusion of dancefloor-focused Latin rhythms and 1960s style psychedelia.
Goody Gap & The Inn House Crew - "Madness Badness" (feat Vin Gordon) (4:16)
Goody Gap & The Inn House Crew - "Madness Badness" (feat Vin Gordon - version) (4:19)
Review: The Inn House Crew has been serving up the platters that matter on Room In The Sky long enough to have a firm following by now. Once again they bring rather melancholic vibes to this new one. "Madness Badness" feat. Vin Gordon is a flabby dub with pillow bass and rounded drums, but the trumpets that ring out are beautifully muted and sombre. Flip over for an alternative version that's more amped up and direct for those who are after something more energetic. Whichever side you go for, this is one you will want to add to your collection.
AJ Franklin & The Inn House Crew - "Where You Gonna Run To" (feat UK Principal & Vin Gordon) (4:15)
AJ Franklin & The Inn House Crew - "Where You Gonna Run To" (feat UK Principal & Vin Gordon - version) (4:17)
Review: The Inn House Crew are well known instrumental reggae producers who have made Room In The Sky their regular home. Their second release this month is a tasty hook up with AJ Franklin, UK Principal and Vin Gordon. "Where You Gonna Run To" is a popping dub fleshed out with cavernous drums and bass that sit together perfectly. Synth details and hits spit out and horns drift to sooth your soul. The effervescing vocals version on the flip injects a dose of warmth to an already steamy cut. Another standout effort from this ever reliable crew.
Rapha Pico & The Signal One Band - "Lead The Way" (4:58)
The Signal One Band - "Lead The Dub" (4:55)
Review: The Signal One Band formed in 2017 after a bunch of local regular session musicians linked up after meeting at Earth Works Studio in Amsterdam. Between them the gang has worked with big names from the worlds of ska, reggae and dubstep, and all this goes into a crucial melting pot that brews up the old and new, finished off with a warm vintage aesthetic. Their new label is minted with a rumbling, roots tune that has lush trumpets and billowing chords cushioning your daily grind. The dub on the flip is even fatter and perfectly easy to get lost in.
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.
Otis Redding - "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" (Soul Flip edit) (4:03)
Gerri Granger - "I Go To Pieces" (Soul Flip edit) (3:33)
Review: Sometimes you just can't beat the golden oldies and so it is that Soul Flip turns his attention to a couple of raw soul bangers. Up first is Otis Redding's classic "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" with a rousing bass section which drives along the original version.The hits hit hard, the vocal is given room to breathe and the swing in the drums is infectious. The flipside houses a soaring tweak of Gerri Granger's "I Go To Pieces", with its clattering keys and rolling soul all quickly finding a way into your affections.
Review: Surprisingly, Don Blackman originally wrote and recorded "Just Can't Stay Away" to play as the recorded message on his girlfriend's answering machine. He later included it - tweaked and turned into a mid-80s style boogie banger reminiscent of his work during that decade - on his second and final album, 2002's CD-only "Listen". Here it finally gets a vinyl release thanks to reissue specialists Melodies International. If you're a fan of boogie, electrofunk and synth-soul it should be an essential purchase, not least because it's every bit as good as more celebrated Blackman productions made earlier in his career. There are "Stereo" and "Mono" mixes to enjoy, with the former naturally offering a more refined and intoxicating listening experience.
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: Now here's a traffic jam we're all happy to be in... Aussie funk super troupe The Traffic (comprising members of The Bamboos, Cooking On 3 Burners, Pickpocket and Punkawallahs) come correct with this follow up to their debut last year. Come for the awesome party-melting, wall-shaking Daft Punk cover on the A, stay for the groove-based soul-laced broken beat jam "Chasin' Feels". Both poles in their clearly broad and skilful musical scope, we can't wait to hear what they've got coming next.
Review: Cannon & Mirrorball may not be the disco edit scene's answer to moustache-sporting 1970s/80s comedy heroes Cannon and Ball, but they certainly serve up tracks that will put a big goofy smile on your face. Their latest Disco Bits adventure begins via "Black Rhythm Rap", a chunky, hip-hop friendly rework of an obscure, late 1970s disco-rap bomb rich in funky guitar licks, cut-glass strings and party-starting MC flows. On the flip they get even cheekier, placing Loleatta Holloway's incredible "Love Sensation" vocal over a stomping, Blaxploitation-era disco-funk backing track and all manner of familiar soul and funk samples. Purists will no doubt sneer, but they really shouldn't: this is tastefully produced disco heat of the highest order.
Review: Ubiquity is back with another of its two part 7"s, this time from contemporary soul group The Soul Surfers. Experts at covering the greats, they recently turned their hand to a classic from The JB's, while this time out it is Kool & The Gang's classic "Summer Madness" that gets a deep-cut and sexy make over. Part 1 is a sensuous slow burner with downtempo drums and heavenly guitar playing, while part 2 has harder drum grooves and dreamy , psyched-out guitars. It's another ageless rework that you need in your life.
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: Dynamite Cuts lives up to its name with this limited 7" from acclaimed Brazilian jazz singer Tania Maria. Two driving and dancey tracks pressed nice and loud for the first time on 45, "Fio Maravilha" is a busy arrangement made up of wild piano, big raw drums and Maria's impassioned, lung-emptying singing that whizzes along at pace. "Bedeu" has a little more Latin flavour, bossa nova swagger and space in the mix for the soul to shine through. Drop either one and take shelter, cause both of these cuts are bombs.
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.