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: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.
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.
Billy Squier - "The Big Beat" (extended Breaks Special edition) (2:54)
Le Pamplemousse - "Gimmie What You Got" (extended Breaks Special edition) (4:12)
Review: We've said this before, but there's something brilliantly simple about the Beats & Breaks label's "Extended Breaks" series of seven-inch re-edits. There's no superfluous fluff or needless rearrangement, just solid and matter-or-fact extensions of key drum breaks to both aid mixing and light up dancefloors. For proof, check the mysterious re-editors' take on Billy Squier's 1980 heavy rock workout "The Big Beat", which prioritizes the track's fat, bottom-heavy drums and the singer's impassioned vocal yelps while stripping out most of the gnarled guitar riffs. If you need a bit of a breather from the heavy dancefloor pressure, the crew's subtle revision of Le Pamplemousse's drowsy, synth-laden deep disco shuffler "Gimme What You Got" - a string-laden slice of sun-kissed sweetness - should do the trick.
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.
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: For the first volume in their brand new Toxic Funk 45s series, the Breakbeat Paradise crew has turned to two stalwarts of the breaks scene, Easy Now Recordings co-founder Tom Showtime and long-serving DJ/producer Badboe. They hit the ground running with A-side "We Funk Tings", a cut-and-paste workout that peppers a head-nodding, bass-heavy hip-hop groove with funk licks, hazy horns and sneaky vocal samples from a variety of ragga and rap records. They continue in a similar vein over on side B, where the horn and piano-heavy hip-hop-funk of "We Have It Hot" is followed by the boom-bap booty business of "The Time Has Come".
Review: Classic hip-hop head Godfather Don is loved by fans for his bulging back catalogue of solo joints and hot collabs. Diggy Down plunge deep into his vaults for this much sought-after track from a 2007 test pressing that has fetched as much as L700 over the years. Though it is rumoured Don was unhappy with the snare sounds on the track - hence it never before getting a full release - "Stuck Of The Realness" is now presented here, warts and all. It's an impeccable cut truth be told: the hits sound just right, the rhymes go deep and there's a woozy feel to the pads that really make you sink far into the groove.
Review: American funk band Breakwater is best known for their hit "Release The Beast," which gets a reissue treatment by Be With. Even if you don't know the name, you'll recognise the track's withering lead riff because it was sampled by Daft Punk for their iconic "Robot Rock". It's mad to think such a futuristic sound was created somewhere in Philly in 1979, but it was. The flip side houses the smooth and buttery "Let Love In", a feel good, deep cut funk gem with vocal harmonies, bulbous bass and hip swinging claps.
The Truckin' Company - "Got The Feeling" (Massimo Berardi edit) (5:41)
Izk Eyes - "Ton Of Groove" (The Funk District re-edit) (6:30)
Review: Fledgling label Daje Funk is sure to turn heads with their second sizzling offering of edits, with Rome's Massimo Berardi and Mexico's The Funk District both stepping up to the buttons. Truckin' Company's "Got The Feeling" is a loopy and rolling funk gem that keeps the energy up as strings soar to the skies and a squelchy bassline keeps you locked. The Funk District takes care of the flip with a top tweak of Izk Eyes's "Ton Of Groove", which is an appropriate title: big brass sections to shake your booty, a buttery male vocal and busy guitar licks all drive it forward through big breaks and killer drops.
Isabelle & The Rain (Mr K 7" Breakdown edit) (5:28)
Review: 1971: Isaac Hayes redefines what a movie theme can be with the worldwide sensation "Shaft," single-handedly making wah-wah rhythm guitar and racing hi-hats a prime ingredient for the decade of music to come. The huge success of "Shaft" meant Hayes was in demand to bring his vision of cinematic funk to other films, and in 1974 he scored (and starred in) the Blaxploitation B-movie Truck Turner. It's from this soundtrack that "Pursuit Of The Pimpmobile" is drawn. The progression Hayes made as a composer is clear: "Pimpmobile" uses complex layered guitar lines with brass and string sections that build and cascade over each other and takes the "Shaft" formula to an entirely new level.
The song became a firm favorite with funky DJs in the '70s, from the refined space of Mancuso's Loft to Bronx and Harlem jams. Indeed, when the Zulu Nation DJs began spinning at a downtown roller disco / dance club called The Roxy in the early '80s, it was firmly entrenched as one of their favorites. Another resident DJ at The Roxy was Danny Krivit, who was already well acquainted with the song and the effect it had on dancers. For this latest addition to Most Excellent Unlimited's steadily expanding catalog of Mr. K 7-inch edits, the master editor distills the sprawling nine-minute original down to a fit five-and-change, maintaining all the muscle that made this one a perennial champion of New York City's varied dancefloors.
The quirky "Isabelle And The Rain" was also a key cut for deeper DJs, uptown and downtown, albeit often on bootlegs as the original was, and remains, extremely scarce. Very little is known about the obscure jazzy cut, the work of a largely anonymous bunch of Los Angeles studio veterans led by keyboardist Mike Lang, whose electric piano solo is the song's defining feature alongside the driving drums, which get plenty of space to shine on Mr. K's Breakdown Edit.
The audio fidelity and peerless editing of these essential tracks - virtually nonexistent on 7-inch vinyl before now - makes the latest from Most Excellent Unlimited a can't-miss addition to the playout box of any DJ with a funky floor to rock.
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: Since its release in 1973, Ze Roberto's debut single "Lotus 72 D" has become something of an in-demand item amongst collectors of soul-fired Brazilian "MPB". So much so, in fact, that Mr Bongo has licensed it and served up this 7" reissue. In its original A-side form, the track is a carnival-ready slab of samba-soul brilliance rich in razor-sharp horn blasts, rich bass guitar, punchy hand-percussion and twinkling jazz piano solos. Roberto's confident vocals take centre stage, inviting us towards the dancefloor. Over on the flip you'll find a "Fast Version" of Roberto's tribute to 1972 Formula 1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi. This has a slightly more dancefloor-centric tempo, an effect achieved when it was accidentally pitched up for inclusion on a 2001 compilation.
Review: Earlier this year, Durand Jones and the Indications delivered one of the revivalist soul albums of 2019: the conscious, politically charged "American Love Call". Their latest "45" boasts one of the album's standout moments, "Morning In America", a weary but impassioned commentary on Trump's United States that features evocative strings, laidback 60s soul grooves and a stunning lead vocal from Durand Jones. It comes backed by previously unheard cut "Cruisin' To The Park", a lusciously sugary, heartfelt and loved-up affair where drummer Aaron Frazer handles lead vocals. Like the A-side, it's a stunning slice of emotion-stirring soul.
Review: Legendary UK hip hop head Rodney P makes a triumphant return with this vital little 7" on Tru Thoughts. The godfather of the UK scene is coming off the back of a big collaborative with Ty & Blak Twang as KINGDEM and now serves up a commentary on how rap and hip hop is such a pivotal force on the a-side of this new one. The flip goes deeper, musing on his second-generation immigrant status and doing so with panache. The production is as deep and accomplished as the song writing and reminds us why Rodney P is so well revered.
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: This Juno exclusive is a hip hop beat from Australia that has had props from Public Enemy's DJ Lord, no less. A heartfelt eight-minute medley from Brisbane's DJ Bacon whose title is a mash up of Run-DMC and Beastie Boys, it is said that more than 150 samples feature on the two tracks and the resulting collages are real bangers. "RUN-BST Megamix (Part 1)" skews iconic vocals, cow bells, stabs and punctured kick drums through a streetwise lens, and part 2 on the flip offers a more tender groove with soulful vocals over crisp hits.
Review: It seems so obvious you wonder why it doesn't happen more often: Stefano Torossi's "Feelings" album from 2000 was made up of track titles that convey certain situations and emotions that he masterfully reflects in the music. This new double 7" includes the highlights, such as the racing jazz and trumpet stabs of "Running Fast," the sustained and uneasy chords of "Fearing Much" and "Feeling Tense," which is actually a pretty lush bit of smooth jazz. "Walking In The Dark" rounds off the double pack with playful guitars and luxuriant synths that are pure soundtrack goodness. Ace.
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: The Polyversal Souls are renowned for the strength of their collaborative singles, which to date have featured all manner of legends and rising stars from the underground African music scene. This time around, the German-Ghanaian band provides high-grade backing for guest vocalist Frank Karikari, son of legendary Highlife musician Ralph Karikari. The A-side medley of "Siakwaa/Nana Agyei" is particularly good, with Karikari's confident lead vocal rising above shuffling, soft-focus drums and ear-catching juju guitars. Flipside cut "Odo Agye Gye Me" is great, too, offering a slightly more upbeat and undeniably percussive fusion of highlife/Afrobeat fusion.
Review: As Galcher Lustwerk's label continues to expand at an easy pace, so this intriguing prospect arises from the lesser known Double Pelican Man. As The Nassau Sessions title might imply, this is a departure from sleek house and techno into an abstraction of the island boogie sound, taking some cues from digi-dub and 80s dancehall but offsetting it with a final mix that is all its own. "Jet Ski" is a perfect slice of canned dub for mellow heads, and "Sweet Genius" is the pick for a more audacious application of delay and reverb, but the bass on "Shit To Buy" makes it the standout track on this collection of dubwise jams.
Review: Swedish house producer HNNY gave up DJing in 2016 but has still been working on music in the background, and we're glad he has, because the two cuts here for new label born out of a Stockholm audiophile bar, Hosoi, are lovely. A side "By" conjures a gorgeous mood with soft snares and what sounds like Spanish guitar strumming away beneath aching vocal coos. Flip over for "Hosoi", a dreamy downtempo groove with live sousing drum work and incidental chords that drift by on a warm breeze. This EP is a perfect tonic for those needing a break from busy modern life.
Review: More from top-drawer rework merchant DJ Soopasoul, whose cheeky revisions on his Soopastole label are consistently on point and dancefloor-focused. For his latest trick, the long-serving DJ/producer has decided to apply his magic to one of the greatest disco records of all time and a "foundation record" of the hip-hop scene: Chic classic "Good Times". The A-side edit sounds like it has been created using the multi-track parts, as dubbed-out vocal sections ride stripped-back grooves and portions that variously showcase the track's original strings, Nile Rodgers' guitars and Bernard Edwards' killer bassline. The flipside "Part 2" version is similarly minded but more like a disco dub in feel and execution, with the maestro drenching vocal sections in delicious amounts of delay.
Review: You can always rely on 5 Borough Breaks for some top shelf hip hop. The label's latest missive is a legendary one from O.C. - "Time's Up" is a rousing, hard hitting beat with an even tougher verse that rides on the booming kicks. It also samples Les DeMerle's "A Day In The Life" which just so happens to be pressed on the flip and yes, it is in fact a cover of The Beatles. Here though, it becomes a stirring big bang jazz cut that forms an impressive wall of retro sound that will inject realness and rawness into any party. Like always with this label, quantities are limited so move fast to get your fix.
Flying Fantasy (exclusive instrumental version) (4:35)
Rhodes E Serenidade (3:37)
Review: Small repress of the Modern Sun Records founder and experienced jazz-wise producer Marc Friedli AKA Skymark. A-side "Flying Fantasy" originally appeared on the Spanish producer's 2016 album "Resistance Sonore", but is here featured in instrumental form for the first time. If anything, it's better than the original version, largely because we get to revel in Friedli's mazy Fender Rhodes solos, rubbery jazz-funk synth bass and loose-limbed, West London style broken beats. You'll find plenty more jaunty jazz-funk vibes and liquid electric piano solos on B-side cut "Rhodes E Serenidade", which first slipped out way back in 2015. DJ Support so far from Dom Servini, Emanative,Red Greg,Kevin Beadle, Mike Chadwick,Dynamite Cuts & Rocafort Records so far
Review: Garden Of Eden was another one of those obscure, one-shot bands who released a sole single at some point in the 1970s and then promptly vanished from view. That single, "Everybody's On A Trip", has long been sought-after amongst collectors of intergalactic disco-funk, hence this reissue from the Backatcha crew. The title track is a downlow delight, with flanged guitar riffs, spacey synth lines, punchy horns and quality male vocals rising above a hot and heavy groove. Over on the flip "It Takes Two" is sweet, slow and dewy-eyed in the tried-and-tested tradition of B-side ballads.