Review: It's been almost four years since we last heard from Anatoly Ice and Dariya, and we were beginning to miss the duo's magnetic waves of seductive nu-soul. Backed by a gentle sway of breakbeats, "Freedom (Unchained)" is the sort of tune that will have cross-cultural appeal, drawing in influences from pop, r&b, and even a little country love. On the flip, Mr Confuse twists the groove up to transform the original into more of a light-hearted house swelter, backed by the original's suave vocals.
Angel Sound-Broadway - "Inner City Blues" (Acetate demo) (3:04)
Review: Cannonball celebrate the big two-oh with this delightful find of an original take of Gaye's seminal "Inner City Blues". Famously covered by Gil Scott Heron and Grover Washington Jr, here the legacy continues as the Italian collective rebooted John's recording with their own subtle instrumentation. With a full studio version on the Take side and rawer, floor-hitting funk finish on the Acetate side, we guarantee this will make you want to holler...
Review: Soul4Real has gotten 'soulful for real' with this third outing, coming through in the form of 2 previously unreleased gems from US band The Anglos. This is some pretty niche gear, what with the band having only put out a handful of 7s back in the 60, so it feels like a special occasion to have some new material from them on our shelves. These tunes were apparently destined to land on the Botanic imprint back in the day, and are famously produced and engineered by the great Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams, which is why they have a certain roughness that is rarely heard on other soul records. "Broke Down Piece Of Man" is a fast, beat-heavy number with a psychedelic edge that reflects the state of mind back then, while "Four Walls Of Gloom" takes the gospel tradition as its main ingredient, offering a wonderfully uplifting midtempo rocker for the heart and soul.
Review: A self-titled opus, the OG presses of Aura's one and only album have been known to fetch over L100 while the 2016 Aloha Got Soul reissue was supported across the board from Theo Parrish to Giles Peterson. Here are two of the most delectable highlights in bright white 45" form; "Let Me Say Dis About Dat" is all about the crunchy riffs and rock funk fusion while "No Beginning, No End" is a thrilling disco funk cut that has aged to perfection. Limited and likely to fly.
Review: Pat Biggerstaff's ZIP catapults itself into the modern soul game with an arresting statement of intent; St Louie-born, Kansas-based Bryan Austin takes time off his calling as a missionary to lay down two soft, dreamy, string and piano based ballads. "What Would Marvin Say?" is rich in references and respect while "Sunday" takes The Moments' classic to slower, deeper, emotive pastures. Both establish ZIP as a new label with promise.
Review: For a classic 7" that makes you wish you could have experienced the rock and roll and blues heyday, these two dusty gems by Lavern Baker and Jackie Wilson are a great start. Taken from 1960, "Bumble Bees" by Baker is a chiming, doo-wop sing-a-long love song with a tastefully disgruntled character, while Baker & Wilson provide the excellent and X-rated "Think Twice", which sings about taboo topics like cocaine, pussy and reefa. It also boasts lyrics like 'son of a bitch', 'I aint gonna kiss your ass no more' and 'I've had enough of your shit' - not to mention the other out-there obscenities for the time which include references to oral sex. Lil Kim and Khia - eat your heart out!
Review: Favourite France drop some absolute truth with this killer reissue of Beckie Bell's 1980 classic "Music Madness", from the album 'In Need Of...'. This is he funkiest disco you can possibly ask for, a chirpy, upbeat tune that calls for the good times. It's the sort of track that can be slapped on in just about any set, anywhere, and Bell's vocals are as infectious as the tight groove that pushes the track forwards. There are a couple of remixes, though, which bring out the best of the original and make it even more playable than before. The first one is a more beat-heavy reinterpretation from Voilaaa, while Tom Noble injects the perfect level of houseness into the equation thanks to a slamming 4/4 and some extra percussion. Perfect, and very much recommended if you've somehow slept on the original.
Review: Destination 78/79: Expansion take us deep into the illustrious back cat of revered boogaloo fusionist Willie Bobo for two of his many fiery delights. Side A is his feel-heavy cult instrumental take on Ronnie Laws' disco classic "Always There" while Side B throws us into the heart of his 1979 album Bobo with gutsy raw soul power (and just a few cheeky funk slap bass twangs for good measure) Two stone cold classics together for the first time on 45.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: Seminal Manchester street soul from 96; Bovel's "Check 4 U" had anthem status in clubs and on pirates throughout the city at the time but suffered limited pressing and an OG copy has been known to be priced at 2000 quid. Revitalised by Ruf Dug and Bovel herself, it now comes complete with a superb UKG update from Metrodome which maintains the feel of the era but with the pace and punch of the times. Limited to 1000 copies.
Review: Feeling lucky? With grooves as raw, sizzling and energetic as these, there's a strong chance you might be. Hot on the heels of their "Mesquite Beat" 45 comes this equally earthy and frank doublet. "'Bout To Blow" is a big pant swinging blues affair while "Saints & Beggars" takes us up a notch with a whirling 6/8 signature whirling waltz where the horns and drums take the lead and we follow in their every dreamy footstep. Look out for the album Mesquite Suite coming on Tramp very soon.
Review: A serious self-press rarity from the heart of Clarksville, Suggs never achieved the recognition he deserved during his tenure as a band leading soul man. Still in Clarksville and now a missionary, the sentiments of this recording history peak resonate with what he does now: "Everything That Looks Good" is a JB style message on the lure of temptation while "You Don't Deserve", an instrumental that sees Bubba switching his vocals for equally commanding sax, is a moment for poignant, soul-searching reflection. Lord have mercy.
Review: Ten years have passed since Italian "cinematic funk" specialists Calibro 35 delivered their debut release, an anniversary they recently celebrated via a killer album called "Decade". Here, one of the album's standout cuts is released as a single. "Travelers, Explorers", featuring the seductive vocals of Elisa Zoot, is a beautiful end-of-night number rich in atmospheric instrumentation and cinematic strings reminiscent of Italian great Ennio Morricone. Over on the flipside they go down an altogether heavier route, delivering superb vocal and instrumental covers of Barry Gardiner's familiar theme from Gerry Anderson puppet show "Stingray". Short but sweet and thrillingly sweaty, the instrumental is arguably the seven's standout track by some distance.
Review: Calvin Carr's wonderful gospel-soul has been a digger's favourite for yonks, often being cited and used by the very best selectors in the game. This 1878 single, originally out on Philadelphia United Records, is aptly named "Without Christ" and it offers listeners, dancers and lovers an opportunity for positive redemption. Much like the rest of the gospel world, this is perhaps the best way to convert people into enlightenment and keep them positive - there is absolutely no way that this disco-tinged gem cannot make you jump up with joy and excitement. The instrumental cut is pretty killer, too. BIG.
Review: Although he built his reputation as party-starting DJ, Mister Saturday Night co-founder Justin Carter has always been a singer-songwriter at heart.This debut solo release sees him delivering evocative, folksy vocals over plucked acoustic guitar lines and ghostly backing vocals. The song's fragile, slightly woozy nature comes to the fore on the flipside "Version" mix, which only emphasizes the weary beauty of Carter's lyrics and vocal performance. It's a bit of a sideways step for Mister Saturday Night, but then the label has never played by the rules.
Review: PPU come through with some more of that late '80s soul, looking to Cool Waters man Napoleon Cherry. Indicative of its time; the post synth boogie and theatrics of the early part of the decade are swapped with a much deeper, more subtle delivery and instrumentation that sat well with the likes of Soul II Soul and Massive Attack. Napoleon underplays his vocals throughout, allowing the synths to truly shine. More shine for your shekels? Flip for the instrumental and look out for a full retrospective of Cherry's work coming on Music From Memory!
Review: Two powerful soul sessions from Alice Clark's eponymous debut 1972 album. "Don't You Care" is a hard-hitting soul standard (that became very popular in acid jazz scene in the early 90s) where Alice opens her heart for all to see while her incredible band ebb and flow with Clark's emotions. "Never Did I Stop Loving You", meanwhile, languishes in sentiment at a slightly lower tempo that allows her to really dig deep for those low notes. The real fun happens as we reach momentum towards the end and every band member brings out their A-game and bounces off each other - backing up Alice every step of the way. You will care about this.
Review: What a crazy trip it's been for The Coalitions. After a run of success in the mid 70s and an album that was produced but never released in the early 80s, the Philly band finally got the justice they deserved in 2011 as Soul Junction unearthed their work and finally released their album 30 years later. Now the band are back with a brand new song. "Nothin' Left 2 Do" is rooted in classic Al Green style soul but with big flourishes of 80s instrumentation and even 90s R&B vocal croons. "Didn't We Almost Make It" takes us back to 1979 as their instantly distinctive album opener enjoys life on 45 for the very first time. They made it.
Review: Finland's Timmion Records should, by now, be categorised as leaders in the leftfield soul game. Their catalogue contains a wealth of both old and new talents and, whenever we see that famous 'TRI' sign hit our shelves, we just know we're in for the good shit. Thankfully, this new collaboration by the mysterious Cold Diamond and Mink is right up there with the rest of the label's wacky, soulful mind-melters, except that here we head into even deeper quarters. The 7" contains two parts of "Queen Of Soul", a rough, wavy piece of lo-fi strumming that uses its wonderfully exchoing guitars to guide the listener into a state of total psychedelia. We love it, and we suggest you to cop one now before it pops up for the triple the price in a decade's time. Bliss.
Review: Not to be confused with the sports commentator, David Coleman was behind the scorching boardwalk vocals that graced Hector Rivera's debut 1966 album At The Party. The right levels of swoon and croons over vital Latin orchestration - led by the renowned pianist and regular Tito Puenta collaborator - David exudes some serious emotion. "Drown My Heart" lilts with a soft samba while Coleman scatters powerful heartbreak tales, "My Foolish Heart" takes a much more stripped back rhythmic arrangement with yearning, soaring strings that break out into the full orchestra on the chorus. Both cult attractions on the northern soul and popcorn scenes, it's another hearty reissue from them up north.
Review: Two big cuts taken from the Melbourne trio's sixth album Blind Bet, here the band flip two sides of a ridiculously funky coin. "Mind Made Up" features the vocals of Tru Thoughts starlet Kylie Auldist. Her rich emphatic vocals fit the 70s soul licks perfectly. Smooth and dynamically delivered with big horns, subtle strings, major chords and an instantly catchy chorus, you'll make your mind up on this long before the last horns blast a final cheerio. "Skeletor", meanwhile, is a much more party-focussed jam where big breakbeats provide the back bone for sharp horns, heavy Hammond slapping and warm gravelly vocals.
Review: Athens of the North founder Euan Fryer has described Willie Dale's "Let Your Light Shine" as "one of the best discoveries in the last 15 years". Only five copies of the original 7" single have surfaced to date, with the most recent changing hands for eye-watering sums of money. You can see why Fryer was so excited by "Let Your Light Shine": while rooted in both funk and soul, the track also draws heavily on psychedelic rock and the fuzzy, funk-rock fusion brilliance of Sly Stone. Original B-side "Somebody Help Me" is an altogether more laidback affair, with Dale offering impassioned and melancholic lyrics over a psychedelic era take on old rhythm & blues ballads.
DaM-FunK - "Believer" (Fingers deep funk remix) (8:40)
Nite-Funk - "Can U Read Me?" (3:38)
Review: Damon Garrett Riddick offered a fine addition to the DJ Kicks canon with his 19 track DaM-Funk selection earlier this and in time honoured tradition his exclusive contribution gets a vinyl release backed with a rather special remix. In a nod to his cache and love of classic deep house, Riddick has coaxed a Mr Fingers remix out of Larry Heard resulting in a sublime take on "Believer" that would have gone down a treat at Broken Beat haven Co-Op back in the day. Instead of the original version of "Believer," the flip features another Riddick original from the DJ Kicks mix - his killer Nite Funk collaboration with fellow LA synthesizer enthusiast Nite Jewel.
Review: With the passing of William Daron Pulliam last year, the music world truly lost a singular and unique talent. Here Californian soul daddies Ubiquity pay homage to his most recognised works "Didn't I See" with a limited edit-focused 12". There is of course the feeling one shouldn't mess with perfection - and this Darondo track certainly falls into that category - but each of the three edits that accompany the original are considered reworks that subtly add some extra character without losing any of its power to move. Kinjo Music founder Dave Allison perhaps excels the most in this regard, subtly nudging the tempo up and adding some extra percussive detail that soul selectors will appreciate.
The Lost Generation - "The Sly, Slick & The Wicked"
Review: Stomping northern soul vibes abound on this recently unearthed gem from The Demures. With its pumping beats and heart melting harmonies it's hard to believe this went unnoticed for so many years. If you're after something a little softer and emotional then flip for The Lost Generation's "The Sly Slick And Wicked". No, they're not describing Juno's record reviewers, they're lamenting over love lost and heartbreakers in the most emphatic, string-drenched soulful way. Two beautiful cuts on one 7". Bonus.
Review: Their last single was "Won't Be Coming Back", now comes "Sure Don't Miss You": We're noticing a theme here... And to be honest, we can't thank whichever ex-lover it was who upset this Seattle seven piece enough. Because we are getting some serious soul gold right here! Once again on Colemine, once again rich in harmony, once again with the big instrumentation and enough spring in the guitars and horns for big dance moves; The Dip are fast establishing themselves as a serious player in contemporary funk and they've even thrown in an instrumental to show how tight they are.
Review: Serial alias addict, Kris Holmes returns with a double side of split personality: The Disciples is a rough, bluesy layered piece of slo-mo surf rock where the drums only just keep up and the organs provide heavy soul salvation. "He Spoke" shows Kris on much more of an African inspired trip. Similarly hefty organs power the main groove but there's more uplift in the riff and instrumentation. Insatiable.
Review: It would be fair to say that the two tracks showcased here aren't among Lamont Dozier's best-known songs. For starters, they were originally tucked away on the legendary soul man's largely overlooked 1981 set, Working On You. A-side "I'm A Believer" is a breezy, string-drenched chunk of disco-boogie blessed with one of the singer-songwriter's best vocal performances. It's something of an overlooked dancefloor gem, all told. Flipside "Starting Over" builds steadily from a slow start, with Dozier's impassioned message of love reborn coming through loud and clear over sumptuous orchestration and super-sweet vocal harmonies.
Review: More recently spotted with The Georgia Soul Drifters or The Coasters, Early Clover's recording history can be traced back almost 40 years with this previously super-rare 45. With his soft-but-arresting tones, his yearning vocal style is comparable to Stevie Wonder, especially on the slow and dreamy Innervisions-esque "Who Are You?" Meanwhile on the B, "I Wanna Take A Chance With You" switches dreams for funk reality with a Kool & The Gang style feel-good throw down. Silky.
Review: Longstanding New York troupe El Michels Affair bite down on 2017 with two on-point left-sided soul jams. "Tearz" is a biggie, not least because it features Lee Fields and The Shacks. A warm, organ groove with loose breaks and drops into pure harmonic bliss, it's another spellbinding affair from the Wu-approved crew. "Verbal Intercourse" takes more of a slinkier, subtle approach with clipped horns spitting an insistent hook over sparse, twanging instrumental elements. Stunning, as always.
Review: Shots fired from the 37th chamber... The El Michels Affair's long-standing love for the Wu legacy continues on hot 45" with two more perfect covers from their last album. First up GZA's "Shadow Boxing" gets a hazy Booker T-style shakedown with those dreamy hammonds breezing through like top-down caddies. FlipGhostface Killah's "Iron Maiden" gets the swooning, woozy treatment with a breakdown that flips like a wild dream. No one does Wu covers like Leon Michels' troupe.
Review: Deep into his chamber-lurking follow-up Wu odyssey, Leon Michels stumbled upon shy New York twosome The Shacks and convinced them to record this hazy summer-primed 45". Singer Shannon steals the show with softness and honesty as the band weave a psychedelic bed of sliding guitars and faraway harmonies. Both laced with a woozy 60s edge and beautifully playful lyrics, the whole EP sparkles with soul and talent from both The Shacks and Leon's ever-reliable troupe.
Review: Newcomers Energy MC2 are exactly the sort of ensemble needed by the supremely funky Soul Junction imprint. The label have done a great job in continuously finding new, raw talent in the soul game, and these dudes know the score. "If You Break It" features the voice of Vincent Bonham, and it's a veritable lovers tune, made for dance floor antics and Saturday night romance, whereas "Other Side Of The Mirror" is more of a soulful abstraction, a gorgeous little ballad led by the delicate, majestic vocals of Arnell Carmichael. Oh, boy...
Review: French funk fusioneer Alexis Evans hits home with the second single from his new album "I've Come A Long Way". "She Took Me Back" is the opening track from his LP and you can hear why; soaring deep soul, all swooning and sweeping, it's an instant heart warmer that sets the scene for the whole album. "It's All Over Now" is a much more upbeat take with chunky honky tonks, tight horns and a fantastic band leading on the breakdown. His style, tone and delivery belie his young age. It ain't over yet...
Review: One of Wilson Pickett's earlier bands, The Falcons unwittingly laid down a Northern Soul anthem in 1960 with "Good Good Feeling". Stomping drums, big horns and massive harmonies, it's still as sweaty and boisterous as it was 55 years ago. Flip for an interesting 1990 take on one of their most famous cuts "Standing On Guard". Subtle with the synths with full focus on the vocals, however many reincarnations the band has experienced in the 25 years that passed. Good feelings all round.
Review: "One Step Ahead" by American soul singer Aretha Franklin was released by Columbia Records in 1965. The A-side of the single reached the Rhythm & Blues singles chart of the time and ranked at #18. On the flip, "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face" was taken from her 1964 album entitled Runnin' Out Of Fools. The single was released two years before Aretha achieved stardom when she joined Atlantic Records. The A side cut was not included on any of her Columbia studio albums and remains one of her rarest releases. The song has risen in familiarity due to its use in recent films, such as the music documentary Muscle Shoals and in the Academy Award winning drama Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins.
Review: Soul Brother present two sublime cuts by Carolyn Franklin, younger sister to Aretha, for their debut appearance on the seven inch format. On top of her significant body of work as a songwriter and background artist for Aretha and several other acts of the 60s and 70s, Carolyn Franklin record four solo albums and several singles for the RCA label. Rare groove heads favour Franklin's fourth LP If You Want Me in particular, issued in 1976 but originally recorded three years earlier, and Soul Brother have licensed two highlights for this 7" which demonstrate Carolyn's range for anyone not familiar with her work. "Sunshine Holiday" is a psyche delight akin to Linda Lewis' "Reach For The Truth" whilst "Deal With It" is pure funk.
Review: Izipho Soul recently described Frederick Davis as "one of Cleveland's hidden gems". This tasty seven-inch, which contains two tracks recorded way back in 1992 but never before issued, certainly backs up their assertion. A-side "Shoulder to Cry On" is something of a sparkling, late night synth-soul treat - a close-dancing slow jam that sees Davis's fine vocal rise above a backing track rich in chiming electronic melodies, post New Jack Swing R&B style beats and sensual saxophone solos. Flip for the similarly minded but arguably more elastic "Let Go", where the unheralded Cleveland singer whispers seductively over a killer synth bassline and more cascading '80s soul melodies.
Review: Tramp Records has stayed close to home for this release, reissuing two killer cuts from the 1981 album "Mittwochs In Marl" album by Tyree Glenn Jr. While he is American - his father, Glenn senior, was famously Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong's trombonist - Glenn Jr had moved to Germany (where he still resides) around the time that the album was recorded. Lead cut "Superbad" is a genuinely heavy, full-throttle funk beast, with Glenn Jr doing his best James Brown impression over an insatiable groove and rousing sax solos. "Ma(r)l Sehen", on the other hand, is a much more breezy affair - an instrumental jazz-funk outing rich in dueling sax and electric piano solos.
Review: Athens of the North supremo Euan Fryer was helped in his efforts to reissue this sought-after soul ballad - arguably the most in-demand cut from obscure Dallas-based artist Willie Griffin - by Brooklyn-based crate digger Brian Sears. Together, they somehow managed to locate the master tapes for "I Love You", allowing this pressing to sound even better than the original seven-inch. It's a deliciously breezy and heartfelt affair, with Griffin's impeccable vocal rising above a lo-fi soul backing track rich in gentle guitars and loose drums. Also worth a listen is the slightly heavier and more dancefloor-friendly "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire", which features a glam-rock style beat, bluesy acoustic guitars and some seriously heavy bass.
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: 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: 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.