Review: Don't be fooled by the smoky jazzy horns on the intro: The Allergies are still at the front of the party queue! They were just lulling us into a false sense of security before hitting us with a precision range of big soul swingers and dynamite party killers; both "Hold You Close" and "Since You've Been Gone" pop with big beat bangs, "Entitled To That" stamps and sweats like Wigan Pier is still holding the best dances in the country, "Main Event" parps and pumps while long-standing affiliate Andy Cooper reminds us who's boss while "It Won't Be Me" (also with Cooper) is coded with so much horn and guitar powered gusto you could be fooled into thinking Ugly Duckling are back. Yet another triumphant album from one of Jalapeno's most exciting acts.
Brian Auger's Oblivion Express - "Foolish Girl" (feat Alex Ligertwood)
The New Mastersounds - "Tantalus"
The Getup - "Hush"
Orquesta Akokan - "Mambo Rapidito"
Gizelle Smith - "Scared Of Something"
Menagerie - "Spiral"
Review: Craig Charles' annual "Funk & Soul Club" compilations are fast becoming as much of a Christmas tradition as turkey, dodgy decorations and ill-advised snogs at office parties. As with its predecessor, this sixth volume does a good job in showcasing the best in modern funk, soul, Afrobeat and heavy Latin jams, with a few stone cold classics thrown in (see the Mighty Ryeders' peerless "Evil Vibrations"). Look out for deep and heavy funk gems from the Bamboos, the New Mastersounds and Lance Ferguson's Rare Groove Spectrum, some suitably smooth fare from Courtney Pine and Omar, a scintillating, salsa-focused cover of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by Scotland's Grupo Magnetico, and a dash of dancefloor goodness from funk breaks scene stalwarts Smoove and Turrell.
Review: Over 10 years deep and sounding Stronger than ever (not sorry) Cool Million return with their fifth album and it's delicious in all directions. Still smacking with that powerful early 80s soul, boogie and RnB blend, still packing heavyweight vocalists, still stacking serious levels of musicianship, Stronger runs the gamut. From juicy feet-tickling boogie ("Stronger", "Keep On") to sultry ballads ("Share The Light") and steamy soul jams ("Come Back Home") with killer vocals from the likes of the legendary D-Train plus Janus Soliand, Jasmine Franklin and David A Tobin, "Stronger" is one of the Danish/German duo's most accomplished albums to date.
Fiona Yorke - "Love For Me" (Nigel Lowis Super Disco mix)
Elis - "Praise You" (Nigel Lowis Sound Factory mix)
Hannah White - "Tell Me" (Nigel Lowis Vintage mix)
Francisca Thomas - "Clouds In My Mirror" (Nigel Lowis Sholes mix)
The Dig Band - "Cosmic Wind" (feat Jimmy Gallagher - Dig Construction mix)
Lol Williams - "Everyday" (Dsg Classic mix)
Nigel Lowis - "When The Night Calls" (Nigel Lowis Breezin' mix)
John Reid - "Teardrops" (Nigel Lowis mix)
Teddy B - "I Can't Help Myself" (Dsg radio edit)
Rebekah Ryan - "The Best Of Me" (Nigel Lowis Sound Factory mix)
Marc Staggers - "Timeless" (Nigel Lowis Classic mix)
Peter Symphorien & Fitzroy Facey - "This Ever Changing World" (Nigel Lowis The Soul Academy mix)
Review: An active producer and remixer since the 1990s, Nigel Lowis has a knack for crafting classic-sounding reworks that effortlessly join the dots between contemporary soulful house and the classic sounds of Philly Soul, disco, jazz-funk and boogie. For proof, check out this second collection of new, rare and little-known Lowis reworks. Those of a soulful persuasion will find much to enjoy throughout, from the slick, sax-sporting Philadelphia Soul revivalism of Lowis' take on Tilly Grace's "The Soul Man Theme", and a string-laden, Chic style "Super Disco Mix" of Fiona Yorke's "Love For Me", to the sugary-sweet slo-mo revision of Marc Staggers' "Timeless" and the boogie-tinged soulful house re-make of Kenny Thomas' "Back On Broadway".
Review: Between 1971 and '73, Brazilian singer and composer Tim Maia released a quartet of eponymously titled album, all of which are now considered classics by those in the know. This is the third in the sequence, originally released in 1972 and now available on CD for the first time in the UK. The tracks largely lean heavily on American soul and funk tropes of the time - rich grooves, luscious orchestration, and so on - with Maia adding vocals in both English and Portuguese. There are occasional nods to jazz-funk, samba and rumba, but by and large Maia stuck to his funk and soul script. The results are uniformly excellent, with "Idade" and "Razao De Samba" being particularly memorable.
Review: At the tail end of the '80s, Sylvia Striplin quit Norman Connors' jazz-funk group Aquarian Dream in order to pursue a solo career. Joining forces with producers James Bedford and Roy Ayers, she recorded 1981 debut album "Give Me Your Love", a well regarded but largely overlooked set that has since become a sought-after item amongst soul collectors. This Expansion reissue presents the album on CD for the first time in two decades. As with many soul albums of the period, it sashays between jazz-funk, boogie and heartfelt slow jams, contrasting memorable dancefloor workouts (see stone cold classic "Give Me Your Love" and a stellar cover of Roy Ayers favourite "Searchin") with more saccharine, loved-up fare. This edition also boasts a couple of bonus cuts, including the superb 7" mix of "Give Me Your Love".