Review: Should you require further evidence of the all-round genius of Curtis Mayfield, look no further than this early '70s funk gem from Patti Jo. "Make Me Believe In You" was written and produced by the velvety-voiced musician in 1973, one of just a few singles released by Patti Jo but undoubtedly now an all-time classic. That rolling drum intro, the ear-wagging piano, the subtle orchestration and, above all, Patti Jo's killer vocal all combine for a perfect example of the halcyon days when funk was beginning to transform into disco. Mayfield himself later covered the track for the closer to his Sweet Exorcist LP! This BGP 7" sees Tom Moulton's extension of "Make Me Believe In You" combined with his remix of the other Patti Jo burner, "Ain't No Love Lost". Any self-respecting DJ needs the A-side though.
Review: Danny Krivit's officially sanctioned re-edits of Earth Wind & Fire's "Brazilian Rhyme" and "Runnin" have been sought-after since they first appeared on a Japan-only 12" back in 2004. In fact, such is demand that even later bootleg pressings now go for silly money online. As this reissue proves, though, they're arguably amongst Krivit's strongest scalpel works. Certainly, his three-minute revision of the always too short "Brazilian Rhyme" teases it out to just the right length, in the process delivering a sweltering, sing-along summer anthem. The flipside revision of the equally as summery "Runnin" is every bit as good, with Krivit making merry with the original's life-affirming scat vocals and killer piano solos.
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: Acid Jazz has pulled off something of a coup here by persuading legendary '70s soul man Leroy Huston to part with a couple of previously unreleased cuts. A-side "Positive Forces" was recorded by Hutson in 1977 and sits somewhere between the sweeping, orchestrated bliss of Philly soul, the soaring dancefloor celebration of disco and the loose-limbed instrumental goodness of jazz-funk. It's an absolute stunner, all told, and sounds like it was tailor-made for spins at sweltering summer festivals. On the B-side you'll find a previously unreleased instrumental version of 1975's "All Because of You". While a vocal-free version has previously been released, this particular mix includes a little more drum action at the beginning to assist with mixing.
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: 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: Oooh! Angie Stone's "Wish I Didn't Miss You" definitely belongs in the canon of all time modern soul classics. Taken from her 2001 second album Mahogany Soul, the Swizz Beats produced track made optimum usage of an O' Jays sample and was instrumental in that LP going gold and propelling the former D'Angelo collaborator to stardom. It also inspired countless official and under the counter remixes with Blaze's perhaps the most recognisable. So yes this reissue on 7" from Outta Sight is worthy if you don't have the original in your collection and features a housed up remix from Hex Hector on the flip.
Review: Straight form the heart of London via the mind of Detroit, the ever-consistent Soul Brother crew have laid down another stellar reissue here through Dee Edwards' gorgeous "(I Can) Deal With That". Originally out on the much-coveted De-To label in 1977, the original mix is a delicate, whaling soul monster that'll melt your heart from its first guitar riff - Edwards' voice is truly magnetic over the slow-burning percussion. There's a more stripped-down 'Strings' version to act as the cherry on the cake - you just gotta.
Review: You'll struggle to find a more loved-up and life-affirming chunk of proto-disco brilliance than The Sisters Love's 1973 "Give Me Your Love". The record's lasting impact can be seen in the number of times that it's been reworked, re-edited or bootlegged over the years. Here it gets an official 7" reissue via Soul Brother Records. It sounds as good as ever, with the all-female group's now familiar vocals rising above Blaxploitation style guitars, fluttering flutes and powerful horns. It's a celebratory release, and then some. This time round it's accompanied by a lesser-known gem, "Try It, You'll Like It", which first featured on the B-side of a 1973 single. This is a powerful chunk of conscious funk/soul fusion of the sort that was incredibly popular during the period it was recorded.
Everything That Shines Ain't Gold (part one & two) (6:12)
Everything That Shines Ain't Gold (Floating Points edit) (4:38)
Review: You'll be unsurprised to learn that the latest reissue on Floating Points' Melodies imprint is of a record that is fiendishly hard to find. Collectors have long regarded "Everything That Shines Ain't Gold", a sumptuous funk-soul workout full of bold Hammond organ lines and jazzy guitar licks, as something of a "Holy Grail", so it's fantastic see the track getting a worthy reissue. For this edition, you'll find the full version (originally cut into two parts to fit on a 7") on side A, with a fresh Floating Points re-edit on the flip. His revision is naturally tastefully done, rolling with the sweetest instrumental passages before breaking into Moore's superb vocal.
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: Goosepimples aplenty as Kent Records pulls out its ace card with a superb slice of feel good classic soul music from Darondo. Darondo, who was bought up in the San Franciso Bay area, led a colourful life, becoming a Pimp in the 1960s. He eventually gave that up and knocked out this wonderful piece of guitar balladry. Underneath a sublime Al Green/Curtis Mayfield like vocal performance you'll discover a simple string arrangement that compliments Darondo's falsetto vocal to brilliant effect. No doubt this will feature as one of the best 45 soul reissues of 2012.
Dance Your Blues Away (The Mighty Zaf edit) (4:32)
Review: Originally released in 1979 as a B-side to The Neville Brother's "Sweet Honey Dipper", "Dance Your Blues Away" saw Ivan go solo for the first time on this sultry modern soul jam. Laced with a plucky bass and just the right smattering of sleaze, it set the foundations for Ivan's extensive solo career. It also provides the perfect groove tools for The Mighty Zaf to work his editor craft and beef up the vibe with subtlety. Keep on dancing!
Review: Released in celebration of Expansion's recent re-serving of two of Leon's early 80s albums - Rockin' You Eternally and Leon Ware - here's a delightful 45 that reminds us of his finest solo moments. "Why I Came To California" is a sun-kissed soul boogie groove with big horns and even bigger chorus. "Rockin' You Eternally" (which is, let's face it, one of the smoothest song titles to ever come from the 80s) showcases Leon's softer side. A ballad steeped in sentiment, play this loud enough and everyone in a five mile radius will stop and get smoochy.
Review: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Immortalised, slowed down funk from The Isley Brothers, an American R&B/soul group from Cincinnati, Ohio, established in the early 1950s. This 7" houses the much loved and often sampled in the hip hop world, "Footsteps In The Dark" (Parts 1 & 2) and "Between The Sheets". The latter is a silky smooth R&B classic whilst the arguably more well-known "Footsteps In The Dark" is an arrestingly beautiful, hood classic/soul masterpiece. The bassy but laid-back harmonious ballad with delicious percussion and Ronald Isley crooning an uneasy lyric on maintaining "a love that lasted for so long" amid the constant temptation of infidelity, makes it worth the entry price on its own.
I Want To Thank You (KON Shine Your Light remix) (7:54)
I Want To Thank You (KON dub) (7:49)
Review: Having previously breathed new life into classic cuts from L.T.D, George Duke and Sylvester, Kon has now turned his attention to another all-time favourite: Alicia Myers' 1981 stunner "I Want To Thank You", a disco-era gospel-soul favourite that remains one of the era's most timeless club records. Working from the multi-track tapes, Kon teases out Myers' killer vocal - drenched in just the right amount of reverb and delay - atop a slightly stripped-back groove before giving it the full kitchen sink treatment. Just as good is the flipside Dub, which flits between beat-free sections and the track's killer groove in the manner of disco dubs from the early 1980s. The song itself may not have needed tampering with, but Kon's versions are genuinely superb.
Review: Sam Shepherd's Melodies International imprint has barely put a foot wrong to date, serving up a string of must-have reissues. Predictably, the label's latest offering - a facsimile reissue of a thoroughly obscure but in-demand disco 7" from 1979 - is another belter. A-side "Back Into Your Heart" is particularly potent, offering a rich, cheery and pleasingly fuzzy dance through horn-heavy disco-funk pastures, with a loved-up lead vocal joined by cascading strings, intergalactic synth solos and energy-packed drums. Turn to the flip for "Dance, Dance, Dance", an urgent chunk of funk-fuelled disco-rock that's almost as essential as the majestic A-side.
Review: Dynamite Cuts come back with a bang with four sublime cuts taken from the criminally short discography of funk soul troupe Leo's Sunshipp. The first half of their only album, we kick off with their cult solar celebration "Give Me The Sunshine" before "I'm Back For More" shreds through the stratosphere with a swooning Average White Band sparkle, "Get Down People" salutes with an Off The Wall style shine and shimmy before "Madame Butterfly" drifts back into the atmosphere with velvet falsetto harmonies and a groove so laid back it drips off the wax. Feel the sunshine.
Review: Two crucial moments from Gil Scott Heron's immense repertoire; "When You Are Who You Are" takes the lead. Taken from his 1971 album Pieces Of A Man, it's a straight up homage to clarity and honesty told in the context that only Gil knew best. Flip for a very special alternative take of "Free Will". The title track of his following album, released a year later in 1972, the variations of this take (which has never been released on vinyl before) are subtle but strong enough to justify it a place in your collection.
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: **REPRESS ALERT** Barbara Lynn (b. 1942) is an American rhythm and blues guitarist, singer and songwriter best known for her 1962 R&B chart-topping hit, "You'll Lose a Good Thing". Her highly sought after 1976 song "Movin' On A Groove" gets a much needed repress here from London's Soul Brother, with the funky "Disco Music" featured on the flip. The title track is a soul anthem for those who know, and it's been sold for extortionate prices on the second-hand market but thanks to Soul Brother you can finally get a copy for a reasonable price! A very strong 45 release for DJs and collectors alike.
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: DJ Fryer's Athens of the North label continues its relentless charge the annals of funk and disco, focussing attentions here on the mid '70s debut of Jeanie Tracy. Glance at the discography of the Houston-born singer and you are presented with a storied recording career that includes credits alongside Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin and Sylvester so it's little surprise to see that original copies of Making New Friends / Trippin On The Sounds rarely change hands below the $1000 mark. Originally released on Marvin Holmes' Oakland-based Brown Door Records around 1975, this Athens of the North edition is a must for any self-respecting 45 wielding selectors out there! The A-side is a recognised classic of the rare groove canon but it's "Trippin On The Sounds" that you need to hear; a glorious horn-laden deep funk nugget.
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.
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Let's Get Together" (instrumental) (4:22)
Review: We just love hearing new soul and funk. Sure, a rare single from the 60s or 70s goes a long way in satisfying our needs, but how good is it to hear NEW music!? That's why we rate Finland's Timmion imprint so highly; they always come through with the goods, and there isn't a single EP they've put out that hasn't interested us... or flown off our shelves! This time, Jonny Benavidez, Cold Diamond and Mink team up for the absolute sexiness that is "Let's Get Together", a seductive soul ballad that is bound to lit up the room instantly! The instrumental is rather fine, too.
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.