Take It Personally (Exclusive unreleased instrumental) (1:30)
Review: Mukatsuku's latest must-have release offers another opportunity to own early Freddie Cruger AKA Red Astaire favourite "Take It Personally". The wonderfully dusty, smoky and life-affirming hip-hop-soul cut first appeared as a Swedish only CD single in 2001, before later being included on the Stockholm stalwart's 2006 debut album "Soul Search". This time round, the inspired original - all head-nodding beats, sumptuous strings and sugary-sweet vocals from guest Desmond Foster - comes accompanied by a previously unreleased instrumental take. This vocal-free version is superb, offering listeners a chance to wallow in the quality of the Swedish veteran's bumpin' beats and intoxicating, head-in-the-clouds production. In the record box of Danny Krivit,DJ Spinna, Kid Koala and more! Only 300 hand-numbered copies and strictly no repress. Juno copies come exclusively in additional hand stamped kraft paper inner sleeve and branded card outer sleeve. Don't sleep !
Let Me Put It In Your Ear (previously unreleased) (2:49)
In My Life (previously unreleased) (3:56)
Review: Two never-before-released cuts from ill-fated Indianapolis troupe who looked set for the big time but moved to LA and consequently got shelved. 1978's loss is 2018's gain, however, as we're treated to two of their shelved gems right here. "Let Me Put It In Your Ear" is a belting falsetto soul slammer articulated with real urgency while "In My Life" is much more of a smouldering affair that builds up into an emphatic soul crescendo. Put it in your collection.
Review: We've had less than two years to recover from the unearthing of Hidden Stash by Athens Of The North when along comes Family Groove with the promise of another lost album from the debauched Chicago funk crew Rasputin's Stash. Entitled Stash it's due in April and the hype starts here with these two beautiful soul funk adventures. "Make Up Your Mind" rides on a sleazy fuzzy groove and peppy horns while "You Are My Everything" hits more of a classic triumphant horn and harmony led vibe not dissimilar to "I See Your Face" on their second album. April can't come soon enough.
Review: Following the excellent excavation of the Miami band's unreleased album Best Kept Secret, AOTN's Fryer treats us to his two favourite cuts on a 500-only never-to-be-repressed 45. Seeped in powerful vocal harmonies, "Let Go" is rare groove gold with smooth sax and a dynamic that keeps on surprising while "Will You Be There" is an end of night soul shakedown with a tenderness that's tangible in every element. Don't sleep on this... Or the album. One of AOTN's most exciting releases this year.
Review: Since Nick The Record has one of the deepest collections going, it's little surprise that his ongoing Record Mission series has delivered some killer re-edits of ridiculously obscure gems. For this third 12", he once again joins forces with Idjut Boy Dan Tyler to rework a trio of gospel-tinged cuts from the late '70s/early '80s. Arguably most impressive is A-side "Highway To Heathen", a gradually rising, off-piste, boogie-era disco jam blessed with killer talkbox vocals. On the flip you'll find the more straight-forward gospel sing-along of "For Heathen's Sake", and "he Touched Me", a slower, more soulful gospel excursion that benefits greatly from lashings of Tyler's trademark space echo and tape delay.
Review: Tramp Records' latest vital reissue delves into the back catalogue of the Reggie Saddler Revue, a largely little known funk combo that released a handful of 45s at the start of the 1970s. This double A-side brings together two killer cuts that originally appeared on different 7" singles, both of which are now near impossible to find. A-side "Raggedy Bag" is raw, weighty and impassioned - a scorching slab of deep funk that more than lives up to its high reputation amongst collectors. Over on the flip you'll find "Love Is Just Like A Baseball Game", a sweeter and more loved-up affair blessed with superb vocal harmonies that's nevertheless impressively fuzzy.
Review: Marta Ren has made us wait for a follow-up to her superb 2016 debut album "Stop, Look, Listen". The good news is that a belated sequel is in the works, with this limited seven-inch single offering a first taster of the studio sessions. "Worth It" was certainly worth the wait (sorry). Based around a lolloping deep funk groove rich in heavy bass, hip-hop style drum breaks, crunchy guitars and rising horns, the track sounds like a long lost original 1960s recording rather than something made earlier this year. That's no criticism, though, because Ren's powerful, forthright vocals - available on the killer A-side version - suit that kind of fuzzy, retro-futurist production. Don't sleep on this one - it's one of the strongest soul records of the month without doubt.
Review: Through his solo releases and work with Leon Ware, Richard Evans and Skip Scarborough, Rockie Robbins became one of American soul's most celebrated artists and producers in the early 1980s. This year's he's set to release his first album of note since 1985, with these two cuts offering a taste of what's to come. Interestingly, "Good Life" sounds a little like it could have been written and produced in the 1980s, even if the mixing, mastering and lilt in Robbins' voice reflect its contemporary status. Either way, it's warm, positive and comes blessed with a wonderfully strong chorus. "Let's Groove", meanwhile, is a little deeper and more loved-up, perfectly reflecting that side of Robbins' 1980s output.
Review: Alanna Royale has been active in the funk and soul scene for quite a few years now, though her releases have previously been limited to a handful of self-released EPs and a sole album (recorded live and thrown out to raise funds for Puerto Rico hurricane survivors). Here she debuts on Transistor Sound, with Kelly Finnigan of label owners Monophonics handling production duties. "Go" is a great chunk of fuzzy, retro-futurist soul, with Royale's superb Alice Russell style vocal simply soaring above a bustling backing track rich in parping horns, skittish drum breaks and razor-sharp funk guitars. Royale remains in fine form on flipside "I Know", another distorted stomper of the sort that should excite both Northern Soul diehards and modern soul aficionados.
Review: Two years on from the release of his critically acclaimed "Wallflower" album on Ninja Tune, Jordan Rakei returns with his most eagerly awaited set to date. Happily, it doesn't disappoint. Beginning with the electronic soul-pop brilliance of "Mad World", Rakei effortlessly flits between synth-laden hip-hop-soul ("Say Something"), slinky downtempo songs ("Mind's Eye"), 21st century disco-boogie anthems ("Rolling Into One"), slow-burn musical fusions (the military drums, Juju guitars and heartfelt vocals of "Oasis") and the kind of sumptuous, sun-kissed fare that defies easy categorization. With Rakei's sultry vocals taking centre stage throughout, "Origin" is a sparkling set that just gets better with every listen.
Review: Jordan Rakei's brilliant debut album, Cloak, made such an impact that the multi-talented New Zealander now finds himself signed to one of the world's most successful independent labels, Ninja Tune. The move into the big leagues seems to have inspired the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer to up his game, because Wallflower is arguably even better than his debut. Rakei has taken a more widescreen approach, largely ditching the trusty MPC in favour of live drums, bass, guitars, pianos and, on a couple of stand-out cuts, what sounds like a string quartet. As a result, his usually woozy and sun-kissed songs sound even warmer and sunnier, with the Rakei's impeccable vocals coming gift-wrapped in classic musicality. In other words, it's a bit good.