Following BBE's release the Chicago troupe's Devil Made Me Do It earlier this year, Athens Of The North ensure the criminally over-looked/under-paid band continue to remain in the spotlight with an entire album of unreleased material. Recently excavated from a Chicago warehouse, complete with masters, the songs were written and recorded in the mid '70s not long before the band eventually split. If you know their material, you'll already know how funky the band are. If not, dig deep at the soonest opportunity. From the toxic-levels of cosmic funk on "Boogie" to the dreamier, space ballad "Dark Moon", this is the sound of a super-tight, incredibly talented funk band who really should have been up there with Cymande or Average White Band.
Juicy Fruit is a famous early 80s soul jam by Mtume. It is also the title of the forthcoming album by Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak. Lifted from the LP, "Toxic Love Affair", sees the trio revisit the boy/girl dynamics and the luxuriant synths of the Mtume track. Mere copyists Kraak & Smaak are not however, and although evoking the 80s soul era, this track operates on its own merit. The song features a sultry duet between Ivar & Sanguita over an expertly produced, dreamy slice of chrome plated electro soul. Absolutely essential.
Manchester's Gideon Conn is a cult hero due to his geeky leftfield hip-hop poet shtick. Despite often veering dangerously close to being a parody, he won a lot of people over with album Hip Hop Original. Here album track "Crystallised" gets thrust forward as a potential hit single, and with his quirky, affected vocals, light Banghra beats and soothing chorus sung by Yvette Riby Williams, it might just become one. Paper Tiger thankfully decides to concentrate the songwriting elements of the original, turning in a seductive slice of neo soul in the process.
An obscure Canadian/Haitian pianist, Henri-Pierre Noel has seen see his long forgotten albums introduced to many new fans due to a reissue campaign by The Wah Wah 45s label. One More Step was his second LP, originally dating from about 1982. It was re-released a couple of years ago, but now it returns in a deluxe edition format. Our favourites, schmaltzy ballad "Will Come A Day", the frenetic Afro rhythms of "Roller Skate Rhapsody" and the accelerated Eurodisco gem "Funky Spider Dance" are all present and correct, but now there are two lively remixes by French producer The Reflex too!