Review: For their latest trip into "in-demand collector cuts" territory, Edinburgh's Athens of the North shines a light on the work of obscure Miami artist Aaron Broomfield. "I'm Gonna Miss You" originally appeared on Mountain Records in 1981 and has become something of a sought-after record in recent years. It's a brilliant chunk of rubbery Miami synth-funk rich in mazy synthesizer solos, elastic slap bass and the urgent hustle of P-funk. Then you'll find the cosmic soul bump of "Does Anybody Really Know", which appears to a previously unreleased vocal workout featuring some deliciously fuzzy electric guitar solos.
Review: Original pressings have been previously spotted passing hands for well over L1000: Big Apple Band's 1976 deep funk classic has been rarer than hen's teeth for most of its 41 year life. Its sought-after status accelerated by Keb Darge for last 15 or so years - that and the fact it's an out-and-out soul-stirring, honey-vocalled, low and slow funk burner - AOTN have finally unleashed it in it full length for all of us. And we should all be eternally grateful.
Review: In the sales notes accompanying this latest slice of EP gold from Athens of the North, boss man Euan Fryer admits that he spent a good "four or five years" trying to locate an original copy of "Time For Change" before finally tracking down original singer Benita. She was more than happy for him to reissue the record, which is one of the most inspired and well-made disco-soul records you're ever likely to hear (how it remained a lost classic, we'll never know). Benita's lyrics and vocals are superb, the horns are punchy, and "Hot Mix" contains one of the best slap-bass solos you'll ever hear. In a word: essential.
Review: North Carolina's Brief Encounter were one of the bands to define the 70's US soul sound but, unlike many of their peers, the group remained in the sights of crate diggers and specialists, straying away from significant commercial success. This particular single, for instance, wasn't even released officially and has remained the stuff of legends until now, so it's thanks to the reliable Athens Of The North that we're able to give it a spin on our turntables. Put simply, "Where Will I Go" and "Always" are two unmissable soul ballads that are simply impossible not to appreciate and get excited by - they encapsulate a particular note of optimism and romance that represented the 1970s in America, taking us on a journey into the past. Don't miss it!
Review: Brief Encounter were a nine-piece band from North Carolina who made their debut with 1977's 'Introducing' album. 'We Want To Play' followed on Music Town Records in 1981, original copies of which will set you back north of ?300... luckily, those democratising dons of the reissue Athens Of The North are on hand to bring you the same album for a fraction of the price! While not lacking in standout cuts - see the title track or 'Open Up Your Heart', for starters - it's an album that's perhaps most interesting as a musical snaphot of a time when 70s disco and soul was inexorably mutating into 80s boogie and electrofunk.
Review: The Broomfield family troupe - led by Aaron Broomfield - laid down a sweet series of rare groove 45s during the late 70s, this Keb Darge-championed 45" from 79 (originally on Taurus) being one of the most popular. With its high energy, slick keys and sparkling percussion "Stop" sits slap in the middle of disco and boogie while "Doin' It Our Way" hits with much more of a jazz funk feel with bold harmonies hitting hard on the chorus. Previously spotted passing for L400 - it's another expert democratisation by AOTN.
Review: Edinburgh's Athens Of The North are back with more reliable edit action by some undisputed groove experts. First up we have Milan based duo Dirty Channels of Hot Creations and Crosstown Rebels fame, who team up with Berlin based rising star Danny Russell on the familiar soul funk of "Watchin' Out". It works a relentless groove before dropping into a hook that you'll be hearing a lot of this Summer.
Next up is Ken Frazelle with his one and only tune from back in '82 - "Today Is The Day". It gets a re-rub by local legend Linkwood of Firecracker fame which works that properly lo-slung boogie-down vibe to the max.
Review: Massive boogie joint from 1982, Frazelle's "Today Is The Day" packs the same punch it did 35 years ago; stomping beats, salubrious guitars, widescreen production and gutsy vocals from Ken Frazelle himself. Powerful in the lyrical, technical and party dynamics this is a huge dancefloor record... This reissue is long overdue. You know what to do.
Review: Little is known about Friction Band's hyper-rare 45" besides the fact it's a brilliant example of outsider, slightly experimental style of modern soul, it's passed hands for strong triple figures in recent years and it's just been injected with a whole new lease of life by Fryer. "Watchin' You" is a footloose boogie jam with unabashed use of freeform keys while "To The Sky" flips for a softer, more sentimental soul affair that's fringed by just the right amount of dreamy cosmicity. Another precision find by AOTN.
Review: One of 2016's finest funk stories was, without question, when AOTN suddenly dropped this incredible unreleased album by criminally slept-on Jacksonville troupe Fruit. A stunning piece of work, even by Fryer's standards it was a coup-de-grace. Now two of the album's finest, funkiest, sweatiest jams are available on limited 45. Instant floor burners, just like the rest of the album, before the tracks are over you'll feel you and your floor have known them forever.
Review: Athens Of The North are crate diggers extraordinaire, but here they have really outdone themselves. An obscure Floridian disco/funk act from the late 70s, Fruit barely even registered on the music world at the time. Only their solitary 1978 single "Say It" ever got released and it was only years later that rare as hens teeth copies of it became collector's items. AOTN however, went further though, contacting Cypress Studios and unearthing a whole unreleased album by this forgotten band. Now for the first time ever they present this sizzling ten track trawl through distinctly southern-tinged boogie funk and soul.
If You Feel It, Say Yeah (Unreleased full version) - (6:45) 120 BPM
Say It - (4:20) 128 BPM
Review: Fruit's delicious disco flavours keep blossoming. It started with an unearthed and unreleased album that finally saw the light of day after almost 40 years this spring. Now on this one, we return to their only big single of the time (and most well known) "If You Feel It Say Yeah" but with a previously unreleased 12" that's been extended in all the right places. The evergreen B-side "Say It" plays the perfect foil with its ballroom disco soul dynamic. Apparently there's another unearthed single to come too. Tasty.
Review: Here's something of a surprise from the normally funk and soul-centric Athens of the North label: a "heavy salsa" digital 7" featuring two killer cuts from contemporary outfit Grupo Magnetico. It's a taster for their forthcoming debut album; if these two straight-to-tape cuts are anything to go by, that set will be well worth picking up. Both tracks sound like they could have been recorded by Colombian musicians in New York during the heyday of Boogaloo, with A-side "Vampiras" - a typically undulating salsa groove which is enlivened by group male vocals and heavy horns - just edging out the gentler but punchier "Hermanos Latinos" in the "standout" stakes.
Review: Hampshire & Foat project is comprised of Greg & Warren. They are influenced heavily by not just Jazz, but the library sound of the '60s and '70s, along with film soundtracks from the same golden era. They are avid collectors of this music and this constant search sends them down new musical pathways - often sparking a whole new concept for projects. This collection of library tracks has been a much talked about project that was a long time coming, according to Edinburgh's Athens Of The North - and it was sure worth the wait! Highlights include the folky balearica of "Antonio's Theme" or "Coastal Drive" and pretty much any mix of the dreamy and mysterious "Nightshade".
Review: Multi talented UK Jazz Pianist Greg Foat has teamed up with Mercury Award nominated multi instrumentalist Warren Hampshire to collaborate on a new LP drawing on their diverse musical influences. Classic British library music, 60s Italian soundtracks and lost Americana combined with touches of modern classical, minimalism, jazz and folk. Featuring many members of Greg and Warren's previous bands and one of the U.Ks finest Jazz drummers in Clark Tracy. The LP also features an Edinburgh orchestra and soloists who were hand picked and scored Foat and Hampshire themselves.
Review: or their latest dive into the depths of funk history, Athens of the North travels back to 1978 and the debut of John Hawes and Velma Bunch's obscure Hard Drivers project. The record initially appeared on Hawes' own short-lived imprint, and his since become a sought after 7" amongst serious collectors. "Since I Was A Little Girl" is a disco-era funk gem, with guest singer Vivian Lee providing a brilliantly confident vocal to compliment Hawes and Bunch's driving, horn-heavy backing track. You'll then find original B-side "Straight Talk", a touching torch song full of harmony backing vocals, impassioned builds, and lyrics capable of melting even the stoniest of hearts.
Review: A regular triple-figure fetch on the auction sites, it was only a matter of time before Henry Thomas & Rise's beautiful 80s soul doublet experienced the strong-armed justice of Fryer. Not just reissued but sourced and tracked down - this is just the start of what will hopefully be a whole load of criminally slept on and unreleased soul from Henry and his troupe. "My Dreams Are Clouded" is a verified club banger with its FM synth ripples and low-down bass bumps while "Don't Wait Too Long" is the ultimate come home record. Slinky, swooning and soaked in raw dollops of emotion - Henry Thomas is, once again, on the rise.
Review: The Athens of the North label is a blessing for those whose tastes in soul, funk, disco and boogie tend towards the obscure and ludicrously hard-to-find. Their latest re-issue fits into both categories. Seemingly the only single they ever released, "Confrontation" came out in 1981 on Arista but copies have since proved incredibly hard to find; so hard, in fact, that original 7" singles now change hands online for nearly L300. The title track, produced by A Taste of Honey's Perry Kibble, is brilliant, though, delivering a soulful, heartfelt disco-funk jam full of smooth backing vocals, bubbling clavinet lines and deliciously righteous horns.
Review: Previously spotted passing hands for over L5000, this one-off 45" from North Carolina troupe Ice has enjoyed cult status over the years in both the deepfunk and northern soul scenes. Straight from 1980, there's a great balance of classic soul motifs and modern production as "Reality" swoons and sways unhurriedly but emphatically while "Hey Hey" ups the boogie ante with firm focus on the party, sharp switches on the chorus and some insane bass runs. Another ice cold reissue from AOTN.
Review: The second of two AOTN Infinity EPs, AOTN dish out another superb reissue from the late 70s US seven-piece. Serious funk soul once again; "Party Man" lives up to its name with a thumping groove, slinky slap bass licks and big call and response vocals. Instant feels. "Put Everything In Place" is a little more restrained but still very much party minded with its absurdly lavish bass walks, jaunty piano and delicious Faze-O style falsettos. To Infinity and beyond!
Review: The first of two major Infinity licences from AOTN, this is a significant excavation even by renowned digger label founder Fryer's standards. Usually seen passing hands for well over L500, this second and last single from the relatively unknown troupe Infinity is a stone cold jam that's been sought after for many many years. Absolute rare groove sleaze on the bass and horns, "Queen Of My Universe" sparkles with soul in every element. Meanwhile "Up" strips things back even further with an uptempo disco twang and tight Q&A vocal play between the band. Infinite love for this one!
Review: The Athens Of The North label always unearths impressively rare vintage audio finds. Here is no different with the US trio, JOB (James Davis, Ollie Carbin and Billy Bruner) caught live at the height of their powers on Saturday, August 20th, 1977. Having formed after their graduation that same year, this band were so funky that they were quickly offered a 'house band' stint at North Tulsa's most popular after hours spot, The Point After. Whilst they played there many greats came to see them in action. One listen to the blisteringly authentic funk on here and you'll understand why.