Review: If we're counting correctly this is album number nine from Speedometer in a recording career that stretches back 20 years. As such, if you have any interest at all in 'new old' funk and soul sounds you should know pretty much what to expect, so it's the cuts where they flip the script that are most notable. There's a distinct African slant to the cinematic 'Edge Of Fear', but it's 'Kashmir', a sitar-infused jaunt into psychedelic pastures, that's the standout. Elsewhere the UK veterans run the gamut from soulful acid jazz anthem-in-waiting 'Let's Start A Movement' to the raunchy, wigged-out Hammond jam that is 'Mo' Crunch'.
Review: Freestyle's series of genre-themed download bundles continues, with June's 'Afro & Latin!' and September's 'Funk!' comps now joined by this 40-track collection of soul and disco nuggets from the label's back catalogue. The set kicks off with a bona fide classic in the form of Omar's 'There's Nothing Like This', after which come 39 more cuts from the likes of Carleen Anderson, Kyle Audist and The Fantastics (not to mention, in featured vocalist form, Jocelyn Brown and Caron Wheeler). The title's something of a misnomer - the emphasis is firmly on 'new old' soul, future R&B and neo-soul rather than disco - but there's much to enjoy here all the same.
Review: Melbourne-based Kiwi Lance Ferguson is a jack of all trades really: producer, songwriter, guitarist, radio broadcaster, DJ and recording artist. His latest offering entitled Raregroove Spectrum is a collection of newly recorded versions of classic funk, soul, jazz and latin vinyl rarities. It features some of Melbourne's finest musicians across the album, including past and present members of local acts The Bamboos, The Putbacks and Hiatus Kaiyote. Ferguson explains that some of these versions can almost be looked at as re-edits: extending/teasing out the elements in a song to make them work on the dancefloor - except he went the extra step and re-recorded them with a live band.
Review: Multifaceted, multitalented Lance Ferguson fires up the "Rare Grove Spectrum" machine ahead of his new album next year. As always with the man behind Aussie groove troopers The Bamboos, the deep funk message is plain, simple and devilishly moreish; "Egg Roll" plays the consummate lead with its flavoursome swing horns and big riff that builds up with guitar and organ refrains while "The Dump" fixes our focus more on the guitars as a big crystal clear riff takes the lead plays a cool toe-to-toe with the trumpet. Watch out for that crisp break on the breakdown too. Bring on the album!
Review: It's been over four years since The Bamboos' Lance Ferguson and decorated Australian jazz pianist Mark Fitzgibbon last blessed the world with extended Menagerie players such as They Shall Inherit and Shapes Have Passed, but the wait has been worth it. As teased by last year's single, The Arrow Of Time is a dramatic jazz odyssey. "Evolution" sets the tone with theatrical dynamics and powerful gospel backing vocals while both "The Arrow Of Time" and "Escape Velocity" ramp up the intensity with turbulent rhythm changes and insistent horn narratives. "Spiral" and "Nova" flip for a hazier contrast where Fitzgibbon's keymanship and fingerwork beckon us into a modal wonderland. Time flies...
Review: This is the debut album from little known funk outfit The Andy Tolman Cartel, it soulfully screams 70's style in every note. The first track that really stood out for us was 'Move Over' featuring Jo Harmen, with its bright jazzy sax, which is almost conversational with the singing. Followed by 'Cypher' which is supremely groovy, the bass is played so delicately but still remains clear amongst the horns, pianos and galaxy of vintage shooting stars and lasers. Another standout track for us in 'Claret and Blues', and ending the album on a high is the far out 'You Want' with Scooby Doo style monster chase of a break down, so much fun. If you want to experience the sounds of 70's, this album is for you and it's a lot cheaper than a time machine.
Review: Two stone cold legends on one unforgettable 45": Courtney and Omar build on their recent Black Notes From The Deep live collaborations with a stunning original and killer cover. "Rules" is a funk-based track that jumps and sizzles with a fresh contemporary energy that you might not expect from either party while "Butterfly" pays a very special homage to another stone cold legend Herbie Hancock. A beautiful release. You might say there's nothing like it.
Review: Omar has been riding the UK soul train for as long as our charts have been pumping and, the thing is, our boy hasn't put in a dud release to his name. Granted, it's not the sort of house and garage that will please everyone out there, buts it's certainly the creme de la creme of the genre. He's back on Freestyle with this magnificent EP in the company of the mighty Leon Ware, and the duo out in a sublime performance that oozes soul from every angle, a smooth and sexy episode backed by remixes from DJ Jazzy Jeff and Rob Hardt. The Reflex's remix of "Vickys Tune" is a masterful little slice of summer-friendly house music, but Maurice Brown's vocals help to to make "Brainstorm" into a dope hip-hop tune with a little Dilla magic at the core of it. Very nice gear.
Review: The Andy Tolman Cartel captures the spirit and musical excitement of TV and film soundtracks from the 60s and 70s (think Lalo Schiffrin or Alan Hawkshaw) with a collection of epic tunes, composed, arranged and recorded for Big Band by bass player, composer and bon viveur, Andy Tolman and produced by the projects drummer, Nick Van Gelder. As a taster of sounds encompassed within their forthcoming full length album, there's a cover version of Janis Joplin's "Move Over" (with award winning singer Jo Harman on vocal duties) that is absolutely stunning. The second offering, album title track "Cypher" is a right epic and is reminiscent of golden oldies such as "Theme From Shaft".
Review: Brian Auger, is the most famous musician you've never heard of. The Londoner has been sampled by Mos Def, Common and Air. Last year's first instalment of this anthology gained a large, new audience for Auger, with tours and media appearances aplenty. Now Volume 2 collects remastered classics from his 50-year career, but also rare and previously unreleased material. Highlights include sizzling jazz piano tracks ("Poinciana", "Work Song"), rare Hammond organ/big band versions of jazz standards as well as appearances by the likes of Julie Driscoll, Mike Clark and Paul Jackson (Headhunters) and Alex Ligertwood (Oblivion Express). Breathtaking.
Review: Long-term fans of Aussie soul singer Kylie Auldist should look to the cover of her new Family Tree LP for pre-warning of the new direction contained within. The angled and exaggerated first name recalls 80s records by her fellow countrywoman, Miss Minogue. However although Auldist has not gone the full SAW, she has fully embraced the DX7-heavy digital soul pop of that same era. There are 11 tracks here of fun and frothy synth-soul including the punchy title track, the smooth Jam & Lewis grooves of "No Change" and the slow RnB electro grind of "Warming Up The Sun".
Review: How much do you know about veteran UK soul singer Omar? For example did you know his surname is Lye-Fook? Perhaps there was a reason why he stuck to just his first name. Now "I Want It To Be" arrives as a teaser from new LP, Love In Beats. If you can imagine exotic, tropical syncopation set to Omar's warm tones, then you're almost there. Elsewhere "Destiny" lays on the bass and cowbells and "Sissy Pa Sissy" is surreal futuristic funk. Omar's brother Scratch Professor also appears to deliver a cut up leftfield rework of the title track.
Review: Kylie Auldist is a heavyweight Aussie soul singer whose powerful lungs have graced many a hit over the years. Now, with the help of Lance Ferguson and Graeme Pogson, she's recorded a solo album, Family Tree, and this here EP features a selection of tracks from it. Gone is the raw funk vibes of old with Auldist opting for a bright and synthetic mid-'80s pop-soul sound instead. It largely works too with the Donna Allen-esque "Sensational", the chrome and carpet grooves of "Family Tree" and the late-'70s US funk style of "Rewards" as standouts.
Review: Ever since they recruited powerhouse vocalist 'Mighty" May Johnston for some tracks on second album, Look Out, Watch Out, back in 2011, this raw and retro Aussie soul band have been slowly building up to this, their first proper album with Johnston at the helm. "Come Alive!" certainly does just that, boasting ten effervescent '60s / '70s indebted gems that don't mess about. We've been recently introduced to two tracks here ("Done Me Wrong", "Souls Come Alive") via a teaser single and boy, have they set the tone for this accomplished record by a group at their musical peak. Bravo.
Review: Aussie retro-soul outfit Deep Street Soul introduced us to new vocalist 'Mighty" May Johnston on their second album back in 2011. Now they've finally finished the follow-up and we can expect album No 3 very shortly. Here they offer a two-track sampler to get us in the mood. That it does too in a big way with "Souls Come Alive" channeling the vibes of the late, great Janis Joplin on this bluesy soul ballad. The other teaser here is the stomping "Done Me Wrong", which features a slick beat shuffle, sassy brass and the most gritty, powerful roar in music today!
Happiness Is Just Around The Bend - (6:54) 134 BPM
Straight Ahead - (6:26) 96 BPM
Bumpin'AA On Sunset - (11:25) 86 BPM
Inner City Blues - (6:08) 93 BPM
Whenever You'AAre Ready - (7:48) 152 BPM
Truth - (7:53) 80 BPM
Don'AAt Look Away, Look Around - (8:23) 100 BPM
Second Wind - (5:08) 82 BPM
I Love You More Than You All Ever Know - (7:30) 141 BPM
Future Pilot - (7:27) 142 BPM
Compared To What - (11:55) 153 BPM
Brain Damage - (8:02) 95 BPM
Review: Originally a big jazz pianist, Brian Auger switched his attention to the Hammond Organ in 1965 creating a revolutionary jazz-fusion sound in the process. Here they are recently captured live running through material from their 40-year career, and sung by esteemed vocalist Alex Ligertwood.
Review: Freestyle might be a label that puts out high-grade rare shizzle, but it's also a label that likes to tease. The sampler for this fine third installment of the Black Feeling series came out what seems like years ago (ok, it was August, but still). Anyway the wait is finally over and here we now have all 12 rare deep cuts for our listening pleasure. Some of the many highlights include the foxy 70s flute and guitar duel "The Bump", the hazy, retro funk cloudsurfer "Rotation" and the frisky piano jam "Buckingham Palace".
Review: Freestyle is a label that always goes that extra mile. The previous two installments of the Black Feeling series featured a glut of uber-rarities 'culled from their musical explorations around the globe'. A lot of music featured on the albums was sourced from unreleased master tapes, private-press vinyl recordings and tiny, forgotten local releases. There's a similar wealth of rare talent on their forthcoming third installment and here's a two-track teaser, with the dizzying piano cascade "Futebal De Bar" and the rolling 70s funky back beat of "Latin Strut".
Review: Freestyle mainstays Speedometer are back... And they're brandishing a brand new album. "No Turning Back" is the lead title track. Featuring velvet vocals and sharp scat spits from James Junior, it's a soft-but-stern statement of intent that drags us in gradually and refuses to let us go once we're hooked. Those hungry for Speedometer's more upbeat party feels, flip for "Orisha's Party" where the groove is so tight and fizzy you can't but think of MJ's "Wanna Be Startin' Something". For good measure, The Reflex has also joined the party with a luxurious extended house shakedown that's primed for the season and beyond.
Review: African Party, the single album released by 'Ginger' Foloruso Johnson and his African Messengers band, has long been considered something of a hard-to-find classic. Originally released in 1967, the energetic and effervescent set here gets a deserved re-issue on Freestyle. Musically, it's something of a melting pot, sitting somewhere between Afro-Cuban fusion, Afrobeat, funk and jazz-dance - all dense, intense rhythms, spiraling horns, fluttering flute lines and high-octane thrills. Certainly, it's a thoroughly entertaining set, packed full of highlights. These include the sharp sax lines, Afrobeat bass and rolling grooves of "A You Momma", and "Hi Life", whose wild trumpets and saxophones offer the perfect foil for the cacophonous drums.
Review: With a backbone of African rhythms interwoven with hi-life and jazz, Ginger Johnson's music is considered by many a geek to be the main forerunner of Afrobeat (it's certainly true that he directly influenced the great Fela Kuti himself). Arriving in London from Nigeria during the 1940s, Johnson became a 'go to' percussionist in the UK, playing everywhere from Ronnie Scott's to the Stones's 1969 Hyde Park show and was instrumental in the initial organizing of the Notting Hill Carnival. Here, we have two examples of the style he pioneered and are essential listening for music lovers everywhere.