Review: Bob Blank is one of New York?s most revered producers of all time. This compilation from Strut, is the very first retrospective on him and his work at his independent studio, Blank Tapes. This was one of NYC's most influential spots during the city's thriving art scene of the mid 70s and 80s. This exclusive compilation even includes the very first track ever recorded at the studio in addition to some hidden gems that have come straight from the studio's vaults.
Review: Wow. Not only have Strut coaxed legendary funk guitarist Dennis Coffey into recording a new album, but he's also linked up with singer Mayer Hawthorne for this cover of Parliament's "All Your Goodies Are Gone". Coffey, best known as one of the original Motown Funk Brother session players and for b-boy funk anthems like "Scorpio" lends his brittle, multi-tracked style perfectly for this cover, as well as album teaser "Miss Millie", which sees him jamming with Milwaukee funk band Kings Go Forth and laying down some incredible drum breaks of their own. Classy stuff from a titan of funky rock.
Review: On the back of his recent surprise studio album for perennial crate diggers Strut, original funk guitarist and Motown house band member Dennis Coffey drops a new single. As you might expect, "Ubiquitous" is a pretty heavyweight jam - all hard-wired funk rock grooves, hectic drumming and, naturally, some seriously full-on guitar trickery. It's got heaps of natural funk, of course, as well as a large dose of caffeine-fuelled anger. For those with funk coursing through their veins, it's essential stuff. One-time cut-and-paste hero turned marketing man Steinski provides the obligatory remix, layering Coffey's white hot guitar playing over some more dubbed-out beats.
Review: After a gap of 10 years, New York's self-proclaimed "tropical gangster" is back with a brand new album, from which this taster single is taken. In typical Kid Creole fashion, "I Do Believe" is a quirky, swinging groover - all oddball lyrics, low-slung walking bass, swishy noises and bouncy pianos. It was produced by New York nu-disco veteran Brennan Green, who provides an epic dub that sounds like it could go on forever. There's also a pair of powerful, clav-happy chuggers from 40 Thieves (check the instrumental in particular) and two 'everything but the kitchen sink' disco smashers from the ever-reliable Faze Action.
Review: Following last year's long overdue 'best of' collection, Ghanaian highlife guitar legend Ebo Taylor returns to Strut with a brand new full-length. Named after a landmark in his hometown, Appia Kwa Bridge features both Tony Allen and Berlin-based band Afrobeat Academy. With Taylor's sweet guitar solos and emotive vocals to the fore, it's a thoroughly enjoyable set. The songs and grooves are traditional enough to impress authentic highlife fans, but suitably new enough to breathe new life into the genre. There are, for example, a couple of great acoustic moments (check, in particular, "Yaa Amponsaah") amongst the celebratory dancefloor jams and high-on-life anthems.
Review: The unstoppable Strut label, usually associated to outstanding reissue anthologies, welcome a surprise package to their catalogue, and boy is this special. Ebo Taylor, one of Ghana's most prolific musicians over the last thirty years, is remixed by none other than Henrik Schwarz, German deep house king and electronic deviant. The track in question is "Ene Nyame Nam A Mensuro", which is transformed by Schwarz into a lively house number complete with Taylor's vocals and plenty of electronic tweaking and processing. The end result is just a straight-up summer jacker. Check!
Review: Well-respected compilation label, Strut, know a thing or two about putting a good collection together. This time however, instead of their typical disco/house excursions, they've explored further into more exotic lands. "Fangnawa Experience" attempts to draw parallels between Gnawa (the sacred music of Morocco and North Africa) and West African Highlife and Afrobeat. Over the course of the six tracks on offer we get feverish, guitar funk of "Noble Tree", bass frenzies "Kelen" and percussion overloads "Dounya" and even blistering space-rock, "Wouarri".
Review: Galaxy were leading lights of the Nigerian funk and Afrobeat scene in the late 70s, delivering nine albums in the years 1976-1983, no fewer than four of which were, somewhat confusingly, simply titled 'Galaxy'. What we have here is a single-track reissue of the closing cut from their 1977 long player of that name, which starts out as a languid, horn-led Afro-jazz jam, then gets progressively more frenetic as it builds into a fast and furious dancefloor workout that'll put even the most dedicated b-boys and jazz dancers to the test.
Review: Still reeling from the Linkwood & Foat self-titled collaborative LP released on Athens Of The North earlier this year, Greg Foat, a versatile mainstay in the UK jazz scene, brings in bandmates Moses Boyd, Art Themen, Clark Tracey and Phil Achille to create Symphonie Pacifique. Ebbing and flowing between ambient soul and liquid jazz in the live and improvised "After The Storm", there's lounge time flamenco in "Pointe Venus" to pastoral acid in "Man Vs Machine". Amid cinematic scores and library music you'll find heavy piano chords in the album's hit "Yonaguni" alongside dedications to the late Duncan Lamont ("Lament For Lamont") and 20th century French painters (Henry Valensi) in the cover art. Magnifique!
Review: Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids are releasing a new album entitled 'Shaman!' via Strut. Ackamoor and The Pyramids formed during the early 1970s as part of Cecil Taylor's Black Music Ensemble, releasing three albums before they disbanded. The album unfolds over four acts with personal musical statements about love and loss, mortality, the afterlife, family and salvation. "When Will I See You Again" is the first single taken from the album and it is one seriously soulful and funky groove that is a great taste of what's to come.
Review: Playgroup founder and all-round DJ guru Trevor Jackson follows up his excellent Metal Dance compilation, which unearthed some seriously mind-blowing '80s post-punk, EBM and industrial grooves, with a special three-track single of some of the highlights - including The Cage's incredible robotic take on T-Connection's disco classic "Do What You Wanna Do", performed with Labelle singer Nona Hendryx on vocals, as well as an outstanding edit of movements of the soundtrack of John Carpenter's '80s classic "Escape From New York". Truly wild and obscure stuff that fits in nicely with the more underground tech sounds out there today.
Review: Contemporary Afrofunk doesn't get more authentic or progressive than this: The Heliocentrics have teamed up with Nigerian legend Orlando Julius to revisit some of his past creations and lay down some of Julius's earliest work that has never been recorded before! The result is a timeless sound that carries all the hallmarks and urgency of the '70s while dynamically reflecting modern dancefloor arrangements and production standards. Peppered with psychedelic twists, raw analogue grit and an infectious funk that can't be denied., this is a proper schooling from two Afrofunk and modern jazz pioneers, old and new.