Review: Almost one year ago exactly, 'international funk barons', Beatnik City introduced us to their first selection of sensitively retouched northern souls gems on the first volume of this occasional series. Now having fully ingested all the goodness contain therein, we're ready for the next helping. There are ten new wonders to get lost in here. Highlights include hearing The Spinners' timeless melodies given a light and breezy Latin makeover on "Disco Shame", BadboE's smokin' breaks rework of a Velvelettes classic on "Breaking Down Motown" and finally Leygo's percussion-lead stomper, "Feels Good".
Review: The first installment of Late Night Tales' After Dark was that rarest of things: a DJ mix that retained a smoky sense of early morning, home listening atmosphere while retaining an open-minded focus on the dancefloor. This follow-up - once again compiled and mixed by Bill Brewster - offers more of the same. Musically it's pleasingly varied, moving from the string-drenched downtempo beauty of Typesun's "Last One Home", to the heady Balearic rock of General Lee, via Justus Kohnke, the soulful post-bruk smoothness of As One, and the sprightly analogue electronics of Emperor Machine's remix of Paqua's "Late Train". There's also a bunch of previously unreleased tunes to enjoy, including killer contributions from the Mang Dynasty (AKA Ray Mang), The Gino Fontaine (Chicken Lips man Andrew Meecham) and - most surprising of all - The Grid and Robert Fripp.
Review: Thanks to his BBC 6Music show, self-styled "complete package" - comic, actor, radio presenter, DJ and stand-up poet - Craig Charles has become the UK's best-known funk and soul enthusiast. It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that his annual Funk & Soul Club compilations are extremely popular. This third collection is every bit as potent as predecessors, featuring as it does a riotous mix of heavy funk, horn-totin' soul revivalism, dancefloor-friendly funk breaks (Skeewiff and Stephen Gray), cheeky brass band workouts (Hot 8 Brass Band's famous cover of "Sexual Healing") and a dash of smooth soul (the effortless Omar). With all bases covered and some killer material, it should be essential listening for all those of a soul and funk persuasion.
Review: Daytoner appeared on many a music lover's radar with album Sunburst Radio back in 2012. Since then he's gone underground, but now re-emerges into daylight with four feel good anthems. The sound of the EP is split right down the middle with "Stevies Stomp" being a raucous re-jig of Wonder's Uptight and "Smokin'" being a more bewitching take on similar 60s soul, whilst there's a rockier 70s sound in the second half. "Keiths Soup Thing" is big beat take on classic Stones and "Like Jumping" is an effervescent slice of jump up, pop-ska at its sunniest.
Review: Despite being presented as the perfect soundtrack for a lazy day at the beach, both previous installments of Beach Diggin' were released in January - not best time for the beach if you're up north. However this time, the in-house mixologists at Heavenly Sweetness, Guts and Mambo, are releasing volume three bang on time for summer. Last time they plowed super-deep and have dug up even more here, coming up with 14 sunkissed rarities including the golden tones of Gene Lawrence's "Feel Like Making Love" and the low down and dirty vintage funk dub-out "Wars In Space" by Brother Resistance. Now, where's the sunblock?
Review: Lee Fields is veteran soul singer and self-proclaimed 'coolest motherfucker to ever sing words into a microphone'. He still belts out raw vintage soul like it was 1966 all over again. Here he teams up with The Mighty Mocambos for two more stonkers - the stop-start heartbreak of the title track and the brassy, funky drummer-tastic jam, "B-Boy Suite In B-Flat Minor".
Review: Most active from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, Patrice Rushen's discography has spanned jazz, R&B, jazz-funk, soul and pop, but it's the jazz-funk/disco fusions she delivered for Elektra Recordings in the late 70s/early 80s that remain her best-loved work. Here, 15 tracks from that period are gathered together, with favourites like the evergreen 'Forget Me Nots' and 'Haven't You Heard' (reworked in the late 90s by Daddy's Favourite) snuggling up alongside less over-played but equally high-quality cuts like the jazz-funk piano groove that is 'Number One' and the ultra-smooth boogie of 'Feels So Real'. Smoochers like 'Where There Is Love' perhaps sound a little less relevant in 2019, but this is still a very classy collection indeed.
Review: Bobby Marin was a leading figure in the 1960s Latin Boogaloo New York movement, producing the likes of Joe Cuba and Eddie Palmieri as well fronting his own Latin Blues Band (as recently sampled by Christina Aguilera). Now, hold on to your hats folks, because, after four years in the making, professional compiler Dean Rudland can proudly present "an explosive collection of (northern) soul, deep funk and Latin jazz tunes from Spanish Harlem" all sourced from Bobby Marin's immaculately tailored back-catalogue. Trust us, it's been worth the wait.
Review: We've not heard from Nuremberg's soul sermoniser, Jayl Funk, all year. He's clearly conscious of the absence of block rockin' Bavarian beats that he's created in the world, and so we have this stopgap jam to keep us dancing. Having traded his wares on labels such as Bombastic Jam, Timewarp and Breakbeat Paradise, Easy Summertime arrives courtesy of Honkey Phonk. The track itself sees him explore his funky breaks leanings, being a three and a half minutes of Gershwin's most covered Summertime, reworked in a perky vintage staccato 60s soul fashion. Obvious but effective.
Review: Back in the mid 1970s, young engineer Terry 'T.K' Kane and Harry Stone joined forces to launch a studio and record distribution business in Miami. It would spawn a huge number of in-house labels, and even greater number of funk and disco releases, and even a string of million-selling artists. Given this legacy, it's little surprise to see Athens of the North paying tribute to the funk side of Henry Stone's impressive legacy with this superb collection. While there are a few tried-and-tested cuts to be found - see the T Connection and Little Beaver cuts - for the most part The Miami Sound focuses on more obscure - but no less hard-hitting - gems from the likes of Jonny K, Stevens & Foster and Leno Philips.
Review: Powerful funk fire from Bristol's serial editors Mako & Mr Bristow as they hit number three in their Stank Soul Edits series. Backed by a strong gospel vibe and raw gutsy female vocals across both sides, it's another sure-fire heater: the soaring sentiments of Ann Peebles command the A with an empowering ode to the allure of love's sweet sensation while the B is dedicated to the stirring prowess of Shirley Brown. Both crafted and beat-licked in M&MB's inimitable floor-warming style, and already galvanised on the airwaves by funk professor Craig Charles, it's another stank showdown that cannot be denied.
Review: Over the past couple of years Shoes has snuck out a small selection of soul-drenched EPs that do a fine job of slicing up hazy, blue-hued fragments and making the most blissfully simple downtempo treats out of them. The mood shifts at an easy pace across Slow Soul Flow EP Vol 2, coming on like a mixtape of instrumental magnificence that gets down low on "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long", only to go even deeper out via the serene flute laden serenade of "West Indian Revelation". Like rocking in a hammock on a balmy summers day, this EP is made up of moments that could quite easily loop on into infinity and leave you completely content.
Review: Every now and then we bestow an unofficial 'outstanding achievements in professional moniker' award. Philly Vanilli are pretty much guaranteed to hold on to this title for a long time to come. "The Sould Groove Experience" is their latest missive for Manolo Brigante's Austrian We Mean Disco! imprint and it's packed with reworked '70s soul gems (eight to be precise). Highlights include the shimmering Fender Rhodes slow jam "Soul Food", the rolling phasered guitar freak out "I Need Da Funk" and the campy Eurodisco effervescence of "To Be In Love".
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: Influenced by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Pete Josef is a singer and instrumentalist known for collaborative work such as The White Lamp with Darren Emerson. Here though, he delivers the solo "Colour EP", which features the organic dream-pop of the title track, the earnest jazzy shuffle of "The Travelling Song" and the Latin-tinged funk strutter "Make It Good". The breathy airiness of "Colour" is also expanded upon within the remarkable synthy vapours of the Glow In The Dark mix.
Review: Last year, Bristol's successful neo funkateers, The Allergies, delivered a strong LP, As We Do Our Thing, on Jalepeno. However rather than rest on their laurels, the pair (aka Moneyshot and Rackabeats) have continued to release new material. "Entitled To That" is their latest non-LP track and it's a blinder! Furious 60s beats stomp ahead with tambourines, claps and raucous female vocals right behind - a super authentic Motown-style jam of Marthe Reeves-proportions. On the digital flipside, "Get Down To You", looks more to the 70s for inspiration, with a tight clavinet and wah-wah guitar-led funk groove that's impossible to resist.
Review: Many will be familiar with Milton Wright's Friends & Buddies album, a much-sampled Miami soul classic that's been in demand since its' release in 1975. Intriguingly, that version of the album was Wright's second version; the first slipped out in limited numbers on promo before the master tapes were destroyed in a fire, forcing the artist to re-record it. This, then, is the first release of Wright's original version, rescued from permanent obscurity by Athens of the North. Notably folksier, looser and breezier than the version we've all come to know and love, Original Friends & Buddies sounds more like Terry Callier than Wright's later output. Happily, he tells the whole story himself in the excellent sleeve notes.
Review: Strut's archival remit remains as international as ever, with their latest compilation squaring the focus on late '70s Hawaii on the delightful Aloha Got Soul: Soul AOR & Disco In Hawai'i 1979-1985. Across the backdrop of societal change on the island (statehood into America in '59 and the Vietnam War) Hawaiian youth found inspiration in the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and later Earth Wind & Fire leading to a truly vibrant scene by the mid-'70s. It's after this where Strut pick up the story, bringing together a glorious 16 track collection that spans the genres and suggests Hawaii to be a most fertile location for music during this era. Do take some time to check the detailed sleeve notes from Aloha Got Soul's Roger Bong which offer further context for the music!
Review: French soul jazz merchant Ludovic Llorca returns for his first album since 2001's well received New Corner LP on F Communications where he was blessed with being the resident jazz act after the departure of St Germain for Blue Note Records. Llorca remained surprisingly quiet ever since but the guy is back with a vengeance on this great album, The Garden. "Wonderwhy" channels the best of Curtis Mayfield's signature sound, the deep ballad "Addiction Days" is backed by a strong strings section for Hayley Hiatt's heart wrenching vocals and lead single "Waiting" will get a spring in your heel much like it did for us when we heard this powerful funk explosion in the office that day!
Review: 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.
Review: Another brace of funk re-edits from Panama's Resense stable, this time coming courtesy of German duo Alex D and Fabio V, better known as Soulbrigada. 'Do Your Thing' reworks the 1971 Isaac Hayes cut of the same name (taken from the 'Shaft' soundtrack), while the accompanying 'Grab Dis Thing' digs back a little further in time and takes on The Mar-Keys' 'Grab This Thing' from 1965, a Stax deep funk jam that comes fully loaded with sizzling Hammonds, mucho sax parpery and just a handful of shouts, whoops n' hollers by way of a vocal. Either/both will do the damage on funk floors without a doubt.
Review: Peppermint Jam have vowed to take their Touch Of Soul compilation series to 25 volumes. This is their fourth installment, compiled by Deepwerk, and there's no sign of the quality slipping. There are 20 tracks in all, each one sticking to the strict 'soulful music' edict. Highlights include the smooth electro-boogie jam, "Dontcha Wanna Dance" by Cool Million feat. Marc Evans, Mousse T's melancholic electro-house rework of "Purple Rain" and the soft focus joy of Iorie's rework to "Freedom Dove" by Autodeep feat. Bajka.