Review: Dave Lee's annual round-up of 'essential' cuts from the catalogue of his Z Records imprint is always worth picking up, and this year's edition is no different. Packed with high-grade disco, deep house and what would once have been called 'US garage' (that's soulful house, kids), it's a near faultless selection that will keep you in peak-time anthems for months to come. Our picks of an extremely strong bunch include the electric piano-heavy, downlow disco-funk bounce of 'In Your Blood' (a rare collaboration between Lee, Darcus and Roland Wrightangle), Sean McCabe's lusciously warm and groovy take on Matty, Monique and Monique Bingham's 'Now What', Andres' loopy, boogie-tinged deep house version of Joey Negro and Sacha Williamson's 'I Recognise', and Backroom Productions' recently reissued rework of their own 'The Rhythm' (as The Power).
Review: The ever-reliable Mathmos returns with five typically high-calibre disco cuts. First up is 'Addio Ragazzo Ciao', which is laidback, lounge-y and summery, with an Italian vocal and an overall late 70s vibe. That's followed by 'Ragazza Dub', which tones down the lounge/pop elements and brings the bass to the fore, while elsewhere 'Feel It' reworks The Jones Girls' 'Nights Over Egypt', 'You And Me' is redolent of mid-70s barrio funk outta Spanish Harlem, while 'Where Is The Party' is another more funk-oriented workout with a little added Madhouse-style wonk. Whether these are best regarded as re-edits or simply as sample-heavy productions may be in doubt - their sheer danceability is not.
Review: A slightly confusing release this, because these appear to be remixes of a track that's never actually been released in its original form. With no social media presence whatsoever, we'll also assume Risque Connection is another new alias for Mr Lee himself, the name presumably a nod to reggae producer Joe Isaacs' late 70s disco covers outfit Risco Connection. As for the record itself... well, you know Norma Jean Wright's 1978 original, and you probably know Lee's 2000 take with Taka Boom and East 57th Street's 1997 version with Donna Allen as well! No big surprises here, then, but with Gray and Lee at the helm you can't really go wrong, can you?
Review: A new release from Dave Mathmos is always something that pricks up this reviewer's ears and this latest four-track offering is no exception. 'You Are The Best' kicks things off, opening in dusty, looping territory before blossoming into a richly produced, sunshine-friendly disco-houser. 'Jazz Graveyard' looks largely to 70s jazz-funk for inspiration, while 'Disco Is My Religion' takes us down a more soulful route - think The Sunburst Band, Opolopo, etc. The EP's then completed by 'Make The Story Shorter', which comes on like stomping late 60s soul as viewed through a disco-house prism. Classy stuff all round.
Review: 'In Your Blood' first cropped up on a 'Remixed With Love' release, which implies Roland Wrightangle & Darcus are real people and not just another new alias for the many-hatted Mr Lee, but we can't be entirely certain! Either way, 'In Your Blood' is certainly authentically 70s-sounding whichever of the three mixes you plump for - the raw, looping funk of the Dave Lee In The Music Mix, a slightly deeper/mellower/jazzier rub from Ron Basejam, or the fairly self-explanatory Dave Lee Bloody Dubby mix. Proof, were any required, that the boy from Essex still does it better than most!