Review: St Albans-based Hansi serves up four more covers on this latest addition to the long-running 'Funky Grooves' series on his own Viking Grooves. 'Changes' gets the ball rolling, rendering Black Sabbath's classic heartbreak ballad in a tortured, southern soul style - it's almost like Otis's revenge for the Black Crowes! The other choices of cover on the EP are perhaps less surprising - Timmy Thomas's 'Why Can't We Live Together', Run DMC's 'Peter Piper' and The Jimmy Castor Bunch's 'It's Just Begun' - but in all cases Hansi puts his own distinctive spin on the original, making for an EP with more than its fair share of attention-grabbers.
Review: Remember that tape/DJ mix/playlist you made - the one where you cobbled together all your most sensual and seductive tracks, to put on when you finally got That Special Someone back to yours? I bet you even called it 'Lights Down Low' or 'The Passion Parlour' or something, didn't you? Yes you did. Well, that's basically what this latest 'Katakana Edits' EP sounds like, as El Paso reworks two soul grooves from days gone by. 'Sociedad' (origin unknown) is a bit Latin-y, while the Joe Bataan-biting 'Cali Woman' is (oddly, given the source) less Latin-y, but with a bit of luck no one's REALLY listening anyway...
Review: Isle Of Jura's latest must-have reissue isn't a slept-on Balearic gem, but rather a turn-of-the-'80s disco-boogie classic from sadly departed Nigerian musician Harry Mosco. Many may know the breezy Afro/disco/funk fusion of opener "Sexy Dancer" and the hazy disco-funk genius of "Step On" (both have been reissued in the past), yet it's the lesser-known cuts - particularly the lolloping, Clavinet-heavy dub disco of "Peace & Harmony", spaced-out "Peaceful Dub" and sumptuous jazz-funk slow jam "Do It Together" - that really set the pulse racing. The reissue sounds superb, too, thanks to a killer re-mastering job, so it's no stretch to suggest that it's worth picking this version up rather than tracking down an original pressing.
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: 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: 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: Strictly soul covers featuring interpretations of Grover Washington Jr., Midnight Star, Meli'sa Morgan, Simply Red and more! Athens Of The North prove themselves once again to be tastemakers in the esoterics of breathing fresh life into lost, forgotten or fandangled genres of yesteryear. Get your informed and loving dub jams from Sylvia Tella in "You Might Need Somebody", Carl Johnson's "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" and Chosen Few's "Don't Keep Me Waiting". Further in you'll find some slow jam retro funk by Toyin Adekale ("Smile"), some classic R&B by Fallon Jennings ("All Night Long") next to Trevor Walters's all-time "Blood's Thicker Than Water", Derrick Cross' reggae-yacht rock number "Never Too Much" and Valerie Harrison's '90s funk hit, "Fools Paradise". Gold!
Review: Following from Nightmares On Wax's Imagineering single the legendary Warp artist follows suit with Wonder, a two track trip diving through soundsystem filter funk and crestfallen electro-jazz. Featuring the golden vocals of Haile Supreme across both tracks, "Own Me" sees the artist's voice morph between half Ol' Dirty Bastard Wu-Tang sample & half cosmic soul train instrument. Backed by heavily dubbed-out beats, peaking filter switches and dope horns, Nightmares On Wax looks to textural love ballads in "Wonder", also featuring Haile Supreme and British jazz saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings in effect. New school jazz meets future pop.
Review: Veteran British downtempo producer George Evelyn aka Nightmares On Wax presents his ninth studio album on the esteemed Warp Records. Featuring 15 new tracks, on Shout Out! To Freedom...' Evelyn encouraged all the guest artists to 'make music inspired by what freedom means to them'. Some of the highlights include the evocative Balearic beats of "3D Warrior" (feat Shabaka Hutchings & Haile Supreme & Wolfgang Haffner), the dope urban swagger of "Wikid Satellites" featuring neo-soul artist Greentea Peng, and the jazzy sunset feels of "Isolated" (feat Pip Millett & Sabrina Mahfouz).
Review: Plunky J Branch and his band Oneness Of Juju have been plying their unique blend of jazz, funk and soul with Afro and Cuban rhythms since time, starting out in San Francisco in 1970 but based since the mid-70s in Plunky's hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Here, Strut reissue their 1980 album 'Make A Change' (also later released as 'Every Way But Loose'), now adding extended versions of five of the original album's six tracks, as well as bonus cuts 'Time' and 'Plastic'. Spanning reggae, jazz-funk, soul and more, there's much to enjoy here - the raw funk of the aforesaid 'Every Way But Loose' in particular.
Review: A fine two-tracker here from Soopasoul, a loose collective headed up by Manchester-born hip-hop, funk, house and rave veteran Danny Hybrid (E-Lustrious, Direckt), coming on their regular home of Jalapeno Records. Both tracks are original productions that hail from the jazzier end of the contemporary funk spectrum, with 'A Wild Mad Beat' itself rocking the Blaxploitation soundtrack vibes while on the livelier 'Swing Down' Hybrid's hip-hop roots are showing, as he takes us a little closer to funk-breaks/funk-hop territory, albeit still with a female soul vocal in full effect. An EP no self-respecting funkateer will want to miss.
Review: The Allergies arrive at the Promised Land with mambo number five - the duo's fifth studio album! Featuring classic numbers in the familiar tones of tracks like "Working On Me" next to some more rap-and-boogie tracks with Andy Cooper of Ugly Duckling fame, other lyricists include soul sensation Marietta Smith, dance music heavyweight Dynamite MC, and the unmistakable voice of hip-hop royalty, Lyrics Born. Particular highlights include the bluesy half-time hip-hop number "Lean On You", Latin funk bomb, "Move On Baby" to the stringed-disco sessions of "The Beat". Get your more soulful numbers "Up Down Left Right", "New Thing" and "Are You Ready" without overlooking the pop-funk-rock-and-hip-hop crossover hit: "Promised Land".
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: Croatian based producer Vladimir Sivc's Funky Destination project returns with his seventh solo studio LP, I Do Voodoo. At 17-tracks-large, Funky Destination mixes up all manner of grooves and funk through vintage drums, breaks and broken beat to hip hop, soul and boogie. Paying homage to '70s inspired sounds, there's reggae to be found in "Dubby Brother From Jamaica" and "Like A Lion" to displays of gospel in "Mo's Town", swinging disco in "It's In The Music" and percussive lounge-time jazz sessions in "Tired Of This Game". With the sound of guitars colliding with more Brazlian and tropical styles in "The Wicked One" and "Put Your Feet Down", there's still no going past this album's undeniable lead cut "I Do Voodoo".