Review: New kids on the reissue block, New Zealand's Strangelove Music are off to a flying start with this beautiful 1983 art pop record from subversive chanteuse Lena D'Agua. "Jardim Zoologico" fuses electro boogie with Afrofunk with healthy measures of cosmic polish while "Tao" is a straight up Balearic gem that sparkles with sentiment and horizontal soul. Only ever released on Portuguese label Valentim De Carvalho, this reissue is over 30 years overdue.
Review: Originally presented to Nigerian dancefloors in 1981 by Phonodisk, Cameroonian crooner Bayo Damazio's emphatic vocals are carried with class as the Mighty Flames provide the slick, spaced out disco grooves. The title track wriggles and shakes with Chic style tightness while Bayo's vocal command isn't dissimilar to that of Roy Ayers. "Dizzy With Love", meanwhile, is much more traditional 70s disco in its make-up with a bigger, more obvious groove, perky horn blasts and infectious falsetto vocals. Do as the title says and listen... Music like this speaks for itself.
Review: A serious RSD reissue here as Music On Vinyl reanimate the cult afro-funk's one and only 45" on Pye sub-label Dawn. Emphatic, layered, energetic and dizzying - just like their albums Afreaka and Roots & Offshoots - each cut is bewilderingly funky and soulful experience. The lead track is one of the best Screamin' Jay Hawkins covers ever pressed to wax, "Message To Mankind" tips a nod to the Tamla school of thought with a belting yearn for better times while "Fuzs Oriental Blues" is just a straight up savage blues jam with some firing Afro twists towards the finale. Stone cold; this one won't hang around for long.
Review: Few other artists are making the sort of high-calibre, future-minded boogie that Diamond Ortiz specialises in. The US producer is on fire at the minute, so it's no surprise that the Austin Boogie Crew, perhaps the most poignant of all the current Texas-based imprints, have chosen to pick up his services. "Rite Back Atcha" flows with the same sort of tenacity and suaveness as some of Daft Punk's recent material, from the vocoder business all the way to the heavy electro bass waves; "Hit The Spot" travels at a similar sort of pace and elegance, except here it's all about the low tones. Flip the disc and you got "NBC (Nothin' But Cuties)", a heavy stab of classic boogie funk backed by sultry female vocals and their robot friends, leaving the title tune "Goodies" to provide the final, synth-driven dance attack to ward off absolutely all chances of a meagre B-side. In fact, this EP just gets better and better throughout. Summer's here!
Review: Sampled by everyone from J-Lo to Jay-Z, Manu Dibango's 1972 classic is perhaps one of the most influential and heavily referenced afrofunk tracks of all time. Echoing with shades of every genre we know and love today, it still sounds just as timeless, infectious and ultimately agenda-setting today as the first time you heard it. If your collection doesn't sport this original yet, now is most certainly the time.
Review: Ultra Vybe remain deep in their Brunswick excavations with these two sublime cuts from the label's super troupe of session players Directions and their one and only album. Released 1976, OG copies fetch almost L200 and just these two tracks alone hint at why. Shimmering with a strong Faze-O feel with an evocative contrast of falsetto and deep baritone and twinkling instrumentation, both tracks swoon with everything that was so smooth and emotional about the label who gave the world Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites and Gene Chandler. Show some love.
Review: Serial alias addict, Kris Holmes returns with a double side of split personality: The Disciples is a rough, bluesy layered piece of slo-mo surf rock where the drums only just keep up and the organs provide heavy soul salvation. "He Spoke" shows Kris on much more of an African inspired trip. Similarly hefty organs power the main groove but there's more uplift in the riff and instrumentation. Insatiable.
Review: Disco Dub Band's "For The Love of Money", a one-off collaboration between producer Davitt Sigerson and reggae musician Mike Dorane, has long been considered something of a classic by those who like their disco to come with a big dose of dub-wise flavour. Here the instrumental O'Jays cover, which originally appeared on the Movers label in 1976, is given the remix treatment by long-time fans Mr Bongo. The superb A-side, in which Dorane's instrumental talents take centre stage, naturally comes accompanied by the frequently played Dub interpretation, a typically wild and bass-heavy affair that sounds like it was mixed "live" in one take in true Lee Perry/King Tubby style. If it's not already in your collection, it should be.
Elkin & Nelson - "Abran Paso - Ahoa (Enrolle)" (4:08)
Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony - "Spanish Boogie" (3:33)
Review: Soon, DJ Harvey will release The Sound of Mercury Rising, a compilation themed around some of the music championed at his summer residency at Pikes Hotel, Ibiza. This four-track taster 12" not only acts as a sampler for the CD version, but also offers the chance to own four excellent and hard-to-find gems. You'll struggle to find a more Balearic disco cut than Danish outfit Tore's 1979 killer "She's a Lady" - think the Bee-Gees with Flamenco guitars - while Elkin & Nelson's "Abran Paso - Aboa (Enrole)" is a spiraling chunk of flamenco-psychedelia fusion. Elsewhere, Van McCoy & Soul City Symphony's "Spanish Boogie" is a jaunty disco number full of crunchy Clavinet lines and rising horn lines, while Tony Esposito's "Danza Dell'Acqua" is as eccentric and wide-eyed as they come.
Review: Last summer, Evo and Soulstice launched Adventures in Paradise with a fine 7" of tooled-up funk reworks by J Sole and J Boogie. Here, the label returns to action with two more guaranteed party-starters. Fittingly, Evo makes his first appearance on the label with B-side "Mandingo Boogie", a killer edit of a low-slung disco-boogie heater rich in rubbery bass guitar, twinkling electric piano parts, spiraling electronic effects and punchy horns. While impressive, we can imagine DJs getting far more rotations from DJ Smash's cheeky A-side, "Your Pants Are Hot", which peppers a snappy, synth bass-propelled groove with samples from a well-known Godfather of Soul favourite.
Review: Serial party starter Soopasoul raises the Rufus with this flighty take on this gutsy 77 classic. Splicing the vocals down to the nitty gritty (excuse us) so it's a bare naked call and response over some well polished breaks, Soopasoul's added a whole new lease of dancefloor energy. Flip for even more stripped back beat track. Hot.
Review: More from top-drawer rework merchant DJ Soopasoul, whose cheeky revisions on his Soopastole label are consistently on point and dancefloor-focused. For his latest trick, the long-serving DJ/producer has decided to apply his magic to one of the greatest disco records of all time and a "foundation record" of the hip-hop scene: Chic classic "Good Times". The A-side edit sounds like it has been created using the multi-track parts, as dubbed-out vocal sections ride stripped-back grooves and portions that variously showcase the track's original strings, Nile Rodgers' guitars and Bernard Edwards' killer bassline. The flipside "Part 2" version is similarly minded but more like a disco dub in feel and execution, with the maestro drenching vocal sections in delicious amounts of delay.
Review: Plenty of DJs have been spinning DJ Soopasoul's recent re-edit singles, while his outings for Jalepeno Records continue to set dancefloors alight. Rock It Don't Stop sees him in full cut-and-paste mode, serving up two variations on a break-propelled, party-starting theme. "Mix 1" of "Rock It Don't Stop" is a heady and intoxicating affair, with a familiar vocal refrain and party-hearty raps rising above a Shaft-tastic backing track seemingly crafted using elements from about ten different records. On "Mix 2", Soopasoul pushes the boat out even further, clashing and colliding familiar basslines, guitar riffs and Supersonic Force vocals with sweaty new drum solos and the heaviest backing breaks known to man. If anything, it's even more potent than the A-side... and that's saying something.
Kool & The Gang, Gene Redd - "Give It Up" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (4:04)
Aretha Franklin - "Rock Steady" (DJ Soopasoul edit) (3:30)
Review: Fast-fingered mash-up merchant and lauded scalpel fiend DJ Soopasoul can usually be relied upon to bring the goods. In fact, we've yet to hear an edition of his "Soopastole Edits" series that doesn't include the kind of sure-fire, party-starting fare guaranteed to get any DJ out of a dancefloor hole of their own making. Should you still doubt the validity of this statement, we suggest you check this timely reissue of the series' second volume, which has been going for serious bucks online. On side A you'll find a suitably punchy, funky and chunky revision of Kool & The Gang's Gene Redd produced 1970 jam "Give It Up" - the original source of one of hip-hops most familiar breakbeats - with a tight, club-ready revision of Aretha Franklin classic "Rock Steady" on the flip.
Review: New Norwegian label Neppa launches with something rather special: a timely reissue of the headline cut from South African jazz musician Don Laka's 1986 EP "Stages Of Love". The track is reminiscent of some of countryman Hugh Masekela's work from the same period, with Laka conjuring up a breezy, dancefloor-ready synth-pop/electrofunk workout rich in thrilling electric piano solos, heady vocals and funk-fuelled synth-bass. Scandolearic overlord Prins Thomas gets busy on the flip, serving up a superb re-edit that stretches out the original's groovy instrumental parts before introducing the vocals. As usual with the Full Pupp boss, the edit tends towards the epic (it clocks in around nine minutes); however, given the quality of Laka's original an extension was well overdue.