Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: For a classic 7" that makes you wish you could have experienced the rock and roll and blues heyday, these two dusty gems by Lavern Baker and Jackie Wilson are a great start. Taken from 1960, "Bumble Bees" by Baker is a chiming, doo-wop sing-a-long love song with a tastefully disgruntled character, while Baker & Wilson provide the excellent and X-rated "Think Twice", which sings about taboo topics like cocaine, pussy and reefa. It also boasts lyrics like 'son of a bitch', 'I aint gonna kiss your ass no more' and 'I've had enough of your shit' - not to mention the other out-there obscenities for the time which include references to oral sex. Lil Kim and Khia - eat your heart out!
John Turrell - "Won't Get Fooled Again" (Basement Freaks remix) (4:20)
Review: Fizzing funkateers Basement Freaks can usually be relied upon to bring the dancefloor goods. That's certainly the case on this dancefloor-focused seven-inch. On the A-side they rework one of their own classic cuts, offering a punchier and heavier take on 2016 Kylie Auldist collaboration "White Hot". Rich in flash-friend funk guitars, crunchy breaks and life-affirming horns, their new revision is undoubtedly more DJ-friendly than the original album version. Turn to the flip to hear their tidy new take on Smoove collaborator John Turrell's 2013 cut "Won't Get Fooled Again", which they cannily refurbish as a wobble bass-propelled chunk of P-funk flavoured dancefloor soul.
Review: As famous as "Carolina Carol Bela" is, and as famous as both Jorge Ben and Toquinho are, madly this is the first time this track has ever appeared on a 45! Famously contemporised by D&B artist DJ Marky, its dreamy ebb and flows remain a timeless lesson in the most beautiful Brazilian music. As you'd expect from a super-limited Mr Bongo 7", it's coupled by an equally stunning slice of Latin folk. "Ara" is the creation of one of bossa nova's most decorated ambassadors. Driven by rhythmic staccato vocals, strident jazz-tinged pianos and layers of tangible instrumentation, it's been warming hearts since 1973. Gorgeous.
Review: A stunning soul double A with a percussion heavy smoky soul cover of Leroy Lane & The Upstairs Maids' "There's A Man" and a big-swing, horn-heaved late 60s Motown-style ballad "I Have This World & You". Canadian soul act Joey Irving & Just Us only wrote and recorded a handful of songs and - madly - they couldn't get a deal on home soil so turned to Belgium's Baltic label which was usually the sole preserve of elevator music and native Flemish folk. Few original pressings have been spotted, but when they do they regularly fetch over L200. Jump on this.
Review: DC archival masters Peoples Potential Unlimited first shone the light on Dwight Sykes and his Jahari project on the must grip Situations cassette late last year, revealing the work of a key player in Michigan's underground boogie scene. Those selectors out there without the means to play tapes in a club setting will no doubt be very thankful to PPU for this 12" that brings together some unreleased demo cuts from Jahari along with a newly remastered version of the superb title track from that cassette. So up top you get two alternate takes on "Fire & Desire" with the studio version a real funk gem, whilst "Situations" sounds all the more sweet and soulful in newly remastered form.
Bob James - "Take Me To The Mardi Gras" (extended Breaks Special edition) (3:30)
David Matthews - "Sandworms" (extended Breaks Special edition) (4:22)
Review: The Beats and Breaks series of "Extended Break Edits" has so far succeeded in its stated aim to provide DJs with simple but devastatingly effective rearrangements built around lengthening key percussive packages. The mystery editors behind the series are at it again here, first looping up the distinctive, cowbell and triangle-driven drum passages dotted throughout Bob James' classic "Take Me To The Mardi Gras". On the flip, they take their scalpel to David Matthews' 1977 jazz-funk gem "Sandworms", casually making merry with the proto hip-hop beat, rubbery bass guitar, flanged guitar riffs and snaking saxophone solos.
Etta James & Sugar Pie Desanto - "In The Basement" (Soul Flip edit) (3:20)
John Gary Williams - "My Sweet Lord" (Soul Flip edit) (3:59)
Review: On their latest limited edition salvo, the hardworking Soul Flip crew (AKA experienced DJs and producers Aldo Vanucci and Del Gazeebo) gets to work on two more stomping dancefloor cuts from the golden age of soul. First up on side A is a gently tooled-up and tightened up take on Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto's 1966 floor-heater "In The Basement", a hybrid soul-jazz/rhythm and blues jam rich in rubbery double bass, bustling drums, restless handclaps and brilliant lead vocals from the two legendary soul singers. On the flip they tackle Memphis musician John Gary Williams' 1972 cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", which brilliantly re-imagines the former Beatles' spiritual song as a sweaty gospel-soul stomper.
Review: Soul Tribe celebrate the epic legacy of Chess subsidiary Argo with two of the label's many outstanding soul burners. Etta's big swing sauce-pot number takes pride of place with all 55 years of sultry devotion still deeply embedded into the recording. Banks' slightly lesser known pastoral ballad sets up camp on the B. Lilting and lolloping with horseback storytelling, it's the perfect foil both musically and narratively.
Review: Seven years later... Jay Kay and his band of merry soulmen return with bonafide grooves. Raw, to the point and covering a huge amount of ground, "Automaton" is an electrified hair-raiser that's designed to lift floors while "Nights Out In The Jungle" tickles the backbone from Daptone with its slinky, JB-style bass/drum groove and light rap/spoken word. Pure funk in both its original and most futuristic style... and on limited clear vinyl, too.
Review: Nu-wave afrobeat swingers, Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra, touch back down on Masamichi Ishikawa's Soul Garden, and they have arrived just in time for what we hope to be a blazing hot summer of joyful Fela vibes. In fact, these guys have cited Kuti as their main inspiration - which is always a good thing, in our opinion - and the title track "Bomb" is clearly of that ilk, unleashing a driving bass surrounded by wild chanting and a little disco sensibility. On the flipside, "Panama" provides a deeper, cooler edge that's much more in line with Kuti's work alongside the Afrika 70 band, with booming horns guiding the jazzed-out percussion. LUSH!
Review: Fela Kuti fans Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra last came to our attention in 2014 via a fantastic sophomore set on Soul Garden. Here, the Japanese neo-Afrobeat combo returns to the same imprint with the first of two simultaneously released 7" singles. A-side "Eastern Comfort" is a typically jaunty and undulating affair, with bold, Fela-esque tenor sax motifs and delay-laden spoken work vocals dancing around Nigeria '70 guitars and loose, Tony Allen style drums. Flipside "Eko Ile" is an altogether more forthright and up-tempo affair whose rasping horns and JuJu guitars are slightly overshadowed by some elongated organ action.
Review: Four years on from their last outing, Japan's premier neo-Afrobeat band returns to the warm embrace of Soul Garden Records. A-side "Scarface" is arguably one of the band's most addictive and ear-pleasing tracks yet; a rousing Afrobeat workout that sees band members trading solos over a densely percussive, Fela Kuti style workout. In a bid to let us have a bit of a breather, flipside "This Day" is a more languid and laidback affair, with drunken trumpet solos and jammed-out keys relaxing over a shuffling, Afro-Latin groove. As ever, the playing is immaculate and the production authentically fuzzy. Worth a listen.
Review: JJ and The Beholders blast the doors off with their debut single "Rosegold". A powerful bluesy lament, everything from the spacious production to the hammonds that croon behind Joshua ooze soul and sentiment. Meanwhile on the B we hit northern soul territory with a thumping beat, minimal instrumentation and stacks of room for Joshua's tones to shine through. Behold that that horn led middle-eighth. Pow!
Review: So far, Floating Points' reissue-focused Melodies International label has barely put a foot wrong. As you'd expect given his crate-digging credentials, each chosen release has not only been obscure or hard to find, but also exceptionally good. Predictably, this one is, too. Gloria Jay's 1977 single "Know What You Want" is a heartfelt chunk of saccharine soul featuring some particularly good jazz-funk style solos. Speaking of jazz-funk, this influence comes through further on the slightly more disco-minded, dancefloor-friendly flipside, "I'm Gonna Make It", whose jangling piano riffs and goodtime groove are almost impossible to resist. As ever with Melodies International, the packaging - which includes a foldout poster tucked into the sleeve - is also superb.
Review: Just 300 copies of this tasty, club-ready 7" single from the Soopastole Edits stable exist, so you'll have to move fast to secure a copy. As usual, Jalepeno Records' regular Soopasoul is at the control, using his trusty scalpel to deliver two hot-to-trot interpretations of a lesser-known cut from the "Sex Machine" sessions. On side A, you'll find "Shake Your Money Maker (Part 1)", where Maceo Parker's killer saxophone solos rise above Soopasoul's slightly tightened up version of the JB's killer groove. Flip to the B-side for more sax solos and a groove that mines some of the original track's more percussive sections for hip-swinging, toe-tapping thrills.
Review: Jimmy Lane recorded this single in the summer of 1969 in upstate New York. The title stems from arriving at the recording studio without any lyrics prepared, and when asked by the producer what he was going to sing he replied "Oh, we’ll deal with it later". Another Funk Classic from Funk 45.
Review: The first release from the Axis Audiophile Series. Jeff Mills has formed an electronic jazz fusion band and this 12? is a recording of their recent performance in Kobe during the TodaysArt.JP Festival. Mills manages the decks, drums and percussion and is joined Detroit legend and Underground Resistance stalwart Gerald Mitchell (Los Hermanos/Galaxy 2 Galaxy), keyboardist Yumiko Ohno and bassist Kenji Jino. "Eventide" has the same kind of urban, uplifting soul as anything Kaidi Thatham or Mark de Clive-Lowe have made and isn't bad at all! On the flip "Happy Gamma Ray" features uplifting keys and emotive chords backed by funk bass and one of Mills' unmistakeable 909 drum machine workouts. It really seems that there's no limit to this Motor City legend's creativity which has spanned nearly 30 years and we're excited about this new chapter in the Wizard's sonic universe.
Review: The latest missive from Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey's 7th Galaxy label - an imprint run in association with Super Disco Edits chief DJ Sigher - offers up a couple of previously unheard tracks produced by the pair in 1979. They come from J. J. Barnes, a soul singer best known for his 1967 U.S top-ten hit "Baby Please Come Back Home". "Candy" is a totally different beast; a disco-influenced modern soul gem rich in woozy backing vocals, swirling Philly Soul style strings, boogie-powered slap-bass and Barnes' inspired lead vocal. The B-side is an altogether slower and more saccharine affair, as Barnes, Theodore and Coffey conjure up a teary-eyed cover of Jerry Butler classic "For Your Precious Love".
Review: Should you require further evidence of the all-round genius of Curtis Mayfield, look no further than this early '70s funk gem from Patti Jo. "Make Me Believe In You" was written and produced by the velvety-voiced musician in 1973, one of just a few singles released by Patti Jo but undoubtedly now an all-time classic. That rolling drum intro, the ear-wagging piano, the subtle orchestration and, above all, Patti Jo's killer vocal all combine for a perfect example of the halcyon days when funk was beginning to transform into disco. Mayfield himself later covered the track for the closer to his Sweet Exorcist LP! This BGP 7" sees Tom Moulton's extension of "Make Me Believe In You" combined with his remix of the other Patti Jo burner, "Ain't No Love Lost". Any self-respecting DJ needs the A-side though.