Review: As the title suggests, there's an undeniably humid, sun-kissed and tropical feel to Art of Sedition's latest double-dose of seven-inch re-edits. Accedo Domingo lives up to his name by adding squelchy TB-303 lines and relaxed house beats to a stirring Brazilian dancefloor jam on "Corre Riba", before Those Guys From Athens deliver a chunky, house-style revision of a turn-of-the-80s MPB classic ("No Bola"). Over on the second "45", DJ Laurel tools up an undeniably funky disco number (the stellar "Peanut Man") before Monsieur Von Pratt makes an already heavy disco-funk number even weightier ("Lose Your Mind").
Review: Another weighty slab of Ethiopian music history from Mr Bongo... First up is the hugely influential fusionist Mulatu Astatke with the Latin-meets-Afro jam "Assiyo Bellema". Loaded with frenetic guitars and mesmerising drum work from Frank Holder, this was actually recorded during Mulatu's time in London. Flip for an equally influential force in Ethiopian music: Soul Ekos Band affiliate Teshome Meteku with a more traditional local sound, Teshome's yearning insistent vocals wrap around the horns and tight drums like fog around a mountain. Captivating.
Review: Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band first came through on Sublime Frequencies, back in 2015, with a sublime LP that carried the ethereal sounds of contemporary Afro jazz. The outfit are back, this time on France's Mawimbi imprint, with a corker by the name of "Wasso". Taking inspiration from the school of Fela and Tony Allen, this is deep-minded funkiness with a political edge - a contemporary afrobeat killer! The remixes are no less intriguing, starting off with the electronic nuttiness of Loya's version, followed by the 'broken', beat-driven remix from Mr Boom, and even an Afro version. A done deal, in our opinion...
Review: "The dampness of the rainforest, the hostility of the mangrove ultimately did not suit him. So he left his natural environment for the tranquillity of a freshwater body". So goes the (translated) back story of this new EP from Laurent Bardainne. The 'he' in question is a Tiger who ventured across Europe, Asia and America and apparently picked up various musical styles along the way. Whatever you make of that, the tracks here are gold: "Marvin" is smooth jazz fusion with percolating drums, "Porsche 944" has a joyous lead sax and more crisp boom bap drums, while "Aout" is a soaring bit of heartfelt soul Daptone might put out. The Drop Vibes rework of "Porsche 944" features a vocal roller and closes things in fine fashion.
Review: German-Ghanaian group the Polyversal Souls have previously collaborated with a number of bands and solo artists from West Africa, so this hook-up with Northern Ghanaian outfit the Bolga All Stars - a collective made up of leading local kologo and frafra-gospel singers and musicians - should not come as much of a surprise. Separated into two parts for the seven-inch release, the track blends the Polyversal Souls' lolloping, late '60s style Afro-funk grooves - complete with fuzzy, period style production - and sharp horn section with glistening guitars, snaking solos and fine vocals from the Bolga All Stars. It's one of the Polyversal Souls' finest releases yet, and that's saying something.
The Group - "I Don't Like To Lose" (feat Cecil Washington) (3:02)
Review: Here's a treat for Northern Soul enthusiasts, as two sought-after classics that once made the Wigan Casino move are brought together on one must-have "45". On the A-side you'll find Mel Britt's 1969 gem "She'll Come Running Back", a heavy Detroit soul stomper (think bittersweet vocals, sweet orchestration and bold bass) that's long been unaffordable to all but the richest Northern Soul collectors. Over on side B you'll find The Group and Cecil Washington's "I Don't Like To Lose", a 1966 Motor City soul jewel that has been a "holy grail" for many soul collectors since leading scene DJ Richard Searling introduced it to the UK in 1979.
James Brown - "Funky President" (extended Breaks Special edition) (4:25)
The Vibrettes - "Humpty Dump" (part 1 - extended Breaks Special edition) (3:16)
Review: For the second in their series of clear vinyl reissues of some of their most sought-after "sevens", the mysterious Breaks & Beats crew have chosen to revisit their fourth 45, which originally landed in early 2018. It's well worth picking up, if only for the version of James Brown classic "Funky Presisdent", which features extended grooves and breakbeats for added DJ pleasure and double-up opportunities. That said, we're also big fans of the mystery scalpel fiends' light-touch revision of the Vibrettes' brilliant, voodoo funk favourite "Humpty Dump (Part 1)". This, too, makes more of the original's short drum breaks and strutting instrumental grooves, before unleashing the female vocal group's great vocals.
James Brown - "Funky President" (extended breaks special edition) (4:25)
The Vibrettes - "Humpty Dump" (part 1 - extended breaks special edition) (3:16)
Review: New 7" label Beats & Breaks present "Funky President" which is a funk song originally released as a single in 1974, by the hardest working man in show business at the time - the Godfather of Soul - James Brown. It appeared on his 4nd (!) album entitled 'Reality' released that same year. According to Brown, the song's title referred to U.S. President Gerald Ford - who succeeded Richard Nixon in the White House shortly before it was recorded. It is one of Brown's most frequently sampled recordings. The rhythmic portions of the song have been used on dozens of hip hop tracks. On the flip, The Vibrettes' "Humpty Dump" is another killer funk number that was recorded by one Roscoe Porter and originally released by Lujon back in 1973. The sample source for many a respected beat by such legends as J. Dilla, Four Tet, 2 Bad Mice and even Aphex Twin.
Review: One song, two versions, one killer Philly 45. The Cooperettes got in first during the mid 70s with a very rare copy that picked up momentum during the Northern/modern soul crossover in mid 80s when copies began to surface and never really lost favour as OG copies on I-D-B go for near L500. Flip for a previously unreleased male harmony version by The Toppiks, fronted by Ted Mills a la Blue Magic. Just sit back and feel those falsettos.
The Poindexter Brothers - "What I Did In The Streets (I Should Have Done At Home)" (3:17)
Review: Soul Junction's latest release brings together two sought-after heavy soul cuts from the studio of the Poindexter Brothers: their own 1969 heater "What I Did In The Street (I Should Have Done At Home)" - a sweet, Vibraphone-sporting slab of rasping, full-throated, horn-heavy sixties soul just dripping with emotion - and a killer cut they produced a year earlier for singer Vivian Copeland. You'll find that song, "Chaos In My Heart", on the A-side. Originally released on Bell, it's an attractive and additive mid-tempo number in which Copeland's fine vocals come supported by low-register horns, shuffling soul grooves and some suitably heavenly backing vocals.
The Lost Generation - "The Sly, Slick & The Wicked"
Review: Stomping northern soul vibes abound on this recently unearthed gem from The Demures. With its pumping beats and heart melting harmonies it's hard to believe this went unnoticed for so many years. If you're after something a little softer and emotional then flip for The Lost Generation's "The Sly Slick And Wicked". No, they're not describing Juno's record reviewers, they're lamenting over love lost and heartbreakers in the most emphatic, string-drenched soulful way. Two beautiful cuts on one 7". Bonus.
Review: DJ DSK has released some heavyweight seven-inch singles over the years, with his 2016 45 "Laminate" - an original slab of funk made in cahoots with the previously unheralded "Lost Soul Collective". Here he gathers together the band once more for a follow-up four years in the making. "Lost Soul" is a two-part affair in keeping with the funk tradition. The A-side is an infectious vocal number that sits somewhere between Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and the more psychedelic flavour associated with turn-of-the-70s San Francisco soul. As you'd expect, the flipside "Part 2" version strips out most of the vocals to allow the band's warm and heady instrumentation room to breathe.
Review: Those with a deep knowledge of Berlin's Ghanaian ex-pat "burger-highlife" scene may already be familiar with Lee Dodou, a singer who recorded a number of classic singles and albums during the 1980s as part of bands Georg Darko and Kantata. He retired from music in 1991, but has been persuaded to return to action by the Philophon team. This comeback single is pretty impressive all told, with A-side "Basa Basa" - a triumphantly celebratory chunk of 1960s "concert party" highlife rich in punchy horn lines and Dodou's full-throated vocals - being joined on the flipside by the slower, synth-laden "Sahara Akwantou". Brilliantly, the label describes this as "kraut-life" due to its unique (and rather good) fusion of highlife and German kosmiche.
Review: For those whose Californian hip-hop collection is missing a few gems, the West Coast Classics series should be a must-check. The latest edition in the series of the light-touch "45 Edits" by Ronnie Frazzle serves up two more essential cuts from the peerless Dr Dre and lesser-celebrated Death Row Records signee The Lady of Rage. Side A boasts the superb "Nuthin' But A G Thing" from Dre's iconic 1992 album "The Chronic", in which the main man and Snoop Dogg trade verses over a typically on-point G-funk style beat. The Lady of Rage's 1994 jam "Afro Puffs" is a darker, sleazier and tougher affair, with the Virginia-raised rapper's distinctive flow rising above punchy beats, creepy chords and a filthy analogue bassline.
Review: Those who pay attention to these things know that Poland's EABS (short for Electro Acoustic Beat Sessions) are one of the hottest jazz combos in the world right now - an accolade earned not only via their incredible playing, but also their willingness to fuse elements of classic Polish and American jazz with hip-hop, soul and funk influences. Here, the fast-rising septet joins forces with 22a regular Tenderlonious (who provides flute and soprano sax solos) for two epic workouts. A-side "Kraksa" is something of an epic; an ever-changing 13-minute jazz journey that brilliantly switches from floor-rocking goodness to horizontal bliss midway through. "Svantetic", meanwhile, wraps fuzzy rock guitars and hammered-out piano riffs around a sweaty groove that just grows in intensity throughout.
Quantic presents Flowering Inferno - "Cumbia Sobre El Mar" (feat Nidia Gongora - El Buho remix) (5:11)
Nickodemus, The Spy From Cairo & Gitkin - "Inmortales (Body Move)" (feat Femina - El Buho remix) (5:22)
Review: Following El Buho's "Tributaries" remix album, Wonderwheel offer up this choice 7" featuring two distinct cuts not found on the main record. First up is El Buho's take on grand master Quantic, working with the storied producer's considerable knowledge of Latin music to create a remix of "Cumbia Sobre El Mar" already well loved on globally minded dancefloors. On the flip comes the never before released El Buho version of Nickodemus and Femina's "Inmortales" - a fierce, drum-tastic version to get bodies shaking down.
Review: The latest missive from France's Stereophonk imprint is a heavy double header focused on the production and remix work of cut-and-paste funk and soul heroes Funky Bijou. On side A you'll find a fresh slab of P-funk flavoured B-Boy breaks from the Gallic production twosome that wraps classic early '80s rap samples and excitable synth solos around punchy electro beats and a squidgy synthesizer bassline. On the flip they give their interpretation of the Baker Brothers' 2011 track "Snap Back", re-imagining it as a Clavinet-heavy slab of hazy soul rich in blue-eyed vocals, Funkadelic style synth stabs, squelchy bass and crunchy machine drums.
Review: Manchester's Gondwana Records, run by Matthew Halsall, has been a constant source of good vibes and inspiration. Leaning on a jazz note, most of the material is centred away from the dance floor and yet there is always plenty of movement and joyous rhythm, particularly from Halsall's appearances. Here, we have a reissue of 2015's "Journey In Satchidananda", a majestic wave of jazz flutes, seductive piano keys, in what is an altogether dreamy sort of setting, which is further evolved on the supremely euphoric waves of the unbeatable "Blue Nile". At last, some contemporary jazz on 12" that has left us blown away..!
Rafael Cameron - "Let's Get It Off" (Dr Packer rework) (6:13)
Ripple - "The Beat Goes On & On" (Dr Packer rework) (7:30)
The Salsoul Orchestra - "You're Just The Right Size" (Dr Packer rework) (6:07)
Review: UK born, Australia based DJ and producer Dr Packer is back with more of his on point edits. He tackles some serious disco heavyweights here on Salsoul and first off, disco diva Loleatta Holloway and her mega-hit "Runaway" gets a fresh 2020 update with some soul uplifting studio skills. A heavy funk remix of Rafael Cameron's "Let's Get It Off" is next, with the original still taking centre stage, then the shimmering and glistening disco gold of Ripple's "The Beat Goes On" follows before in-house collective The Salsoul Orchestra also get treated to some elegant orchestral work and a sultry vocal hook.
Review: Following their surprise reunion and Strut-release album We Be All Africans last year, Idris and The Pyramids return... This time on Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon imprint. Laying down a spiritual arrangement so frenetic and full of its own life it takes up two parts, Idris's sax plays duet with Philophon's own vocalist Guy One. Gutsy, raw and full of surprises, it's another out-of-body experience from the longstanding jazz troupe.
Review: Brand new seven-piece Miami/New York troupe Jason Joshua & The Beholders land on the freshly-bubbling Miami imprint Mango Hill with their debut 45". Showcasing their style across two sides, "Rose Gold" is a woozy, bluesy ballad with all the dreamy motifs you'd expect from such a heartfelt piece while "Are You Ready?" takes us up a notch or two into stomping northern territory with velvet falsettos and stark staccato horns. Apparently an album is en route soon, too...