Review: You might have heard about this LP..... After a pre-release campaign that took on Hollywood-esque proportions, French pair Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter return as Daft Punk with their fourth studio album Random Access Memories sporting a A-list cast of guests and contributors. Given the input of disco icons Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rogers it's entirely understandable that the overbearing sound on Random Access Memories is one of classic disco with lead single "Get Lucky" a good indicator for what to expect. There's also a smattering of yacht rock within the thirteen track set, whilst the ubiquitous Panda Bear turns up on the midnight stutter funk album highlight "Doin' It Right". Those expecting a return to Daft Punk's Homework heyday will be disappointed but Bangalter and de Homem-Christo are touching forty so the polished, expertly constructed disco direction makes perfect sense.
Review: Best known amongst house heads for being the source of the lilting orchestral sample in Pepe Bradock's "Deep Burnt", Freddie Hubbard's 1979 version of "Little Sunflower" is a soul-jazz classic and a half. Since the full version of Hubbard's vocal re-make (the trumpeter first recorded an instrumental take in 1968) only ever appeared on a hard-to-find promo 12", this Record Store Day reissue should be an essential purchase. It remains a gentle, breezy and sunset-ready jazz-dance gem, with Hubbard's emotion-rich vocals and mazy trumpet solos riding Latin-tinged percussion, elastic double bass and some suitably jammed-out jazz pianos. In other words, it's the kind of life-affirming treat that's capable of spreading sunshine on even the cloudiest day.
Review: Six years ago, an iconic and emotional concert at Madison Square Gardens marked the end of LCD Soundsystem. The accompanying documentary 'Shut Up and Play The Hits' delved into frontman James Murphy's reasons for the decision, with self-examination, a need for change and a fear of old age playing a part. Fast forward to 2017, and the surprise release of three singles accompanying the announcement of a comeback album triggers anticipation and a sigh of relief from fans everywhere. 'American Dream' meets expectations and at times surpasses them, with the familiar driving disco rhythms, strutting funk basslines and heartfelt morning-after-the-night-before ballads feeling like a well-needed catch up with an old friend. The current musical, social and political climates provide Murphy with platforms for his self-effacing and acerbic witticisms. This strong return to form was needed now perhaps more than ever, but simultaneously feels like they never left in the first place.
Review: By the time "Touch Me In The Morning" was mailed out to American DJs in 1979, Marlena Shaw has long since established herself as one of soul music's greatest voices. "Touch Me In The Morning" was merely a promo-only affair, remixed from the shorter "Take A Bite" album version - but it did become something of a dancefloor anthem in certain underground clubs. Here, the sought-after 12" is given a replica reissue, with the stomping, string-drenched title track being accompanied by exactly the same B-side cuts as the '79 pressing.
Review: Splendor were a very short lived outfit - '70s funk/soul group including Billy Nunn, Robert "Bobby" Nunn, Sascha Meeks and Richard Shaw. "Take Me To Your Disco" and "Special Lady" were released in 1979 as the first single from the group's eponymous and only LP. It represents a heyday of disco - a zeitgeist where big budgets made for some amazing and seminal productions. With the likes of Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind and Fire fame) and the legendary Tommy Vicari on production duties - you can really hear the magic on these ones.
I've Been Waitin' For Tomorrow (All Of My Life) (12" mix)
Review: A triumph of enigmatic melody and an enduring document of one artist's personal vision, Matt Johnson's 1983 album still sounds as unique and affecting thirty years on as it did on its release. Replete with bittersweet gems like "This Is The Day" and "Uncertain Smile", "Soul Mining" is an album of paradoxes; too deft of touch to be rock, too weighty to be pop, it defies genre, and still sounds fresh despite being a product of Thatcher's '80s. Moreover, this album, which Johnson would arguably never top, is testimony to the good cheer that can be spread by even the most perennially gloomy songsmith.