Review: Once again, El Michels Affair is back with the second instalment of their highly acclaimed "Shaolin Series", bridging the widening gap between hip hop and instrumental soul. After the success of "Cream", the band got back in the studio and churned out two more interpretations of essential wu-bangers! The A side is an instrumental version of the landmark track "Bring The Ruckus" from the Wu Tang's breakthrough album "Enter The 36 Chambers". Stripping the track back to the bare bones, this gives a more sinister vibe to the track. Over on the flip GZA's "Duel Of The Iron Mic" get the respectful treatment, adding strings, horns and original vocal drops from the original. Essential.
Review: It's been five years since Truth & Soul's octet gave us the incredible Wu Tang version album. It's been two years since they last dropped a single, too. However the band is back and their trademark cinematic soul is richer and more emotive than ever. From the instant the trembling flute and guitar open with the cuddly, ultimately positive "Kiddy Ditty" we're whisked on a largely instrumental journey that flings us through the wild west ("Little House"), soul's early JB chapters ("This Song For You") and straight up NY low-slung funk ("A Little Sloppy"). Climaxing with a Lee Fields featured "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", Loose Change is a kind reminder of just how accomplished and creative El Michels Affair are. No change there, then.
Review: Once known as Little JB, Lee Fields continues to deliver his distinctive, heartfelt goods with as much power, weight and soul as ever. Well over 12 albums deep into his 45 year career, he still sounds as clear and emphatic today as he did in 1969, as proved by this broad range of timeless flavours: from the touching JJ Cale cover "Magnolia" to the big band insistency of "Eye To Eye" via the bluesy minor key funk of "All I Need", Lee Fields is one of the few original soul soldiers still recording. What's more, he's recording with welcomed purpose. An essential slice of modern soul history.
Lee Fields & The Expressions - "You're The Kind Of Girl" (3:53)
Liam Bailey - "Please Love Me" (2:51)
The Olympians - "The Rain Song" (3:51)
Lady - "Money" (3:34)
Bacao Rhythm &Steel Band - "PIMP" (3:08)
Qunestine Strong - "One Hundred Years From Now" (2:33)
Beau Williams - "I'll Be Home Soon" (3:34)
The Ghetto Brothers - "Girl From The Mountain" (4:21)
El Michels Affair - "Run Fay Run" (3:20)
The Original Brothers - "Blackout" (2:10)
Liam Bailey - "When Will They Learn" (3:01)
The Fabulous 3 - "Nightbird" (2:05)
Lee Fields & The Expressions - "Just Can't Win" (radio edit) (3:04)
The Olympians - "Stand Tall" (3:06)
Zafari - "King Masuru" (3:37)
Shirley Nanette - "All Of Your Life" (3:57)
Lady - "Good Lovin" (Hlic remix) (3:03)
Quincy Bright - "Stay The Night" (1:18)
Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band - "Laventille Road March" (3:07)
Lee Fields & His Band - "Fought For Survival" (3:06)
El Michels Affair - "Blind Love" (2:46)
Lady - "Get Ready" (Ticklah remix instrumental) (4:51)
Liam Bailey - "On My Mind" (3:25)
Lee Fields & The Expressions - "Faithful Man" (Bare Bones version) (3:43)
The Olympians - "How Can I Love (Now That You're Gone)" (3:42)
JD & The Evil's Dynamite Band - "Sunday Kind Of Love" (2:43)
Review: Williamsburg-based Truth & Soul Records is fast becoming one of the most reliable sources of modern soul and revivalist deep funk. Should you be unfamiliar with their output - and you should be, given that they set up shop in 2003 - this double LP trawl through the label's bulging back catalogue should be an essential purchase. Highlights are naturally plentiful, from the Cuban and Caribbean influenced instrumental brilliance of Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band's "Pimp", and the stripped-back deep soul of Beau Williams' "I'll Be Home Soon", to the raw, Hammond-heavy 60s jazz-funk of The Fabulous 3's "Night Bird" and fuzzy analogue afro-funk of Zafari's "King Masuru".