M&M Vs Andrei Swipe - "Analog Express" (Don Carlos remix) (7:29)
Review: There's an undeniable air of quality that lingers over the 12"s emerging on 14th Level Of Paradise, the mysterious label presenting originals, edits and repressed tracks for true house devotees. First up is a little known track from Sasha Makin and Suntetic, given a shimmering polish by Don Carlos and Steven Perri to become a heavy funking masterpiece, before Joe Claussell drops in a percussive dub delight on Monday Michiru's "Higher". On the flip, Vincent Inc and LA get things pumping with the slow but chunky, jazz-licked "Red Room", before Carlos returns for another deep house reverie as he remixes M&M and Andrei Swipe's "Analog Express".
Review: You'd probably have to take out a loan to buy an original, second-hand copy of Master Force's sole single, 1979's "Hey Girl", so this dinky reissue is more than welcome. The title track is a dewy-eyed slice of two-step soul sweetness rich in Curtis Mayfield style lead vocals, glistening guitars and trumpet solos that sound like they've been lifted from an early Herb Alpert recording. Arguably better for dancefloor plays is "Don't Fight The Feeling", a Clavinet-heavy disco-funk affair that boasts some brilliant group backing vocals and heaps of authentic New York flavour.
Review: Glaswegian disco overlord Al Kent is particularly fond of dusty, hard-to-find records that combine great grooves with the kind of sugary, flowing orchestration that marks out some of the greatest late-'70s dancefloor records. It's these records that he tends to re-edit. He's at it again here on a surprise two-track GAMM outing. Check first A-side "The Light Of You", a peak-time ready Stevie cover version disco cut that adds a myriad of instrumental solos to a heavily orchestrated backing track originally recorded by latin disco soul outfit LaSo. It's rather good, all told, as is the wild flipside Latin jazz-funk workout "Sing A Song". It's pretty sweaty and even boasts some serious eyes-closed guitar solo action (along with tons of authentic South American percussion).
Review: Afrodesia may come on like another dusted down gem from those dedicated detectives at Best, but it is in fact a modern construction from the talented studio trysts of Mystic Jungle and Whodamanny from the Periodica camp. These Italian producers have more than proved their knack for crafting sublime, honey-smooth jams with a nod to the golden studio era of the 70s and 80s, and they're more than up to the task on this killer 12" of heavy funking jams with a dose of boogie and a nod to Ivory Coast disco. It's quite simply perfection, rendered with love and attention to detail, but utterly natural in its feel and flavour.
Review: REPRESS ALERT! Best Record Italy take the time machine all the way back to 1979 to revisit the wonderful Italo-Disco delights of Adolf Stern, whose "More... I Like It" represents the strangest end of the genre as it was taking shape. With heavily processed vocals injecting some serious strangeness into the chirpy disco backdrop, it's the kind of track to turn heads without a doubt. "Twenty Seven" on the B-side is equally magical in its capturing of the era, with the more obvious surface elements underpinned by a truly intoxicating line in synth arpeggios. Once again Best comes up trumps refreshing the history of Italian music of all shapes and sizes.
Review: Alphonse has already dropped a pair of 12"s on Especial in the past, but he's on especially excellent form this time around. A veteran of the halcyon rave days of the 90s, he's got a lot to draw on to conjure his particular kind of machine jams. "Moan Up" is a truly dazzling track, all twinkling synth lines interweaving around a crisp old school groove. As well as the loved up peaks of the original, there's also a beatless mix of the track that lets the melodies shine on their own. "White Pepper" takes things moodier and lets some sultry sax wail over the top, while retaining some of that boxy drum machine energy. There's even space for some tasteful guitar wailing - excellent.
Review: Hold tight for another dose of seriously sassy Italo brilliance lovingly reissued on Best. This time it's Plustwo and their outrageously fun "Melody" getting the treatment, with the A side given over to the catchy vocal version and the previously unreleased dub version. "Stop Fantasy" on the flip is another sugar-coated trip through poppy dancefloor perfection, with some cheeky acidic undertones for those listening with the right ears. You'll recognize this one as a crossover hit that's snuck up in deep digging sets - now you can get your mitts on it too.
Instant Funk - "I Got My Mind Made Up" (Late Nite Tuff Guy remix) (7:21)
Orlando Riva Sound - "Body To Body Boogie" (Late Nite Tuff Guy edit) (5:30)
The Salsoul Orchestra - "Ooh I Love It (Love Break)" (Late Nite Tuff Guy Muscle edit) (6:42)
Review: Salsoul has always been good at getting contemporary producers to reinterpret classics from its bulging catalogue, with recent years bringing fresh edits and reworks by The Reflex, Moplen, DJ Pope, Dimitri From Paris and Late Nite Tuff Guy. Here the latter returns with a second helping of tastefully tooled-up revisions. The Australian producer kicks things off with a warm and woozy hybrid disco/house take on Instant Funk's "I Got My Mind Made Up" that's quite a departure from the original mix. Over on side B, he turns in a languid and groovy, mid-tempo house version of Orlando Riva Sound's overlooked "Body To Body Boogie" before successfully revising Salsoul Orchestra's much-loved "Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)" whilst retaining most of the original vocals and instrumentation.
Review: The Fantastic Voyage label kicks off with a summery joint from RFX, otherwise known as Pharmacy Records mainstay Romain FX, straight out of Hong Kong. There's an undeniable African lilt to these tracks, shot through with a classic 90s house twist - just check the infectious bump of "Indaba Kabani". "Gambian Neptune" has a snappier feel, channeling the vibe of 80s extended dubs with its strident drum section and bombastic atmosphere. "Nigerian Charon" has an interesting mixture of vibes going on, part Art of Noise mash up and part peak time synth sizzler, while "Sudanese Xena" heads into the heat of night, conjuring up a seductive, swirling mood to get truly lost in.
Pieces To Share (Kyle Hall & Steve Lehane mix) (3:14)
Nothing To Fear (4:00)
Review: Some ultra-limited business here from Kyle Hall, which remarkably marks his first release of 2019. The Detroiter is in fine form from the off, first peppering a hip-hop tempo "beatdown" groove with 8-bit sounds, jazz-funk synth doodles and rich Fender Rhodes motifs on "Rising" before breaking up the beats and channeling Kaidi Tatham/Dego on the warm and luscious "Full Play". Turn to the flip for the similarly inclined, loose and languid, analogue-heavy melodiousness of "Pieces To Share" and the delay-laden sunrise shimmer of "Nothing To Fear", a glistening and smile-inducing number that's almost overwhelmingly positive.
Review: After taking a year out (presumably to rotate his head 360- degrees and hoot at the moon), wide-eyed re-editor The Owl returns to action with another essential collection of reworks. Check first the hot-stepping James Brown style funk strut of "On It" - all rubbery but thrusting grooves and guttural grunts - before switching to the slick and rising disco goodness of "Boogie". There's something of a switch on the flip, where he works his magic on the low-slung disco tune that Paul Johnson sampled for his classic house cut "Get Get Down". Best of all, though, is the filter-sporting disco-house bagginess of "Sly Lovin", which rounds off the EP in fine style.
Review: The Aesthetic label is steadily growing as yet another strong side to the Constant Sound empire, and they're sounding fit as a fiddle with this latest drop from Niko Maxen. "Aesthetic 04" leads in with "Calibans Dance", a swirling, dubbed out affair with intriguing percussive tones to add an intriguing edge to the stripped back house groove. "Lessons" has a heads down, twitchy demeanour it's impossible to resist, and then "Twelvty" summons up some elegant synth strokes that hover in between the shuffling beats. The latter provides more than enough inspiration for Kepler to deliver an astounding remix that plays around with bouncy arps and pointed house rhythms in his inimitable style.
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Giorgio Gordano and Giorgio Dolce originally produced "KKK" back in 1983, and the track was taken into the hearts of the blossoming Balearic scene hovering around DJ Alfredo at Amnesia. It's as gentle and sweet natured as Italo disco can be, and of course it makes perfect sense that Best Records would dig it out of the archives and give it the shiny new reissue it deserves. The "Club Mix" of "KKK" is a feast of simple, charming programmed melodies and crisp drum machine rhythms with the innocence of the early 80s in its heart. The "Dub Mix" and "Bonus Beats" on the flip are handy for the technical DJs out there, but the "Club Mix" is where it's at for the lovers.
Catch Me If You Can (Jorge Savoretti Ethereal dub) (7:08)
Review: Michael James' "Winds Of Change" EP was a big look for Constant Black, and now the eminent minimal house label draws on a hit list of sharp shooters to deliver some deadly remixes. Huerta is up first with an angular but rolling dub twist on "Catch Me If You Can", before Nick Beringer pings things in a wonderfully hazy direction with his "7am Dub" of "Stormy Skies". Pascal Benjamin gets into a tight, focused funk on his version of "Reservoir", and then Jorge Savoretti flies in an "Ethereal Dub" of "Catch Me If You Can".
Review: In 1996, Dreamscape's Ed Marshall donned a new alias, Aplomb, and delivered the first fruits of his new project to New Age House Records. Only one track was ever released on a limited label promo, "Wondering". World Building's Ari Goldman, who previously put out a compilation of Marshall's work as Dreamscape, is a fan and has decided to rescue it from obscurity via this single-sided 12". The track itself is hard to accurately pigeonhole, combining as it does dense, carnival style drums, female scat vocals, warm bass, dreamy deep house chords and synthesizer flourishes reminiscent of early '80s jazz-funk. Either way, it's a sunny and groovy chunk of obscure house positivity that's well worth a place in your collection.
Review: Overthink is a Barcelona based label run by Nicolas Etorena, who taps homeboy Luis Malon here for four cuts of wonky retro rave and techno shenanigans on the "Champions Fantasy EP". The man has appeared on labels like Slow Life and Opia in recent times, so you should already have an idea of what's to come: from the electro-fied alien funk of "Terrify", to straight ahead peak time bangers like "Is TLM" with its savage 303 squelch, nodding to classic Yorkshire sounds. Driving B side cut "Vincha For All" receives a bouncy rework by SUR main man Jorge Gamarra that'll get you staring right down into the vortex.
Review: Since debuting in the early 2000s, Dutch trio Kraak & Smaak have established themselves as one of Europe's premier purveyors of eclectic, funk-fuelled dancefloor positivity. It's little surprise then to find that their new album "Pleasure Centre" - their sixth studio set in total - is another joyous romp. This time round, they've drawn more influence from West Coast style blue-eyed soul and yacht rock while continuing to offer nods towards boogie, P-funk, synth-pop, '80s soul, jazz-funk and Rotary Connection (see the superb "Twilght", with vocals by rising star Izo FitzRoy). It's a wonderfully warm and attractive blend, with the result being a superb collection of dancefloor cuts and heady downtempo numbers that all adds up to their best album to date.
Praying For You (Louie Vega NYC Fender Rhodes Solo) (4:55)
Praying For You (Louie Vega Vonita dub) (5:43)
Praying For You (KDA remix) (6:10)
Praying For You (album version) (6:11)
Praying For You (Louie Vega Expansions NYC dub) (5:41)
Smile (David Morales remix) (7:01)
Review: Earlier this year, DJ Spen and Teddy Douglas's long-serving gospel-house group Jasper Street Co returned to action with their first album in 16 years. It's from that album that "Praying For You" is taken, though the selling point here is not the LP mix but rather a suite of reworks from Louie Vega. Our picks of the bunch are his jazzy and breezy "Main Mix", the brilliantly bass-heavy "Vonita Dub" (think righteous call-and-response gospel vocals and a killer groove) and the sleazy "KDA Remix". The latter is a basement-bothering stomper rich in fuzzy organ stabs and spacey electronics. The smooth, slick and pleasingly colourful David Morales remix is also rather good (it reminded us a little of vintage Frankie Knuckles rubs, which is no bad thing).
Review: Best just keep coming with the Italo heat, once again tapping into that golden year of 1984. Funky Family was a one-shot studio project that left a much-vaunted record in its wake. The visionary nature of "Funk Is On" is impossible to ignore - from the noirish mood to the physical thrust of the arpeggios, the diva vocals and tough 4/4 groove, this is house music in all but name. Whether you want the vocal cut or the instrumental, Best have you covered - either is going to set the dancefloor alight.
Pamela Nivens - "It's You I Love" (instrumental mix) (4:07)
Hugh Mane - "Real Sucker For Your Love" (6:36)
Switchdance - "Arabian Ride" (6:11)
Mr Marvin - "Entity" (Jazzy mix) (4:22)
Review: Almost two years on from the release of his brilliant "The Sound of Mercury Rising" compilation, DJ Harvey returns with another brilliant selection of tracks he's championed at Pikes in Ibiza. As with its predecessor, volume two offers a giddy skip through the dustier corners of his notoriously eclectic and off-kilter record selection. Along the way, he offers up chiming, synth-heavy Balearic classics (Mandy Smith, Hugh Mane), weirdo European disco (Marta Acuna), evocative electronic soundscapes (System Olympia), blue-eyed synth-pop (Pamela Nivens), drum machine-powered Middle Eastern madness (Switchdance's sublime "Arabian Ride") and a swathe of tasty contemporary cuts (the jaunty jazz-funk of Midlife, Das Komplex's ace "Slap", Nu Guinea's splendid "Je Vulesse" and Peaking Lights remix of Land of Light being the highlights).
Review: Disco Fruit come correct once again with that bright and bold house sound to get everybody shaking their thing. 84Bit's "Mamma Jamma" is an impossibly catchy, diva-led funky house jam with pristine production that harks back to the glory days of radio-friendly house music with more hooks than a fishing tackle shop. Hotmood keeps the vibe of the original intact but edges a little more club-ready bite into the mix, master editor Dr Packer takes a subtle approach that keeps the disco vibes front and centre, while Tonbe cools things down with a filter riding version.
Review: Once again here edit king Mr. K turns his attention to one of the many hits penned by New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint. This time it's a 1978 tune from The Pointer Sisters that they still use as a concert opener whenever they play, despite the fact it didn't chart that well on release. That didn't stop it becoming a dance floor hit though, here the synths are polished up and drawn out with an added acappella and the whole thing dazzles. On the flip is an excellent edit of Gene Harris' cover of Stevie Wonder's transcendent "As", fine-tuned for 2019 and beyond with emphasized percussion and a sinewy extension that cuts the bulk of the lyrical intro and lets Harris's electric piano and the all-star choir shine.
Barely Breaking Even (Louie Vega Boogie mix - radio edit) (3:33)
Barely Breaking Even (Louie Vega Boogie instrumental mix - radio edit) (3:31)
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: an all-star re-recording of Universal Robot Band's boogie classic "Barely Breaking Even" that brings together Masters At Work man Louie Vega, original vocalist and arranger Leroy Burgess, iconic disco producer Patrick Adams and an impressive backing band of hired musicians including Michael Kelley (better known in electronic music circles as Metro Area collaborator Kelley Polar). While there are plenty of audible nods towards the early '80s original - extensive use of cowbells, that oh-so familiar synth sound - the re-recording is altogether warmer, fuller and a more contemporary sounding affair rich in sweeping orchestration and tactile synth bass. Both the edited vocal and instrumental versions are superb.
I Want To Thank You (KON Shine Your Light remix) (7:54)
I Want To Thank You (KON dub) (7:49)
Review: Having previously breathed new life into classic cuts from L.T.D, George Duke and Sylvester, Kon has now turned his attention to another all-time favourite: Alicia Myers' 1981 stunner "I Want To Thank You", a disco-era gospel-soul favourite that remains one of the era's most timeless club records. Working from the multi-track tapes, Kon teases out Myers' killer vocal - drenched in just the right amount of reverb and delay - atop a slightly stripped-back groove before giving it the full kitchen sink treatment. Just as good is the flipside Dub, which flits between beat-free sections and the track's killer groove in the manner of disco dubs from the early 1980s. The song itself may not have needed tampering with, but Kon's versions are genuinely superb.
Review: Hot on the heels of a re-work of Bobby Caldwell, edit stylist Caserta is back with another golden nugget. This time he turns his attention to the one and only Luther Vandross and serves up two equally essential but very different tunes that pay homage to his unique voice. The King Street Mix is all hip swinging claps and nodding bass riffs that are organic and heartfelt, whereas the Henry Street Mix nods to the '90s heyday of New York. With warm neon organ stabs that will get any floor pumping, both interpretations have Luther's soulful voice front and centre.
Review: The My Rules crew is back with its first release of 2019 and doesn't disappoint: this time they've come up with a much fawned over cosmic disco classic from Belgian outfit Candy Darling & The Viscounts. The original "Movin'" is a previously Japan only 12" promo mix of a disco cover of a Lee Hazelwood surf song that has edgy stabs and a squelchy bassline to die for. The flip side houses a special rework by Mt Rules label boss Justin Van Der Volgen. He tweaks the inner workings of the tune to draw out the key bits for utter dance floor destruction. Form the bar to the cub to the afters, this one is primed and ready to detonate.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: As far as collaborative delights go, this really takes the cake. Miami boogie wildcard Noel Williams, aka King Sporty, throwing it down heavy with legendary Jamaican reggae axe man Ernest Ranglin - as you might expect, the results are incendiary. "Soft Touch" has a hint of the cosmic about it as it romps through insanely catchy chorus chants, stirring brass stabs and Ranglin's sweet licks. "Keep On Dancing" has a more uptempo feel, "In The Rain" slips into a laid back reggae skank and "Be What You Want To Be" turns the vintage disco heat back up. Throughout this wonderful mini LP, the duo switch between each other's strengths and bring out the best in each other, like all good collaborations should.
Review: If you're looking for a great selection of house and disco club cuts, you can't beat Z Records "Attack The Dancefloor" Series. The latest volume begins with the revivalist disco brilliance of label founder Dave Lee AKA Joey Negro's remix of Delia Renee's "You're Gonna Want Me Back", before moving on to the slightly more house-centric modern disco vibes of Dr Packer's superb revision of vintage Dave Lee production (as Foreal People) "Shake". Over on side B, Grant Nelson offers up a filter-sporting disco-house revision of Z Factor classic "Gotta Keep Pushin", before Lee dons the Joey Negro alias one more time to wrap ear-catching church organ solos around a gospel-influenced house groove on an excellent remix of Four80East and CeCe Peniston's "Are You Ready?".
Review: Many disco-era modern soul collectors regard, Larom Baker's "You're The Best", which initially appeared in 1978 on an impossible to find, single-sided 7" single, as one of the style's genuine "Holy Grail" records. It's good news, then, that Athens Of The North has secured the rights to reissue it, releasing the full studio version (rather than the shorter edit that was released all those years ago) for the very first time. It's a genuine gem, with Baker's deliciously breezy West Coast soul vocal seemingly floating over a killer backing track rich in hazy horns, bustling slap bass and crunchy Clavinet lines. Turn to the flipside for the more disco-minded "Train Of Thought", one of a string of recently discovered Baker recordings that form the basis of a forthcoming album of previously unreleased tracks.
Review: Following his recent strong turn on Cocktail D'Amore, Jules Etienne makes a trip back to Apersonal Music with more of that island groove for the smoothest slack-wearers in town. "Free As A Man" is a beautifully laid back but funky offering that speaks to all kinds of good times. Jex Opolis turns in a remix of the track that has a little more bite to suit the later demands of the dancefloor. "Don't Wanna Talk About It" sees Etienne linking up with Disco D and winding all kinds of slick strutting business into his sound, and then "Rhythm For The Garden" heads off into wonderful tribal percussion that serves as a handy tool for DJs who want to get some rich drum sounds into their set.
Review: Dinky-Di is a modern disco ensemble conducted by Waq Takahashi with just a few key releases spread out across the past 15 years. Now Million Dollar Disco main man Al Kent has cherry picked one of the hottest jams from their oeuvre and given it a special rub down - the kind of treatment that warrants a single-sided 12" no less. In Al's hands, 2005 track "Gold Wave" becomes a sizzling party monster that romps along for more than 10 minutes. With scintillating peaks, heavyweight drum breakdowns and sumptuous musicianship throughout, this is how an epic disco bomb should sound in 2019.
Mahogany - "Ride On The Rhythm" (Michael Gray remix) (7:05)
Raw Silk - "Just In Time" (Michael Gray remix) (6:25)
Review: Full Intention man Michael Gray is the latest contemporary house producer to get his hands on the parts to classic cuts from the bulging West End Records catalogue. He has opted to rework two slightly deeper early '80s jams, starting with Mahogany's 1982 boogie cut "Ride On The Rhythm". His version is warm, sparkling and bass-heavy, offering the right balance between modern production techniques and the kind of effects utilized by the track's original producers. It's really good, keeping the spirit of the original track while dragging it into the 21st century. The same could be said of his boogie-house take on Raw Silk's "Just In Time", which boasts a similar balance of tidy new drums, spruced-up synths and swirling effects.
Review: This is a big reissue of some disco-not-disco weirdness as cut up and chopped, skewed and made to dazzle by the Bastedos camp. "Keep Me On Fire" is a chugging pumper with fat drums and noodling riffs that sets the groove train in motion and keeps it running. "I Tried To Help It" is even more wild and impassioned thanks to the unabashed vocal that cries in soulful falsettos while Chic-style riffs power it along. "Termination" ends in a freaky but funky fashion with twisted vocals and gauzy guitar chords layering up into a marching wall of sound that's laden with effects.