Review: 213 was something of a supergroup formed in America's west coast soul scene. Powerhouses such as Bill Meyers, Guy Thomas and Neil Stubenhaus were all involved in the making of this album from 1981, which never actually saw the light of day at the time, but is now presented for the first time by Norwegian record label Preservation. It's sentimental material for lazy Sunday mornings, with emotive vocals backed by soaring strings and uplifting chords. There are more reflective moments like "Good Friends" next to swaying singings like "Ohio" and together they add up to a smooth listen.
Review: Joe Armon-Jones has been a driving force in the resurgence of contemporary jazz and now makes something of a victory lap with this new album on the always essential Brownswood. It's a very modern mix of bass and dub, du jour club culture and his own jazz styles featuring peers like Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Frankly, the whole record is silky, starry-eyed and sublime and the excellent artwork also hist at the cosmic subtleties of this album, but our picks of the bunch are the neo-soul, summery stroll through the park vibes of "Yellow Dandelion", "Gnawa Sweet" which glows with mellifluous Rhodes chords and the uncompromising yet accessible sax and big brass action of album highlight "You Didn't Care".
Review: In 1972, Marvin Gaye set to work recording what was scheduled to become the follow-up to his greatest single studio album, the previous year's "What's Going On". In the end, only one single from that mooted set ever appeared - "You're The Man", a weary assessment of that year's U.S Presidential Election - and Gaye's bitter arguments with Motown continued. This intriguing album tries to set the record straight, gathering together work completed for the shelved album with newly mixed songs based around previously unfinished works. There's much to admire throughout, with the material flitting between the kind of lusciously orchestrated, conscious songs featured on Gaye's previous set and more commercial-sounding Motown pop (much of which was produced by Willie Hutch).
Review: Last year, NYC based revivalist "gospel quartet" group the Harlem Gospel Travelers finally made their vinyl debut album after five years wowing audiences on the live circuit. 12 months later, they're finally ready to release their first full-length excursion. A nostalgic trip through 1950s and 1960s style gospel-based rhythms and blues, soul, funk and doo-wop, the album's greatest strength - aside from the authenticity of the music and production of course - is the group's incredible vocals. Brilliantly arranged harmonies play a big part, though the lead vocals (shared between all four members) are little less than stunning.
Review: Fast-rising New York soul singer Carlton Jumel Smith continues his successful partnership with Timmion house band Cold Diamond & Mink via a debut album that sounds like it could have been recorded in the early 1970s rather than 2019. Smith's lyrics and effortlessly soulful vocal delivery take centre stage throughout, though it's the faithfully fuzzy grooves, punchy horn lines and languid, delay-laden guitar motifs provided by his storied backing band that make the album a real winner. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the loved-up sweetness of "This Is What Love Looks Like!" and Motown-influenced stomp of "We're All We Got", to the slack-tuned drum breaks and bittersweet messages of "I Can't Love You Anymore (feat Pratt)" and the cheery goodness of "Remember Me". In a word: superb.
Fiona Yorke - "Love For Me" (Nigel Lowis Super Disco mix)
Elis - "Praise You" (Nigel Lowis Sound Factory mix)
Hannah White - "Tell Me" (Nigel Lowis Vintage mix)
Francisca Thomas - "Clouds In My Mirror" (Nigel Lowis Sholes mix)
The Dig Band - "Cosmic Wind" (feat Jimmy Gallagher - Dig Construction mix)
Lol Williams - "Everyday" (Dsg Classic mix)
Nigel Lowis - "When The Night Calls" (Nigel Lowis Breezin' mix)
John Reid - "Teardrops" (Nigel Lowis mix)
Teddy B - "I Can't Help Myself" (Dsg radio edit)
Rebekah Ryan - "The Best Of Me" (Nigel Lowis Sound Factory mix)
Marc Staggers - "Timeless" (Nigel Lowis Classic mix)
Peter Symphorien & Fitzroy Facey - "This Ever Changing World" (Nigel Lowis The Soul Academy mix)
Review: An active producer and remixer since the 1990s, Nigel Lowis has a knack for crafting classic-sounding reworks that effortlessly join the dots between contemporary soulful house and the classic sounds of Philly Soul, disco, jazz-funk and boogie. For proof, check out this second collection of new, rare and little-known Lowis reworks. Those of a soulful persuasion will find much to enjoy throughout, from the slick, sax-sporting Philadelphia Soul revivalism of Lowis' take on Tilly Grace's "The Soul Man Theme", and a string-laden, Chic style "Super Disco Mix" of Fiona Yorke's "Love For Me", to the sugary-sweet slo-mo revision of Marc Staggers' "Timeless" and the boogie-tinged soulful house re-make of Kenny Thomas' "Back On Broadway".
Review: The honey-voiced Barrett was just 29 when he wrote, arranged, conducted and co-produced "Do Not Pass Me By Volume 2", a superb collection of gospel funk and soul rich in uplifting group vocals, bustling grooves, Tambourine-heavy drums, wild organ lines and rousing horns. With Barrett handling lead vocals throughout, the ten tracks veer from sparse and laidback spiritual meditations to surging sing-alongs that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.
Review: Discerning diggers will know that an original copy of this funk soul gem from 1978 often fetch close to four figures. Initially released on a little known label in Mississippi, Acid Jazz now give it the proper reissue treatment. It is filled with passionate soul songs that stride forward with purpose and pride. "Let Me Be Your Lover" is the breakout single that will get most club plays, but the sliding hi hats and twangy bass of "Gonna Find A True Love" will also do plenty of damage. The version included here is slightly different to the single that was reissued earlier this year, but is well worthy of its inclusion.
Review: Two years on from the release of his critically acclaimed "Wallflower" album on Ninja Tune, Jordan Rakei returns with his most eagerly awaited set to date. Happily, it doesn't disappoint. Beginning with the electronic soul-pop brilliance of "Mad World", Rakei effortlessly flits between synth-laden hip-hop-soul ("Say Something"), slinky downtempo songs ("Mind's Eye"), 21st century disco-boogie anthems ("Rolling Into One"), slow-burn musical fusions (the military drums, Juju guitars and heartfelt vocals of "Oasis") and the kind of sumptuous, sun-kissed fare that defies easy categorization. With Rakei's sultry vocals taking centre stage throughout, "Origin" is a sparkling set that just gets better with every listen.
Never Gonna Give You Up (Won't Let You Be) (long version)
All We Need
Remind Me (LP version)
Settle For My Love
Feels So Real (Won't Let Go) (12" version)
To Each His Own
Review: Given the stone-cold-classic status of Patrice Rushen's disco-era recordings on Elektra, it's little surprise to see Strut offering up this superb retrospective of that key period in her career. Naturally, the big club hits are present - "Feels So Real (Can't Let Go)", "Haven't You Heard", "Number One" and "Forget Me Nots" - but it's the quality of the lesser celebrated cuts and album tracks that most impresses. For proof, check the sharp horns and good grooves of "Look Up (Extended Version)", the breezy boogie bounce of "Never Gonna Give You Up (Won't Let You be)" and the electric piano solo-laden seductiveness of "Remind Me (LP Version)". There's naturally plenty of sweet slow jams to savour, too, those to our ears these pale in comparison to Rushen's dancefloor-focused output.