Review: Calvin Carr's wonderful gospel-soul has been a digger's favourite for yonks, often being cited and used by the very best selectors in the game. This 1878 single, originally out on Philadelphia United Records, is aptly named "Without Christ" and it offers listeners, dancers and lovers an opportunity for positive redemption. Much like the rest of the gospel world, this is perhaps the best way to convert people into enlightenment and keep them positive - there is absolutely no way that this disco-tinged gem cannot make you jump up with joy and excitement. The instrumental cut is pretty killer, too. BIG.
Review: Two more rare grooves purloined from Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul and delivered on a sweet 45: Celia's "A Hora E Essa" is a steamy Latin funk workout from 72; all horns, cuicas and soft, honeyed vocals. Franco's "Ei, Voce, Psiu!" takes a more US funk idea with Franco's spoken vocals giving off a strong air of bandleader as the band lock down a tight groove beneath. Watch out for samba flip towards the end. Blink and you'll miss it.
Review: Bay City claim that between the 60s and 70s, the music scene "was so fertile that the speed with which tastes changed left a colossal amount of incredible music to gather dust - perhaps most famously a profusion of funk, soul and rock." This resulted in many local bands who released their music independently without a label. The rather short lived, James Brown indebted Chain were one of those bands. These impressive two tracks feature hard drums, sharp horns, raw vocals, and supercool guitar licks. And a whole lot of soul, of course!
Review: Fresh from the Harlem hotpot, 1980: Harold Sargent's Chain Reaction teamed up with Sound Of New York's founder and producer Peter Brown for a star-lit, horn-baked, organ-licked disco creation that still funks hard 36 years down the line. With its maximal approach, disco bubbles and emphatic gutsy vocals, it could be argued that this funk even harder today due to it ticking every possible disco, boogie and funk box possible.
Review: Electro Wayne's mid 80s-focused Circuitry project get busy on Peoples Potential Unlimited with two starlit synth boogie originals; "She's Just That Type Of Girl" is a playful east coast funk flex with a slight freestyle touch to it. Harmonies, light touches on the keys and exceptional drum production, it's a sassy slice that will warm-up any floor. "Under Pressure" lowers the tempo but thrusts up the sensual urgency with great percussion and come-to-bed spoken word. Authentically done.
Review: Two powerful soul sessions from Alice Clark's eponymous debut 1972 album. "Don't You Care" is a hard-hitting soul standard (that became very popular in acid jazz scene in the early 90s) where Alice opens her heart for all to see while her incredible band ebb and flow with Clark's emotions. "Never Did I Stop Loving You", meanwhile, languishes in sentiment at a slightly lower tempo that allows her to really dig deep for those low notes. The real fun happens as we reach momentum towards the end and every band member brings out their A-game and bounces off each other - backing up Alice every step of the way. You will care about this.
Review: Two of Funk Night Records' most distinctive and innovative acts join forces for two outstanding pieces of psychedelic fiery funk fusion. Estonian duo Misha Panfilov Sound Combo set the bedrock on "Soul Strut". All fuzzy, unkempt and energetic, it sets the scene for Detroit's Coco Buttafli to lay her scorched heart on the line in an almost metal-like style. "Electrifying Woman" takes us even deeper into the psychedelic mindset as the groove is given a swampy, dizzying feeling while Coco spits spoken word with such a savage honesty you can't helped but get sucked into the story. Two of a kind.
Review: Two big cuts taken from the Melbourne trio's sixth album Blind Bet, here the band flip two sides of a ridiculously funky coin. "Mind Made Up" features the vocals of Tru Thoughts starlet Kylie Auldist. Her rich emphatic vocals fit the 70s soul licks perfectly. Smooth and dynamically delivered with big horns, subtle strings, major chords and an instantly catchy chorus, you'll make your mind up on this long before the last horns blast a final cheerio. "Skeletor", meanwhile, is a much more party-focussed jam where big breakbeats provide the back bone for sharp horns, heavy Hammond slapping and warm gravelly vocals.
Review: Dreamy mid '70s funk from Caribbean (St Maarten to be precise) trio Cool Creations: "Wish Upon Love" struts with a Boz Scaggs-style confidence and a deep, cloudy finish that would make Faze-O proud. Flip for a straight-up cloud burst as "Night On Beach Island" lives up to its name with measured pace, cosmic trumpets, sandy pianos and lavish, lolloping wave-lapping double bass. Beautiful.
Review: For the second salvo on Cornhusker Records, the publicity-shy crew is treating us to a quartet of re-edits starting impressively with "Easily", a floor-focused rearrangement of a slap bass, woodblock and sax-heavy chunk of jazz-funk goodness, before turning a jaunty Mizell Brothers cut into a rolling house groover. The fun continues on side B, where the sweaty percussive Hammond funk of "Launchpad" is followed by head-in-the-clouds delight "Bring It", a subtle scalpel rework of a Clavinet-sporting Blaxploitation era disco-funk workout. Given the variety and quality on show, this has the feel of a record that might stay in your "playing out" box for a while.
Review: If you dig disco but have yet to explore the bulging back catalogue of De-Lite Records stalwarts Crown Heights Affair, this double-pack could be exactly what you need. It draws together a quintet of the group's most potent and essential moments, beginning with the soaring mid-tempo brilliance of "Say A Prayer For Two". That sublime chunk of disco-funk perfection is followed by the buzzing horns, walking bass and high-register vocals of "Galaxy of Love" and the punchy disco stomp of "I'm Gonna Love You Forever", where relentless horns and spacey synth flourishes do their best to whip listeners into a frenzy. The second 12" offers another chance to own "Dreaming A Dream (Goes Dancin')" and the bouncy disco-funk epic that is "Dancin' (Disco mix)".
Review: Mr Bongo recently served up a tasty 7" single featuring two of Cymande's best-loved tracks, "Fug" and "Brothers on the Slide". Here they repeat the trick, slapping the two most-played tracks from the British band's incredible 1972 debut album, Cymande, on one "45". The A-side boasts "Bra", a killer chunk of funk/soul/reggae fusion with one of the most recognizable grooves around. Hip-hop heads will know it inside out, since DJs have been doubling up with copies of "Bra" since the mid 1970s. On the flip you'll find "The Message", a sublime, slightly more spaced out reggae-funk workout rich in snaking sax lines, memorable vocals and a groove so distinctive it couldn't come from any other band.
Review: The love of all things Soviet and disco has been established by French/German duo Fulgeance and Scientist for several years now, having reached a peak last year with their album The Soviet Tape on First Word. Now they return with their own edit series on brand new label Excursions. With eyes squared fully on the floor, each obscurity is given some serious groove muscle for the floor... Charaunitsy's soulful croons and yearning horns are given an additional kick/snare swing, Latvia's Mirdza gets a deliciously camp turbo charge while Ukraine's Tatyana Kochergina gets a full-on Philly treatment with lavish strings and a bassline that won't say nyet.
Tecumsay Roberts - "It Makes Me Dance & Sing" (5:44)
Commy Bassey - "We Want Togetherness" (4:37)
Review: Triassic Tusk's "Screamers, Bangers & Cosmic Synths" series of crate digging comps has seen the Scottish crew showcase some seriously hot, little-known music. Mukatsuku have joined forces with the imprint to give a 12" release to two potent Afro-disco smashers that recently featured on volume two of the ongoing compilation series ,now remastered and sounding better than ever. On side A you'll find Liberian artist Tecumsay Roberts' bouncy 1979 Afro-soul/Afro-boogie number "It Makes Me Dance & Sing", where spacey Moog solos rice above a funk-influenced dancefloor groove. On the flip, the fun continues via Commy Bassey's Clav-happy, Nigerian sounding Afro-boogie roller "We Want Togetherness", a positive plea for unity that's as relevant now as it was way back in 1980.Juno copies come in an exclusive branded card sleeve with an additional obi strip not available at other retailers .As played/charted by Red Greg,Joe Claussell,Marcel Vogel, Craig Charles,Faze Action,Kalita,Cedric Woo,JKriv,Prins Thomas,Floating Points and Dom Servini so far.
Review: Best known for their near-pornographic funk classic "Jungle Fever," The Chakachas were actually a group of Belgian-based studio musicians. They first appeared during the early '60s, recording a playful mixture of Latin music, jazz, and European-style exotica. "Jungle Fever" played more to dance-club patrons than radio listeners, which helped it endure into the disco years; it was also heavily sampled by the hip-hop generation.
Lettre A Monsieur Le Legislateur (De La Loi Sur Les Stupefiants) (5:56)
Review: 1983's Rive Gauche by Philippe Chany has been lost in the depths of time and, until now, many greedy second-hand sharks have been keeping its price way up high. This little synth-pop marvel is a sampler's dream, containing beautiful riffs here and there, and what is most alluring about it is its total detachment from any one genre. In fact, there are noticeable touches of all things Balearic in here, and many of its tunes could the perfect accompaniment to disco, boogie or even expansive DJ sets. With a little subtle nod to funk, Chany's album is one of those veritable one-offs, the sort of albums that are in a category of their own. A stunning reissue, once again, by Dark Entries.
Review: Kalita Records announce the first ever and definitive discography of Carrie Cleveland. Here, they offer an expanded version of her 1978 album 'Looking Up', including both the issue and promotional versions of her single 'Make Love To Me', and the previously unknown sweet soul single 'I've Got A Feeling'.
Privately arranged, recorded and produced by Carrie and her husband Bill as a labour of love in their backyard studio in 1978, 'Looking Up' is one of the most in-demand soul/disco LPs in existence, sought-after in particular for their track 'Love Will Set You Free'. In addition, the promotional version of Carrie's single 'Make Love To Me' is one of the best and rarest sweet soul records to have emerged out of the West Coast soul scene, and her single 'I've Got A Feeling' is until today virtually unknown even to the most seasoned of collectors, with even Carrie herself unsure if it was ever released. With the album originally pressed in a limited run of just 1000 with 500 copies of each single, original copies of Carrie's records deservingly command eye-watering figures on the second-hand market. Kalita now satisfy the thirst with the first ever official reissue of her entire discography.
The Kalita vinyl reissue consists of both the expanded album and a bonus 7" single, and is housed in a gatefold sleeve. It includes extensive interview-based liner notes and never before seen photos, detailing Carrie and Bills' life and musical career.
Review: Best known for being the backing band for countless soul singers - most notably Emilia Sisco, Willie West and Thee Baby Cuffs - Timmion Records regulars Cold Diamond & Mink have finally been given a chance to take centre stage. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" is the tight funk and soul combo's debut album and contains ten killer cuts from the Finnish combo in their usual jazz-flecked 1960s/early '70s funk and soul sound. Highlights are plentiful from start to finish, with the hazy bustle of "Remember Me", the super-sweet and glistening "Ain't That Love" and rush-inducing "This Is What Love Looks Like!" amongst our current favourites.
Save Your Love (feat Boogie Back & David A Tobin) (5:19)
Sexability (feat Kevin East) (4:56)
Slow Burn Love (feat D Train) (3:55)
No Matter What (feat Yolanda Lavender) (5:28)
Keep On (feat Matthew Winchester) (4:51)
Come Back Home (feat David A Tobin) (5:03)
Share The Light (feat Janus Soliand) (5:06)
Your Move (feat Sophie Ripley) (4:51)
Summer Rain (feat Faye B) (4:38)
Review: Over 10 years deep and sounding Stronger than ever (not sorry) Cool Million return with their fifth album and it's delicious in all directions. Still smacking with that powerful early 80s soul, boogie and RnB blend, still packing heavyweight vocalists, still stacking serious levels of musicianship, Stronger runs the gamut. From juicy feet-tickling boogie ("Stronger", "Keep On") to sultry ballads ("Share The Light") and steamy soul jams ("Come Back Home") with killer vocals from the likes of the legendary D-Train plus Janus Soliand, Jasmine Franklin and David A Tobin, "Stronger" is one of the Danish/German duo's most accomplished albums to date.
Review: Recorded in 1978 but lovingly excavated from the vaults and remastered by Trad Vibe records, this third album by French band Cortex is a wealth of funky delights. Like Steely Dan, the core of Cortex consisted of pianist Alain Mion and drummer Alain Gandolfi, but for recording their number was swelled by a host of session musicians. Combining fusion with pop and rock melodies, they seriously sound like they were in the same zone as Stevie Wonder circa "Songs In The Key of Life" - the use of synth basslines and funky clavinets in particular recall the great one. Recalling another great lost album, Shggie Otis's Inspiration Information, the atmosphere is tight and warm as songs like "Images" follow some superb jazzy chord changes. "La Bulle" is a sexy and slow rocky number that owes a debt to Isaac Hayes, and sounds like the kind of thing Air listened to around the time of Moon Safari. The uptempo disco of "Running From You" is made slightly camp due to the clipped English language vocals, but it's still a hell of a tune (ideally suited for a cosmic Todd Terje edit). Closing track "Matin Gris" is the most downtempo thing on the album and a fitting send-off, with the glorious analogue phasing on the synths proving a real highlight. This is funky French rock at its best, and very deserving of a reissue and a whole new audience.
Review: Having previously impressed with their reissue of Patrick Cowley's brilliant, all-synthesizer soundtrack to obscure '70s gay porn flick School Daze, Dark Entries and Honey Sound System once again join forces to shine a light on the high energy disco pioneer's work for San Francisco's Fox Studios. Unsurprisingly, it's another impressive collection, and features material recorded for a number of different pornographic films. There are naturally more up-tempo moments - see "Somebody To Love Tonight", which would later be re-recorded with Sylvester, and the synth-weirdness-meets-jazz-funk brilliance of "5oz of Funk" - but it's the impressively cosmic and exotic ambient moments, such as the stand-out "Timelink" and "Jungle Magic", that really stand out.
Review: Previously spotted changing hands for over L300, the mysterious Argentinian band's one and only album from 1973 gets a long-awaited reissue and the moment you put the needle on it, you can hear why it's been in such demand. A frenetic, fiery instrumental saga that brings Latin, Afrobeat and funk together in one thick, spicy brew that ranges from poignant introversion ("Evenescente") to pure duelling guitar theatre ("Colision") Not dissimilar to acts such Azymuth, this really is a remarkable piece of work. Significant props to Pharaway Sounds for the excavation.
RA The Rugged Man - "Definition Of A Rap Flow" (3:33)
Roy Ayers - "Poo Poo La La" (4:16)
Herbie Hancock - "I Thought It Was You" (3:40)
Toto - "Waiting For Your Love" (4:10)
Omar - "I Want It To Be" (3:48)
Shalamar - "Take That To The Bank" (3:24)
Teddy Pendergrass - "Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky, Get Loose" (5:19)
The Incredible Bongo Band - "Apache" (4:52)
The Mighty Ryeders - "Evil Vibrations" (3:45)
D'Angelo - "Sugah Daddy" (5:04)
The Mad Lads - "No Strings Attached" (2:30)
The Emotions - "Blind Alley" (3:01)
Erykah Badu - "Next Lifetime" (4:01)
Review: The Cuban Brothers drop some heat of their own with this surprising compilation that blurs the lines between original music and DJ composition. La Familia does have some odd their sounds on it, namely the opening "I Hate Hate", a funky-ass pop tune that kicks this thing off on the right foot, but the majority of it is made from the very artists who launched funk and pop onto the world stage. Inside, you'll fid some absolute classics from legends like Herbie Hancock, Teddy Pendergrass, A Tribe Called Quest, D'Angelo, and many more hot shots.
Review: 1972's eponymous debut album from groundbreaking British band Cymande is one of those records you should really own. If you don't, then pick up a copy of this handy reissue. Not only does it contain a string of classic cuts - think "Bra", "The Message" and the epic, undulating deep jazz-funk workout "Dove" - but also provides a perfect summary of the band's unique fusion of American, Caribbean and African influences. Many albums get called "timeless", but few genuinely are. Cymande certainly is, with the album's lesser-known cuts - the wonderful "Rastafarian Folk Song" or the appropriately blazed "Getting It Back" - being every bit as impressive as those that have been widely celebrated.