Review: vKeen Africa 45 followers should recognise Eshete's name as he's appeared on the series before. Mr Bongo call him the Ethiopian James Brown and the Abyssinian Elvis... And they're not far off. This 74 rarity shows him crooning and crying at full pelt over a solid funk groove that's powered by piano and guitar. Flip for an equally rare vocal track from fellow Ethiopian Girma. Recorded in 69, full focus is squared on the lavish organ leads while the horns provide a soft but sturdy backdrop.
Review: Released in 1971 and written and recorded by Dave Hamilton (one of Motown's most prolific and influential session players), Sugar Billy Garner plays the consummate band leader over a relentless groove that rolls with drama. Billy gets sweatier, the guitars get busier, the dynamic gets heavier and heavier... So heavy it rolls into a second part. Primed for the floor, it still hits hard 44 years after its release.
Review: London's The Getup release their seventh release, this time for Saskatoon's' Funky Pops Records. Hammond player Mark Ashfield first met up with established funk musicians Mark Claydon (drums) and Ian Stevens (bass) and that's when the band was born. The past few years have seen them establish themselves in the national funk scene, playing many of the top venues like The Jazz Cafe and The Yardbird in Birmingham. Now they add Lee Blackmore on guitar and horns by Tristan Gaudion and Alex Harris. The Getup's sound remains firmly in the British camp - indeed they seem to have developed their own unique style and have been compared by many to an early James Taylor Quartet.
Review: Tramp Records has stayed close to home for this release, reissuing two killer cuts from the 1981 album "Mittwochs In Marl" album by Tyree Glenn Jr. While he is American - his father, Glenn senior, was famously Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong's trombonist - Glenn Jr had moved to Germany (where he still resides) around the time that the album was recorded. Lead cut "Superbad" is a genuinely heavy, full-throttle funk beast, with Glenn Jr doing his best James Brown impression over an insatiable groove and rousing sax solos. "Ma(r)l Sehen", on the other hand, is a much more breezy affair - an instrumental jazz-funk outing rich in dueling sax and electric piano solos.
Review: Rocafort Records has excelled itself once again with this release, a four-track journey into "oriental jazz" by a quartet of international musicians helmed by young Turkish pianist, composer and arranger Gokhan Surer. He describes his style as "world, fusion, jazz", which is a neat summary of the exotic, evocative and emotion-rich material on offer. Check first the warm occidental jazz shuffle of "Chimera" before recoiling in wonder at the Turkish strings, double bass, hushed percussion and jazz-funk style electric piano solos of "Dere". Over on side B, "Makam Rasta" is an inspired fusion of reggae, jazz-funk and Arabian instrumentation, while "Onbesli" is a rolling fusion cut underpinned by hip-hop style beats.
Review: Athens Of The North return to the disco motherland by way of this scorching groove doublet from Canadian troupe Gratitude. "We Are Here To Party" lives up to its name with vibrant horns and a thumping deep funk focus. Flip for "Loving You", as the name suggests there's a smoother tone and message at play as the band ease us into something a little comfier. Less of a B, more of an AA. Show some gratitude for the tireless AOTN crew!
Review: The Great Revivers continue their unassailable 2014 assault on the record boxes of funk selectors everywhere with yet another killer seven for the Funk Night label. Brashly titled "Don't Mess with GR" may be, but this Russian quartet always prefer to let their musicianship do the talking and you can't fault the Great Revivers funk here as three odd minutes of prime dirtiness unfolds driven by a killer drum beat. It's complemented well by the more uptempo jam that is "Hard Way To Go" and lays down a marker for what to expect from the Great Revivers forthcoming album.
Review: Funk Night Records were quick to snap up some newly recorded material from Philly psych band Grimace Federation as soon as they heard it, and for good reason. These tracks were recorded during a weekend in a session with producer John McEntire and manage to sound raw and distorted yet seductive. "Dotsero" echoes the magic of Adrian Younge with its big horns and stirring soul, while "Starspots" is a more expansive track, with nebulous chords, busy drum playing and plenty of jazz elements making it a real cosmic voyage.
Review: Following their surprise reunion and Strut-release album We Be All Africans last year, Idris and The Pyramids return... This time on Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon imprint. Laying down a spiritual arrangement so frenetic and full of its own life it takes up two parts, Idris's sax plays duet with Philophon's own vocalist Guy One. Gutsy, raw and full of surprises, it's another out-of-body experience from the longstanding jazz troupe.
Otis Redding - "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" (Soul Flip edit) (4:03)
Gerri Granger - "I Go To Pieces" (Soul Flip edit) (3:33)
Review: Sometimes you just can't beat the golden oldies and so it is that Soul Flip turns his attention to a couple of raw soul bangers. Up first is Otis Redding's classic "(Your Love Lifted Me ) Higher & Higher" with a rousing bass section which drives along the original version.The hits hit hard, the vocal is given room to breathe and the swing in the drums is infectious. The flipside houses a soaring tweak of Gerri Granger's "I Go To Pieces", with its clattering keys and rolling soul all quickly finding a way into your affections.
TB Funk - "Free Blow" (the dub version - G&D edit) (5:01)
Kenny Pierce - "Done Been" (5:13)
Those Good Intentions - "We Know How To Boogie" (6:50)
Sherman Hunter - "Dance To Freedom" (8:12)
Gospel Keepers - "Never Gonna Give You Up" (5:38)
Living Color - "Plastic People" (G&D edit) (4:57)
Roller Disco - "Stone Luv" (4:15)
Carol Meriwether - "Love Ain't Just (A Physical Thing)" (9:35)
William Barlak - "Ain't No Doubt About It" (3:42)
Review: The Grasso is greener in Bologna: home to two of the most well-connected collectors in Italy. Suppliers to the likes of Kenny Dope, Phil Asher and Dimitri, Gino and Federico have carved their crate craft to insane levels over the last 30+ years... As shown on this detailed, widescreen boogie, funk and disco collection for BBC. Splattering the vibrant collection with a handful of their own edits (TB Funk's salubrious struts on "Free Blow", fly-by boogie falsettos on Living Color's "Plastic People"), the Grasso bro's have put together a package that's eye-opening, enlightening and damn fine to party to. See you on the other side.
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing for all those who love Al Green's distinctive brand of soul: a deluxe box set containing re-mastered, replica versions of "45s" released by the singer on Hi Records between 1969 and '78. It's a wonderfully packaged and produced item, with no less than 26 seven-inch singles being joined by a 56-page hardback book and an ultra-limited Hi Records 45 adaptor. The music is, of course, superb, with the singles containing many of Green's most potent, celebrated and well-known works alongside largely forgotten B-sides and lesser-celebrated bonus cuts.
Review: The Stone LP is what really made Billy Green the artist that he is today. Starting off as a rhythm and blues guitar player back in the '60s, the cult movie saw him move onto more experimental territories, and enter the broad genre that is referred to as 'prog-rock'. This album is much more than that, however, and the opening track "Eco Blue / Toadstrip" is a clear signal of the madness and experimentation that's to quickly follow suit on the remainder of the LP. You have everything from fast percussion sequences, to gnarly guitar riffs, and distorted voices, all wrapped in an early, gritty electronic bed of sound. This one is clearly for the samplers, a diggers dream come true; and now available again in its original format. Recommended.
Evidence For The Existance Of The Unconscious (9:12)
Review: Co-produced by none other than James Brown and featuring a band led by fellow funk/soul legend Dave Matthews, The Grodeck Whipperjenny's sole album has long been considered something of a must-have by heavy funk fans. Original copies have tended to be hard to come by, so this Record Store Day reissue from Now Again Records, which comes complete with a booklet telling the story of the 1970 set, should be an essential purchase. It's a curiously psychedelic affair, with string-laden, near symphonic moments (see the almost entirely beat-free "Conclusions" being joined by cuts that explore spiraling funk-rock ("Sitting Here On A Tongue") and acid-fired psychedelic rock ("Why Can't I Go Back").
Review: According to the label, Nigerian singer Kiki Gyan's star "didn't burn long, but it burned bright." As a member of Afro funk super group Osibisa at 15; he was millionaire by 18 and regarded as one of the best keyboardists in the world at the tender age of 21. In 1983 he 'dived head first into the New York party scene', took a lot of drugs, spent a lot of time in clubs and got together a team of crack local musicians to record Feelin' Alright. All the artist's trademark elements are present and in full effect on this LP. The album contains irresistible elements of electronic funk, boogie and disco with the track "Rosemary" becoming a hit across Nigeria and Ghana. Kiki Gyan would never quite better this moment, for his addictions eventually took hold and he died aged only 47 at a church in Ghana. This very album 'remains one of the brightest stars in his extraordinary constellation.'