Review: John Heartsman and Circles are precisely the sort of fellas you'd expect to see land on Athens Of The North, the most recent boogie-jazz reissuers to come out of the US of A. This material from the late 70's is like gold on the second hand market, and more like a mirage given the fact that original copies are her impossible to come by. Anyhow, this is proper soul-jazz goodness at its best, so if that's your thing, then get on it real fast. "Mr Magic" appears here as an edit from Fryers, but it's not million miles away from the original, its subtle organs still intact and that catch, funky swing still very much at the core of the tune. Heard the Idris Muhammad version? Check it to compare. "Talking About My Baby" is looser, more soulful affair with a faster tempo and Heartsman's rugged vocals in its underbelly. Quality.
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.
Review: Not to be confused with the sports commentator, David Coleman was behind the scorching boardwalk vocals that graced Hector Rivera's debut 1966 album At The Party. The right levels of swoon and croons over vital Latin orchestration - led by the renowned pianist and regular Tito Puenta collaborator - David exudes some serious emotion. "Drown My Heart" lilts with a soft samba while Coleman scatters powerful heartbreak tales, "My Foolish Heart" takes a much more stripped back rhythmic arrangement with yearning, soaring strings that break out into the full orchestra on the chorus. Both cult attractions on the northern soul and popcorn scenes, it's another hearty reissue from them up north.
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: Finland's Timmion Records should, by now, be categorised as leaders in the leftfield soul game. Their catalogue contains a wealth of both old and new talents and, whenever we see that famous 'TRI' sign hit our shelves, we just know we're in for the good shit. Thankfully, this new collaboration by the mysterious Cold Diamond and Mink is right up there with the rest of the label's wacky, soulful mind-melters, except that here we head into even deeper quarters. The 7" contains two parts of "Queen Of Soul", a rough, wavy piece of lo-fi strumming that uses its wonderfully exchoing guitars to guide the listener into a state of total psychedelia. We love it, and we suggest you to cop one now before it pops up for the triple the price in a decade's time. Bliss.
Review: One of Finnish funk imprint Timmion's most enduring stories; Pratt & Moody and Cold Diamond & Mink's 2017 "Lost Lost Lost" gets an update with Gerald McCauley. Not particularly known for his singing or songwriting (but very much active in other aspects of the industry) the original's raw blues struck a chord so strong in him, he put pen to paper and dulcets to tape to provide a new perspective on the track. The results speak for themselves. There's no wondering here... It's a full blown heartache conclusion.
Emilia Sisco - "Don't Believe You Like That" (with Cold Diamond & Mink) (4:47)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Don't Believe You Like That" (instrumental) (4:45)
Review: Timmion house band Cold Diamond & Mink have provided stellar backing for all manner of artists over the years, including vocal combo Thee Baby Cuffs, funk veteran Willie West and, most recently, sometime soulful house singer Carlton Jumel Smith. They're at it again here, this time providing the musical foundation for debutant Emilia Sisco. Her vocals - sweet, occasionally strong, always passionate - take center stage on "Don't Believe You Like That", a Dap Kings style revivalist heartfelt and emotional soul number. Turn to the flip to revel in Cold Diamond & Mink's simple, effective and dustily produced backing track, which remains the beating heart of the whole shebang.
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Let's Get Together" (instrumental) (4:22)
Review: We just love hearing new soul and funk. Sure, a rare single from the 60s or 70s goes a long way in satisfying our needs, but how good is it to hear NEW music!? That's why we rate Finland's Timmion imprint so highly; they always come through with the goods, and there isn't a single EP they've put out that hasn't interested us... or flown off our shelves! This time, Jonny Benavidez, Cold Diamond and Mink team up for the absolute sexiness that is "Let's Get Together", a seductive soul ballad that is bound to lit up the room instantly! The instrumental is rather fine, too.
Thee Baby Cuffs, Cold Diamond & Mink - "My My My Baby" (4:46)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "My My My Baby" (instrumental) (4:46)
Review: The latest hot-to-trot missive on Timmion subsidiary Stylart pairs the label's house band, Cold Diamond and Mink, with Thee Baby Cuffs, a three-part vocal harmony group from California whose only previous release was an ultra-limited seven-inch single last year. The group's classic-sounding vocals - reminiscent of famous male soul combos of the early 1960s - act as a focal point on the side A original version, though it's the studied retro brilliance of Cold Diamond and Mink's on point backing track that stands out. The band's authentic production - all rising horn lines, rich bass, loose-limbed drums and '60s style hard stereo separation - can be heard even more clearly on the fantastic flip-side instrumental take.
Review: If you're a talented soul vocalist who wants an authentically fuzzy late 1960s sound, you could do worse than join forces with Timmion Records' in-house backing band, Cold Diamond & Mink. They're in fine form here providing admirable backing to rising star Carlton Jumel Smith. "Love Our Love Affair" is undeniably attractive, with Smith's confident and emotion-rich vocal rising above the band's hazy horns, languid trumpet solos, sun-bright guitar licks and lolloping, hip-hop style funk-soul beats. As is customary, the band's tidy instrumental version can be found - and enjoyed - on the flip.
Review: Leroi's back! Well... He never went away. As a studiosmith and designer his fingerprints are all over many of Colemine's on-point curations, but now we're about to enjoy a whole new tonne of Conroy as he prepares to drop his debut album. These two heavyweight instrumentals set the scene perfectly; "Tiger Trot" looks east for melodic inspiration with a touch of New Orleans in the swampy sweaty delivery. "Enter" hits with more of a jazzier, freeform air as we spiral into trumpet dizziness into deep bluesy introspection and some damn fine breaks from fellow Colemine consistency Rob Houk. Only 300 copies pressed.
Review: Tramp dig deep into the San Diego soul vaults and strike gold with this fiscal funk fire 45" from Dede Copeland on Big Daddy Rucker's short-lived GME imprint. Straight up soul with a strong emphasis on feels and finances; "Price I Had To Pay" rolls with a bluesy tone, swooning chords and a powerful backing vocals while "You Gotta Give Up Some Money" plays the consummate riposte with an upbeat unashamed request for investment. Shake your money makers.
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: 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: Storied Latin-jazz artist, composer, producer, and DJ Nicola Conte lays down a marker for his upcoming fifth studio album Free Souls with this delightful 7" of the same name. Brandishing two gens from the album, Conte's channelling soul jazz at it's purest on the title track, with a rhythm and blues arrangement that provides the perfect backing for Bridgette Amofah's gliding vocal delivery. On the B Side, "Shades Of Joy" is equally as memorable with Marvin Parks' soft croon enveloped in the smooth double bass and horn section. On the basis of this, the forthcoming album should be one of Conte's finest yet!
Review: Moving further into the '70s Brazilian scene, Mr Bongo delivers two supreme pop scorchers by Celia, the sweet-faced artiste who released so much great music back in the day. Her "Na Boca Do Sol" is a gentle soul journey that brings out the best in her own voice, and in the Brazilian style of that era. "A Hora E Essa" is more of a dancefloor tune, more uptempo and less reliant on the sensuality and sexiness of the A-side. Excellent, as per usual.
Review: Sun-kissed soul from 1975, not a lot is known about the Charisma Band besides their powerful musical abilities and their two 45s on Buddah and Columbia. "Ain't Nothing Like Your Love" is a horn-blessed feel-good summer get-together while "Bless The Day" takes us straight to the bedroom with its gliding guitars, velvet falsetto and spellbinding harp. It's not hard to see why originals of this have been known to pass hands for several hundred bob.
Review: This reissue of American R&B/soul vocal group The Chi-Lites' "Are You My Woman?" (Tell Me So) from 1970 features a very familiar hook that was sampled on Beyonce and Jay Z's 2003 hit "Crazy In Love". Formed in 1959 in Chicago, Illinois, the group was led by Eugene Record and originally called Hi-Lites before adding on 'Chi', which derived from their hometown. They went on to release 15 albums between 1969 - 1990 and are best known for their classics "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl".
Review: Colonel Faat aka Rocky Dawuni is one of Ghana's few reggae artists to have made a name for themselves since the 90s. He is particularly hard to come by these days, but Austria's Agogo imprint clearly know how to get their links form around the globe, and this new tune is a peaceful ballad for purely positive vibes. "Balantije" is one of those tunes you can slap on in just about any scenario, spreading love and good will wherever and whenever, guided by a subtle ska off-beat; Mankoora's remix takes it to more danceable territories, adding in a layer of percussion and just the right amount of funk. Yes.
Derrick Carter - "Squaredancing" (DC Nu Vox dub) (4:59)
George Alexander - "Promised Land" (feat Big John Whitfield) (3:23)
Review: This tasty release is the first instalment of BBE and Soul Clap member Eli "Bamboozle" Goldstein's "House On 45" series. The basic idea is to offer up rare and hard to find house cuts that have only ever been released on seven-inch singles. To kick things off, Goldstein has selected Derrick Carter's 2017 "DC Nu Vox Dub" of his 2002 classic "Squaredancing In A Roundhouse", an insatiable version of a killer cut rich in bluesy samples, bumpin' beats and scat vocals. Equally as impressive is George Alexander and Big John Whitfield's 2009 cover of Joe Smooth classic "Promised Land", a warm and musically expansive affair that adds superb new flute and electric piano parts to one of house music's most celebrated songs.