Review: If you're a DJ who digs funk, soul and disco, there's a fair chance that you are familiar with Average White Band classic "Pick Up The Pieces", a staple of those kinds of sets - and, of course, hip-hop, where its killer break has been looped countless times over the years - since its initial release in 1974. Should you not own a copy of the distinctive, horn-heavy classic, we'd suggest picking up this reissue, not least because it also boasts the band's lesser-known cover of Ned Doheny classic "Get It Up For Love", featuring vocals from no less than Ben E King, on the flip. Their version of the hazy blue-eyed soul gem sits somewhere between Doheny's original version and the arguably better known Tata Vega disco cover.
Who, What, Where, When & Why (Disco version) (5:10)
No Promises (Disco version) (6:46)
Review: Best Records do it again, dusting down a searing slice of robo-funk from the early 80s that will pop your lock every which way. B Funk was a one-off project from Mario Boncaldo and Tony Carrasco, best known for their incredible work as Klein & MBO. They released the "Magic Spell" album in 1983, and it was loaded with richly produced Italo disco and proto house sounds - there's a good reason the original release has been fetching such crazy prices on the second hand market. Now Best have cherry picked two of the finest cuts from the album, sought out the extended disco versions from Carrasco's vaults, and given them a glorious new pressing.
Review: Dedicated to the Hammond-heavy 1960s soul-jazz sounds of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Grant Green and Reuben Wilson, the Beat Bronco Organ Trio are a fresh outfit with classic inspirations. The Madrid threesome's debut single is something of a retro-futurist treat. We're really enjoying A-side "Easy Baby", a loose and languid fusion of ear-pleasing Hammond licks, laidback, breakbeat-driven drums and flanged jazz guitars that impressively increases in intensity throughout, culminating in a frenzy of sweaty drums and eyes-closed guitar solos. "Geriatric Dance", meanwhile, is even more up-tempo, with high octane Hammond and jazz guitar solos stretching out over a feverish funk drumbeat.
This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
Review: Blacks & Blues is a new name to 2000 Black, but the people behind the project are label stalwarts: Dego, Kaidi Tatham, Matt Lord (AKA Lordamercy) and vocalist Obenewa Aboah. With such talent on show, it's unsurprising that opener "Spin" - a cracking slab of broken-beat/soul fusion rich in military style drums, jazz-funk keys and summery vocals - is rather good. While dancefloor-friendly, the track feels loose, languid and tailor-made for outdoor parties. "Don't Know Why (Chant For Love)" is an even more lo-fi broken soul excursion (very Fatima), while "You Know The Feeling" recalls the jazz-funk-fired soulful club cuts of early 2000s broken beat heroes Bugz In The Attic.
Review: German-Ghanaian group the Polyversal Souls have previously collaborated with a number of bands and solo artists from West Africa, so this hook-up with Northern Ghanaian outfit the Bolga All Stars - a collective made up of leading local kologo and frafra-gospel singers and musicians - should not come as much of a surprise. Separated into two parts for the seven-inch release, the track blends the Polyversal Souls' lolloping, late '60s style Afro-funk grooves - complete with fuzzy, period style production - and sharp horn section with glistening guitars, snaking solos and fine vocals from the Bolga All Stars. It's one of the Polyversal Souls' finest releases yet, and that's saying something.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: Since first appearing in stores back in 2016, this cover of Rick James' sweet and punchy "Mary Jane" by Brooklyn collective Breakdown Brass has become something of an in-demand item. Happily, they've decided to sling it out again for those of us who missed out first time round. Their version of "Mary Jane" is impeccable, with funk-rock guitar solos, heavy tuba bass and lolloping drum breaks underpinning the band's rousing brass rendition of the song's famous refrains. Throw in a few tight solos and you've got a stone cold party-starter. Turn to the flipside for "The Horseman", an urgent and foreboding chunk of fuzzy New Orleans brass band funk complete with psychedelic organ solos and fizzing Mariachi style horns.
Lafayette Afro Rock Band - "Hihache" (extended Breaks Special edition version) (4:23)
Gaz - "Sing Sing" (extended Breaks Special edition version) (4:27)
Review: More sneaky 45 action from the Breaks & Beats crew, a shadowy organization whose tried-and-tested re-edits offer DJ-friendly extensions of popular break-digging favourites (many of which were sampled on classic hip-hop cuts). Their latest seven-inch excursion begins with a tidy revision of Lafayette Afro-Rock Band's brilliant "Hihache", a low-slung favourite rich in lolloping, head nodding drum breaks, jazzy bass, flanged funk guitars and fuzzy horn motifs. The new version is deferential towards its source material, extending breaks here and there whilst leaving much of the tune in tact. One of the most doubled-up drum breaks in hip-hop history takes pride of place on side B, where Gaz's Salsoul released wiggler "Sing Sing" gets the re-edit treatment.
Review: In the early 1970s, a new musical art form emerged on the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago from the social unrest of the time. A group of young guys started to combine poetry with drumming and created the musical art form that is known today as Rapso. Lutalo 'Brother Resistance' Masimba was one of the pioneers of this movement and his 1987 anthem "Tonight Is de Night" receives a much-needed reissue here on Cree. There's much to enjoy on this 12" - we're particularly loving the groovy "Rapso Space Dub" and funky steel drum riddims of "Crucial Decision ('92 Version)". This is total spiritual life music.
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.
Review: When it comes to crafting retro-futurist soul gems - think traditional soul instrumentation and vocals with modern production trickery - Tanika Charles has an impressive track record. The Canadian artist won plenty of praise for her recent album "The Gumption", from which the two tracks that make up this limited-edition single are taken. The standout is undoubtedly the sunny, Hammond-heavy soul stomp of title track "Love Overdue", a cut so sweet, jaunty and sticky that it might make diabetics go weak at the knees. There's a similarly stomping feel about breezier flipside "Remember To Remember", where Charles delivers an impeccable, R&B style vocal over a thrusting, Northern Soul style beat.
My Forbidden Lover (Dimitri From Paris 12" version) (6:30)
I Feel Your Love Comin' On (Dimitri From Paris remix) (8:16)
My Forbidden Lover (Dimitri From Paris instrumental) (6:29)
I Feel Your Love Comin' On (Dimitri From Paris instrumental) (8:15)
Review: It was 2010 when Dimitri From Paris first got his hands on the parts to some of Chic's biggest hits, with some of the resultant revisions appearing on an expansive "Chic Organization" box-set. Glitterbox has been reissuing them all over a series of 12" singles, with this volume boasting the Parisian's vocal and instrumental versions of both "My Forbidden Lover" and "I Feel Your Love Comin' On". The latter is a deliciously dubbed out affair that pushes the track's heavy electrofunk-meets-disco-funk groove to the fore, with flashes of Nile Rodgers' razor-sharp guitar riffs and echoing vocal snippets rising and falling throughout the mix. It's the versions of "My Forbidden Lover", complete with stunning orchestral breakdowns and extended instrumental breaks, that really set the pulse racing, though.
Review: If you've yet to succumb to the charms of Children of Zeus - and there can't be many out there who haven't - then this "odds and ends" LP offers a neat introduction. Five of the seven tracks have been plucked from the Manchester crew's previous full-length excursions, while the other two - seductively soulful two-step garage reworks of "Vibrations" and "Slow Down" by fellow Manchester resident Zed Bias - have previously been almost impossible to get hold of. Setting aside the club-ready remixes, what "Excess Baggage" proves is that Children of Zeus are one of British music's most essential outfits right now, delivering sensual and life-affirming cuts that brilliantly blend the best aspects of hip-hop, R&B and modern soul.
With More Love (Special edit instrumental version) (6:42)
Review: Originally released back in 2009 in its' epic 13-minute original form, "With More Love" remains one of Joaquin "Joe" Claussell's most endearing tracks - a gorgeous chunk of sun-kissed spiritual house rich in fluid piano solos, sunset-ready classical guitar solos, undulating bass, non-verbal vocal harmonies and the producer's bouncy Afro-Latin house beats. Happily, Clausell has decided to reissue the track, offering up two scaled-down versions that fit on one tidy seven-inch single. On the A-side you'll find the "Special 7" Edit", a six minute blast of ultra-positive dancefloor bliss that's about the most positive thing we've heard in ages. Turn to the flip for a previously unreleased instrumental take that strips the track back further, allowing the gorgeous piano solos and busy bass guitar more room to breathe.
Review: Whereas the first volume in Joaquin "Joe" Claussell's "Cosmicdelic Africa" series focused on sneaky re-edits by the Sacred Rhythm founder, this second instalment focuses on original productions "for the dancefloor and the head". In other words, Clausell has offered up DJ-friendly extended versions of some of his most cosmic, Afro-centric creations. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the psychedelic rock guitar solos, restless bass, layered Latin house rhythms and rainforest sounds of Cosmic Ritual's "Abraxas (Demo Sketch Mix)", to the piano sporting cosmic house positivity of Mampo's "Emarofo Tech (Extended Sketch Mix)", via the spaced-out electronics, hallucinatory synth lines and sparse drums of intoxicating downtempo workout "Mundo De Agua (Psyxchdelic Transfusion Mix)".
Review: During the 1970s, Sanifu Al Hall Jr decided to form a group dedicated to blending jazz, soul and cutting-edge electronic sounds. The brilliantly named Cosmos Dwellerz Arkestra never released any music during the period - not commercially, at least - with this fascinating 12" marking their belated debut. "Love Thoughts", which was committed to tape in 1977, is undoubtedly intergalactic, offering a spiritually-minded mix of spiraling jazz-funk synths, woozy horn solos, stoned drums and toaster-hot bass. On the flip you'll find an interesting curio: an extended 1967 radio interview with Sanifu Al Hall Jr in which he discusses his musical story and approach to life.
Review: First released last summer, Cotonete and Roberto Di Melo's "AEIOU" is a deliciously warm and woozy chunk of jazz-funk/revivalist Latin disco fusion that sounds like it was recorded in 1978 rather than 2018. This time round, Dimitri From Paris is at the controls, offering up two arguably superior "Special Disco Mixes" that not only boasts more audio clarity around key instrumental parts (particularly the horns, walking bassline and previously buried Clavinet lines) but also add some fizzing new electrofunk synths. As a result, the A-side vocal version sounds like a disco scene anthem in waiting, while the high-octane flipside dub is percussive, sweaty and full throttle in the best possible way.
Review: Long before digging South American and African music became popular, Patrick Forge and Chris Franck were serving up club-focused jams that drew heavily on the musical traditions of both continents. It is, then, a good time for them to return from a five-year hiatus with a brand new EP. It's every bit as colourful, vibrant and floor-friendly, with all three cuts hitting the mark. Leading the charge is fantastic A-side "Oba Lata", a supremely sun-kissed Afro-beat affair rich in Africa 70s style guitars, Tony Allen-esque drum patterns and life-affirming vocals. On the flip you'll find a punchy, off-kilter broken beat revision from contemporary bruk hero Namebrandsound, as well as the deep, languid and Rhodes-laden shuffle of "Dakar", a more considered number that nevertheless leaves a lasting impression.