Review: This is a musical celebration of life, good times and the blessings of planet earth from the Afriquoi collective. It is the first time the band have ever gone into the studio to record a full live-band sound, playing together at Octagon Studios. The material they played is finely honed and tuned music that has been perfected on the live stage over the years. There is kora, Congolese guitar, uplifting vocal work, crisp percussion and gorgeous chords all making this a truly African experience that brims with invention and vitality. For sunny times, there are few better albums.
Review: The Allergies' debut album introduced the world to the way they effortlessly fuse funk, soul, disco, hip-hop and breaks into dancefloor-ready nuggets of ear candy. Taking classic sounds and reshaping them for the modern age is the signature that won them plaudits across the globe. Not ones to rest on their laurels, it hasn't taken long for them to deliver more of the goods on their second full-length album. As well as taking the successful formula of the first record and expanding on their sound, the band enlisted two giants of underground hip-hop to bless mics on the album as well. After a hugely successful collaboration on their debut LP, once again the dynamic lyricism and production skills of the inimitable Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling) are present and correct in this new collection.
Review: The translated title of this record from The Architect is "beach on the moon" and is a perfect way of describing the otherworldly balearic music that defines it. It is a truly widescreen affair that takes in a myriad of styles. Gently tumbling comedown drums overlaid with spoken word snippets, dreamy pads that drift off to an infinite horizon, and even some spaced out trap on "Run" feat. Raverie all make it a journeying album right from the off. Then there's also some contemporary folk, golden era hip hop and darker trip hop styles with further gets who lend lyrical wit to the well produced tunes.
Review: Destination 78/79: Expansion take us deep into the illustrious back cat of revered boogaloo fusionist Willie Bobo for two of his many fiery delights. Side A is his feel-heavy cult instrumental take on Ronnie Laws' disco classic "Always There" while Side B throws us into the heart of his 1979 album Bobo with gutsy raw soul power (and just a few cheeky funk slap bass twangs for good measure) Two stone cold classics together for the first time on 45.
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: It would be fair to say that the Egyptians are not one of the more celebrated soul acts from Cincinatti, Ohio. They released a smattering of seven-inch singles on tiny labels during the early-to-mid 1970s, none of which made much of an impact outside of their local scene. In recent years these 45s have become collector's items, with "Thanks To You" - a super-sweet soul slow-jam rich in harmonic group vocals and effortlessly fluid and jazzy guitar parts - being the most in demand of all. Here the record is finally reissued, with facsimile labels and the same track listing (vocal version on the A-side, instrumental take on the flip). If rare, life-affirming 1970s soul loveliness is your thing, it's well worth a listen.
Review: Afro disco fresh from 79: Eko Roosevelt Louis's third album Funky Disco Music will go down as one of Cameroon's finest disco LPs. Produced and pressed by French label Dragon Phenix, it's still reasonably easy to track down, too. For a taster, grab three of its tropical charms on this Fly By Night repress: "Funky Disco Music" is an infectious vocal-led cut that's written solely to make people get down, "Ndolo Embe Mulema" struts with much more Afro rock fusion while the harmonies of "Bowa'a Mba Ngebe" are sweeter than the finest honey you've ever tasted. For contemporary kicks Riccio has expertly touched the title track for a modern dancefloor/DJ friendly punch. Perfect.
Review: After spending so much of their career to date releasing on Jazzman, it's interesting to see The Greg Foat Group make their way over to Athens Of The North for this cool and deadly new record. "The Dreaming Jewels" keeps the grooves simmering low down - all the sweeter to sink into. Just lock in on "Eric's Breakdown" and ask yourself if the track needs any more than that sweet conga flex. "The Door Into Summer" is a beautifully mellow jam too, all sultry Rhodes and sax to signal the start of lazy days. There are more tender moments and some breezier affairs, but the vibe remains chilled throughout this wonderful set from an accomplished band.
Raga Kaan Ka'Eegtow (You Are The One I Love) (6:02)
Kuusha Caarey (The Pearl Necklace) (4:06)
Raani (Queen) (6:57)
Alto's Interlude (2:09)
Uurkan Kaadonaya (I Want You) (6:49)
Halkaasad Dhigi Magtiisa (That's Where You'll Leave His Reward) (4:21)
Iiso Daymo (Look At Me) (4:03)
Suuban (Joy) (4:59)
Wiil Wille (The Jumping Man) (2:11)
Review: This record claims to be the first ever international release to come from Djibouti, a secret hotbed of musical goodness in East Africa. The country is a small and often overlooked land but once you dig deep you'll find a culture brimming with vitality despite the fact almost every band in the land is a national enterprise. In 2016, that changed when Ostinato Records met with senior officials of Radiodiffusion-Television Djibouti to discuss a lifting of the rules and three years later they were granted access to the archives and have put together this record, helmed by sax maestro Mohamed Abdi Alto and stuffed with essential afro styled funk and soul.
Review: As part of his Gondwana label's 10th anniversary, masterful Manchester trumpeter and contemporary jazz trendsetter Matthew Halsall has put together a special deluxe edition of his beautiful "Colour Yes" album with thick reverse board sleeves, silver block letter foiling and two printed inner sleeves. First released in 2009, the album showcases Halsall's deeply emotive style across the 8 achingly good, supremely spiritual tracks that glow with gorgeous piano playing, gently lilting drums and his own fantastic leads.
Review: One of disco's biggest divas gets served up on a red hot platter here by Vinylators. "Extended Woman" is eight plus minutes of bubbling, piano laced and string happy disco with the iconic "I'm every woman" vocal taking centre stage over nice clipped drums. It's a tasteful edit that brings all the key parts to the fore. "Piano Woman" is more stripped back, with plenty of emphasis on some busy piano playing and the soaring original vocal left in place up top. "Dub Woman" is more paired back and built on the leggy drums, while plenty of golden strings add real colour.
Review: The third missive from crate-digging reissue specialists Discs of Fun & Love offers up a new pressing of a suitably obscure and hard-to-find private-press gem, Maggie Epting's sole single as Mandisa, 1981's "Summer Love". The song itself is superb: a wonderfully breezy and sun-kissed slab of dewy-eyed soul that sees Epting deliver an emotive lead vocal over a jazz-funk influenced smooth soul groove and plenty of spacey, intergalactic synthesizer sounds. Over on the flip you'll find original B-side "Love's Dream", a quirky, sax-laden slab of electric jazz that features an even bolder and more ear-catching Epting vocal. It's very good, though the real killer resides on the A-side.
Review: If heavy and fuzzy funk is your bag, we'd heartily recommend checking out this straight-to-tape live session from Bjorn Wagner's long-serving Mighty Mocambos outfit. It was recorded at an in-store live performance at German store Groove City live December and comes complete with atmospheric crowd noise and a raw, heavyweight sound that only enhances the band's live credentials. Vocalist Nicola Richards makes her soulful presence felt on loose-limbed, breakbeat-driven deep funk opener "Something's Missing", before returning to lead the party on the wonderfully fiery and funky flipside "Keep It Movin". Sandwiched in between you'll find the slower, crunchier and more bass-heavy instrumental jam "St Pauli Second Line".