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: Selector, percussionist, producer and all-round legend Snowboy represents his weekly Madame JoJo's showcase in album form. Digging deep across two 12"s, Snowboy treats us to 23 undiluted funk and soul cuts. From well-known (James Brown's "Bring It Up" and Etta James' "Can't Shake It") to lesser-known (The Shirelles' "Boys", Dorothy Berry's "I Say You're Driving Me Crazy"), the whole curation rolls with emphatic consistency and attention to detail. With gems hidden around every corner, even the most ardent of collectors will find many things to love right here.
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: Classic jazz funk album from the legendary Johnny 'Hammond' Smith with a special version with six previously unissued bonus out-takes. Released in 1975 and his 32nd long player, it heralded a fresh chapter in his career that saw him exploring more electronic instrumentation and deeper shades of funk in a similar way to Roy Ayers or Bob James. The result was a timeless document that carries motifs of many of today's artists; the harmonies of "Can't We Smile?", for instance, smack of Plantlife while the punctuated piano work and mirrored squiggling synths on "Song For The Family" echoes with Flying Lotus-style whim. Also a key source of breaks for many junglists, Gears is a historic document that's not only played a strong role in electronic music but still sounds incredible today.
Review: Should you require further evidence of the all-round genius of Curtis Mayfield, look no further than this early '70s funk gem from Patti Jo. "Make Me Believe In You" was written and produced by the velvety-voiced musician in 1973, one of just a few singles released by Patti Jo but undoubtedly now an all-time classic. That rolling drum intro, the ear-wagging piano, the subtle orchestration and, above all, Patti Jo's killer vocal all combine for a perfect example of the halcyon days when funk was beginning to transform into disco. Mayfield himself later covered the track for the closer to his Sweet Exorcist LP! This BGP 7" sees Tom Moulton's extension of "Make Me Believe In You" combined with his remix of the other Patti Jo burner, "Ain't No Love Lost". Any self-respecting DJ needs the A-side though.
Review: Tennessee's legendary jazz pianist, Harold Mabern, is surely one of the kings of the mighty Prestige label, and his material helped bridge the gap between jazz and funk back in the 1970s, alongside the likes of Idris Muhammad, The Jimmy Castor Bunch and all those geniuses. "I Want You Back" is a stone-cold classic and contains one of the most hummable trumpet lines ever, and if you hear closely it's been reworked and sampled by none other than the King of pop when he was only a little one. Funk Inc's sublime "Sister Janie" resides on the flip, a more lo-fi funk bullett for the diggers, and complete with a dusty organ!
Review: Never pressed to 45 before, both firing sides are taken from Esther's debut album from 1969; Newport News, Virginia. Both cover versions, JJ Barnes' "Chains Of Love" is given gospel-funk muscle as Esther belts out her heart over an impeccably frenetic band while Joe Zawinul's instantly recognisable jazz standard "Walk Tall" gets a powerful spoken word flex. Gutsy business to the very core, this is a snapshot of Esther at her most ambitious, energetic and creative.
Review: Cuban bandleader, composer and rumba magician Ramon Santamaria had a huge influence throughout his 40 year career, notably writing Coltrane's famous "Afro Blue". Here are two of many stand-out cuts from his 1963 album Watermelon Man! While most the album's focus was on his Herbie Hancock cover, it's tracks like these that really gave the album its spirit and unique character; "Yeh Yeh!" is a samba shaking horn-led cut laced with crackling percussion and party cries while "Get The Money" leans back with rhythm and blues sass and a rhythm that's as powerful as Ramon's legacy. Moneymaker shaking guaranteed.