Review: Harlem-raised Gloria Barnes got her big break after a couple of her early recordings became big hits on the UK Northern Soul scene. Her sole album, 1971's Uptown, has long been an in-demand item amongst collectors, regularly fetching four-figure sums when copies do occasionally change hands. Here the album gets reissued for the first time, allowing those without money to burn to enjoy its rich and evocative mix of Northern style dancefloor stompers, heart aching torch songs and downtempo soul shufflers. The quality of Barnes' vocals naturally impresses throughout, but the musical backing - provided at different points by the Hustlers, the Disciples and Ohio Players - is every bit as beguiling.
Review: With a father who played piano on some of Terry Callier's greatest records, Ben Pirani has solid soul credentials. He's also previously served up a swathe of superb singles, both as a solo artist and as part of various short-lived Chicago soul groups. Given this history, his first solo album, "How Do I Talk To My Brother", is without doubt something of a gem. Pirani's dream pop-influenced blue-eyed soul vocals naturally take centre stage, rising above '60s -style backing tracks - complete with fuzzy period production - that variously doff a cap to Motown style stompers, Callier style folk-soul, impassioned slow jams (see the sweet "Art School Girl"), and the kind of sun-kissed songs that will have even the most miserable of listeners grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat.
Review: Since 2013, the Harlem Gospel Travelers have been on a mission to reignite the "gospel quartet" tradition, first via impromptu street corner performances in New York and later across the United States. Now they've finally brought their close harmonies to vinyl, delivering an authentically fuzzy single that sounds like it could have been recorded at the turn of the '60s. A-side "He's On Time", a righteous chunk of inspiring gospel funk with a stomping back-beat and Daptone style '60s instrumentation, is undoubtedly the pick of the two tracks, though the similarly retro doo-wop soul B-side, "Wash Me Lord", is also impressive.
Review: Please welcome new LA Afrofunk troupe Mestizo Beat. Previously known as Soulfire Collective, this debut 45 marks a clear line in the sand and an exciting future. Sweaty, energetic, tightly woven instrumentals we kick off with "Featherbed Lane", a boogie-based jam with spiralling sax leads and a guitar solo so hot you could cook a banquet on it. "Handcuffed To The Shovel", meanwhile, gets to work with a rawness, persistence and infectious rhythmic motion. We know you're going to dig this!
Review: Long-established LA funk troupe Orgone re-deliver their 2015 album Beyond The Sun on gatefold coloured vinyl. As if the sounds were beautiful enough... Seven albums deep, the ever-expanding collective (who've backed the likes of Pharohe Monche, The Pharcyde and Plantlife) hone their sound to even tighter, silkier depths. Now rolling with new singer Adryon De Leon, there's a newfound sense of energy and style across the album. From the sweaty, stompy glam-funk grooves of "Someone's Love Is Real" to the smouldering smokiness of "No Pain", Orgone continue to remain in their own universe. If your collection doesn't boast this, now is the time.