Review: Celebrating 50 years of one of the most definitive fusion records ever made, Now Again present the most fitting remaster Axelrod's critically acclaimed debut album Song Of Innocence has ever had. An immense piece of work that pays homage to William Blake and brought together nodes and notions of rock, classical, funk, psychedelic and boogaloo, this reissue comes straight from the original masters with engineering and consultation from Axelrod's production partner H B Barnum, original keyboardist Don Randi, his widow Terri and producer T-Ray. Still as complex and cosmic and sounding better than ever.
Review: Co-produced by none other than James Brown and featuring a band led by fellow funk/soul legend Dave Matthews, The Grodeck Whipperjenny's sole album has long been considered something of a must-have by heavy funk fans. Original copies have tended to be hard to come by, so this Record Store Day reissue from Now Again Records, which comes complete with a booklet telling the story of the 1970 set, should be an essential purchase. It's a curiously psychedelic affair, with string-laden, near symphonic moments (see the almost entirely beat-free "Conclusions" being joined by cuts that explore spiraling funk-rock ("Sitting Here On A Tongue") and acid-fired psychedelic rock ("Why Can't I Go Back").
Review: When it comes to creating fresh instrumental hip-hop jams out of record label catalogues, Oh No has an impressive track record. The long-serving producer - famously Madlib's younger brother - has previously performed the service for Stones Throw, Miserable Beast Music and Now Again, a label he first worked with a decade ago. Here he returns with a third set of tracks created from gems in the Now Again vaults. It's a sparkling set, all told, comprising head-nodding beats and musical treats deftly sculpted from obscure, inspired and overlooked jazz, soul, funk and boogie rubs. Those with a good knowledge of the Now Then back catalogue will have fun spotting the samples; everyone else can just sit back and enjoy the producer's brilliant work.
Review: Many funk and soul collectors have long hankered after Split Decision Band's soul 7" single, 1978's scorching - and notoriously hard-to-find - double A-side, "Watching Out"/"Dazed". It was always assumed that the Gordon Starr-helmed band made no other recordings. Happily, enquiries from Now-Again Records owner Egon resulted in Starr handing over the master tapes to this previously unreleased album. It's a superb set, all told, with highlights including the soaring disco-funk brilliance of "Night Dancer", the sugar-sweet soul of "Crystal Powder", the synth-laden passion of "You're The One" and the low-slung, jazz-funk inspired grooves of "Split Decision Band Wants You To Groove". Throw in both "Watching Out" and "Dazed", and you have one of the strongest funk, soul and disco albums you're likely to hear all year.