Review: Originally released in 1992, Completion Of A Miracle was American R&B and gospel musician Steve Elliott's second LP. New Zealand-based reissue imprint Rain & Shine continue their love for Elliott's self-produced music by giving the album another lease of life. Remastered from the original reel-to-reel tapes, it includes the dancefloor cut "Wake Up". Another essential release set to become a future collector's item. Rain & Shine was established in Auckland, New Zealand in 2017 and only pursues music previously unreleased or never re-issued, and when certain that artists or their families can be directly involved to benefit financially.
Review: Not-for-profit label Rain & Shine continues to offer up fine reissues of long overlooked, forgotten and hard-to-find LPs. Their latest comes from gospel musician Steve Elliott, whose self-released 1981 debut "True Image" is considered by collectors to be something of a Holy Grail of boogie-era gospel soul. As this new edition proves, it remains a hugely potent and entertaining set. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the suitably lo-fi synth-soul business of "Skitz-O-Love" and laidback boogie-pop of "One More Time", to the smooth grooves (and even smoother vocals) of "We Were Meant To Be" and sugary "Believe In Me", where female harmony vocals only emphasize the loved-up mood.
Review: Astonishingly, original copies of Energize's 1979 private press single "Piece of Class" have changed hands for over 500 quid online. Helpfully, Rain & Shine have decided to save us all a few bob by slinging out this licensed reissue. The title track is something of a bustling disco-funk gem - a genuinely wonderful fusion of hazy vocals, dueling horn solos, spacey synthesizer flourishes and driving bass guitar. B-side "Star of the Disco" is an even more up-tempo affair, with mazy saxophone solos, rasping horn stabs and starry jazz-funk keys riding a walking bassline and high-octane disco drums.
Review: Shirley Finney's 1979 debut album "Pray Again" has recently become something of a sought-after set amongst collectors of disco-era gospel soul. Original copies of the LP are expensive and hard to come by, so Rain & Shine has decided to stick two of the set's most admired tracks on one 7-inch single. "Pray Again" is rather wonderful, with Finney delivering a strong, heartfelt vocal above a backing track rich in sustained organ chords, jangling pianos and clipped guitars. "Give Your Best To The Master", meanwhile, is a more up-tempo and stomping gospel-disco affair that benefits greatly from some stellar choral backing vocals. It sounds like the sort of thing that Tony Humphries may have championed at Zanzibar in New Jersey back in the day.
You've Got That Something (Andrea Passenger edit) (4:47)
Guitar Breeeeze (Andrea Passenger edit) (4:56)
Let's Go Disco (Waxist Dubby Stem edit) (6:36)
Let's Go Disco (Frank Booker instrumental mix) (5:42)
Review: Mixed Company were one of disco-era New York's most obscure bands, releasing just one track - the mighty "Let's Go Disco" - on a local radio station compilation in 1980 before disappearing from view. Amazingly, Rain & Shine has managed to find their master tapes, hence this first ever EP. Not only does it include "Let's Go Disco" - a lo-fi chunk of tropical disco-funk - but also fresh edits by Andrea Passenger of two previously unreleased cuts, the upbeat brilliance of "You've Got That Something" and the cheery "Guitar Breeeeze" [sic]. As if that wasn't enough to set the pulse racing, the EP also boasts two new multi-track edits of "Let's Go Disco": a smooth and dubbed-out revision by Waxist and a stripped-back, horn-heavy instrumental rearrangement from Frank Brooker.
Review: ** REPRESS ALERT ** Auckland based retroverts Rain & Shine made an early decision to give all profits back to the artists who appear on their label. Put simply, they thought it would be a nice thing to do - and we concur. It's an official re-release here of Washington D.C. based outfit The Nelson Family's one and only LP from 1986. Comprised of Charisse, Charlene, Paul and their mother, this is a gospel record with super production that features top tracks including "Thank You, Lord" (a firm favorite of Floating Points and Skymark), "Filled With His Spirit" and "Everlasting Love". Charisse would later go on to create the Stellar Award winning/Grammy nominated choral ensemble named Vision, and is still active in the D.C. area as a gospel singer.
Review: Not-for-profit label Rain & Shine likes to do reissues differently, offering all profits - rather than a percentage - to the families of the artists whose records they release. The latest artist to profit from their generosity is New Horizon, an act whose sole single - 1977's "True Love" - is here given the reissue treatment. The A-side "Part One" version is a wonderfully sweet and musically rich modern soul number that combines slick male vocals with subtle orchestration and loose, languid grooves. "Part Two" (side B) is a much more forthright version; a dancefloor-friendly take that combines a funkier, heavier version of the groove, twinkling piano lines, beefy bass and jazzy guitar licks with punchier drums and selected snippets of backing vocal.
Review: Although best known for the quality of their reissues, the Rain & Shine Records crew does put out stunningly good new music now and then. This is one of those occasions. "The Watcher" is the debut EP from 21 year-old New Zealander Arjuna Oakes, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and vocalist who's happy to forge his own path through the worlds of jazz-funk, soul and reggae. It's the kind of warm, woozy and effortlessly soulful musical fusion that has long been associated with artists from New Zealand, though it's fair to say that Oakes does it better than most. In fact, as debuts go it's an absolute stunner.
Review: The latest missive from the must-check Rain & Shine label should appeal to serious soul collectors. It offers a new edition of a private press "45" by Illinois outfit Joel Ramirez Jr and Fantasy that's recently been changing hands for vast sums online. A-side "I'll Call You Every Morning" is a super-sweet modern soul number that combines a blue-eyed soul style lead vocal with a bright-and-breezy backing track rich in groovy bass, spacey synths, clipped guitars and seriously positive piano motifs. It's really rather good all told, and the kind of earworm that you'll be singing in the shower all week. Over on the flip you'll find the rhythm & blues/rock flex of "I Can't Let Her Go", which will probably appeal to AOR disco lovers.
Review: New Zealand based not for profit label Rain & Shine are proud to present the first official reissue of Skye's highly sought after "Ain't No Need" since it's 1976 release. Remastered and reissued, it has long been a favourite of some of the most well respected DJs across the scene: from Floating Points and Sadar Bahar, to Mr Scruff and Theo Parrish. Say no more!
Ricky Womack & The New Age Christian Ensemble - "New Day New Time" (4:40)
Review: If you have even the smallest interest in the worlds of gospel soul and gospel disco, there's a fair chance you've already picked up at least one volume in Tone B. Nimble's ongoing series of split 7" singles, "Soul Is My Salvation". If not, we'd recommend checking out this fourth volume. The A-side sports a superb slab of what sounds like late 1970s, disco-era jazz-funk/gospel soul fusion from obscure Michigan band Cash Money, which was previously featured on the B-side of an extremely rare, private press single. Arguably even better is B-side "New Day New Time", a 1990 chunk of synthesizer and slap-bass heavy gospel soul genius plucked from Ricky Womack and the New Age Christian Ensemble's similarly rare album "Something Within".
Peaches Mann - "Get In Rhythm With God's Love" (3:43)
Review: By now, you should be familiar with the "Soul Is My Salvation" seven-inch series, which sees gospel-loving DJ Tone B Nimble showcase some of his favourite gospel-soul, gospel disco and gospel boogie gems. This fifth 45 in the series is just as essential as its predecessors. On side A you'll find Fay Hill's 1981 single "I Know Who You Should See", a languid, jazz-funk era shuffle through glassy-eyed gospel soul pastures blessed with one of the most addictive choruses we've heard this year. Over on the flip there's a chance to enjoy Peaches Mann's synth-heavy, ultra-soulful gospel boogie number "Get In Rhythm With God's Love", a more upbeat affair whose many highlights include killer slap-bass, D-Train style synth solos and an infectious rhythm.
Pink Family - "Don't Give Your Life Away" (AI-Tone extended mix) (5:00)
Review: Rain & Shine's "Soul Is My Salvation" project is something of an epic: an eight-part series of "dancefloor friendly gospel songs" curated by veteran Chicagoan DJ Tone B Nimble (real name Anthony Fields). This first part - "Chapter 1" - opens with a sublime, gospel style sing-along cover of Sister Sledge classic "We Are Family" that sounds like it was actually recorded in church. It's brilliant, life-affirming stuff. Over on side B, scalpel fiend Al-Tone offers up an extended version of obscure New Zealand group The Pink Family's 1979 cut "Don't Give Your Life Away" - a warm-hearted - some would say righteous - disco workout that's almost as good as the A-side. We await the next volume in the series with baited breath.
Spiritual Souls - "We Came To Show You The Way" (5:11)
Heaven's Sound - "Fire" (3:16)
Review: Tone B Nimble's eight part 7" series is shining a light on some essential gospel, disco, boogie and soul sounds which, when all put together, reveal a beautiful design courtesy of designer Charlotte McCrae. That makes this an extra special collector's piece even before you add the music into the bargain. Chapter 7 is a busting one with Spiritual Souls 1982 jam 'We Came To Show You The Way' layering up hardcore funk rhythms with some early rap vocals that bring the attitude. Reverse it for Heaven's Sound's 1984 gold, 'Fire,' which is an expansive and expressive vocal masterpiece.
Review: By now, we shouldn't need to tell you that the Tone Be Nimble-curated "Soul Is My Salvation" series of gospel soul obscurities is nothing less than essential listening. He's dug out two more little known gems for the sixth volume in the series, and once again they're simply unmissable. The A-side sports the Gospel Miracles' little-known 1985 treat "Building Up Myself", a Leroy Burgess-esque chunk of soulful warmth full of intricate musical flourishes (including a bassline reminiscent of that Burgess's Universal Robot Band used on "Barely Breaking Even"). On the flip you'll find a more driving chunk of gospel soul-funk fusion from 1977 - the equally inspired "Don't You Worry" by Serenity, a pretty much unknown combo whose music was produced by sometime Barry White collaborator Doug Lambert.
McKinley Sandifer - "I Am The Vine" (instrumental) (3:28)
Review: The first two volumes in Tone B Nimble's superb, gospel-focused "Soul Is My Salvation" series sold like hot cakes (or, perhaps more accurately in these times, bottles of hand sanitiser), so we're expecting this third volume to fly off the shelves too. On side A you'll find "He Can Do It" by The Gospel Truth, a suitably hard-to-find chunk of gospel-boogie warmth originally released in 1981. The Keith Williams-helmed group add their harmony vocals to a super-sweet backing track rich in cascading saxophone solos, jangly pianos and warm bass. Things heat up on side B, where McKinkey Sandifer takes over with the rare instrumental version of funk-fuelled 1982 gospel-disco-meets-jazz-funk jam "I Am The Vine".