Thomas Meloncon - "Ain't Gonna Wait Too Long" (2:49)
Al Williams Quintet Plus One - "Sandance" (2:32)
Deep Jazz - "Mystic Sky" (8:22)
Sheila Landis - "Leigh Ann's Dance" (5:16)
Sal Nistico - "Beautiful Black Casanova" (6:47)
Roy Hytower & The Crowd Pleasers - "Song Of Deliverance" (part 1) (3:16)
Now - "Easy Tune For Dancing" (3:55)
Review: Since the turn of the millennium, Germany's Tramp Records have been among those labels dictating the rules and forming the state of play in regards to the contemporary funk and soul scene. They've been consistently releasing new talent from all over the globe, and this time they return with the second chapter of the Peace Chant series, a division of the imprint reserved to the cooler, more lean-back kinda jazz-funk. It's not all percussion and moodiness, though, and tracks like "Ain't Gonna Wait Too Long" by Thomas Meloncon add a bit of funk and zest to the equation; other favourites and stand-out moments include the effortlessly soulful "Mystic Sky" by Deep Jazz, and the sexy "Leigh Ann's Dance" by Sheila Landis. Cool, beautiful, and highly recommended.
Keither Florence - "Down Here On The Ground" (3:09)
Robert Cote - "Move On" (with Orange Lake Drive) (3:56)
Scott Cunningham Band - "Anita" (5:50)
Plas Johnson - "Buck Dance" (3:34)
Magic - "Sunshine" (2:32)
Charlie Chisholm Boss-tet - "Wade In The Water" (7:42)
David Lee Jones Trio - "Walk With Me" (2:59)
Al Walton Trio - "Al's Thing" (2:03)
Ulysses Crockett - "Funky Resurgence" (3:45)
Tim James - "Strange Things" (2:52)
Randy Larkin - "Empty Days" (2:46)
San Francisco Committee - "Never Before" (2:54)
John Wesley Dickson Band - "Barrows Blues" (2:58)
Anything Goes - "When She's Gone" (3:02)
Review: Tramp Records' Praise Poems series has so far delivered four essential volumes of deep and soulful 1970s jazz. Predictably, this fifth instalment in little over two years is every bit as good as its predecessors. Highlights come think and fast, from the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed shimmer of Gunn High School Jazz Reunion's "Red Clay" and the hazy, sun-kissed West Coast rock/deep soul fusion of Robert Cote's "Move On", to the sprawling big band jazz-funk of Magic's "Sunshine", and the vibraphone-powered shuffle of Ulysses Crockett's "Funky Resurgence". We're also really enjoying Charlie Chisholm Boss-tet's wild and spaced out cover version of Ramsay Lewis standard "Wade in the Water". As the well-worn cliche goes: all killer, no filler.
Review: Little is known about obscure Seattle combo Mr Clean & The Cleansers, other than that they release one single, "Karate", on a label called Camelot sometime in the mid 1960s. The single has previously been included on a couple of similarly obscure CD compilations put together by crate digging DJs, but this is the first time it has been given a worldwide release on vinyl. "Karate (Part 1)" sets the tone, delivering a fiendishly fuzzy, martial arts themed chunk of Detroit style seemingly inspired by Stevie Wonder classic "Uptight". The flipside "Part 2" version is a little looser, with improvised, freestyle vocals and even more righteous horn lines.
Review: New Jersey's RDM Band are perhaps not the most productive of bands to come out of the US' 60s soul sound but, looking back fast things, they certainly had a powerful impact on the scene. Proudly and masterfully, as always, the mighty Tramp imprint have gone and found the band's recordings from 1969, spear-headed by Milton Campbell's iconic voice. Both "Give Up" and "How Can I Get In Touch With You" are utterly timeless examples of what American soul has to teach the world even 40 years after its inception, and you might wanna act fast given just how in-demand the original version of this 7" has become!
Review: Tramp dig deep into the San Diego soul vaults and strike gold with this fiscal funk fire 45" from Dede Copeland on Big Daddy Rucker's short-lived GME imprint. Straight up soul with a strong emphasis on feels and finances; "Price I Had To Pay" rolls with a bluesy tone, swooning chords and a powerful backing vocals while "You Gotta Give Up Some Money" plays the consummate riposte with an upbeat unashamed request for investment. Shake your money makers.
Review: Predictably, Tramp's latest killer reissue comes from an artist that very little is known about. The sought-after "Steppin' Stone" (an original copy will set you back three figures) is little Mary Staten's only known release, and first appeared on the short-lived GME imprint sometime in the 1960s. The title track is predictably fuzzy - the kind of impassioned, on-point soul cut that Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings spent a career trying to capture. On the flip you'll find the equally impressive "Helpless Girl", a gospel-influenced, organ-rich slow jam in which Staten recounts the heartache felt after discovering the behaviour of an errant, bad-boy lover.
Review: These days, Pennsylvania-based John Wesley Dickson is an academic and classical guitarist. Back in the late '70s and early '80s, though, he spent much of his time playing in soul, funk and rhythm and blues bands. "Barrows Blues" was recorded and released in limited quantities during that period (1977 to be exact) and is a terrific example of the artist's blues-influenced blue-eyed soul-jazz sound (think Terry Callier mixed with Morrison Kincannon, and you're close). As with the original release, the brilliant title track is accompanied by mellower B-side "High & Dry". This is a more pastoral sounding song that boasts particularly hard-hitting lyrics from Wesley Dickson.
Review: Tramp dig deep into the short-but-powerfully formed 1964-66 vaults of Jan Kurtis Skugstad's Seattle label Camelot with this fiery 45" from Jim Pipkin & The Boss Five. "Mr CC" is a big swing call and response style horn piece with casual bandleading from Pipkin himself (including a very early recorded use of the term 'shamoan') while "Walkin' The Duck" is a sweatier jam with a brazenly tight horn/guitar groove and more steamy cat-calling from ol' Pipkin himself. Camelot = winnalot.
Review: The prestigious Movements series, like all its predecessors on Tramp contains rare groove nuggets recorded between the early 1960s and the late 1970s. Over a hundred great unknown songs have been re-released on the first eight volumes in the series, the majority of which can not be found elsewhere and this is is no exception. There are two cover versions: "Fever" by Gee Gee Shinn & The Boogie Kings and "I'm A Woman" by Connie Kaye Trio. Bus Brown, Earl Demus and Chuck Finney remain on the same vibe - their contributions are slightly jazzier. Chick Willis' gut-wrenching "Sometime Soon" and recordings by Australia, J.R. and Joe Akens are beautiful examples of privately produced soul from the 1970s. The latin-soul of "Cho Cho San" by Hummingbird 4 takes the sound in another direction for the next three tunes, highlighted by one more stunning cover version: Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Brother, Where Are You?". The album closes with some pre-disco tracks from the late 1970s: Mel-O-Madnezz' "What You Getting High On" and Hot Cakes' cover of "Harlem Shuffle".
Review: Barely available in its original format, Frederick Knight's first - and most highly sought after - release from the late 60s is a jacking, upstart bit of funky soul that is as relevant today as it was back then. "Stepping Down" carries an infectious groove, carried by wild organs and driving percussion all the way from beginning to the end, but it's "Heart Complication" that we've been waiting endlessly for - a slow and chilling soul ballad with Knight's seductive laments cutting deep and wide. Super!
Review: Tramp Records has a good relationship with obscure Illinois soul man Wayne Carter. Back in 2013 they put out a compilation of his near impossible-to-find singles and here reissue arguably his most rare and sought-after 45 (for proof, check how much original private press copies change hands for online). With its meandering Hammond organ solos, heavyweight rhythm section, fuzzy horns and impassioned vocals, "Peter In Or Out" is a genuine deep funk bomb. On the flip you'll find the more laidback and groovy "Let's Run Away From The World", in which backing band the Organ Twisters provide a fitting backing for Carter's impassioned plea to a lover to "at last be free".
Review: One of the leading cuts from Tramps' Moments Vol 9 collection, Connie Kaye Trio's super rare "Woman" playfully riffs on Peggy Lee's "Fever" riff but comes with a completely subverted message and mood behind the lyrics and a powerful northern soul stomp. Strident, striking and full of drive, this special 45 release has been long overdue. Catch it while you can.
Review: A northern soul rarity of the highest order, one 45 wonder Hank Hodge's two sided emotion bounty has been known to pass hands for over $1000 and was famously covered up by premiership diggers such as Colin Law to hide its identity. Now democratised by Tramp, both sides still pack an incredible punch: "One Way Love" pumps with a real urgent passion and dramatic horns while "Thank You Girl" should be reserved for a little later in the night with its straight up soul dynamic, big backing vocals and sympathetic orchestration that droops into the background enough to let Hodge cut through with overwhelming power.
Review: George Brown (Vocals, Bass) Johnny Prejean (Drums), Charles Conrad Greenway (Vocals, Keyboards) Cliff Faldowski (Guitar) and Henry Boatright (Sax) made for quite the ensemble under their Soul Brothers Inc moniker, a project that ran from the late 60s through to the mid 70s and one which defined the Texas soul sound thanks to countless releases through the infamous S.B.I. Records. "Put It On Him" and "Go On & Have Your Fun" featured on one of the 7" singles that the band put out in 1971, and they still sound as fresh and as funky today as they did back then. Most importantly, both tunes have a very definite 'Texan' sound running through them, nodding to a country living that could not be matched by artists from Detroit or Philadelphia. It's their city, their vibe, their sound - and it sounds damn fine.
Review: Tramp Records has stayed close to home for this release, reissuing two killer cuts from the 1981 album "Mittwochs In Marl" album by Tyree Glenn Jr. While he is American - his father, Glenn senior, was famously Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong's trombonist - Glenn Jr had moved to Germany (where he still resides) around the time that the album was recorded. Lead cut "Superbad" is a genuinely heavy, full-throttle funk beast, with Glenn Jr doing his best James Brown impression over an insatiable groove and rousing sax solos. "Ma(r)l Sehen", on the other hand, is a much more breezy affair - an instrumental jazz-funk outing rich in dueling sax and electric piano solos.
Review: George E Johnson's "Wake Me Up" is another of those killer funk rarities that very few people know about. It was released at some point in the dim and distant past on C.R.S Records, a deep funk imprint from Philadelphia that will soon be the subject of a Tramp Records compilation. This reissue, then, is something of a teaser for that set. "Wake Me Up" is a suitably heavy number, with George E Johnson delivering an impressively impassioned lead vocal over a fuzzy, intoxicated groove rich in distorted guitars, psychedelic-era Hammond organ licks, snaking sax lines and bustling drum-breaks. B-side "The Penn Walk" strips out Johnson's vocal, allowing the backing band's killer instrumentation to really shine.
Review: "Sweet Tea (With My Sweetie)" was originally destined for inclusion on Lucky Brown & The SG's 2018 album "Mesquite Suite", but for one reason or another ended up getting cut. Happily, Tramp Tapes has decided to make it available as a 7-inch single instead. As with previous Brown excursions, the title track sounds like it was recorded sometime in the late 1960s, with authentically fuzzy production, punchy horns, Meters style Hammond licks and sweet, eyes-closed guitar riffs riding a loose but punchy funk-soul groove. "More Sweet Tea" sees the assembled band offer up a jazzier, solo-heavy instrumental revision of the title track that's even dustier and heavier than the A-side.