Review: Two of Funk Night Records' most distinctive and innovative acts join forces for two outstanding pieces of psychedelic fiery funk fusion. Estonian duo Misha Panfilov Sound Combo set the bedrock on "Soul Strut". All fuzzy, unkempt and energetic, it sets the scene for Detroit's Coco Buttafli to lay her scorched heart on the line in an almost metal-like style. "Electrifying Woman" takes us even deeper into the psychedelic mindset as the groove is given a swampy, dizzying feeling while Coco spits spoken word with such a savage honesty you can't helped but get sucked into the story. Two of a kind.
Review: Since launching last year, Lil Static has offered up new, lightly altered editions of classic tracks from Jeru the Damaja, Kraftwerk, Run-DMC, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. Here they continue to serve up vital beats for break-digging DJs via classic cuts from Eric B. & Rakim and Mountain. The A side sports an edited version of 1986 cut "Eric B. Is President", a synth-bass propelled NYC hip-hop gem rich in unmistakable rap vocals and tight scratching. Over on side B there's a chance to savour Mountain's late '60s rock cut that provided the Eric B. & Rakim track (and so many others since) with its distinctive drum break, "Long Red". This edited version gives more prominence to the breaks, making it an ideal mixing tool for hip-hop DJs.
Review: For their latest trip into musical paradise, Zurich's Phantom Island crew has turned to debutants The Gagosians, a trio made up of former Soulphiction guest vocalist Suzana Rozkosny, A.C. Kupper (Guitar) and Kay-Zee (Synths). In its original form "Run For My Honey" is a slightly creepy but hugely enjoyable 4-minute chunk of no-wave wonkiness, with Rozkosny's strutting, post punk style vocals rising above lo-fi drum machine beats, surf-rock style guitar loops and elongated organ chords. On the B-side, Label co-founders Lexx and Kejeblos provide a stellar remix that drags the track further towards skewed, Balearic-minded electrofunk territory. While many of the original instrumentation remains, their body-popping beats and thickset synth bassline give the cut a whole new dancefloor dimension.
Melody Nelson (unreleased instrumental edit) (3:50)
Cargo Culte (unreleased instrumental edit) (3:58)
Review: This rather tidy, limited-edition "45" offers up two previously unheard instrumental edits of stone cold classics from the bulging back catalogue of Chanson hero and sleazy but chic singer Serge Gainsbourg. Side A boasts a superb revision of "Melody Nelson", a sweeping, string-drenched affair underpinned by sweaty drumming that arguably benefits from the removal of Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's vocals. Over on side B you'll find an equally evocative version of Beck favourite "Cargo Culte". Stripped of the original lead vocals, the track sounds like a lo-fi art-rock instrumental smothered in ghostly choral vocals and creepy, foreboding musical flourishes. Top stuff!
Review: The colourful obi strip astride the cover of this audiophile reissue boasts that Imani's "Out of The Blue" album is "the ultimate private press jazz holy grail". While that claim is debatable, copies of the Gilles Peterson championed 1983 edition, which the San Francisco based band pressed up themselves, have been known to change hands for four-figure sums. Musically, the four tracks are breezy, sunny and summery. Opener "Just Another Love Song" sets the tone, with soulful group vocals and jazz solos rising above a warm groove, while "Somebody's Love" is a slow jam smothered in spacey synthesizers. "Byrd's House" is a jazz-funk dancefloor number - this time blessed with extended, eyes-closed guitar and piano solos - while "Friendship Cover Charge" is a stomping peak-time workout that should send dancers spinning.
Review: The Fryers sub-label of Jazzman Records come correct once again with this crucial 7" reissue from The Isley Brothers! With a career spanning some 50 years and covering R&B, Rock, Funk, Soul and Disco, it's fair to say The Isley Brothers have been one of the most influential groups on how 20th Century music turned out, yet few people actually know that their universally regarded 1973 hit "That Lady" was in fact a cover version of a track they'd previously recorded a decade earlier. Presented here in all its dusty glory, "Who's That Lady" is a jazzy doo-wop workout that will have the collectors out there running towards the turntables to find out whose version it is. On the flip is their wonderful version of the Blues standard "St. Louis Blues" which has been freshly pressed from the original master tapes!
Review: Soul Tribe celebrate the epic legacy of Chess subsidiary Argo with two of the label's many outstanding soul burners. Etta's big swing sauce-pot number takes pride of place with all 55 years of sultry devotion still deeply embedded into the recording. Banks' slightly lesser known pastoral ballad sets up camp on the B. Lilting and lolloping with horseback storytelling, it's the perfect foil both musically and narratively.
Review: Turbotrax was an intermittent curio that belched out of the Bristol underground in a fit of tongue in cheek edits and samples back in the '00s. Someone's clearly rebooted the mainframe and brought this elusive collective out of hiding for another bout of cheeky lifts from more esoteric corners of culture. Library Vultures says it all - this is the work of dedicated diggers pulling forgotten bits n' pieces out of retirement, such as, on the A side here, the storming theme to a Commodore advert, and giving it a buff up more extended retro-pleasure. "Whatever Happened To The Hippies?" on the flip is a more light-hearted affair with a jaunty lilt and a message of positivity for all.
Review: Destination mid 70s Nairobi where Madagascan guitarist Jimmy Mawi was laying down some serious vibes... Signed to EMI's Pathe imprint, he released three singles during his career which have all since faded to obscurity. Until now. Dusty, garagey and steaming with raw blues fusion, it's hard to deny any parallels to Hendrix as Mawi expresses himself with a rough heartfelt frenzy. Highlights include the Zep-level smoked out soul of "Blue Star Blues" and the insistent drive and reverbed out faraway vocals on "Black Dialogue". Another exemplary Afro-funk find from Soundway.
Review: Even though it appeared on his fine 1971 album "Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse" - a suitably dystopian set in which our hero rails against the ills of godless society - "Jagger The Dagger" is not one of Eugene McDaniels better known tracks. Yet as this Japanese seven-inch reissue proves, it remains a superb chunk of bizarre-but-brilliant jazz/rock/soul fusion full of delay-laden country style guitar solos, weirdo backing vocals, sumptuously laidback grooves and vocals that take aim at Mick Jagger and his "devil's dance". Flipside "Cherrystones" is a Vietnam War-era civil rights cry built around good old-fashioned fuzz-toned grooves, Chuck Berry style rock 'n' roll guitar solos and a pretty crazy lead vocal.
Review: While he lived a musical life that spanned from boogie to gospel before he passed away in 2016, Nairobi's David Waciuma didn't get to record much. He was known much more for his live performances with bands such as The Monks Experience then, later, Rapture Voices who he recorded these two records in the mid-70s. "Devil Go" is a thumping rhythm and blues call and response piece while "Jesu Kristo" hits with more of a frazzled bluesy funk. Both make you wish he recorded much more.
Review: Last reissued in Brazil over 10 years ago and last reissued on vinyl over 20 years ago, legendary Brazilian singer Gal Costa's sixth album is a tropicalian odyssey. Reflective, soulful, touching and dynamic, Gal guides us through a sunset story of ballads ("Volta"), bossas ("Milho Verde") blues ("De Maior Importance") and beyond with an all-star troupe of musicians including Gilberto Gil, Arthur Verocai and Dominguinhos. Remastered to a touch and complete with the original cover that was banned by the Brazilian dictatorship at the time, this is the first time India has been reissued with care in decades.
Review: Previously spotted changing hands for over L300, the mysterious Argentinian band's one and only album from 1973 gets a long-awaited reissue and the moment you put the needle on it, you can hear why it's been in such demand. A frenetic, fiery instrumental saga that brings Latin, Afrobeat and funk together in one thick, spicy brew that ranges from poignant introversion ("Evenescente") to pure duelling guitar theatre ("Colision") Not dissimilar to acts such Azymuth, this really is a remarkable piece of work. Significant props to Pharaway Sounds for the excavation.
Review: Light In the Attic have outdone themselves again with this latest reissue of what is surely Betty Davis' best and most coveted work. Her iconic voice is transported by the legendary productions of, to name a few, a couple of peeps by the name of Miles Davis, Teo Macero and Herbie Hancock. According to the label, what is special about this release is its pioneering stance on jazz, where across nine songs these greats pretty much already started and finished the free-jazz sound. For the late 1960s, this is some truly special and forward-thinking material; a clear precursor to the mad, improvisational - and often misinterpreted - seminal album by Miles Davis himself, On The Corner. This is mostly unreleased material, and the LP comes with a booklet of interviews and rare photos. Unmissable.
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: Although the UK's Be With Records are indeed masters of reissues, we didn't really expect them to be releasing Ned Doheny material. Don't get us wrong, he is the master of blue-eyed soul in our world, and it is a surprising yet much appreciated release! This self-titled LP is the master's debut, a 1973 cross-over that has always had the diggers' panties in a twist thanks to its funky sensibility and rock-infused backbone. There's hit after hit on here, starting with the Southern-style riffs of "Fineline", and swiftly moving onto more soulful territories with the likes of "On & On" or "Lashambeaux". While his Numero reissues have been clearly disco-tinged, this album is more contemplative, more rooted in country rock and it makes one hell of a roadside companion. Recommended.
Review: Admirable reissue imprint Comb & Razor Sound continues to unearth, license and re-print lesser-known gems from around the world. Their latest find is Fire Woman, the incredibly rare third album from little-known nine-piece Foundars 15. Interestingly, the album's tracks are not straight-up Afro-funk or Afro-beat workouts. Instead, they various take in Cymande style reggae/soul fusion, psychedelic '60s style pop, wild funk rock/Afrobeat fusion, Hammond-laden torch songs, and skewed Afro-jazz. It's a curious but hugely entertaining hotch-potch of styles that makes for hugely enjoyable listening from start to finish. Highlights include fuzzy, solo-laden closer "Ekele", the anthem-like "Simin Boogie" and Fela Kuti-ish "True Light".
Review: Jay-U Experience was the musical alter ego of Justus Nnakwe, a Nigerian musician who featured in several psychedelic rock and funk combos during the late '70s and early '80s. Collectors of Nigerian music have long sought out copies of his 1977 debut album, Enough is Enough, a fact that has inspired Soundway to prepare this licensed reissue. It's a thoroughly vibrant and entertaining set that sees Nnawke slip between leisurely reggae-pop ("Reggae Deluxe"), acid-fried Afro-funk ("Get Yourself Together"), sax-fuelled dancefloor psychedelia ("Some More") and fuzzy, organ-laden funk-rock heaviness (freaky closer "Baby Rock"). Given that finding original copies is near impossible these days, even for those who spend their lives digging in Lagos, this should be an essential purchase for fans of Nigerian music.
Review: A year shy of its 40th anniversary, Inspiration Information enjoys a reissue and it's still as sparkly and soul-laden as it was in 1974. Ranging from the guitar-twanging smoky blues funk of "Rainy Day" to the sultry, strutting title track, it's largely regarded as Otis's most comprehensive work of that time. According to legend it took him three years to create... 39 years later and it still sounds as good as this? We'd say that's time well spent!
Review: One of the many remarkable things about Rock Town Express's 1974 debut album - originally eponymously titled but now renamed after the album's most celebrated track - is that it was the work of just two musicians, who each manned multiple instruments during the recording process. Given that it sounds fiendishly loose and live, as if it was laid down in one take, that's seriously impressive. As an album, it offers a decidedly fuzzy fusion of early Afrobeat, Sly Stone style funk-rock and the mind of heady psychedelic rock that's more associated with bands from San Francisco. In other words, it's the kind of obscure but brilliant Afro-rock fusion that you need in your life.