Review: Don't be fooled by the smoky jazzy horns on the intro: The Allergies are still at the front of the party queue! They were just lulling us into a false sense of security before hitting us with a precision range of big soul swingers and dynamite party killers; both "Hold You Close" and "Since You've Been Gone" pop with big beat bangs, "Entitled To That" stamps and sweats like Wigan Pier is still holding the best dances in the country, "Main Event" parps and pumps while long-standing affiliate Andy Cooper reminds us who's boss while "It Won't Be Me" (also with Cooper) is coded with so much horn and guitar powered gusto you could be fooled into thinking Ugly Duckling are back. Yet another triumphant album from one of Jalapeno's most exciting acts.
Review: Massive reissue incoming! BBE have answered many of our prayers with this long awaited repress of Roy's 1983 disco funk excursion "Silver Vibrations". A record that's currently fetching triple figures, this is the first time it's been repressed since it was released. Opening with the iconic whispered message of "Chicago", Roy takes us on a trip through his funkiest of quarters; the salubrious slap bass of "Lots Of Love", the Afrobeat staccato vocals and glock rocking vibrancy of "Silver Vibrations" and the dreamy cosmic jazz trip of "DC City" are just some of the highlights, all shared across the 12"s with no more than two tracks per side. Vibes that can't be slept on.
Review: Once dubbed "the screaming eagle of soul", Charles Bradley passed away in 2017 after a late career surge that saw him finally find the commercial success that had long eluded him. "Black Velvet", his second and final posthumous set, draws on material recorded with long-term producer Tommy "TNT" Brenneck over the course of his career. Much of the material is either exceedingly rare (see his covers of songs by Nirvana, Neil Young and Rodriguez, as well as a sought-after funk duet with LaRose Jackson) or previously unreleased (see "Can't Fight The Feeling", "Fly Little Girl" and the never-before-heard "full band" take on Bradley classic "Victim of Love"). More importantly, it's all exceptionally good, making this a fitting farewell to Floridian soul singer.
Aldo Vanucci - "You're All Show" (feat Kylie Auldist - Smoove remix Craig Charles edit)
Lack Of Afro - "The Outsider" (part 2)
Mop Mop - "Run Around" (feat Fred Wesley & Anthony Joseph)
Euro Cinema - "Koekwaus"
Saskwatch - "Second Best"
The James Taylor Quartet - "Blow Up"
The Bongolian - "The Riviera Affair"
Hot 8 Brass Band - "Ghost Town"
Hidden Jazz Quartett - "High Heels" (feat Omar - Lack Of Afro remix)
The Perceptions - "Bite The Bit"
Jessica Lauren Four - "Happiness Train" (featt Jocelyn Brown)
Omar - "There's Nothing Like This" (feat Pino Palladino)
Dr Rubberfunk - "Creek Walk"
Cookin' On 3 Burners - "Cars"
Deep Street Soul - "What She Said"
The Sweet Vandals - "Feel Alive"
Emma Beatson & The Hawkmen - "Do It" (Mako & The Hawk version)
Tape Five - "Geraldine's Routine"
Review: Self-proclaimed "complete package" Craig Charles (actor, poet, DJ, radio host, stand-up) seems to be enjoying life as Britain's most famous funk and soul fan. Here, he curates a second installment of his Funk & Soul Club compilation series. Predictably, there's plenty to tickle the fancy, from the reggae-soul-house shuffle of Lack of Afro's remix of Hidden Jazz Quartet's "High Heels", and the psychedelic funk madness of The Bongolian's "The Riviera Affair", to the celebratory release of Jessica Lauren Four's "Happiness Train" (featuring a brilliant vocal from old Jocelyn Brown), and a pair of ripsnorting cover versions (Cookin' On Three Burners' fantastic take on Numan's "Cars" and Hot Eight Brass Band's famous remake of the Specials' "Ghost Town").
Brian Auger's Oblivion Express - "Foolish Girl" (feat Alex Ligertwood)
The New Mastersounds - "Tantalus"
The Getup - "Hush"
Orquesta Akokan - "Mambo Rapidito"
Gizelle Smith - "Scared Of Something"
Menagerie - "Spiral"
Review: Craig Charles' annual "Funk & Soul Club" compilations are fast becoming as much of a Christmas tradition as turkey, dodgy decorations and ill-advised snogs at office parties. As with its predecessor, this sixth volume does a good job in showcasing the best in modern funk, soul, Afrobeat and heavy Latin jams, with a few stone cold classics thrown in (see the Mighty Ryeders' peerless "Evil Vibrations"). Look out for deep and heavy funk gems from the Bamboos, the New Mastersounds and Lance Ferguson's Rare Groove Spectrum, some suitably smooth fare from Courtney Pine and Omar, a scintillating, salsa-focused cover of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by Scotland's Grupo Magnetico, and a dash of dancefloor goodness from funk breaks scene stalwarts Smoove and Turrell.
Review: Kalita Records announce the first ever and definitive discography of Carrie Cleveland. Here, they offer an expanded version of her 1978 album 'Looking Up', including both the issue and promotional versions of her single 'Make Love To Me', and the previously unknown sweet soul single 'I've Got A Feeling'.
Privately arranged, recorded and produced by Carrie and her husband Bill as a labour of love in their backyard studio in 1978, 'Looking Up' is one of the most in-demand soul/disco LPs in existence, sought-after in particular for their track 'Love Will Set You Free'. In addition, the promotional version of Carrie's single 'Make Love To Me' is one of the best and rarest sweet soul records to have emerged out of the West Coast soul scene, and her single 'I've Got A Feeling' is until today virtually unknown even to the most seasoned of collectors, with even Carrie herself unsure if it was ever released. With the album originally pressed in a limited run of just 1000 with 500 copies of each single, original copies of Carrie's records deservingly command eye-watering figures on the second-hand market. Kalita now satisfy the thirst with the first ever official reissue of her entire discography.
The CD is accompanied by a mini-poster and includes extensive interview-based liner notes and never before seen photos, detailing Carrie and Bills' life and musical career.
Review: Gospel/funk fusionists the Como Mamas debuted on Daptone back in 2013 with Get An Understanding, a fine full-length that perfectly showcased the female trio's talents. While that set was recorded live at Mt Merrion Church some years earlier, this fine follow-up is a studio set with Daptone chief Bosco Mann in the producer's chair. Unsurprisingly, it's deliciously authentic, sounding like a long lost 1970s, private press gospel-soul album. It's packed with highlights, from the bluesy shuffle of "He's Calling Me" and rhythm and blues bounce of "He's Mine", to the acapella brilliance of "Glory Glory Hallelujah", where the trio's brilliant vocals and a lone drumbeat combine to create an intoxicating mood.
Review: Over 10 years deep and sounding Stronger than ever (not sorry) Cool Million return with their fifth album and it's delicious in all directions. Still smacking with that powerful early 80s soul, boogie and RnB blend, still packing heavyweight vocalists, still stacking serious levels of musicianship, Stronger runs the gamut. From juicy feet-tickling boogie ("Stronger", "Keep On") to sultry ballads ("Share The Light") and steamy soul jams ("Come Back Home") with killer vocals from the likes of the legendary D-Train plus Janus Soliand, Jasmine Franklin and David A Tobin, "Stronger" is one of the Danish/German duo's most accomplished albums to date.
Review: North Carolina's Lee Fields has had a long career with some dramatic pauses, but the last few years have seen him stronger than ever with LPs on Truth & Soul and now Big Crown Records. "It Rains Love" is his second LP with The Expressions, and it strikes a classic Motown note that sounds utterly timeless in its execution. The production definitely has some of the warmth and grit of Motor City classics from back in the day, but Fields' conviction and power in his delivery sounds bang up to date. For fans of Mayfield, Redding et al, this is an unmissable set of rough-edged soul.