Review: Destination 78/79: Expansion take us deep into the illustrious back cat of revered boogaloo fusionist Willie Bobo for two of his many fiery delights. Side A is his feel-heavy cult instrumental take on Ronnie Laws' disco classic "Always There" while Side B throws us into the heart of his 1979 album Bobo with gutsy raw soul power (and just a few cheeky funk slap bass twangs for good measure) Two stone cold classics together for the first time on 45.
Review: Sun-kissed soul from 1975, not a lot is known about the Charisma Band besides their powerful musical abilities and their two 45s on Buddah and Columbia. "Ain't Nothing Like Your Love" is a horn-blessed feel-good summer get-together while "Bless The Day" takes us straight to the bedroom with its gliding guitars, velvet falsetto and spellbinding harp. It's not hard to see why originals of this have been known to pass hands for several hundred bob.
Review: It would be fair to say that the two tracks showcased here aren't among Lamont Dozier's best-known songs. For starters, they were originally tucked away on the legendary soul man's largely overlooked 1981 set, Working On You. A-side "I'm A Believer" is a breezy, string-drenched chunk of disco-boogie blessed with one of the singer-songwriter's best vocal performances. It's something of an overlooked dancefloor gem, all told. Flipside "Starting Over" builds steadily from a slow start, with Dozier's impassioned message of love reborn coming through loud and clear over sumptuous orchestration and super-sweet vocal harmonies.
Review: Here's something rather tasty: a joint release between Expansions and Philadelphia International that brings together two hard-to-find tracks from Philly Soul group The Futures. On the A-side you'll find rare groove scene favourite "Ain't No Time Fa Nuthin", a typically sumptuous and musically rich affair that places the group's inspired soul vocals at the centre of a sugary-sweet Philadelphia Soul groove. B-side "Party Time Man" is a more traditional vocal soul stomper from the turn of the '70s, with sweeping strings and punchy horn lines tracking the group's sweet, sweet harmonies, which is great for getting the dancefloor going.
Review: Having appeared on several EPs throughout the late '70s and early '80s on labels like Westbound and Capitol, most people think of Erasmus Hall as one person. Rather, they were actually a collective of artists that were given the name by grandmaster George Clinton of Parliament / P-Funk. This might not be immediately audible on the gentle waves of "Just Me & You", but the song does contain a certain air of oddity and conniving funkiness that rendered that period of disco just so damn enticing. The flip contains "Your Love Is My Desire", another gentle heart-warmer to stick on in those more intimate moments... What a delightful little 7"!
Review: This more than handy 7" single brings together two classic disco-era cuts from soul legend Willie Hutch. A-side "Easy Does It", which was originally featured on 1978's In Tune album, features Hutch in full-on Curtis Mayfield mode, singing passionately over a jaunty, jazz-funk influenced backing track laden with swirling strings, choral backing vocals (think Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" album) and Dexter Wansel style synthesizer solos. It's undoubtedly one of Hutch's finest moments and deserves to be in any serious soul head's collection. Flip for 1979's "Kelly Green", a sumptuous soul slow jam in which Hutch pines over a lost lover.
Review: Straight from the Volt vaults! 50 years after their release, Margie's coveted breakthrough tracks get the Expansion treatment. Her famous crossover track "One More Chance" has never not been in favour through the soul phases. And by the way it builds triumphantly, it's not hard to tell. "Nobody" meanwhile has a real kick to its swing and a gradual sense of momentum that really catches you by surprise. Don't sleep on this one.
Review: Expansions' latest essential reissue takes us back to 1980 and the much sought after seven-inch edition of singer Ty Karim's collaboration with lesser-known soul man George Griffin. "Keep On Doin' Whatcha' Doin'" was written and produced by Karim's other half Kent Harris and, like the original seven inch, appears here in two parts. The glorious A-side version is a lolloping chunk of disco-era sweet soul rich in soaring orchestration, fluttering flutes and Marvin Gaye/Tammi Tyrell style duet vocals from Karim and Griffin. Part two focuses more on the killer groove and the duo's impassioned improvised vocalizations, with a variety of tasty solos helping to whip things into a mid-tempo dancefloor frenzy.
Review: A reissue of American singer Debra Laws' 1981 single here on Expansion. She made her debut as a solo recording artist in in the same year, with the release of her album titled Very Special. This album, produced by her brothers Hubert and Ronnie, was a success with the singles "On My Own" (a lovely neon-lit disco-funk groove) and "Very Special" (a super sensual ballad on the slo-mo tip) being featured here. Up until the beginning of the '90s, Laws worked with her three siblings, recording and doing many live performances in the United States and abroad. Samples from "Very Special" can be heard in Jennifer Lopez's 2002 hit single of "All I Have".
Review: When Leo and his Sunshipp crew asked for the sunshine way back in 1980 they meant it. And with a tune as beautiful as this, they deserved it too. Released in 1980 in various forms (and also on the funk trio's only album in 1978) the most sought after was the 45" that came with the gutsier, more upbeat traditional soul cut "I'm Back For More". But let's face it, this is all about the lead track. A cult Balearic soul funk jam and one of the coolest summer cuts ever pressed to wax, reissues have been on request for over 30 years... Like the summer itself, this won't hang around.
Review: A lot of us have to thank Expansions for switching us on to Matlock in the first place, thanks to them unearthing him for their Soulchasers collection way back in the early 90s. Here they return to two of Glenn's finest, silkiest soul diamonds. Written for the romantics, produced for the dancefloor right at the very end of the classic 70s sound, "You Got The Best Of Me" has an upbeat Barry White feel to its delivery and sentiment while "I Can't Forget About You" has a lighter touch and flightier flow. The former previous super-rare on 45, the latter never press to 45 before... Both supreme and timeless.
Review: Singer, songwriter and session vocalist for Motown and Chess, Jeff Perry spent the late 70s on his own solo adventure and "Call On Me" was one of his earliest endeavours. A fairly urgent torch song executed with few theatrics but rather layers of soft harmonies, a funk-riddled break and a dreamy middle eighth. Flip for the instrumental and you'll hear just how much power and emergency the Jeff's vocals provide now they're removed.
Review: Through his solo releases and work with Leon Ware, Richard Evans and Skip Scarborough, Rockie Robbins became one of American soul's most celebrated artists and producers in the early 1980s. This year's he's set to release his first album of note since 1985, with these two cuts offering a taste of what's to come. Interestingly, "Good Life" sounds a little like it could have been written and produced in the 1980s, even if the mixing, mastering and lilt in Robbins' voice reflect its contemporary status. Either way, it's warm, positive and comes blessed with a wonderfully strong chorus. "Let's Groove", meanwhile, is a little deeper and more loved-up, perfectly reflecting that side of Robbins' 1980s output.
Review: Expansion's latest must-have release brings together two killer cuts from Sylvia Striplin's brilliant 1981 album "Give Me You Love", which originally appeared on Roy Ayers' Uno Melodic label. Ayers produced and arranged both cuts alongside regular collaborator James Bedford. "Give Me Your Love" is, of course, something of an anthem in underground disco circles, with Striplin's breathy and emotionally rich vocal rounding off a superb cut that's rich in crunchy Clavinet lines, walking bass, snappy drums, sensual synth doodles and rising horns. Flipside "You Can't Turn Me Away", meanwhile, is closer in sound and vibe to Roy Ayers' jazz-funk cuts from the period, which is no bad thing.
Review: If you haven't heard Gloria Taylor's "Deep Inside You", possibly 1973's best soul tune - and one of the best soul tunes ever made - you haven't lived life to the full. That's our honest opinion. And, if that is true, you are still in time to change that with this glorious little 7" reissue from Expansion. The title tune is a blissful segment of music, always cutting through deeply for us, but "World That's Not Real" is only less appealing by comparison. Relative to the huge amounts of soul music out in the public sphere, it is certainly still an absolutely winning B-side. Recommended.
Review: What with their super-rare rare groove album "Synchronised" fetching four figures and some of their key singles rocking similarly big price tags, Columbus soul troupe are renowned for their sought-after wax collectables. It's not hard to hear way. Gossamer smooth with just hint of boogie on both sides, "Do You Love Me" is a yearning end-of-night smoocher that doesn't cut on the weight while "You're The One" flexes a much more upbeat groove with slap bass and keytars running off pure positivity. Only once reissued before, this Expansion excursion will be more than welcome news to many.
Review: To mark Record Store Day 2018, London store Love Vinyl pressed up a tasty 12" containing the best of the disco-era work of Ohio-based soul combo Timeless Legend. Tucked away on the B-side was "I Was Born To Love You", a soaring chunk of sweet and punchy disco-soul from 1980. Here that track gets the reissue treatment from Richard Searling and John Anderson's admirable Expansions imprint. As with the original Dawn-Lite seven-inch single, the inspired A-side vocal version (Part 1) is accompanied by a slightly wilder, largely instrumental flipside take (Part 2) that's worth the entrance price on its own.
Review: Released in celebration of Expansion's recent re-serving of two of Leon's early 80s albums - Rockin' You Eternally and Leon Ware - here's a delightful 45 that reminds us of his finest solo moments. "Why I Came To California" is a sun-kissed soul boogie groove with big horns and even bigger chorus. "Rockin' You Eternally" (which is, let's face it, one of the smoothest song titles to ever come from the 80s) showcases Leon's softer side. A ballad steeped in sentiment, play this loud enough and everyone in a five mile radius will stop and get smoochy.
Review: It would be fair to say that Timi Yuro's "As Long As There Is You" is a sought-after single. Something of a "holy grail" amongst soul collectors, original copies of the 1969 7" on Liberty Records regularly change hands for upwards of 1,000 quid. Happily, you can now acquire a fresh copy for a fraction of the cost thanks to this facsimile Expansions reissue. Fuzzy, heartfelt, stomping and blessed with wall of sound style production, "As Long As There Is You" is the kind of sad-but-happy track that used to make Northern Soul dancers go weak at the knees. Yuro's Central American influences can be heard loud and clear on "It'll Never Be Over For Me", where Mariachi style trumpet lines and sweeping strings rise above a heavy, bossa-influenced groove.