Review: It's been almost four years since we last heard from Anatoly Ice and Dariya, and we were beginning to miss the duo's magnetic waves of seductive nu-soul. Backed by a gentle sway of breakbeats, "Freedom (Unchained)" is the sort of tune that will have cross-cultural appeal, drawing in influences from pop, r&b, and even a little country love. On the flip, Mr Confuse twists the groove up to transform the original into more of a light-hearted house swelter, backed by the original's suave vocals.
Review: Athens of the North founder Euan Fryer has described Willie Dale's "Let Your Light Shine" as "one of the best discoveries in the last 15 years". Only five copies of the original 7" single have surfaced to date, with the most recent changing hands for eye-watering sums of money. You can see why Fryer was so excited by "Let Your Light Shine": while rooted in both funk and soul, the track also draws heavily on psychedelic rock and the fuzzy, funk-rock fusion brilliance of Sly Stone. Original B-side "Somebody Help Me" is an altogether more laidback affair, with Dale offering impassioned and melancholic lyrics over a psychedelic era take on old rhythm & blues ballads.
DaM-FunK - "Believer" (Fingers deep funk remix) (8:40)
Nite-Funk - "Can U Read Me?" (3:38)
Review: Damon Garrett Riddick offered a fine addition to the DJ Kicks canon with his 19 track DaM-Funk selection earlier this and in time honoured tradition his exclusive contribution gets a vinyl release backed with a rather special remix. In a nod to his cache and love of classic deep house, Riddick has coaxed a Mr Fingers remix out of Larry Heard resulting in a sublime take on "Believer" that would have gone down a treat at Broken Beat haven Co-Op back in the day. Instead of the original version of "Believer," the flip features another Riddick original from the DJ Kicks mix - his killer Nite Funk collaboration with fellow LA synthesizer enthusiast Nite Jewel.
Review: Goosepimples aplenty as Kent Records pulls out its ace card with a superb slice of feel good classic soul music from Darondo. Darondo, who was bought up in the San Franciso Bay area, led a colourful life, becoming a Pimp in the 1960s. He eventually gave that up and knocked out this wonderful piece of guitar balladry. Underneath a sublime Al Green/Curtis Mayfield like vocal performance you'll discover a simple string arrangement that compliments Darondo's falsetto vocal to brilliant effect. No doubt this will feature as one of the best 45 soul reissues of 2012.
Review: With the passing of William Daron Pulliam last year, the music world truly lost a singular and unique talent. Here Californian soul daddies Ubiquity pay homage to his most recognised works "Didn't I See" with a limited edit-focused 12". There is of course the feeling one shouldn't mess with perfection - and this Darondo track certainly falls into that category - but each of the three edits that accompany the original are considered reworks that subtly add some extra character without losing any of its power to move. Kinjo Music founder Dave Allison perhaps excels the most in this regard, subtly nudging the tempo up and adding some extra percussive detail that soul selectors will appreciate.
Review: Alfie Davison's "Love is Serious Issue" was famously one of the only records that united both sides of the infamous Northern Soul divide. While the "modern soul" contingent - led, of course, by DJs Ian Levine and Colin Curtis - loved the track's overblown disco production, those still welded to the scene's original sound appreciated the song's driving back track, rousing horns and Davison's impassioned vocal. This timely 7" reissue not only includes the familiar edited version on the A-side, but also the phenomenally hard to find 12" version on the flip. It's this, with its extended instrumental sections and emphasis on the heavy disco-rock groove, which should have you reaching for your wallet.
The Lost Generation - "The Sly, Slick & The Wicked"
Review: Stomping northern soul vibes abound on this recently unearthed gem from The Demures. With its pumping beats and heart melting harmonies it's hard to believe this went unnoticed for so many years. If you're after something a little softer and emotional then flip for The Lost Generation's "The Sly Slick And Wicked". No, they're not describing Juno's record reviewers, they're lamenting over love lost and heartbreakers in the most emphatic, string-drenched soulful way. Two beautiful cuts on one 7". Bonus.
Review: Their last single was "Won't Be Coming Back", now comes "Sure Don't Miss You": We're noticing a theme here... And to be honest, we can't thank whichever ex-lover it was who upset this Seattle seven piece enough. Because we are getting some serious soul gold right here! Once again on Colemine, once again rich in harmony, once again with the big instrumentation and enough spring in the guitars and horns for big dance moves; The Dip are fast establishing themselves as a serious player in contemporary funk and they've even thrown in an instrumental to show how tight they are.
Review: Ultra Vybe remain deep in their Brunswick excavations with these two sublime cuts from the label's super troupe of session players Directions and their one and only album. Released 1976, OG copies fetch almost L200 and just these two tracks alone hint at why. Shimmering with a strong Faze-O feel with an evocative contrast of falsetto and deep baritone and twinkling instrumentation, both tracks swoon with everything that was so smooth and emotional about the label who gave the world Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites and Gene Chandler. Show some love.
Review: Serial alias addict, Kris Holmes returns with a double side of split personality: The Disciples is a rough, bluesy layered piece of slo-mo surf rock where the drums only just keep up and the organs provide heavy soul salvation. "He Spoke" shows Kris on much more of an African inspired trip. Similarly hefty organs power the main groove but there's more uplift in the riff and instrumentation. Insatiable.
Are You Ready (Are You Straight With Your Fellow Man) (3:40)
Review: The man behind two crucial rarities from the 60s ("Don't Make Me Mad" and "Black Belt"), Big Lee Dowell follows his new run of soul with another Cannonball release. "Are You Ready" hits with that rising Whitfield & Strong style sense of drama. Big chords, a little theatre, sugary backing vocals and Big Lee laying down a smoky but stern drawl... It's another slick shot from the Italian cannon. What's even neater on the B is Big Lee telling his story over the backing track (in a similar spine-tingly way as "Giorgio By Moroder") Immense.
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: Soul auteur Jonathan Diggs Duke returns to one of his older EPs for a timely reissue. Originally released in 2015, just after his critically acclaimed debut album on Giles Peterson's Brownswood, the three tracks catch Diggs at his most flighty and free-thinking; "Ambition Addiction" jumps and rolls like a tightly coiled jazz spring before hurling us into the deep harmonic soulful blue of "Welcome" and "Funky Overdose" lives up to its name with its off beat magic, tightly plucked guitar and staccato vocals. Addictive.
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.