Review: Sam Shepherd's Melodies International imprint has barely put a foot wrong to date, serving up a string of must-have reissues. Predictably, the label's latest offering - a facsimile reissue of a thoroughly obscure but in-demand disco 7" from 1979 - is another belter. A-side "Back Into Your Heart" is particularly potent, offering a rich, cheery and pleasingly fuzzy dance through horn-heavy disco-funk pastures, with a loved-up lead vocal joined by cascading strings, intergalactic synth solos and energy-packed drums. Turn to the flip for "Dance, Dance, Dance", an urgent chunk of funk-fuelled disco-rock that's almost as essential as the majestic A-side.
Review: A welcome return to action for Stank Soul scalpel fiends Mako and Mr Bristow, whose last collaborative re-edit release dropped back in 2017. This time round they offer up a slimmed down seven-inch selection boasting two hot-to-trot revisions. On the A-side you'll find "Stax Dawg", a loving tribute to the legendary US label that sees the pair wrap 1960s horns, vocals and instrumentation around their own rubbery, floor-friendly groove. "Love Book", meanwhile, is arguably even better: a low-down revision of a horn-heavy funk-rock affair rich in addictive guitar riffs, bustling drums, heavy horns and gravelly blues style vocals. They round things off via flipside "Funky Jive", a tooled-up version of rhythm and blues standard "Willie and the Hand Jive" that should have everyone singing along in the club.
Review: Never pressed to 45 before, both firing sides are taken from Esther's debut album from 1969; Newport News, Virginia. Both cover versions, JJ Barnes' "Chains Of Love" is given gospel-funk muscle as Esther belts out her heart over an impeccably frenetic band while Joe Zawinul's instantly recognisable jazz standard "Walk Tall" gets a powerful spoken word flex. Gutsy business to the very core, this is a snapshot of Esther at her most ambitious, energetic and creative.
Review: Legendary singer songwriter Barbara Mason is represented in the finest fettle on this 1974 reissue. "World In Crisis" first appeared on her Transition album. Complete with warm harmonies and soft cinematic orchestration, her honey-toned sermons cut through the mix with a cool sense of dreaminess. "Give Me Your Love", meanwhile, is a fantastic cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic where here surging emphasis coats the groove with silky come-to-bed whispers. Stunning.
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.
Everything That Shines Ain't Gold (part one & two) (6:12)
Everything That Shines Ain't Gold (Floating Points edit) (4:38)
Review: You'll be unsurprised to learn that the latest reissue on Floating Points' Melodies imprint is of a record that is fiendishly hard to find. Collectors have long regarded "Everything That Shines Ain't Gold", a sumptuous funk-soul workout full of bold Hammond organ lines and jazzy guitar licks, as something of a "Holy Grail", so it's fantastic see the track getting a worthy reissue. For this edition, you'll find the full version (originally cut into two parts to fit on a 7") on side A, with a fresh Floating Points re-edit on the flip. His revision is naturally tastefully done, rolling with the sweetest instrumental passages before breaking into Moore's superb vocal.
Review: While most remember Melba Moore for her string of disco and boogie-era classics, she actually started her career at the tail end of the 1960s recording soul stompers in Nashville. "The Magic Touch", which here gets the reissue treatment, is a typical Northern Soul style four-to-the-floor slammer that was recorded in 1967 when she was 22 years old and has previously only been issued on a hard-to-find 1986 single. This time round it comes backed with Maxine Brown's similarly popular Northern Soul scene staple "It's Torture", which remarkably went unissued until Kent Records discovered it in the Ace Records vault back in 1985.
Review: The latest 7" missive from the Outta Sight camp features two more impossible-to-find rarities. On the A-side you'll find a storming chunk of horn-heavy, Hammond-rich funk from obscure US psychedelic band Mr Floods Party. Originally released on GM Records in 1971, the cut has long been an in-demand amongst Northern Soul collectors thanks to its stomping beat and impassioned vocals. Speaking of Northern Soul favourites, flip to the B-side for the greatest moment from short-lived Detroit soul group Fork In The Road. Originally released in 1970, "Can't Turn Around Now" is a thrillingly energetic workout full of heavy instrumentation, surging vocals and an even heavier backbeat.