Review: Those who watch the X-Factor may remember Voices With Soul; the trio, which is made up of three female members of the Campbell family (Grace, Hilda and Corene) reached the last six of the TV talent competition back in the late noughties. Here, they're in full-on contemporary gospel mode, layering their impassioned, righteous vocals over a lushly produced, slow-burning backing track full of chiming synthesizer melodies, bustling synth bass and tumbling electronic sax solos. Arguably even better is the flipside "Promo Mix", which doffs a cap to classic British street soul - a homegrown 1980s variant that is constantly overlooked by dance music scholars - via tactile hip-hop beats and Soul II Soul style production.
I Can't Get Along Without You (instrumental) (6:36)
Review: Kalita has already served up some seriously good reissues, but their latest may well be the most essential yet. It's the first licensed reissue of Vance and Suzzanne's sole single from 1980, "I Can't Get Along Without You" - a Larry Levan favourite that was only ever pressed in small quantities first time around. In it's A-side vocal form, the track is a deliciously warm and loved-up duet that mixes rich, mid-tempo New York disco grooves with some of the heady, glassy-eyed musicality of Philadelphia soul. It's genuinely magical - a super-sweet cut that sounds like end-of-night gold. Like the original 1980 private pressing on Vanton Records, the Kalita edition is backed by the similarly sweet, atmospheric Instrumental Mix, but this time we're also treated to a never-before-seen press photo, and extensive interview-based liner notes.
Review: The Voices Of East Harlem were an ensemble of vocalists who for Just Sunshine Records recorded two albums under the direction of Leroy Hutson and Curtis Mayfield. "Cashing In" is one of their most classic songs, a highly sought after track on original 7" fetches a small fortune on the collectors market. First recorded and released in 1973, it has all the hallmarks of a Leroy Hutson composition and an established audience that crosses the boundaries of northern, crossover and modern soul. The song is coupled here with "Take A Stand', another highly regarded and sought after modern soul room dance floor tracks, never previously released on 7" single until now
Review: Atlanta troupe Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics treat us to two of the many highlights from their recent sophomore album State Of All Things. Delivered on a limited white 45, both cuts surge with the full spectrum soul they've been developing over the last 12 years. "Call Out My Name", the triumphant Valli-esque album finale is a thumping yet vastly emotional northern soul shakedown while "Love Less Blind" shows the band in a slightly woozier, dreamer state as the band's clam-tight horn section get given the spotlight shine.
Review: Raw Georgian soul from Ruby Velle and her ever ready Soulphonics: two of the most powerful songs from their recent sophomore album State Of All Things enjoy a little slice of 45 justice. Big full flavoured instrumentation, and an even bigger presence from Ruby herself, across the sides Ruby and co flex their full palette; "Broken Women" is so heavy and urgent it naturally carries a powerful and infectious rock feel while "Forgive, Live, Repeat" taps a little more into the early 70s with its extended organ blasts and more lyrical clarity from the provocative bandleader. Pay attention.
Review: Wah Dubplate cannot and will not be stopped. The incorrigible little bootleg unit marches on with its usual mishmash of funky, disco-friendly edits from the most improbable of producers out there and this latest outing is another minor success in what is a whole catalogue of hidden gems. Italy's Aldo Vanucci and Del Gazeebo turn up sounding wild and soulful; the farmer's opening edit of "Bobby's Grapevine" does the Mo-Town tricks, while the latter's re-visioning of "Billy's Missus" gives the original 'hey, Mrs.Robison!' a nice little dance makeover. Sweet as a nut.
Candy & The Kisses - "Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby" (2:39)
Val Simpson - "Mr Creator" (2:11)
Review: Candy & The Kisses burst onto the Northern Soul scene with their first single and all-time classic "The 81" co-written and produced by the late Jerry Ross. "Are You Trying To Get Rid Of Me Baby" is a storming soul number that went under the radar for the most part, but is good as any of other hits of theirs like "Chains Of Love" and many others. Flipside "Mr Creator" co-written by Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson was taken up by The Apollas in 1967 on Warner Bros. and went on to become an all-time classic.
E Willey Von Huff N Puff - "Just Wish You Were Here" (4:49)
Walter Hawkins - "Metropolis" (5:29)
Same Womb - "Alibi Eyes" (3:51)
Cause & Effect - "You Make Me Feel Brand New" (3:45)
Candle Tribe - "Candles" (4:19)
T Dyson & Company - "First Time" (3:59)
LaRhonda LeGette - "Now You Sit Alone" (4:30)
Iron Force - "Stay" (3:53)
Errol Stubbs - "Spaced Out On Your Love" (4:44)
Severed - "Real Life" (3:05)
Review: US label The Numero Group has been enriching the lives of soul lovers for years thanks to their tireless unearthing of the good stuff. Even by their high standards, this selection is impeccable: it boasts 10 obscure and formerly only privately-issued masterpieces from artists that are somehow unknown. It comes in totally fitting gold packaging that folds out into a magnetic pyramid and the music itself is heart-achingly beautiful. There are tender groovers, blue eyed soul gems, crushing lullabies and golden jazz gems with some of the most pure and impactful vocal works you could wish to hear.
Songhoi Band - "Africa Africa" (Faze Action edit) (4:50)
Stylus - "We All Need One Another" (3:29)
Oscar Perry - "Body Movements" (8:31)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness" (3:25)
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Review: When it comes to shining a light on obscure regional disco and boogie scenes, the crate diggers behind Cultures of Soul are rarely beaten. Their latest killer compilation gathers together little known boogie, electrofunk and J-pop released in Japan between 1981 and 1988. It's predictably brilliant from start to finish, with the squelchy synth bounce and bi-lingual vocals of Hitomi Tohyama's "Wanna Kiss" and the mid-'80s Madonna vibes of Kaoru Akimoti's "Dress Down" amongst the highlights. What's perhaps most impressive is the comparative quality of the tunes; aside from Japanese language vocals, most sound like they could have been recorded and released by New York or Los Angeles-based artists, rather than Tokyo ones. As the old cliche goes, this is "all killer, no filler".
Review: Selected rare Togolese recordings featured here from between 1971 to 1981. According to label Hot Casa, finding these tracks and their rights holders was quite the task, involving numerous trips all over the west African country bordered by Ghana , Benin and Burkina Faso. They have selected 13 tracks, which they've charmingly described as 'a snapshot of some hundreds of rare and often forgotten tapes from the most prolific, professional and exciting phase of the country's recording history'. Highlights on this compilation not limited to: Akofa Akoussah's sultry and bittersweet crooning on "I Tcho Tchass", the life affirming Afrobeat vibes of Aime Orchis Mathey's very obscure "Tralala Vo Dou" and of course the very funky and groovy hoedown that is Adamah & Agbote's "Dzo Le Gbo Nye" .
East St. Louis Gospelettes - "Have A Talk With God" (3:22)
Betty Everett - "Just A Little Piece Of You" (3:35)
The Foreign Exchange - "If She Breaks Your Heart" (5:23)
Sunlightsquare - "Pastime Paradise" (4:40)
US Atlantic First Navy Show Band - "Birds Of Beauty" (3:50)
Billy Preston - "It's My Pleasure" (3:49)
John Minnis' Big Bone Band - "Love's In Need Of Love Today" (4:48)
Tony Sherman - "As" (3:44)
David Porter - "I Don't Know Why I Love You" (2:59)
David Rufn - "Make My Water Boil (Loving You Has Been So Wonderful)" (3:50)
Reel People - "Golden Lady" (feat Tony Momrelle) (4:56)
Quincy Jones - "Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me" (5:20)
GC Cameron - "If You Don't Love Me" (2:30)
Jrod Indigo - "Go Home" (5:17)
Black Sugar - "Don't You Worry Bout A Thing" (2:50)
Review: DJ Spinna is known for many things; his productions, sublime DJ mixes and many a hip hop classic as half of Jigmastas. He's also a complete Stevie Wonder obsessive who runs a popular Stevie-themed club night called Wonderful. A series of albums that expand on the party's concept was a logical next step and The Wonder Of Stevie now arrives at a third volume. This edition has clearly been painstakingly curated by Spinna and BBE, consisting of other people's covers of the man's work. Highlights include sweet and sugary 'Buttercup" by The Jackson 5, the bluesy honky tonk jam "It's My Pleasure" by Billy Preston and Quincy Jones' pure liquid funk version of "Betcha' Wouldn't Hurt Me".
Review: Songs that make you go wow. Voices Of East Harlem's soul is the type of soul you've always known without realising. Built up from a community project, the 20-strong ensemble ran throughout the first half of the 70s releasing three albums full of super gutsy, heart-pumping soul, R&B and gospel. This 1973 self-titled second album is recognised as one of their strongest with crossover hit "Cashing In" gaining the troupe major attention. Written by Leeroy Hutson and produced by Curtis Mayfield the whole album from belting highs ("Just Believe In Me") to torch-bearing sentimental ballad lows ("Giving Lows") is a true soul treat. Essential.