Jackie Wilson & Lavern Baker - "Think Twice" (2:31)
Review: This must-check "45" gathers together two in-demand gems from the glory days of funk and soul in the middle of the 1960s, both of which originally appeared on the iconic Brunswick label. Side A sports LaVern Baker's hard-to-find 1967 single 'Wrapped, Tied & Tangled', a breezy but heavy chunk of soul rich in jangling piano flourishes, punchy horns and languid grooves, all topped off with a killer lead vocal. Turn to the flip and you'll find Baker's 1965 collaboration with Jackie Wilson, 'Think Twice', a heavier, funk-fuelled outing that draws much inspiration from classic rhythm & blues. It goes without saying that both tracks are essential.
Review: For a classic 7" that makes you wish you could have experienced the rock and roll and blues heyday, these two dusty gems by Lavern Baker and Jackie Wilson are a great start. Taken from 1960, "Bumble Bees" by Baker is a chiming, doo-wop sing-a-long love song with a tastefully disgruntled character, while Baker & Wilson provide the excellent and X-rated "Think Twice", which sings about taboo topics like cocaine, pussy and reefa. It also boasts lyrics like 'son of a bitch', 'I aint gonna kiss your ass no more' and 'I've had enough of your shit' - not to mention the other out-there obscenities for the time which include references to oral sex. Lil Kim and Khia - eat your heart out!
Review: On the latest edition of their excellent Soul Essentials series, Outta Sight has decided to bring together two versions of 'Ordinary Joe', a seemingly perennial favourite written by the late, great Terry Callier. His celebrated 1972 recording - all bold, sing-along choruses, organ stabs, jangling piano and lolloping grooves - breezes its way across side A, while Jerry Butler's earlier version, laid to tape in 1970, sits on side B. His version is much more expansive and musically detailed than Callier's take, with superb production from Gamble & Huff and some brilliant orchestral arrangements courtesy of Donny Hathaway. Both versions are, or course, incredible.
Jimmy Rogers - "What Have I Done" (alternative) (2:24)
Review: The Jazzman cometh! Gerald Short's long-running label is back with a new 7" serving on its Popcorn subsidiary featuring the moody and malevolent styles of jazzy crooner Lew Conetta. "You Got Me Crazy" originates from a '57 45 on the legendary Decca label and was one of only three releases from Conetta. On the flip, Popcorn present an alternate take on "What Have I Done" by bluesman Jimmy Rogers which is so similar to the Conetta track the label suggest it provided the inspiration for "You Got Me Crazy."
Review: A stunning soul double A with a percussion heavy smoky soul cover of Leroy Lane & The Upstairs Maids' "There's A Man" and a big-swing, horn-heaved late 60s Motown-style ballad "I Have This World & You". Canadian soul act Joey Irving & Just Us only wrote and recorded a handful of songs and - madly - they couldn't get a deal on home soil so turned to Belgium's Baltic label which was usually the sole preserve of elevator music and native Flemish folk. Few original pressings have been spotted, but when they do they regularly fetch over L200. Jump on this.
Review: Mike James Kirkland is an American soul and rhythm & blues original. He's best known for his early 1970s albums on Bryan Records, Hang On in There and Doin' It Right, but he continues to perform and record to this day. Pre-pandemic, Ubiqiuty Records and Timmion Records joined forces to get him in the studio with the latter's house band, Cold Diamond & Mink. 'Stay Don't Go' is the one of a number of simultaneously released singles by the Kirlland/Cold Diamond combo. It sees him adding his distinctive, life-affirming vocals to a typically breezy, Hammond-and-horn-heavy backing track from the classic soul revivalists, in the process creating a timeless modern soul anthem.
Review: Pre-pandemic, Ubiquity Records helped Timmion Records house band Cold Diamond & Mink get into the studio with American soul original Mike James Kirkland, whose two early 1970s have long been favourites of serious soul-heads. The result is a string of new singles, of which 'Closer' is one of the strongest (admittedly in a very strong bunch). Kirkland is at his smooth and seductive best singing tales of love over a typically classic-sounding Cold Diamond and Mink backing track (think hazy horns, languid grooves and glistening guitars). As usual with the Finnish combo's releases, you'll find their impeccable instrumental take on side B.
Review: The James Walsh Gypsy Band is kind of the outfit to go to if you're looking for some blue-eyed soul but, just like Ned Doheny and his sublime reissue on Numero, the band never fully came out of its shell, and were limited to just one album on RCA Victor, 1998's self-tiled LP. I've Got The Feelin' was recorded a year later, in 1979, at the legendary Muscle Shoal Studios, but it never made it out onto the shelves apart from a seriously limited CDR run. Norway's Preservation has thankfully done the right thing by pressing its two best singles on 7". The lead tune, "I've Got The Feelin" is a graceful, soul-driven disco bomb guided by James Walsh's memorable vocal chorus - a true LA kind of beast - while "Caves Of Altamira" is more sensual in its approach, but Walsh's inimitable voice still rides proudly at the centre of the mix. Two killer soul slingers - TIP!
Review: New funk delivered the old way; Original Gravity follow up the 2017 hype of Floyd James & The GTs debut "The Switchback" with this powerful four-track EP. Charged with a strong northern soul feel both "Keep Lifting Me Higher" and "The Sweetest Thing" lead with the beat as Floyd and his super-tight band bounce back and forth. Flip for more energetic mischief as "The Wig" goes turbo blues while "Sweet Sweet Soul" closes on an epic, riffy sing-along. The title speaks for itself.
Review: Both of these tunes are from the early 80s and are somehow previously unreleased. Jay Stovall played with several bands before finally putting together Machine in 1977 at a time when disco soul and R&B were all in a happy and endless state of cross-pollination. That is embodied in 'Get On Out There', a killer bit of disco with nice raw claps cantering way over a strident beat that comes with a mandatory diva vocal. Flip it over and you'll find a much more sentimental and slow motion mood on 'Why', a rueful and reflection love song riding on lo-fi drums with gloriously soaring vocals.
Review: The tenth release on Fantasy Love takes us back to the Spring of 1978 and Miami Sound Studios, where Aaron McCarthy Junior AKA Jelly had been lending a hand with the recording of Herman Kelly's now celebrated album, 'Percussion Explosion'. 'Everybody Needs Lovin, Now's the Time' was demo'd for that album but never completed; instead, McCarthy joined forces with producer Thomas Fundora to record a tweaked version, featuring his own lead vocals, which was then released on the latter's obscure, small-run label. Here reissued for the first time, the track is a pleasingly celebratory slab of Miami soul that comes backed by 'Hey Look at Me', a sugary, eyes-closed love ballad with similarly fine Floridian instrumentation.
Review: The latest missive from Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey's 7th Galaxy label - an imprint run in association with Super Disco Edits chief DJ Sigher - offers up a couple of previously unheard tracks produced by the pair in 1979. They come from J. J. Barnes, a soul singer best known for his 1967 U.S top-ten hit "Baby Please Come Back Home". "Candy" is a totally different beast; a disco-influenced modern soul gem rich in woozy backing vocals, swirling Philly Soul style strings, boogie-powered slap-bass and Barnes' inspired lead vocal. The B-side is an altogether slower and more saccharine affair, as Barnes, Theodore and Coffey conjure up a teary-eyed cover of Jerry Butler classic "For Your Precious Love".
Review: Should you require further evidence of the all-round genius of Curtis Mayfield, look no further than this early '70s funk gem from Patti Jo. "Make Me Believe In You" was written and produced by the velvety-voiced musician in 1973, one of just a few singles released by Patti Jo but undoubtedly now an all-time classic. That rolling drum intro, the ear-wagging piano, the subtle orchestration and, above all, Patti Jo's killer vocal all combine for a perfect example of the halcyon days when funk was beginning to transform into disco. Mayfield himself later covered the track for the closer to his Sweet Exorcist LP! This BGP 7" sees Tom Moulton's extension of "Make Me Believe In You" combined with his remix of the other Patti Jo burner, "Ain't No Love Lost". Any self-respecting DJ needs the A-side though.
Review: Dial into some super smooth soul vibes on this fine reissue of some classic 1980 action from Floridian artist Charles Jonson. It's a formidable offering that gets you on a glow slow mood on opener "Baby I Cried Cried Cried". The languid vocals are stretched over gently tumbling drums, chord stabs pick you up before then dropping you back down into a romantic late night vibe. "Never Had A Love So Good" is more upbeat but just as silky and seductive, with deft hi hats and student drums taking you home.
Review: Destination 1970: after a string of heartfelt cuts on the likes of Expo, Bobby Jones makes himself known on little known Detroit label Kack Records. Lost in midst of times and long forgotten crates, he's not enjoyed the microscopic revival like so many Chicago crooners of the time. Until now. "Welcome Back A Foolish Man" is a full of orchestral drama and just a little northern stomp while "Lovin' Hard Livin' Good" hits with a wider sense of emotion with prominent strings, rolling percussion and dreamboat backing harmonies. Welcome back for good.
Review: Daptone recently released a killer collection of archival cover versions by in-house band the Dap-Kings and their sadly departed lead singer Sharon Jones. One of the headline attractions on that set, the band's righteous, call-to-arms soul version of Woody Guthrie's folk anthem 'This Land Is Our Land', is also featured on this must-have reissue of a "45" that first dropped in 2004. It's superb, but even better is A-side 'What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?', a floor-friendly conscious soul/funk crossover written and recorded at the height of the second Gulf War with Iraq. As usual, Jones' impeccable lead vocal is supported brilliantly by the band's fiery instrumentation and Bosco Mann's fuzzy, sixties-style production.
How Long Do I Have To Wait For You? (vocal mix) (4:03)
How Long Do I Have To Wait For You? (instrumental) (2:58)
Review: Remarkably, 16 years have passed since Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings first released 'How Long Do I Have To Wait', one of the revivalist soul and funk band's sweetest and most heartfelt songs. Written and produced by Dap-Kings main man Bosco Mann, the song features one of Jones' most evocative and impassioned lead vocals, as well as a pleasingly laidback, loose-limbed groove, jazzy guitars and pitch-perfect horn blasts. As it did back in 2004, this reissue pairs the peerless vocal version with Mann's typically fuzzy, lovingly crafted instrumental take. If you missed out first time round, make sure you grab a copy.
Review: Miami soul man Jason Joshua Hernandez-Rodriguez was last seen (and heard) lending his slick, emotive vocals to local "organ funk" combo Scone Cash Players' 2019 album "As The Screw Turns". Here he joins forces with producer Bosco Mann and a specially assembled group of Florida-based backing musicians for a first single on Daptone's "Southern Soul" offshoot Penrose. "Language of Love" is a pleasingly heavy but jaunty affair where headline-grabbing horns and Hernandez-Rodriguez's impassioned lead vocal ride a bustling Latin soul groove. The Floridian artist takes a different approach on the flip, doffing a cap to Joe Bataan on a heart-aching, mid-tempo torch song full of tumbling violin lines, and sumptuous soul grooves.
Review: There's much to admire about this first solo outing in two years from rising soul-jazz star Allysha Joy, which sees her appear on DJ Gilla's First Word label for the very first time. Check first superb opener 'Watercolours', an opaque and drowsy chunk of horizontal neo-soul bliss rich in warming instrumentation, before admiring the more up-tempo, jazz-fired fuzziness of 'Light it Again', where the Australian's confident vocal performance rides a backing track that reminded us a little of Dego and Kaidi Tatham's 2000 Black operation. Elsewhere, 'Batter' is a slow and elastic slab of broken soul, while closing cut 'Mardi' brilliantly joins the dots between jazz, jazz-funk and broken beat.
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Ain't That Love" (instrumental) (4:25)
Review: Like Daptone house band the Dap-Kings, Timmion's go-to combo Cold Diamond and Mink are absolute masters at delivering revivalist soul and funk cuts that offer authentically old sounds and fuzzy production with new beats, grooves and melodies. They're at it again here with regular collaborator Carlton Jumel Smith. As usual, you'll find the full version on the A, with Smith delivering a raw, impassioned lead vocal above the Finnish band's languid, sweet, sixties-style soul backing track. That instrumental can be enjoyed in all its jazzy, sun-kissed, horn-tooting beauty on side B. As with their other instrumentals, it's near perfect.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "Help Me (Save Me From Myself)" (feat Cold Diamond & Mink) (3:31)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Help Me (Save Me From Myself)" (instrumental) (3:34)
Review: Since first joining forces with Timmion's in-house band Cold Diamond & Mink two years ago, New York singer Carlton Jumel Smith has delivered a string of sublime singles and a must-check album, 2019's "1634 Lexington Avenue". It's from that set that his latest single is taken. "Help Me (Save Me From Myself)" is another emotive, 1960s soul style gem in which Smith passionately cries for help from a mystery woman over a typically on-point Cold Diamond & Mink backing track rich in hazy horns, wah-wah guitars and a laidback mid-tempo groove. The quality of the group's playing and production is laid bare in all its glory on the flipside instrumental version, which is naturally exclusive to this "45" release. Like the rest of Smith's singles, this is a must-have.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "I Can't Love You Anymore" (4:35)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "I Can't Love You Anymore" (instrumental) (4:34)
Review: Since making his debut back in the early 1990s, Carlton Jumel Smith has periodically popped up on a variety of soulful house and modern soul releases. Here the little-known vocalist takes a different approach, re-casting himself as a throaty, James Brown influenced '70s soul singer. He's at his heartfelt, full-throttle best on "Can't Love You Any More", a deliciously heavy and authentic chunk of Southern-fried deep soul complete with additional falsetto parts from fellow singer Pratt. The key to the track's success is the fantastic backing provided by Cold Diamond & Mink. Proof is provided on the flip via the band's effortlessly good instrumental take.
Review: If you're a talented soul vocalist who wants an authentically fuzzy late 1960s sound, you could do worse than join forces with Timmion Records' in-house backing band, Cold Diamond & Mink. They're in fine form here providing admirable backing to rising star Carlton Jumel Smith. "Love Our Love Affair" is undeniably attractive, with Smith's confident and emotion-rich vocal rising above the band's hazy horns, languid trumpet solos, sun-bright guitar licks and lolloping, hip-hop style funk-soul beats. As is customary, the band's tidy instrumental version can be found - and enjoyed - on the flip.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "Remember Me" (feat Cold Diamond & Mink) (4:09)
Cold Diamond & Mink - "Remember Me" (4:18)
Review: "Remember Me" was one of the most effervescent and up-tempo moments on Carlton Jumel Smith's 2019 album "1634 Lexington Avenue", so it's terrific to see Timmion giving the song a seven-inch single release. Backed by in-house Timmion band Cold Diamond & Mink, New York's modern "Mr Soul" delivers a scintillating lead vocal above a rousing 1960s soul instrumental laden with killer bass, sustained horns and bustling breakbeats. It comes accompanied by Cold Diamond and Mink's instrumental version, which as usual with Timmion is exclusive to this "45" release. If fresh, sixties-sounding soul is your thing, you need this in your life.
Review: So far, every collaboration between Timmion house band Cold Diamond & Mink and rising star Carlton Jumel Smith has been soulful gold. It goes without saying that their latest hook-up, "I'd Better", is another future soul classic. On the A-side version (taken from Smith's debut album "1634 Lexington Avenue"), Smith provides a raw, heartfelt and impassioned vocal over Cold Diamond & Mink's formidable backing track. This can be heard in all its glory on side B, where their 1960s soul style drum breaks, guitars, bass and fuzzy horns take centre stage.
Apollo Studio Band - "Honkey Tonk Woman" (instrumental) (2:39)
Review: For their latest deep dive into the world of obscure funk, Vienna's Record Shack has decided to reissue two hard-to-find gems from the Just Brothers and Apollo Studio Band. The former's "Honey" was recorded in the 1970s but first released in 2001. Full of their trademark surf style guitars, stomping Northern Soul style beats and dreamy, psychedelic era vocals, it remains one of the outfit's greatest tracks. On the reverse you'll find the thrillingly fuzzy "Honky Tonk Woman (Instrumental)" by the Apollo Studio Band. We found next to no information about the outfit online, suggesting the track was taken from a lauded, private press release. Either way, it's a prime chunk of Northern Soul style instrumental fuzziness that's worth the admission price alone.