The sixth instalment of this limited edition vinyl only series sees the Robsoul main man deliver one of his finest to date. Its got all the usual trademarks from the razor tight drums right down the tension inducing sample loop, which in this case playfully reveals itself in-between the tough punctuating stabs. Possibly, yet maybe even slightly unfortunately, it’s not actually a cover of the Paul Anka classic but none the less this extremely powerful groove builds perfectly until Phil Weeks drops his own vocal into the rhythm. And it all works a treat. The clue I guess is when he talks about meeting ‘Mr Blow’ so you can draw your own conclusions from that. But just in case an excellent Instrumental and an Acapella version are also included.
Love this production from Steffen Baldo aka Ugly Drums which transports you right back to the source with its four equally gritty grooves. Beginning with the cool, looped funk of Changing Ways the EP then moves quickly into the dark percussion fuelled Well Well. The timely tones of the superb Don’t Let Life (Passing By) follows with typically unrelenting drums and sample stabs, accompanied this time by a breathy Latin styled vocal, getting right underneath your skin. The deeper, stripped back moodiness of the apt Basement Workout completes the third release from the label notably. More please.
Boe & Zak
Looking For Love
The Classic Music Company
It doesn’t matter how many times I hear this bassline. It never fails. Based around the Goody Goody classic (in my book anyway) from 1978 and now with added 2013 punch via extra sassy percussion this simply sounds great. Acting as an alias for Classic regular Matthew Styles this uncomplicated workout breathes fresh life into the commanding string lines and that infamous, choppy guitar. A Dub features more of the electric piano for good measure and a bit more of the groove into the bargain with a useful Bonus Beats version too – come to think of it that not something you see so much of these days. More please.
How could you possibly not love this? Diynamic Music’s sister label release Kolombo’s solo debut featuring a good-time rap (albeit even funkier for being stylishly detuned) alongside fuzzy synths and a particularly, perky bassline. Meanwhile the voice intones I Want It All and then lists a series of demands – sounds reasonable. The vocal theme is then explored across the next three tracks linking the EP together like a concept. Musically the grooves never stray from the dancefloor and all feature a creative sequence of electronic events that never fail but to excite and electrify. But, let’s cut to the chase. It’s the final track, Dancing On The Floor that caps it all with a knowing, infectious chorus line to grab you coupled with a bassline which completely destroys it….
Gas Masks & Crazy-Girls
Cosmic Disco Records
Dubtribe Sound System’s maverick producer Sunshine Jones returns with this latest long player. Jam packed full of emotion this plays like sunshine for a hazy afternoon. Exploring moments of melancholy one minute, such as on the opening Fall Down, then transferring the pleasure to the dancefloor on the following Mem Mem Mem with its slap-bass and Acid extremes, the album is never afraid of taking chances with your expectations. The gorgeous Absurdity Of Possession works especially well by evoking an array of feelings with its stirring pads and deep, velvety vocals. I suspect the more you listen to Gas Masks & Crazy-Girls the more will be revealed, and its finishing Beautiful Daydream conjures all sorts of memories with the Balearic infused rhythms and spacey voices striking the perfect note (to end on ).
This Swiss based label has been releasing plenty in the way of quality for the past number of years and this also sits comfortably within that description. Opening with the EP’s title track, My Pleasure is underpinned by harsh synths cutting out a distinct edge, while the remainder peaks with building tribal drums and layers of vocal harmony. Not surprisingly then Percussive View is also big on drums and swirling delays that are once again complimented by rough synth sounds, and which again has a intriguing, hypnotic quality. You, keeps the feeling going and is the most uplifting of the three with cool organ sounds and funky bass taking you there.
If it was still safe to use the word ‘awesome’ without being sniggered at then that’s just how I would describe Always Again. It’s the opening track from Maigret Jnr’s forthcoming Sick Friends EP which is so inspired that I had to play it again, just to check I wasn’t dreaming. Powered by beautifully low-slung beats, heart-wrenching strings and topped off by a rich baritone vocal delivery this feels enigmatic, yet all too familiar – and that’s an excellent place to be.
Best Of Robsoul Recordings: Phil Weeks
Phil Weeks brings his inimitable brand of funk to the table with the release of his part of the series explaining the labels ethos since 2000. Do expect plenty of sassy samples and repetitive loops to work their way pleasurably into your brain and then take up residence. Don’t expect fluffy melodies and uninspired rhythms. The ‘Best Of’ series is an impressive succession of six mini albums from many of the labels stalwarts such as DJ Sneak, Joss Moog and DJ W!LD. Beginning as weekly releases in mid August the final instalment reaches its climax on September 14 with Fries & Bridges selection. But back to the labels head, Phil Weeks who journeys his way through tough, unrelenting beats on the excellent Jack To My Groove and winds up at the tastefully atmospheric Don’t Give Up.
Who Is The Bitch, Anyway?
Blue Note Records
Her fourth album for the prestigious Blue Note label saw Shaw release this strikingly titled long player in 1975. Influenced by the name of Richard Pryor’s That Nigger’s Crazy, which won a gammy the previous year, the album opens with a steamy dialogue between the singer and a (factitious) random client who meet in a bar. You, Me &Ethel/ Street Walkin’ Woman then rips through a tempo changing exercise in funky/ soul proving to be the most energetic song on the release. Already revered for songs such as California Soul and Woman Of The Ghetto she was impressively the first female artist to be signed to the label which happened, as late as, 1973. The selection of music here ranges from tearjerker to mid-tempo shuffles such as Davy, although even more notably Gospel as on the fiery rendition of The Lord Giveth And The Lord Taketh Away (written by Shaw). The album is always adult without ever feeling AOR or MOR with Marlena Shaw’s impassioned voice always cutting to the bone. And, is backed here by a wealth of skilful players, which are much in evidence on Loving You Was Like A Party the second most spirited track. A touch of pure class.
After having released Philadelphia International Records first album Billy Paul went on to win a Grammy for Me And Mrs Jones, which is also included on this album released in 1972. It’s hard to imagine now the impact music such as this, with its socially/ politically aware lyrics, must have had in the early seventies, especially when dwelling upon Ziggy Stardust’s cultural repercussions here in the UK the same year. And unlike his mid-sixties counterparts what became so much more exhilarating is how the raw blend of Jazz, Blues, Soul and Psychedelia expanded beyond 3 minute singles into self-aware anthems. It’s hard to argue with the hard funk of I’m I Black Enough For You or the Psychedlic Soul of Brown Baby, and certainly not with the sheer authority of Billy Paul’s smoky vocal. Or indeed with Gamble & Huff’s superlative production which still sound s as timeless as it always will do. Having said that, and after all the album is titled: 360 Degress Of… you also get a number of covers ranging from Carol King’s It’s Too Late to Elton John’s Your Song, so perhaps there’s something for everybody, as they used to say.
Don’t know why I was quite so surprised to hear Sean Miller’s gorgeously jazzy Soleil through the speakers but I can tell you I will be hearing it a whole lot more over the coming months. This thoughtful and frankly inspired production eases you into a gentle Latin groove which contains irresistible amounts of percussion along with beautifully haunting voices. Trust me this plays like a sublime treat. The title track then follows in the footsteps with even hotter rhythms accompanied this time by fevered vocals undoubtedly yearning for the return of sunshine. 9
Two killer productions for Be As One sees the label start 2012 in style. However let’s begin with Veto first by arranging the letters: d e e p a n d n a s t y and then turning up the volume as loud as it will feasibly go. You’ve got to admire the sheer intensity as this perfectly heavy production pulls little in the way of punches with its pounding groove and occasional nod to musicality feeling sexier than Santa ever did. Back to Scene feels that bit funkier – though no less grinding – with excellent shuffling drums, delicious throbbing bass notes and someone saying motherfucker rather a lot – exquisite! 9
The third excellent record this week comes from Estonia’s Merimell Sokk and as we used to say back then: TUNE! Opening with the huge Daft Acid with its set of sizzling drums and incendiary acid attitude this only needs to be heard once and you will be wishing it was 1988 all over again. The Day After Tomorrow is a more subtle though just as electrifying with its edgy yet funky drum programming sounding fresh and impressive with atmospheric pads and dark notes completing the arrangement. The Deepest finishes with the Liquatech remix exploring more of the same possibilities along with a lot of gorgeous sounds too. 8
Volume two sees Phil Weeks once again revisit another selection of Gimini’s recordings for the Cyclo label in the 90’s. Four tracks beginning with the perky though sumptuously deep Spirals take the unmistakable Chicago sound and reply it for 2012. Next up is the supremely funky Return Of The Jack which does just what it says, followed by the insistent Take Your Time featuring timeless commanding vocals and pumping beats. Wanna Push You finishes it all off with an excellent Disco/ Funk cut-up that is as much in style now as it was all the way back then…guess that says something. 8
Neil Kurland & Davidson Ospina ‘Dizzy’ Ospina Digital
I’m guessing the old style vocal sample is referencing Gillespie hence the title (or of course maybe not?) but either way this deliciously heavy duty exercise in bass and beats works a treat. Coming in two versions the voice appears on the Main Mix with punchy organ chords and a relentless arrangement doing the rest. Meanwhile The Strip Mix gets down to the nitty-gritty of the rhythm section to revel in all that’s great about this sizzling House Music production. 8