Teddy Pendergrass remains for me one of the world’s most vital male vocalists. You couldn’t say the equivalent of Loleatta Holloway (although of the same stature) because his voice testified as to something very particular to him. A cross of pain, sorrow and also of joy from a uniquely soulful perspective which lent his vocals a depth that remains resonate today like all truly great singers. Emerging originally as the group’s drummer in 1970 but by the time Philadelphia International Records had secured the assistance of the might of CBS he had become lead singer, as featured on the albums contained here. The Love I Lost from 1973 (originally released as 7″ side-A & side-B edits) and Bad Luck from 1975 remain powerhouses of heavenly charged music that sound as good as anything today, incredible given just how long ago they were recorded and produced. Following the distinct line from Gospel inspiration through to R&B and then throughout Disco these songs helped define an era, released by a label that did likewise. And it would be fair to add that they were also a key component to House Music in the future. As far as the word classic goes, Don’t Leave Me This Way ranks up there pretty high and is included here on the third disc as Tom Moulton’s mind-expanding arrangement transformed it into eleven blissful minutes. That third disc also has Moulton’s version of Bad Luck and the sheer force of the music alone transcends just about everything in its wake. While Pendergrass went on to launch a solo career in 1977 becoming a Soul icon in the process, it remains important to also celebrate the musicians in the band as well as the producers, alongside the various songwriters who all left a vital legacy. Listen to the music: Wake Up Everybody.
It’s hard to translate into words just how I feel about listening to Ashford & Simpson as their music transmits that rare magic which only seems available to a very few artists. Maybe it is something to do with a certain nostalgia the era between 73-81 conjures up, although I’m pretty sure it’s purely down to their sublime (I use the word carefully in this case) vocals that combine to elevate life in all its rich complexities. I’ll try to bypass the word Soul here too, despite it being a ready and necessary reference point, as there is also something truly universal, transcendent of genres contained within the music they wrote together. If you can find a more perfect song than Ain’t no Mountain High Enough written for a then solo Diana Ross at Motown, good luck to you. After all, their calibre as songwriters always did speak for itself. This triple CD collection however is all about their years at Warner Bros and contains many beautifully poignant pieces of music, which both touch the dancefloor as readily as they do reach out for the heart. Perhaps most relevant for our purposes are the extended versions found on the additional third disc (to the double vinyl release) with numbers such as Found A Cure remixed by Tom Moulton, Joe Clausell’s wonderful remake of Bourgie Bourgie, Mike Maurro and Wayne Dickson’s tastefully funky take on Stay Free, plus an all-time favourite in the shape of It Seems To Hang On remixed by Jimmy Simpson – which expands the spine tingling vocals into an ecstasy all of their own. There remains something particularly singular and unique about this music. In addition, the main sleeve notes once again arrive care of Christian John Wikane who must surely by now qualify as one of the most foremost authorities on R&B/ Disco. Listen on with pleasure…
Can’t get enough of the past? Well, you’ve come to the right place. The legendary Salsoul label earned that accolade for one reason only and that was the music they released back in the 70’s and subsequent 1980’s, closing by 84 of that decade. Soaring songs, sonically reverberating instrumentation and production prowess that helped set the tone for tone for what came next.Â One glance over the tracklist and you can feel all that history breathing including timeless standards such as Double Exposure – My Love Is Free, which appears here with the Frankie Knuckles remix, plus the Shep Pettibone version of Inner Life – I Like It Like That. Other perhaps less well known tracks also compliment such as Larry Levan’s remix of Sparkle – Handsome Man and The Salsoul Orchestra’s – Sun After Rain with Tom Moulton’s glorious 12″ Mix. The second CD is all down to Dimitri who adds his flair to the affair care off a series of re-edits of additional releases that include the likes of fimiliar gems Love Sensation, Ten Percent, and Just As Long As I Got You. Respectfully yours.
It doesn’t come much funkier, or for that matter better, then their 1974 debut single, Do It (â€˜Til You’re Satisfied). If the smoky vocals and Rap don’t infect your groovy intent then the sure-fire instrumentation sparked by the guitar, organ, horns and drums must surely will. But then of course it was produced by none other than Tom Moulton. And talking of smokin’ so was Peace Pipe too. However, this excellent compilation comprises of a varied selection curated from the group’s seven studio albums and highlights the bands rugged dancefloor determination such as the self-titled Express but also shares their more soulful side via the playful melodies of proto-Disco gem: That’s What I Want For You baby (from 1974’s debut album). It’s all spread over two glorious discs of sound and take it from me that this will put a determined spring in your step any time of year, day or night.
Save The Children
Big Break Records/ Philadelphia International Records
bbr once again rise to the occasion with yet another classic re-release. This time in the shape of Intruders 1973 album which opens with the rather fine version of Gil Scott-Heron’s timely title track, finely honed in this version with typically soulful infused orchestration and exquisitely arranged movements.Â It’s always a pleasure to listen music that transcends the timeline so effortlessly and while, of course, I’ll Always Love My Mama stands up like the classic it is â€“ here complete with Tom Moulton’s definitive remix, along with his String drenched reworking of (Win, Place Or Show) She’s A Winner â€“ there are plenty of other rousing moments too, such as Hang On In There closing the show with its hopeful message. Also happy to report Christian John Wikane again supplies the sleeve notes so all the background info and beyond you may need is at hand.
The Salsoul Orchestra Story
40th Anniversary Collection
Groove Line Records
WOW! Three cd’s worth of the Salsoul Orchestra. Or, to put it another way, heaven on earth. The clue is of course contained within the title: Salsoul from the infinitely influential record label for a start, secondly the word Orchestra and all of the musical prowess which accompanies the noun. I love that you can simply switch the music on, then get lost in a world of soaring strings, driving beats and bass, and yes occasionally sleazy, though always sensual, uplifting lyrics. At times there’s the sheer romance of it all, at others hard and heavy grooves drive it all home. Needless to say if you haven’t yet experienced the soulful joy of â€˜Take Some Time Out (For Love)’ featuring Jocelyn Brown or the classic rhythms of Shep Pettibone’s mix of â€˜Ooh, I Love It (Love Break)’ then here’s the chance. A wealth of talent informed the orchestra’s production’s and remixes too from Larry Levan to Tom Moulton to Walter Gibbons. And, with arrangements from the likes of Vincent Montana Jr., Bunny Sigler, and Patrick Adams this newly remastered exploration of their sights and sounds from 1975 to the early eighties is both exceptional and essential.
â€œMusic is the direct access to the soulâ€ sounds like a good a place as any to start this review of Oskar Offermann’s spellbinding new long player. Fuelled by an undulating funkiness the album delves into all sorts of landscapes which reach ambient depths to edgier heights. Sometimes purely atmospheric without the reliance on beats, sometimes up-tempo and energising such as on â€˜Carol’s Howl’ there really isn’t any identifiable rule book being followed â€“ good. What you do get is an exciting travelogue of gritty, booming, speech laden, probing, emotive music which embraces funky breaks as much as it does sizzling electronics. Further.
To label this as merely ambient may do a disservice to the rather glorious, beautifully textured music that lies within. However, let’s go with Pop Ambient, although as the selection of tracks doesn’t display any melodic resonance perhaps that doesn’t quite accurately describe what’s going on either. Never mind. This 2016 edition of the long-standing series of atmospheric brilliance maintains breath taking standards as distinct layers of sound lift and drop all five senses with immaculate precision. The second track typifies the inclination with who else but The Orb’s epically charged â€˜Alpine Dawn’ stretching sonic boundaries via all sorts of expanding ideas. You will also find the caliber of artists such as Stephan Mathieu and Mikkel Metal alongside Max WÃ¼rden’s deeply involving ‘Unterwasser’. A truly wonderful compilation of music which talks its own melody.
After a stream of releases on labels like Supplement Facts and Cocoon this stunning production for Visionquest now appears. It’s the sort of music that could played loud or quite and still leave an indelible impression. The title track, Underwater bubbles with energy yet combines an airy sense of ambience alongside a series of unrelenting beats all of which rewards your experience. Forward thinking and emotional music.
1996 seems like a long way away now but that’s when this series began and now we’re at number 40 with maestro Solomun. The mix opens with an emotive sequence of sounds cumulating in Avatism’s haunting Different Spaces and then develops the mood across the breadth of the first CD with a blend beautifully atmospheric music ending on SOHN’s notable The Wheel. The second CD continues the theme with music from Audiojack and Radio Slave elevating the temperature while providing more muscular productions that end with Ada’s acidic 2 BUM BUM.
Kostya Skober is a Ukrainian Techno DJ and producer and while this style of music doesn’t usually say that much to me the unrelenting drive of Step Outside definitely appeals. It’s not all down to the beat either as the rich atmospheric layers of sound and funkier touches all lend this something special. Listen belowâ€¦
The Rule To Survive – 31st Anniversary
Originally emerging from Italy’s electronic music scene of the late seventies N.O.I.A. has been now re-releasing their back catalogue, accompanied by remixers updating it all into 2014 etc. Not that the original of The Rule to Survive needs evolving anyway having been mixed in 1983 by Tony Carrasco it still bears all the hall marks that went on to influence House and Nu Beat, besides sounding excellent in its own right. Prins Thomas Diskomiks is a good choice of remixer and he handles it with due care and affection, there’s also a great version from Baldelli & Dionigi which again expands the originals possibilities. Next is, Time is over, which was from later in the decade and doesn’t sound quite so edgy employing typically popish melodies, although is complimented by a remix from Gaudi & The Orb.
TJM- Expanded Edition
Big Break Records (Casablanca Records)
Tom Moulton has been pivotal to the development of Dance music in the 70’s as Christian John Wikane’s eloquent sleeve notes proudly testify. This self-titled solo album was released in 1979, recorded at the Legendary Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia it also featured former Temptation Ron Tyson on lead vocals and also one Arthur Baker who helped to co-write and arrange. Opening with the blistering Disco-tastic, â€˜I Don’t Need No Music’ the music trips the light fantastic through the tail end of the Disco era but remains fresh to this day, percussion and melody fuelled. Try the epic ten minute plus version of â€˜Storm Warning’ complete with sound effects plus soaring strings and horns for a touch of exuberant Tom Moulton magic….
Ending the year on a high with a couple of classic albums recently re-released. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, enjoy, or otherwise, Magazine Sixty’s reviews and views on… 🙂
The Salsoul Orchestra
Heat It Up
Big Break Records/ Salsoul Records
Not sure if the close-up of a rather pert bottom in denim hot pants is something that will grab your attention or not, but bypassing the acceptable face of 1982’s front cover and onto the music. Formed from former members of Philadelphia International house band, MFSB, The Salsoul Orchestra under Vince Montana Jr. went onto score some truly classic Disco moments, although by the time of this release the world had moved on somewhat – however that’s not to underplay Patrick Adams stellar production of the album. None the less, this does contain some era defining tracks such as Jocelyn Brown’s sublimely vocalled, â€˜Take Some Time Out For Love’ and the sassy string enhanced tones of Carol Bramble’s, â€˜Comin’ at Cha’. As thankfully is the way with this series of remasterd reissues from BBR the twelve inch mixes of the relevant tracks are also included, which in this case has the added bonus of Shep Pettibone’s version of, â€˜Ooh I Love It (Love Break)’ and his extended remix of, Seconds featuring the timeless Loleatta Holloway.
Let Me Party With You
Gold Mind Records/ BBR
Opening with the album’s title track Bunny Sigler sure knows a slinky funk groove when he hears it. Indeed, Instant Funk’s apt name pays testament to the music they played to back up Sigler’s captivating vocals, while spreading a smile firmly across your face – and never a dull second across its twelve and a half minutes! Of course it’s also all helped out by Tom Moulton’s production prowess lending the album a tougher groove that still sounds just a hot as it doubtless did in 1978. The proceeding Your Love Is So Good comes a pretty close party-time second but decide for yourself below.
Salsoul (Expanded Edition)
BBR/ Mericana Records
I love this album from start to finish simply because it drips with the sort of summertime rhythms that make you wish you where somewhere else. Plus, that it contains one of my favourite tracks, Latin Strut, but also that this album gave one of the best dance labels to emerge from the 70’s its name (Bataan co-founded Salsoul Records with the Cayre brothers but soon relinquished his stake). Great impassioned, raw vocals adore the fiery horn, piano and guitar drenched long player throughout giving it that gritty â€˜sound of the streets, 1974′ feel, that may sound unprocessed and dated now but is always relevant via its sheer soulful energy.
Art Of Tones
Elephants & Flies
Lazy Days Recordings
Ludovic Llorca aka Art Of Tones first release on the label comprises three originals plus one dub version. And it’s all too easy for me to say that title track Elephants is a simply outstanding slice of music that cuts the atmosphere it generates with a knife. I’d be intrigued to know what the Elephant reference is, but in the meantime this captivating exploration of tones sees punchy keys and swirling notes feel cinematic and thoughtful against a backdrop of shuffling rhythms and stinking sounds. The Dub tweaks the elements providing something altogether more dancefloor orientated, although doesn’t capture quite the same emotions. Next Myself, My Body has bluesy voices over tougher beats, bass and accompanying strings, while The Right Movement’s intense, jazzy inflections provide yet another reason to pay attention.
Another Darius Syrossian production, time for another killer bassline. I’ll Do Anything does anything but disappoint with its funky Detroit flavoured bass offset by soulful vocals and abrasive yet seductive drums. Straightforward and straight to the point, how could you not like this? The remix is from label heads Leftwing & Kody and they give it a fresh sheen with snare rolls and infectious House riffs complimenting the original perfectly. Second track I’m Not Weird, You’re Just Normal says all that needs to be said as jazzy keys get lost in another slammin’ succession of big time beats completing a great debut for this brand new label.
Don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting Bonar Bradberry’s vocal to be quite so appealing in such an infectious way, but it is. The title tracks deep, shuffling rhythms underpin it all as the voice intones with a uniquely English quality which provides such a refreshing change here, that of course and that the music’s so hot too. Mario Basanov provides the remix with trademark eighties influences sounding tastefully funky as always, and indeed gives the vocal that extra something. Rollerball doesn’t have the same charm but is none the less is an atmospheric journey through the landscape of European electronics.
Overground/ Underground? Never mind all that. I’d much rather this deeper, funky number in the charts then most of the rest of it. Lifted from their album and with remixes forthcoming their latest single sees Howard Lawrence on vocals sounding rather fine. Judge it all for yourself….
release: August 18
Hold Your Horses – Expanded Edition
You know that expression: beg, borrow or steal? Well, this is exactly what they were referring to. Time to get very excited!! The history bit reads a little something like this: After scoring major dance classics such as Let No Man Put Asunder in 1977 the group went on to record their second album also in part produced by Norman Harris, but now with the additional magic of Tom Moulton and Thor Baldursson was released in 1979. Not only does it include Let Me Down Easy but also the seminal Love Thang with that â€˜gets you every time’ vocal delivery from the trio, and Double Cross which both appear here via various remixes including Larry Levan, Tee Scott and Bobby DJ Guttadaro. Once again there a superlative sleeve notes care off Christian John Wikane whose invaluable reading of history is essential.
One of the reasons Dance have been so very exciting over the past number of years is down to the sheer breadth of music which reside within the House Music bracket. Not that that hasn’t always been the case of course, there’s just something particularly exhilarating about the clash of ideas being generated between the USA and Europe -Â just as much as the revived sounds of the early 90’s continue to reinvigorate the genre too. What that in mind Scarlett Nina’s amazing sounds and devilish moods fit the bill perfectly. The End, sends shivers along with staccato guitar notes and sinister, tripped-out voices inducing a powerful reaction to this notably original production. As you might expect Tone Of Arc the remix is stunning with pulsating organ and vocal treatments building the tension with typical aplomb, while the Special Case version twists the bass into something altogether more sinister on their equally impressive take. Who Am I To Disagree, explores the same atmospheres with electronic funk and the remix comes from David K Marabunta Remix whose haunting techno also fits the bill.
Waze & Odyssey
Dance, Yeah, How?
This Is Music Ltd
And so the story continues with this killer production from Waze & Odyssey whose deft blend of classic House influences are creatively put to the test. This moves beyond a simple revival of sounds by developing its theme with expansive pads and clever vocal twists that complete the moody yet uplifting arrangement. Love the thumping Kick drum and chiming, deep bass which underpins the rich mood generated by the remaining sounds. Try for yourself.
Release: exclusive to Beatport Sept 24. October 8 on general release
Gently side-stepping Dance music for the duration of this limited 7â€ vinyl and digital EP we revisit Maigret Jnr once again purely because this is so f**king good. For lovers of slightly melancholy, though conversely, uplifting music will greatly benefit from what’s on offer. You may already know the anthemic beauty of Always Again, which starts with the prophetic line â€˜Silence is Golden’ but if not its swirling strings and heart beating drums are a joy to behold.Â New track, Breathe feels every bit as good covering the same territory emotionally, with poignant piano and rich baritone vocals sounding just as impressive. While the title track, Sick Friends dares to lift the sound with a heavier beat and bassline, although while this doesn’t have quite the same impact it still works neatly.
Love Is The Message
Philadelphia International Records/ bbr
If this album only contained two tracks it would still be worth its weight in gold. For within just under eleven minutes of music this 1973 release went a long way to define what became known as the Disco sound. The first track Love Is The Message is simply a seminal classic featuring Early Young’s masterful drumming, who alongside the striking keyboards, emotive Strings, strident Bass and blazing Saxophone cumulates into a sequence of one of my (and many others) favourite all time dance grooves. It all sounds so effortless, yet so completely stunning. The second track TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) featured for a time as Soul Train’s theme and also provided a hit single for the label. Again the instrumentation is flawless, supremely funky and must have felt oh so good way back then, as it also does right now. Plus of course, it featured the sassy vocals of The Three Degrees. Both tracks appear in their original, and more importantly, their extended form with Tom Moulton’s epic reworking of â€˜Love Is…’Â adding vocals from The Three Degrees while highlighting the keyboard and rhythm section with devastating flair – a genius at work. While TSOP again expands the rhythm section into something seminal and heavenly. It really doesn’t get much better.
TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) Original 12″ Version with Soul Train dancers…
Earl Young drums…
Salsoul Records/ bbr
Next to Philadelphia International Records, Salsoul was the other 70’s American dance label which had the greatest impact and influence both then and today.Â Their debut album featured the powerhouse vocals of James Williams, Joseph Harris, Charles Whittington, and Leonard â€˜Butch’ Davis whose range spanned the very depths of Soul to the dizzying heights of explosive Disco. Produced by one time Philly producer (the legendary) Norman Harris the album features three timeless cuts that defy history: Ten Percent, Everyman, and My Love Is Free. All of which pack more emotional punch then most music can muster today in terms of emotion vocally, alongside poignant funkiness. Although,Â that’s not so surprising as the players included Early Young, Vince Montana Jr. and Bunny Sigler amongst many significant others. The package also contains the first commercially available 12â€ single (1976): the superlative Walter Gibbons version of the title track which sounds every bit as powerful as production does today, along with Tom Moulton’s gorgeous mix of My Love Is Free, and Joe Claussell’s remix of Everyman. Despite the fact that these tracks overshadow the remainder of the songs that shouldn’t deter you from soaking up the rest, as they all display those wonderful voices and sumptuous grooves in their full glory. A truly classic album.
The original Walter Gibbons 12â€ Mix of â€˜Ten Percent’
Double Exposure â€˜Everyman’
Salsoul Records/ bbr
And last but certainly not least this week is this gem from Instant Funk which also appeared on the Salsoul label. Released in 1979 their second album again contains a classic which defined the band: Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl). Appearing both as the album version and with the full Larry Levan remix, which clocks in just shy of ten minutes, this proves to be peerless funk. Everything about this production is just right from the fanfare of Horns which intro, straight through to the sassy percussion, and devastating bass and guitar combination upon which the soaring vocals aim skyward. Again, the remainder of the album has plenty of other gems such as Crying and the hard-core Don’t You Want To Party, while they explore notable Jazz-fusion on Wide World Of Sports. The band also played on the likes of â€˜Shame’, Archie Bell & The Drells â€˜Let’s Groove’ and South Shore Commission â€˜Free Man’ so the familiarity of their playing just goes to prove how good they where/ are. A classic production from Bunny Sigler and engineered by Bob Last.
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