Various Artists - Spiritual Jazz. Esoteric Modal and Deep Jazz from the Underground 1968-1977Jazzman Records
Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, jazz music was recorded to the backdrop of major political and social upheavals and these are celebrated in this very well documented and presented esoteric selection of rare and truly obscure vinyl delights. In recent years independent labels such as Tribe out of Detroit, Black Jazz and Strata East have finally received their due and selected albums re-issued. However, the music showcased here is even less well known and often on one-off labels that individual artists released themselves for an extremely limited local audience at the time. The overall feel is one of an openness to musical influences within and beyond the United States, with a particular focus on Africa and the Middle East. Among the wonderful musical treasures on offer a few are worth pointing out including the intriguingly named Ohio Pentitentiary 511 Jazz Ensemble and a rendition of 'Psych City'. Long-time Sun Ra bassist Ronnie Boykins with the elongated and experimental 'The will come, is now' is another highlight while African flavours abound on Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam's 'Ayo Ayo Nene' and Middle Eastern modes evident on Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band's 'Neveen'. Additional 45s from Leon Gardner and Lloyd Miller provide a more succinct sampling of the music on offer. The compilation is best viewed as a companion to the excellent ongoing Gilles Peterson jazz series. If the names are not familiar, do not be put off as this is a voyage of musical discovery well worth the extra effort.
Tim Stenhouse, 04/08
Various Artists - Stay On The Groove 4Freestyle Records
Adrian Gibson’s latest project focuses on the funk, the whole funk and nothing but the funk. “Stay On The Groove” contains some of the hottest UK funk bands on the scene today and the entire disc could be used to rock your next house party if necessary. You know right away you’re gonna have a funky good time with tracks like “You Got Me Thinkin’” by The Tornadoes & tyra Hammond. The performance of the Tornadoes is spirited and Tyra’s voice is electric. “Panama City” is another high octane funk jam courtesy of the Quantic Soul Orchestra, a band that needs no introduction. Another band to keep an eye on is Funkshone. These guys bring the whole package on the track “Droppin’”, a wicked rhythm section, funky bass lines and soulful vocals. The New Mastersounds unleash a spirited jam session on the track “Nervous” (Kenny Dope remix). Without a doubt this is an entertaining disc filled with monster funk jams. Once again Adrian Gibson’s love of quality music is a boon for everyone.
Reg Dancy, 11/08
Various Artists - Strange Breaks & Mr Thing Compiled by Mr ThingBBE Music
Straight off the back of the label's "Strange Games" compilation comes this onslaught of funky cuts from artists like Chain Reaction, Steve Smith and The Honey Dippers. Just when you thought the vaults and collections of some of the world's best record collectors and labels must be nearing exhaustion arrives on the scene another, somewhat superior, gem. If you are feeling the many comps on this tip then this will not disappoint, and for those who otherwise steer clear, Mr Thing includes "Boogie Man" by The Crystal Mansion the dog's nuts of folk funk!! Don't hesitate; get your dry roasted funk here.
Steve Williams, 01/08
Various Artists - Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing Vol. IIBBE Records
If you’re like me and you can’t get enough of the rare groove sounds don’t despair, BBE records have come to your rescue with “Strange Breaks & Mr Thing”. Mr Thing is known for spicing up the crowds with his infectious blend of hip-hop, soul and funk so you should expect nothing less here. While most of these gems will probably be unfamiliar to you, that won’t stop you from moving and grooving along with each track. Selections like “Searching” by Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers will get your body revved up. If you’re familiar with The Meters, then you’ll no doubt enjoy this one. Other notables include “Love is just a word” by Johnny Griffith, Inc, which has that soulful orchestrated sound reminiscent of the Love unlimited Orchestra so you know that’s gonna be hot. As I continued my spins through the disc, I immediately smiled when I listened to “You made a believer (Out of me)” by Ruby Andrews. This track was sampled by Q-Tip on The Renaissance and was one of my favorite songs on that disc. No wonder, the soulful vocals by Ms Andrews and the thumping bassline makes it funky enough to stand on its own. There are a couple of covers like The Jacksons “ABC” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “It’s a family affair” that are just okay. The Jimmy Castor cover of “It’s just begun” by The Hot city Bump band is much better. There is little else however to diminish the overall quality of material featured here and is certainly worth checking out. As long as we have DJ’s like Mr Thing digging in their crates, the rare groves and funky breaks will always stir up those good vibes and have us heading towards the closet for our dancing shoes.
Reg Dancy, 11/09
Various Artists - Strange Funky Games and ThingsBBE Records
When is comes to compilations BBE are at the top of their game. Pete Adarkwah is of course back at the controls and digging out even more Soul, Funk and Jazz in a similar vain to the previous three volumes as compiled by Pete and Kenny Dope. Here are 15 wonderful sought after tracks, which have been sampled by a numerous Hip Hop and R&B artists. Highlights for me are Barbara Mason 'Give Me Your Love', Bill Conti 'Reflections', American Gypsy 'Inside Out', Jay Dee 'Strange Funky Games and Things' and that's just for starters.
Simon Harrison, 12/05
Various Artists - The Blank Generation: Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985Strut Records
The music scene in New York during the late seventies and eighties featured an avalanche of independent recordings that usually would gain acceptance when played out in the clubs as opposed to the traditional format of radio play. Clearly this was one of the most progressive periods in the musical history of New York and one of the pioneers during this period was producer Bob Blank. Originally Blank started his career as a guitarist before starting Blank Tape studios and collaborating with some of the creative forces New York had to offer. Among the many artists he worked with was Charanga 76. Led by Tito Rodriguez, they reworked the Ben E. King disco track “Music Trance” and added a little Latin rhythm with enough spice to fill a dance floor. “I got a Big Bee” by Bumblebee Unlimited” was the creation of Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams. The track features the synthesized sound that was prevalent throughout the eighties and made famous by Adams previous groups like Phreek and The Universal Robot Band. This release isn’t totally focused on disco hits, as evidenced by Sun Ra’s “Where Pathways Meet” and the funkified sounds of James Blood Unlimited. Of all the selections here, none was bigger than Fonda Rae’s “Over like a Fat Rat”. More than twenty years later, the track still features one of the fiercest bass grooves on wax and makes your head nod today. If you’re too young to remember or old enough to reminiscence then “Blank Tapes NYC” will provide a vivid snapshot on a rich musical legacy.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Various Artists - The Boogie Vol 4Tokyo Dawn
"The Boogie" Vol.4 is a gathering of funk heavyweights from the consistently productive Tokyo Dawn label. Each artists sprinkles their personal brand of funk and the result is seventy plus minutes of infectious funk. Among those heavyweights is UK soul man Omar who provides two tracks here. "My Prediction" and "Do What I Do", the former is remixed with wicked synths courtesy of Opolopo. Equally impressive was Reggie-B's space age funk in the form of "Do You Wanna Ride?". "Welcome To Me" from Amalia's sorely underrated "Art Slave" is full of soaring vocals and deep grooves. Other highlights include Personal Life's "One Step Closer", Soul Parlor's "Hybrid Funk and much more. Make no mistake, this is the disc you need if you want to have a funky good time.
Reg Dancy, 05/14
Various Artists - The Boogie Vol. 5Tokyo Dawn
Tokyo Dawn, the Munich based record label has become a boogie wonderland for today's forward thinking artists around the globe for delivering futuristic funk and infectious boogie grooves. Volume five from the long running compilation doesn't disappoint as it features an eclectic lineup. One of the exciting newcomers on the scene today is Teeko. The creative turntablist displays his wizardry on the thumping bass and funk tune "The Hot". If you like your funk with a heavy serving of grit and grime then you'll definitely enjoy "Databan" from Reggie B. Kaidi Tatham brings his twisted brand of funk and electronica to the remix of Ruth Koleva's "What Am I supposed To Do".Other notable mentions include Matt Matix, Soulpersona and Steve Arrington. Is there any wonder that year after year, "The Boogie" ranks in the upper echelon as one of the best long running compilations to date? There shouldn't be.
Reg Dancy, 09/16
Various Artists - The Electric InstituteNew Religion Records
Kirk Degiorgio's New Religion has been releasing some of the best UK Techno and Electronica for over five years, and Kirk has never been restrained by any musical boundaries in his DJ sets or productions. Here we have New Religion's latest offering with a whole host of artists doing what they do best - producing quality music. The single with Domu's 'Quarantine' and Stacy Kidd's 'Liquid Letter' has been getting some serious attention over the last month. Other artists include: Kirk's very own As One project, plus Blue Binary, Beetlejuice, 69 and Balil, who haven't released anything in over ten years. Fans of Sheffield's Warp Records will love this to bits.
Simon Harrison, 12/05
Various Artists - The Essential Guide To CountryEssential Guide
CD one is 'Contemporary Country' and the 16 tracks includes Lonestar, Nanci Griffith, Rodney Crowell and Heather Myles. CD2: 'The 60's Legacy', has 15 tracks and moves from The Byrds to the Flatlanders via Guy Clark & Chet Atkins. 'Country Legends' completes the 3 CD set, among those featured are Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones and The Stanley Brothers. An excellent introduction.
Graham Radley, 05/07