Pete Rock - PetestrumentalsBBE
I wondered what it would be like if I were a rapper and I was given free rein to select some beats from the vault of all-star hip-hop producer Pete Rock. After all his production talents has been the backbone for numerous rappers for years.” Petestrumentals Ten year anniversary” celebrates the 2001 release and the great fact about these joints is that they haven’t aged at all. For instance, “A Little Soul” packed with deep grooves and thick beats is the kind of funk that never gets old. “For The People” still is hypnotic thanks in part to the wicked fender Rhodes arrangement layered nicely over more heart pounding beats. And while the focus is mainly on instrumentals, the disc is hardly devoid of vocals. Rapper Nature spits fire on “To My Advantage” as well as Freddie Foxx on “Mind Frame”. For old time sake we’re treated to a CL Smooth collaboration as he waxes poetic on how a true hustler handles his business on “Back On Da Block”. “Ten Anniversay” also arrives with additional bonus tracks and alternate takes to certify that a strong release is even better. For all hip-hop enthusiasts and beat aficionados this definitely belongs in your collection.
Reg Dancy, 07/11
Peven Everett - Power SoulSoul Heaven
Quick on the heels of last year's 'Easy Livin'' LP Peven Everett drops his new set for Aaron Ross' Soul Heaven, a subsidiary of Defected. 'Power Soul' effortlessly blends soul and house resulting in his best set since 'Studio Confessions'. The singles 'Stuck' and 'Can't Do Without' are included and are definitely the better of the house cuts, but it's on the soul tracks where Peven really shines. Try 'Surely Shorty', 'Washing', 'This Just In' or the amazing 'Futuristic' for first rate examples of twenty first century soul music.
Andy Allen, 02/07
Pharoah Sanders - Anthology [You've Got To Have Freedom]Soul Brother
With a career spanning more than 40 years and no less than 30 albums, Pharoah Sanders has long been revered in jazz circles. Combining African and Eastern influences with the distinctive ‘shrieking’ manner in which he plays the tenor sax, he has created some of the most spiritual music to have ever been recorded. For this Anthology, Soul Brother in collaboration with Universal, draw together 18 tracks (13 on vinyl) of Pharoah’s major compositions, covering the period 1967-1996 and incorporating material from the Impulse, Theresa, Arista and Verve labels. To highlight particular tracks would be pointless since they are all worthy inclusions. My advice is to grab a copy and sample for yourself the music of a true jazz great. If I were to make one small criticism it would be that a number of the longer cuts have been edited in order to allow the maximum number of tracks to be included. Personally I would have preferred an extended 3-disc package so the full-length versions could be featured. I guess cost restrictions prevented this.
Andy Allen, 11/05
Phlash & Friends - Deep Electronic SoundArchive Records
So, hopefully you’ve read the interview and now you’re prepped, ready and just waiting for the album to drop. Well, you’ll be glad to know that you certainly won’t be disappointed, for Phlash and his mates have produced a tight, powerful collection of ten songs, which individually stand strong on their own, but which also make sense collectively as a coherent whole. Such a balance is an all too rare occurrence in the world of House music, where ‘albums’ often represent anthologies of an artist’s most recent work, rather than focused projects. Not here. Asher manages, despite the impressive number of cooks involved, to perfect the broth and get everyone working towards the same deep and electronic, but also very soulful, sound. Everyone will have their own favourites, depending on personal tastes, but the standout, for me, is the raw and bass-heavy, Shalamar inspired “Do It Up”, a co-production with Benji B that features trade mark cosmic funk vocals from Sa-Ra’s Ommas. Honourable mentions also go to “Minefield”; an atmospheric and industrial instrumental produced with 4 Hero’s Dego, and “Jungle Orchidz”, a tough, Soca driven vocal from the glorious Alma Horton.
Tom Breslin, 01/09
Phuturistix - Breathe Some LightPhuture Lounge Records
It's been almost two years since 'Cohiba' dropped but finally the full length album is here and it's been well worth the wait. Both 'Cohiba' and 'In The Sun' from the 12" are present plus another twelve quality broken-soul excursions. It kicks off with a killer cosmic funk intro entitled 'Let There Be Love' featuring a distinctive spoken word performance from Chris Jam, before moving into the flute laced 'Everyday' and 'Breathe Some Light', a great collaboration with Atjazz. With other solid moments such as 'Eager For The Years' featuring Michelle Amador, 'Afrodisiosity' with Fyza, 'Hurt Ya Twice' and the two Oezlem fronted tracks, 'More Than The Eye Can See' and 'Women Of The Night' this is one album you can't afford to miss!
Andy Allen, 01/08
Pitch & Scratch - TogetherLegere
DJ Suro and Mzuzu, the duo from Hamburg known as Pitch & Scratch follow up their 2009 release “Hamburg Hustle” with another collection of rhythmic funk and soul grooves. “Together” is heavily influenced by pioneers like the JB’s and indications are they’re honed their craft well. Highlights include “Maculele” highlighted by Leila Pantel’s soothing vocals. “Breakers Delight” is a mid-tempo funk pleaser and “Get Down” is a laid back melodic tune with a jazzy groove. The funk and soul group roster is growing by the minute but as long as Pitch & Scratch are contributing grooves like these they’ll have a long term membership.
Reg Dancy, 07/12
Plantlife - Time TravelerRapster Records
Jack Splash, the man who blessed us with “The Return Of Jack Splash” in 2004 is back. Like is debut, “Time Traveler” provides plenty of soulful eighties styled funk that made Jack so enjoyable to listen to. The title track is certainly one of the highlights, thanks to the soulful horns, the laidback groove and the sunny upbeat vibe it projects. “Your Love” is another rhythmic track that is taylor made for Jack’s appealing vocals, again capturing that warm happy feeling that he receives from his girl. Except for a couple of misfires like “Take It Off” and “U Mess It Up, So We Took It Back”, Jack maintains a tight funky groove throughout. Even wrapping up the disc with the ballad “Fool For U”, which sounds very much like the Isley Brothers “Don’t Say Goodnight”. Nonetheless, it shows that Jack is equally skilled at massaging a ballad as he is bringing the funk. Jack Splash provides us with an entertaining disc full of lighthearted funky grooves, much like his debut. If you enjoyed the first disc, you will certainly enjoy this one.
Reg Dancy, 04/08
Plumstead Radical Club - The Coast Is ClearImpossible Ark Records
This might be one of those times when it's taken me so long to put pen to paper that due to limited quantities you may now struggle to hunt down copies of this wonderful vinyl-only album. The Plumstead Radical Club is a project from Trombone player Trevor Mires of the Nostalgia 77 Octet and happens to be the first release on Nostalgia 77's label. This is Jazz and Soul at its best with a true classic feel to the compositions, which is due the expertise of musicians Mires, Graham Fox, Ross Stanley and Riaan Vosloo. Fans of Strata East, Black Jazz and of course Nostalgia 77 should be quick and seek it out.
Simon Harrison, 12/06
Polyrhythm Addicts - Break GlassBabygrande Records
Alright. I know I'm a little late with this one. I actually have been banging this one for quite some time. For reasons in which I can't explain, I'm just now reviewing it. Shame on me. Now that I'm finally writing this, I'm also trying to determine what kind of punishment would suit the crime of not sharing with you a very good cd. Now, a little history. The Polyrhythm Addicts, consisting of DJ Spinna, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Apani B and Mr Complex dropped an album back in 1999 called "Rhyme Related", to critical acclaim. Afterwards the group disbanded. Eight years later, Poly has reunited. Apani B has been replaced by the fiery Tiye Phoenix. Their new release, "Break Glass..." is so refreshingly good on so many levels. For starters, the beats. Nothing recycled here. DJ Spinna keeps the listener locked in with creative samples to quench your musical palette. Listen to "Reachin'", a bumpin track where Pharaoh Monche stops by to assist. Lyrically, Shabaam and Sahdeeq step up to provide clever wordplay and cover a variety of topics. As for newcomer Tiye Phoenix, mark my words, you'll be hearing a lot more from this MC. She's the truth! On "Ugly World", she drops the line (You like to take my kindness as a weakness, you taking my vagina as a weakness, you should take it from my rhyming, I'm a genius). She goes on but you need to hear the rest for yourselves. On "Revamp" Poly pays respect to the art form of hip hop and that it doesn't need to take a back seat to cookie cutter nonsense that dominates the airwaves today. "It's my life Feat Phonte" is easily one of my favorites. An irresistible beat combined with a little singing from Tiye Phoenix (Yes! She can sing too). This one is simply one of those feel good hip hop joints that you will have on repeat. "Goin Down" is probably my second favorite here. A laid back beat that is another winner as well. Unfortunately, it appears as though people are sleeping on this disc since it has been out for a few months. Here's hoping that you will not do the same. A lot of folks have been comparing this crew to the Fugees, for obvious reasons. However, the Poly has their own flavor. Each member can rock the mike and do it well. In a year in which we've been blessed with a nice collection of real hip hop, you need to add this to your top ten list. Definite Satisfaction.
Reg Dancy, 12/07