V - The Revelation Is Now TelevisedBBE Records
After a handful of 12" releases for the MAW and its subsidiary labels over the past couple of years, V finally delivers his debut album. Produced by Jazzy Jeff at his A Touch Of Jazz Studios, 'The Revelation Is Now Televised' is largely a down-tempo soul affair. As you would expect the production and vocals are strong throughout but for me the set lacks a standout song. The groovy 'Confess' and 'Who Will I Be' are the better cuts but unfortunately the album omits the killer 'Confusion' which appeared on the recent T.R.I.N.T. 4 track EP.
Andy Allen, 10/05
VA - J Jazz Volume 2 - Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-83BBE
J Jazz Volume2 picks up the marvellous Volume 1 left off. "Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984" is the second instalment of rare Japanese recordings compiled by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden. The duo once again compiled a list from their personal collection. They figured we would enjoy them as much as they do and they were right. There's much to savour with nearly 120 minutes of quality recordings. The disc kicks off with the brilliant "Dragon Dance". The late Tenor sax legend Harold Land was performing in Japan when he received an invitation to record with pianist Makoto Terashita. The result is a spirited up-tempo hard bop delight. "Mother Of The Future" is seventies inspired jazz funk from the Electro Keyboard Orchestra. "Fallout" features the New Herd, a popular big band. Higgins and Peden have tapped into a gold mine of obscure recordings largely forgotten. Thanks to their contacts in Japan and BBE for shinning a light on these hidden gems.
Reg Dancy, 10/19
Valerie June - Pushin’ Against A StoneSunday Best
Valerie June’s music is a blend of country and blues with a touch of traditional spirituals thrown in for good measure. This may not be the usual sound to feature in these pages or indeed my record collection but there’s something very special about Pushin’ Against A Stone, in particular Workin’ Woman Blues, a blistering up-tempo, jazzy country-funk outing complete with a blaring horn section. Pure magic! Also check out the laid back bluesy soul groove, Wanna Be On Your Mind and the old school soul stepper The Hour. If you are a fan of Michael Kiwanuka then this is likely to appeal.
Andy Allen, 03/14
Valique - Russians At WorkFreestyle Records
Hailed as the number one soul producer of Russia, Valique lives up his reputation by delivering a collection of soaring post disco dance tracks. Valique lays down the rhythm throughout with funky bass lines and lively percussions. This is evident on tracks like “Wine Or Vinegar” which features nice string and horn arrangements. “Scream For Daddy”, is laced with clever keyboard riffs. All but two songs here are instrumentals but those are highlights as well. “Where’s The Love” features Fanny Franklin of the funk band Orgone and “Out Of My Head” featuring Sofi Ocran are equally satisfying. Valique has already provided quality deep house and jungle tracks in the past. With R.A.W., he proves that he’s adept at creating quality dance music as well.
Reg Dancy, 09/08
Various - Mad Styles And Crazy Vision 2 - Compiled & Mixed By Louie VegaBBE
With so many compilations dropping week after week it’s easy to dismiss a number of them but when the name Louie Vega graces one you have to take notice, for good reason. For “Mad Styles & Crazy Vision 2” spans the wonderful world of House music of the various styles of the last thirty years. Few people thought that House music would stand the test of time but not only has it shown staying power it has continued to evolve, thanks to the growing number of talented DJ’s and artists who stay committed to the music. There are tracks that take you back to the early days like Todd Terry’s “I’m Your DJ”, representative of the raw underground deep dish sound that filled many clubs back in the late eighties. There’s the pulsating disco flavored sound of Peven Everett’s “Inspiration” that will surely get your heart racing. Black Coffee’s “We Are One” is filled with bombastic percussions and uplifting lyrics. If you’re feigning for some tribal house you can’t go wrong with Phil Asher’s “Textya”. Josh Milan’s “Your Body” is a delicious slice of soulful rhythmic vocal house with tasty horns and percussion. With Forty two songs plus a continuous mix of all songs you be hard pressed to pass this up. This is a must have if you’ve ever felt or wish to experience the spirit of house.
Reg Dancy, 08/11
Various - Record Kicks 10thRecord Kicks
Over the past Ten years, with over a hundred releases under their belt, Record Kicks has firmly established itself as the premier label of vintage funk, gritty soul and so much more. This release has compiled 21 selections that represent some of the premiere soul, funk and reggae acts that call the label home. Among the label mates is Hannah Williams & The Tastemakers with their stirring single “I’m a Good Woman”. Other tasty treats are “Your Love is Mine” by The New Mastersounds with featured vocals from Corrine Bailey Rae. The Baker Brothers are another funk band whose 2011 lp “Time to Testify” received critical acclaim. They follow that up with their new single “Dancing with my mates Til Dawn”. And then there’s Nick Pride and The Pimptones, who provide a crackling summer party jam with “Everything is Better in The Summertime”. Thanks to Record Kicks and other similar labels, funk and soul have a home for years to come. Treat yourself to a superb disc, not to mention a few more gems from their catalogue.
Reg Dancy, 06/13
Various - The Craig Charles Funk and Soul ClubFreestyle
You can count on Craig Charles as a certified messenger of the funk and his weekly radio show on BBC’s Radio 6 is testament to that. Throughout the nineteen track disc, Charles compiles some of the heavy hitters of today as they carry the baton of tasty funk with gritty grooves. There are many prime cuts to savor like “Seven Nation Army” by Nostalgia 77 featuring the soaring vocals of Alice Russell. “A Time For” is another taste of slow burning funk courtesy of Lack Of Afro. For instrumentals there’s The Haggis Horns “The Bump” and “Shaft In Africa” from The Mighty Showstoppers just to name a few. Don’t have the time hand pick your funk? No worries, Craig Charles’s selections will supply all the funk you need.
Reg Dancy, 01/13
Various Artists mixed by Nathan McLay - AttractionsFuture Classic
Introducing us to a stable of new artists from 'down under', the debut compilation from this Sydney-based label guides us seamlessly through Future Jazz and Broken Beat territory, Click-House, twisted Electro, and poppy Nu-Disco, whilst maintaining a techy, synth-driven feeling throughout. Despite a plateau in the middle, the CD starts and finishes strongly and, with nods to labels like Dialect and 20:20 Vision, there is some high-quality electronic music here that will have you dancing round your bedroom in no time.
Tom Breslin, 05/06
Various Artists: Wah Wah 45s - We Wah fifteenWah Wah 45s
What started as a little record company quickly emerged as one of the most important labels in the UK. Wah Wah records, launched by brothers Chris and the late Simon Goss have compiled a deeply talented roster of contrasting styles to rival any label and "We Wah 15" is a testament to that. There's more than plenty to savor here from the folksy flavor of Sesong's "Love Untold" to burning hot reggae of "Sweet Love Affair" from The Resonators. "Hey Lover" is raw soul with a heavy groove from Hardkandy with Laura Vane on vocals. "Wallflowerin", the 2006 hit is silky down-tempo soul from Max Cole. "Money" is funky brass courtesy of the Hackney Colliery Band. "Through A Window" is just one of many superb arrangements that guitarist, producer and label co-director Scrimshire has released over the years. The lush composition also features the dreamy vocals of label mate Stac. As far as compilations go this year, you'll be there hard press to find another as good as this one. Hat's off to Wah Wah for fifteen years of consistently discovering new talent and delivering great music in the process.
Reg Dancy, 11/14
Varous Artists - Deepblak Presents Blaktropolis Vol.1Deepblak Recordings
Just when I thought I had heard everything, along comes a disc out of nowhere to truly mess my head up. The music I’m referring to is Blaktropolis Vol 1 from Deepblak recordings. This compilation features futuristic soul in an array of styles from house, spiritual jazz, tribal and broken beat that will have you asking yourself, “Where did these guys come from?” Well mostly from Oakland where Deepblak is based. There are a number of contributors here that make this record a huge success. Let’s start with the opening track “Valentina”, a downtempo ethereal gem that sounds as if the African rhythms and the deep moaning voice are swirling around you and pulling you inside the music. The Aybee remix of Dozie’s “Sensuality” gives this track the total package, lush vocals combined with deep and soulful grooves. “Track II” by Trinidadian Deep is a deep house dish with gorgeous chords and soothing synths. There are other prime cuts by the likes of the Black Jazz Consortium, Mattski and Erik Rico that make “Blaktropolis” cutting edge future soul with deep grooves that you’ll find irresistible. This is not to be missed.
Reg Dancy, 10/08