Sunday, 28 July 2019

Clap your hands - The Lewis Express - ATA

it was only last month i reviewed the initial 45 taken from this set and now we have a full set of TLE to get our ears around. As one would expect, having such a large pool of musicians in the setup there is a grand spectrum of styles on display here but yet all are within the parameters of classic soul jazz with some flecks of latin thrown in as a seasoning. whether it be Ramsey Lewis vibes or mid century new york latin theres plenty here to dig even though the whole set comprises only 8 tracks (2 already released on the 45). But have no allusions otherwise before you are through the first track you will be digging the quality of those 8 bangers. 'Is it This?' is four and a half minutes of mid tempo latin jazz that johnny colon would be proud of. Hard to pick a favorite but Flat palm Avenue swings like Louie Ramirez with the Young Holt trio - George Cooper on keys steers this one like a boss... absolutely cracking boogaloo

Check the ATA site on Bandcamp  to pick the album and while you are there grab a copy of the first LP and the 45... wonderful stuff

Friday, 5 July 2019

Clap your hands/Stomp your feet - The Lewis Express - ATA

The only way that the first time i heard Stomp your feet could have been bettered is if i had heard it at a sixties mod club as i walked down the stairs and on into the venue sidestepping smart kids, handclapping and dancing the block. As it happened the first time i heard it wasnt too shabby - sipping a cold glass of frascati on a holiday veranda overlooking the city of Rome before heading out to dinner, but yeah a sweaty club with sharply dressed Mods wigging out would have been pretty special but hey ho, we take it where we can. There's a continuity here with the great Mod SoulJazz cuts that we have loved over the years and its an unashamed homage to the like of Ramsey Lews, Young Holt Trio, Afro Blues quintet and Quartet Tres Bien to name but a few. Top side Clap your hands is a deceptively smart bass driven boogaloo that reaches into the latin roots and takes you on a  tour of the dancefloor. In a laid back finger-snapping handclapping vibe its as much Johnny Colon as Pete Rodriguez with Jazz moves giving an easy swinging rhythm that is sure to gain fans from many camps. Flip side is again for the dancefloor and the swing on this one is perfect. You will raise a sweat here but not enough to ruin the line of your madras jacket or have you opening the collar on your DNA Shirt and loosening your tie.

Distilling the more soulful aspects and pouring it on thick and heavy what you get here is two sides of glorious Mod sounds that are sure to rip the dancefloor up and this release is set to become a staple for the scene. .

This essential release is available from the bandcamp page.... click through the link below and throw your money down to secure this monster 45 and the current 33rpm

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Rise Up - The Freedom Affair - Colemine

Details on this one dropped in to my inbox along with the Kelly Finnigan and i confess i spent more time dissecting Finigans new 45 and came to this one as almost an afterthought. Whereas Finnigan is primarily anchored in the early to mid sixties, The Freedom Affair are on the funky end of the spectrum and when i say Funk i really mean Funknsoul - think of the Pacesetters and throw in a b-boy break that just hop,skips and jumps all over the place, and you get my drift. This is serious stuff both in arrangement and thematically. And to that latter point thankfully socially conscious messages are gathering apace in this age of #blm #metoo etc . I know its something Ben Pirani focuses on, Similarly Soul Scratch and many more of the current crop of soul folk but its got to be said more often, louder and we all need to row in behind it. Stand together, stand strong and be counted. Paired with the instrumental, Oh i can already hear the DJ's firing up their samplers and ripping those drums out... , this is old school heavy soul, and let no one tell you otherwise. Get on it. With three strong vocalists in Paula Saunders, Seyco Groves and Misha Roberts and airtight rhythm and brass sections the more music these guys release the happier I will be.

Will be caned at absolutely every progressive rare soul night - and rightly so!

Colemine have this on Pre Order over at their site  with a release date of 21st June.

Catch me i'm falling/Trouble - Kelly Finnigan - Colemine

Such has been the welcome that the release of the LP received one would be forgiven for thinking that Finnigan would put the feet up and bask in the acclaim directed at him. But not a bit of it, his social media is buzzing with videos from gigs all over the shop and this release is just the latest in a long line of studio recordings (MonoPhonics, Night People and The Sentiments) that are garnering him new fans every day. Top side is taken from the LP and features Finnigan in falsetto mode over a dreamlike arrangement that is part lo-rider, chicago, sweet soul and doo-wop that just shimmers and twinkles like harmonising under an early sixties streetlight, angelic voice floating over the rooftops of the warm night. It was one of the highlights of the LP (to be honest, in terms of quality, you couldn't get a cigarette paper between the tracks in that set) and a sleeper, so good to see it going front and centre on this release.

Flip side takes us into gritty urban drama with a back beat that wouldn't be amiss on a 69 Motown recording from the Temps. Again, there can be a testifying tone to Finnigans work but is never hectoring or finger wagging - there's always positivity to the message and here he takes us along on the journey rather than stopping to berate the listener. The arrangements here are solid, that back beat I mention above, the solid bass, the incessant tambourine and those haunting backing vocals  are all layered around and between the workings of Finnigans vocal to build up to a brooding serious 3 minutes of new soul.

Colemine have this on Pre-order over at their Site where you can have it on Lurid Pink or classic black vinyl.

I made a deal with Myself - Alexis Evans - Recordkicks

Back in March I reviewed the LP that this is taken from and only made scant mention of this track. I am sure that Alexis and Recordkicks both, have a pain in their collective arses with every soul fan and his dog badering them about releasing this one on its own 7" but one can understand that. Thankfully the pressure paid off and we have this one on the prime format. Its a great track to get the gist of Evans and his crew. There's no contriving here, its just soul music that doesn't try to be soul music and it clips along at a pace that the dancers love. No scrimping on the brass with these guys and Evans voice is right on the money and doesn't try to be anything other than it is. Damn near perfect. Flip side is a more contemplative side of our man with "Your Words" another lift from the LP , providing a lazy summer drifter that oozes class. It's a cracker.

Will sell out on the first press, you can get yours from either the bandcamp site or at the RecordKicks page 

I Bear Witness - Karla Denning/Dynamic Siblings MD


In among all the new releases getting everyone's attention at the moment , its great to see small labels (and indie soul folk) scouring the vaults and unearthing solid era soul that never made a release back in the day. These two sides are taken from Joe Stevensons Pentagon stable but have remained in the can till now and only appearing some years ago on a studio acetate. From 1971 comes the funkier of the two sides. To my ears its a bit rushed and takes some getting used to however as its a demo, one supposes, its got an immediacy that hasn't been produced out of it. Its set at some pace though and if i had heard it back when i was a younger man it would have been right up my street for an aul bop. The flip side is a duet between Vince Apollo and his Sister Connie and is to my mind the stronger of the two cuts. More suited to traditional Northern tastes its not a million miles away from the released version on Pentagon, a cracking double sider of some note. The added bonus here of course is the addition of Connies vocals that alternates verses with Vince and the two of them taking it all the way to end. Production is slightly different and again has  a rawer sound to it, breaks are softer in some places and of course there is no evidence of Okay sisters with their backing vocal on this track.

Thanks to the lads at MD we now have another version of this cracking Northern perennial. Limites supply i believe and selling like the proverbial hot cakes.

if you want a copy bang a mail over to and they will sort you out. Otherwise check out the usual secondary sites and dealers for a copy.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

The Tales People Tell - Kelly Finnigan - Colemine

Some day soon i am going to write in more depth about this second age of soul music and when i do the name Kelly Finnigan will be writ large. Writer, singer, instrumentalist, producer - take your pick, he has done the lot producing a rich and long body of work that stretches back years. And now the man delivers a set of 10 original tracks that, for anyone who has an interest in soul music, will become an essential purchase and, if i know anything about anything, is damn near perfect. Now don't get me wrong this is not me going off on my usual ascent into Hyperbolic meanderings - and lord knows i am guilty of that more often than not - this is as good as anything i have heard in a long long time and alongside the Durand Jones recent release is proving the depth and quality of Colemine in particular and the wider soul music scene in general. There's nothing here that is trying to be 'gilded age' this is pure modern soul music that is crafted with heart and stands on its own two feet. it may have been influenced by years past but its rooted firmly in the here and now. Music is meant to do one of two things, make you dance or make you feel and Finnigan's breadth of artistry delivers on both fronts. I called you back baby, Smoking and Drinking both focus on the dancefloor with classic movements, horns and driving beats. For me though its the 'feels' that has me in thrall to this set. The gospelish 'I dont want to wait' already saw a well received 45 release and here as a kick off to the Album it sets the tone perfectly. And as you get more and more into the set the gems come thick and fast . 'I'll never love again' is simply breathtaking , a whiskey soaked late night torch song that oozes pain and sadness from every note. Its Finnigan at his best taking a simple idea and producing an anthem. 'Since I dont have you anymore' grooves in a subversive way and is an instant classic, 'Impressions of you' is sweet soul, subtle and stripped down to a clear production that calls to mind that mid sixties period group sound....and on it goes, 10 tracks that will have you repeat playing and drowning in the sounds of this SoulMan. For many people this will be the first introduction to Kelly Finnigan and as such is a wonderful primer for his talent and direction - music that is heartfelt, personal and yet universally themed.

I really ought to stop talking about Golden or Gilded age because on the evidence presented here from Finnigan (and as curated by the likes of Colemine) we are hearing soul music that is as good as what has gone before and the music being produced nowadays is pretty gistening to these ears.

The Tales People tell is available widely but you can pick up from Bandcamp or from the Colemine store. if you have any sort of liking for soul music then you need this in your collection.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Soul Fanfare #3 / Turn it Out - The Mandatory Eight - ATA

Sometimes one needs just to listen to music and not have to bother with messages, polemics or hidden meanings that seek to explain the world. Sometimes you just want to hear feel good music that makes you smile and is not a serious statement on the human condition. May i submit this fine little platter as one of those discs that you should reach for during those moments. The top side Soul Fandare #3 is a master class in Memphis soul that packs a solid punch with trumpet blaring out front and laying down its funky riffs. Bob Birchs work on the organ is exemplary digging deep into the soul vibe with a nod, a nod only mind, towards Booker T. The rhythm section, meanwhile, is all over this grooving away and one can only imagine smiling faces as the track starts smoking, dousing the proceedings with a heavy dose of funk. Bass is mid level in the mix and gets a few moments in the break to do a little walking, Guitar is chopping away in its own oblivious world adding that sweet shoulder shug to get those feet moving, Percussion hits the beat every time, square on the head, the back beat solid for the dancers. Like all good tracks this weighs in at just under the magic 3 minutes but delivers more than its weight in pure smiling soulful effervescence.

B-side Turn it Out continues in somewhat the same vein though less of an immediate hit, if you forgive the vulgarity of that term. Whilst the top side sounds like a jam between a group of friends who know each others performances well, this one has a more calculated feel to it. The structure here is more rigid in my opinion and with its influences of funk, soul, latin and a Manzarekian bent on the organ this i deem will be the one that features more heavily in sets than the top side. That being said, either side will do for me. Pure and simple one of the highlights of the year so far!

The Mandatory Eight are:
Steve Parry - Trumpet
Bob Birch - Organ
Chris Dawkins - Guitar
Neil Innes - Bass
Pete Williams - Drums, percussion and Tenor Sax

You can pick up a copy over at BANDCAMP

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

American Love Call - Durand Jones and the Indications - Colemine

As a collector of 45rpm issues I rarely buy 33's. i have plenty of them but to be honest they are a step below singles and a step above CD;s in my estimation. I typically buy them for a track that is not available on my preferred format and disregard for the most part the rest, yeah i know, i can hear the fulmination of so many of you already. But hold on. There are a few Albums that when i first chanced to listen to them in their entirety absolutely floored me - Bobby Womacks The Poet is a prime example, not one duff track on it and it remains a piece of plastic that i regularly play in a darkened room to heighten the experience of just wallowing in the music. Of Course Marvins Whats going on is a work of unmitigated genius and sadly as relevant today as it was on first release, when the needles drops onto that platter, the world can fuck off, Joxer is busy! There's a few others but not too many i assure you. Which brings me to this release from Durand Jones and the Indications and an album that i would confidently put alongside those two LPs. Over the years I've picked up their 45's and they have always impressed with their solid and soulful material. And then this drops, this collection of what can only be described without one iota of hyperbole, as a Modern Soul masterpiece. I am shaking my head here in awe of the sound, structure, emotion and expression this is laying on me, this is work that hits your feelings so hard that you catch your breath as a lump forms in your throat and you just barely hold it together.

Let me focus on Morning in America - an urban poem that could have been written by Carl Sandburg and scored by Bobby Womack. Unlike Soul Scratch whose recent release America is a call to arms to defend the values of America against those who are attacking from within, these guys come from a different, but no less effective, angle - vignettes of American life that are far removed from the accepted PR of Mom and Apple Pie.

Long Way home is a mid seventies sophisticated sweet soul spiritual with a deep message and Jones is spectacular in his phrasing and delivery. A joy.

But look, i can waffle on here for hours about this album, but i urge you to go on the journey yourself. Get it on whatever format you can and invest some time on this set. The return will be many many times what you expect.

Get your ass, ears and wallet over to the bandcamp site and get a copy of the finest Soul LP of 2019

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

You Got me (Wantin')/Put it Right - The Sha La La's - Detour

Hot off the presses comes the news of this one from the The Sha La La's and what a release this one is. Following on from their 2018 When Love Comes 45 this one is full on soul music - the top side at least...the preview i have listened to doesn't give a sample of the flip but being honest the top side alone is worth the few quid this sells for. A full on brassy uptempo that owes as much to the seventies big soul sounds as it does to the sixties organ driven club sounds this one ticks all the right boxes. Darrons vocal is absolutely perfect for this sound with its husk stretched almost to breaking point. The brass is grown up, solidity clinging to every note stabbing out of the speakers whilst the organ sound whirls around the rest of the instrumentation. Thankfully this does not descend into an indulging of their influences to the detriment of the cohesion of the track, getting lost between licks, and instead treats us to a competent dancer that just cracks along. When all is said and done this is music to dance to, and on the evidence here this one scores handsomely. Their previous release got to number 14 in my 2018 best of list, at the moment - this one is in my 2019 top five, easily

You Got me can be pre-ordered from Detour Records with shipping due in May.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Atomic Bomb/I want to know - The Mighty Megatons - Liquidator

Its not often that i dip my toes into the reggae world but often times i stumble across a release that is so charming that it lights up my latent appreciation for Ska/Rocksteady and before i know it i have to get it on the record player and get my skanking groove back on. This one from the Mighty Megatons on the Spanish Liquidator label is one such release that had me tapping along when i first heard it. Top side is a typical instrumental with brass abounding over a none too serious melody that fairly rocks along in that Jamaican party manner. Can definitely see this one being a crowd-pleaser. Flip it over for the effortless I Want to know that will have you singing along in no time. Again we have that Sax parping away as if it owns the gaff popping up all over the shop. There's a delicious anlaogue vibe to this and if i am not mistaken this sounds like it was recorded in one take. There are sections where the production is not so polished and yet this adds to the whole experience and the impression is of a dusty ratty pressing with a hand scribbled note on the label that has been unearthed during a digging expedition. Lovely middle section that has all the required moves and a nice nod to classic early ska with a few furtive licks on guitar. As i say nothing evidently polished here but the over-riding feel is one of fun and freedom. 

You can pick up a copy of The Mighty Megatons debut 45 over at Bandcamp or go to the Liquidator Music Website


Saturday, 16 March 2019

I dont want to wait - Kelly Finnigan - Colemine

And yet another deep soul release, this time from the Colemine stable and the unmistakable sound of Kelly Finnigan who writes, sings and produces this slab of Soul Music. Unusually for me i am lost for words to write about this one - i usually can spend some time just listening and little snippets of phrases will pop into my head. Here though as i listen i am vainly grasping for that phrase that i know will kick start me and the words will pour out. And yet here i am stuck as i listen and hearing nothing in my head but the intensity of this song that is not Gospel yet seems not to be profane. Finnigan with an enormous presence that he seems to be holding back lest he overflow and smother everything in this huge tsunami of emotion that has run away from him. That stab of backing singers punctuating the proceedings take us into beat ballad territory and then 2 minutes in we have a segue into a sweet soul style interlude before Finnigan comes back with his almost shirt ripping testimonial and the intensity slowly subsides as the groove comes to an end with a slight moan fading off into the ether. And all that remains to be done is pick up the arm and drop the needle back to the start... Keep an eye/ear out for Finnigan, His Lp drops in April and all accounts are that it is en-point and set to blow the scene up. Remains to be seen but on the evidence presented here, the prognosis is good...

You dont have to wait as this release is available now at the Bandcamp page - physical or digital , your choice

Love Bound - Joseph Malik - RamRock

For those of you who are rare soul fans the term beat ballad will be well familiar. For those who are not members of that obsessive tribe a beat ballad is a mid paced soul or torch song drenched in big production (think Baccharach, Randazzo) featuring more than likely full orchestra and replete with swirls, flourishes and swooping dramatic breaks. More often than not voiced by the female of the species (think Dusty, Dionne) but there are many examples from the boys - the likes of Roy Hamilton for example (The Panic is on). The  LP version was enough to get Malik signed to Ramrock and its a thing of beauty to behold and fully steeped in the DNA of the Beat Ballads during the Golden age of late fifties to mid sixties and breaking it up with spoken word samples. Jo Wallace Ramrock head has taken the track, stripped it back and refined it whilst polishing up its movement and given us a bone fide beat Ballad that could very well have been recorded and produced by Teddy Randazzo. There's no distractions here just the swirls and swooshes we know and love as Malik hypnotically intones the refrain over and over mantralike . Theres a huge sense of Le Midi to this one, a lazy afternoon spent wistfully gazing out over the azure sea as the sun sparkles the waves. Awesome sonic painting from Malik and the RamRock Team

Available now on RamRock Page  the physical copies are almost gone at this stage. Dont be tardy