January 31, 2006


And after all that reggae talk, it's time to go back to the basis: funk!
There are a lot of new gems out there that are very worthwile picking up from your local recordstore. Here are some highlights from the flood of 7"s:

Homenage/Laredo 77

Freestyle Records

Named one of Austin, Texas' 'Best Live Acts' by the Austin Chronicle, Brownout! performs the nastiest latin funk music today. This band of "party rocking legends" was resurrected from the same tequila soaked border town explosion that originated the highly acclaimed latin powerhouse Grupo Fantasma. Brownout! is an 8 piece ensemble complete with 2 guitars, bass, no nonsense percussion, and "2005's Best Horn Section" at the Austin Music Awards. Throwback but not copycat retro, their music is timeless and honest, keeping the spirit of 70s afro-latin and funk music alive while honoring their South Texas roots.

Listen to Homenage here
Listen to Laredo 77 here

Reverend Cleatus & The Soul Saviours
The slip/ white stiletto

Freestyle Records

Amassing a respectable amount of sweaty, rabble rousing gigs in every major & minor funk club since 2003, it’s hard to believe this is only the bands 2nd outing on vinyl. Heavy on the grit, the Soul Saviours lay down some puritanical breaks, with healthy servings of Hammond, thundering bass and sharp horns. Amen to that!

Listen to The slip here
Listen to White stiletto here

Ernie Hawks & the Soul IG's
Soulfull trip pt 1 / Soulfull trip pt2

Timmion Records

A totally massive number that's filled with snapping drum breaks, cool bongo bits, heavy funky flute, and some great Meters-esque organ lines! The tune's got a dark, sinister feel -- and was produced to perfection by Didier, with a 70s-styled sound that easily puts it at the top of the stacks! Essential -- and a record to match most of your best bits from years back!

Listen to Soulfull Trip pt 1 here

Funky Nassau
Bahama soul stew/look what you can get

Tramp Records

In the 1960's and early 1970's Henry Stone started to record some local Miami talent. He was strongly influenced musically by James Brown at that time. This you can hear when you listen to these two sides. "Funky Nassau" consists of 4 members (Albury, Orlando, Hepburn, Tayler). the horns came from the famous marching 100 of FAMU who played on most of the deep city and TK records in the early days. The A-side is a latin-funk monster of the highest order, while the B-side is midtempo, soulful vocal funk at its best. One of the finest funk 45s that ever came out of Miami, Florida.

Listen to Bahama soul stew here
Listen to Look what you can get here

January 30, 2006


Ever since german reggae-superstar Gentleman broke big in almost every chart throughout the world, it is clear: you don't have to come from "the island in the sun" to make good reggae. We knew it all along, but somehow the productions made in Jamaica were always better then those that were not. Fiercer, rougher, more to the point and always one step ahead. But somewhere along the line the competition got harder. Sure, Gentleman still records a lot of his work in Jamaica (and thus getting that dusty, hot weather, scratched equipment feeling that comes with it for free) but a lot (including the backing of one of the biggest hits of 2004/5: Tanya Stephens' It's a pity) was recorded in a neatly set up recording studio in Germany. And for a change, it didn't sound overproduced, out-dated or ultra slick, which was often the big issue with outer-Jamaican productions. No, these new recordings sounded like real REGGAE! No Bob Marley clones, no instrumental dub bands covering the seventies, no poppy takes on the original style, but good companions to the ruling Jamaican sounds of today. And to prove the point: Tanya hit big in Jamaica and went on to conquer the world on the back of just that german produced song, Gentleman hit big allover the world, ze germanz of Seeed were the best act performing on the Jamaicans laden 2004 edition of Two 77 Splash and the German based production factory Germaica were suddenly a force to be reckoned with.

Ofcourse there are always exceptions, but fact is that, apart from the english (whom often use a productions style I'm not very fond of...)no other country ever fully satisfied my needs for good reggae. Not even when I was visiting the good continent of Africa, was I blown away by new sounds.

However, ever since the Germans broke big, the floodgate of good productions seems to be wide open. More and more good reggae keeps coming at us from all over Africa, Germany, France and even...the Netherlands! Maybe the Germaicans opened up some eyes? Or is reggae THE new trend and is everyone just copying a style? Whatever it may be, the result is good new music, with everybody putting in some of his own and in doing so making reggae a true uniting force once again.

Here are some tips for your listening pleasure:

Various Artists: African Rebel Music (OutHere Records)

Presenting hits from 10 countries ‘African Rebel Music – Roots reggae and dancehall’ gives a first insight into the new reggae dancehall movement in Africa (including a very informative 24 page booklet). So far only two reggae artist have had real international success: Lucky Dube and Alpha Blondy. A new generation has long arrived but although many of them are stars at home and regulars in their local charts, this compilation is the first chance for most of them to release their music internationally. Personale fave is the H20 featuring Zubz take on the mighty "WorldJam" riddim, produced by none other then Jazzy B of Soul II Soul.

more info and mp3's here

Ziggy: So Much Reasons (Rock 'n Vibes)

Hailing from the Netherlands and a future star on the rise. So Much Reasons, Ziggi's forth coming debut album is a hot mixture of dancehall and modern reggae and is set to be released on February 6th 2006. The album includes the hits "In My Head" featuring Shanaira Rey, "High Time", "Call Me", the remix of the international hit "Notorious" along side Turbulence and "Inna Mi Bed" featuring "Energy God" Elephant Man. You can listen to this youngster via the link below, but make sure to catch him on the stage as well. Who knows, in the future you might be one of those lucky bastards who can say that "I was there..."

More info and mp3's here

Various Artists: Sky is the limit (emi japan)

This one is a bit older (from 2002 actually) but still does the job quite well. The Japanese love reggae. The are notorious for paying huge amounts of money on e-bay for original 7"s and also famous for having the biggest collections of reggae music in the world. On top of that, the last dancehall queen contest in Jamaica (a BIG event!) was won by...a Japanese girl. Not to everybody's satisfaction, so much is clear after reading the dozens of forums complaining about it. This cd, however, shows us that they also know how to make hardhitting dancehall. Though some of the tracks are produced by Jamaican producers, it sounds like it was made for the Japanese market only. Seldom was dancehall this tough...The Japanese lyrics even make it filthier although I don't have a clue what they are singing about.

Listen here (reading info might be a bit tough i think..)

Various 7"s: Rasta Pickney (Old Capital)

And these nice gems come from: France! And they sound good. Not astonishingly different due to big Jamaicans artists riding the riddim (a.o Turbulence, Lutan Fyah and Lorenzo) but still very worthwile listening to because the french built riddim is heavy heavy heavy. This is a promising start of this new label. Keep an eye on these freshmen!

Info and mp3's here

January 26, 2006


The story of the mighty Studio One imprint, founded by legendary producer Coxsone Dodd in 1956 and home to many greats such as the Skatalites,Bob Marley, Jackie Mittoo and Sugar Minott is probably common knowledge by now (if not: watch the great documentary made and released by SoulJazz Records). Even if one has just a slight interest in reggae music it's impossible not to stumble upon Studio One, because sooner or later you're bound to hear a song, an artist or even a riddim that was originally created in the legendary studios on Brentford Road. Thanks to the hard work of many great labels such as Heartbeat and SoulJazz records we are able to listen to hard to find or unreleased gems. Thanks to avid fans such as Rob Chapman, we know what the original 7"s look like, which albums are bogus or bootlegged (for instance: all Trojan albums containing Studio One releases are illegal), and which items we should be on the lookout for.

The story about the label might be well known, as stated above, but how do you cover a fifty years period of reign in one documentary or even in a series of samplers? It can not be done. Luckilly there are thousand and thousands of interesting websites on the internet dealing with nothing but Studio One. A little bit of crawling keeps you informed and always yawning for more.
Two new interesting sites just hit the web:
Studio One heartbeat contains a timeline, wallpapers and some interesting links, but most of all: it contains every Studio One album released by the Heartbeat label and, here comes the good part: you can listen to all of the songs!

Studio One Style contains way too much information about 7"s, 10"s, 12"s, artists, new releases, old releases and more. It's good but unfortunately also for a great deal written in french. Not my strongest language I'm afraid..

thanks to dancecrasher for the links.

Also be on the lookout for two great new releases on the SoulJazz imprint containing nothing but goodies. These come highly recommended!!

Studio One Soul part 2
(click to see tracklisting and info)

and: Sound Dimension: Jamaica Soul Shake part 1

January 06, 2006

Psychedelic Deep Funk is Gonna Get You!

The Invaders - Spacing Out

Deep Deep Funk! If you like the sound of the NY Desco/Daptone label (eg Sugarman Three), you gotta dig this. All instrumental, funky congas & flute, an occasional latin touch, psychedelic echoes..... just how I like it Baby! Some say it's a bunch of Americans jamming in the Europe at the end of the Sixties, others claim it as hailing from The Bermudas, released in 1970. Mysterious origins always ad a nice touch to a rare (as in hard-to-obtain) funk album.....The original album on Duane Records seems to have been on ebay for $ 700 (personally I hate, and would never buy, any record over $ 50). The re-issue on BadAssss Records (mine is white-labelled) is way more affordable and probably sounds better......includes two versions of the James Brown classic It's my Thing and The Meters' monstertune Look a Py Py....

Tracklist It's Your Thing, Lost Time, The House That Jack Built, Look A Py Py, Bossa Blue, Spacing Out, Where We Are, Latin Lips, It's Your Thing Part Two.

Credits Congas: Sturgis, Trumpet: Ralph, Sax & Flute: Lloyd, Bass: Stan, Guitar: John, Drums: Mike, Engineered by Ian, Produced by Jean-Paul.

January 04, 2006


2006 is going to be the year in which M.I.A. and LADY SOVEREIGN are bound to hit the charts big time. And they deserve it, 'cause they know how to ride a riddim and how to be creative without selling out. Back in the eighties it was up to SISTER NANCY to do just the same. Although she hit big with the "Bam Bam" single on the mighty stalag riddim, she never made it into the big league. But recently she reappeared on the stage in the USA, showing the public her skills are still very, very good and...up to date!. SoulJazz Records (always a big fan of Sister Nancy tunes) recognized this immediately and are now the proud owner of her comeback tune, produced by Kid 606 and Dj Rupture. I'm certain this won't hit the charts, but I'm also certain that I'm very keen to play this 12" record in the dancehall. Because it competes with the sisters of today, big time!!! Listen here