MAGIC MIX

disco . italo . cosmic . disco-not-disco . boogie

WEEK STARTING 15 Feb

Genre pick of the week Cover of Mediterranean Africa by Fabrizio Fattori.
You've heard of Baldelli & Loda right? Well, while Fabrizio Fattori might not have scored the same international acclaim for his work behind the turntable, the Italian did kill it in the studio, and this seven track set brings together the Afro-cosmic magic from his 1985 releases on London Records. Perfect for zero gravity dancing, eyeball licking and your next vision quest.
Sweatband carefully placed on the brow, that swift bathroom speedball pulling you this way and that, we begin. "Running On The Nile" condenses everything you love about the Cosmic / Balearic scene into five flawless minutes of loose limbed passion. Tribal shouts and tumbling drums, chizzed up basslines, faux brass, mallets and a seriously euphoric chorus! The pace drops a little for the scat-heavy fusion frenzy "Leg Pulling", a mutant cousin of "Stop Bajon", before "Black Babe" locks into slo-mo fist pumps and sax-led swooning across two versions. (N.B. the last time I went tops off in a club was when I heard Baldelli drop this in Milan - Patch)
Slow-jam unlocked, Fabrizio keeps the magic coming, cooking up the totally tribal Stargate tackle "Bara-Hum-Ba", a break-fuelled exotic stomper with ace pianos and chanted vox. In dub form "Leg Pulling" is imbued with new, ultra-Balearic powers while the cinematic, dramatic and dreamy cosmic thrust of "Babihe" sounds like the first time you came up. Bliss!

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Best Records continue to smash it out the park, following a recent string of essential Italo and boogie reissues with a heavy LP combining Fab Fattori's two in-demand cosmic EPs with a little bit of unreleased material. Perfect for tops off dancing in a mirror tiled room.

E-Versions #1

Kahn / Mingo

    After a string of heavy duty remixes in 2013, Mark E enjoyed a winter break spending quality solo time in the studio to launch the E-version series on Merc. The inaugural release sees Mark making his return to the world of edits he took by storm in 2009. On the A-side, he applies a punchy, peak time rework to Chaka Khan's peerless anthem of female empowerment, "I'm Every Woman". True to form, he rocks a pounding looped intro, subtly dropping conga and bongo rolls, guitar licks and vocal snippets to tease the crowd into a frenzy ("R+B Drunkie" style) before letting loose with the anthemic vocals. The production is perfectly balanced, powered up and filter to make a killer peaktime groove. On the flip, Mark offers something irresistable to the techno crowd in the form of Mingo. A persistent bass loop is driven on by the rapid fire ride, while the smudged and pitched down vocal forms a trippy duet with a depth charge synth note. Just when the intensity is about to take its toll, the Merc man stitches in some rattling ethnic percussion to offer a moment of respite before twisting the beats out again for the close. 


    Official remastered reissue from the original tapes of The Fresh Band's highly sought-after 1984 classic 'Come Back Lover'. Produced by The Strikers' Darryl Gibbs and mixed to maximum effect by the one and only Tony Humphries, this super cool disco boogie floor-burner made it big in the Underground dance clubs of Chicago & New York, receiving heavy rotation from legendary DJs like Mancuso, Larry Levan and Ron Hardy. This special re-release from Best Italy contains for the first time all the four versions mixed by the legendary Tony Humphries : including the astounding Tony Humphries Vocal, Dub, Remix and the rarest Dub Remix which moves towards a deeper, headier groove, with atmospheric echoing vocals and mind-blowing piano breaks.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Absolutely vital groove music on the boogie / proto house overlap. Mixed by the one and only Tony Humphries, this bad MF throws out dojo moves in the heart of the dancefloor. All four versions should tickle your pickle, but the bass-heavy bump of the "Dub Remix" is on another level of trouser-tenting excellence.

    Chaka...Chaka...Chaka...Chaka Khan! That's right folks, the queen of funk returns, only this time it's her who's doing the rocking! Her first solo LP in twelve years, "Hello Happiness" sets Chaka's timeless voice (Still impeccable) to an empowering collection of songs featuring cutting edge production from co-writer Switch (proving there's more to life than fidget!).
    The Piccadilly camp flipped its collective lid when the obscenely limited 12" of Fatback-sampling lead single "Like Sugar" landed last summer (Massive props to Jason Boardman for dropping it at the Nado 20th Birthday!), and now a full length LP is here, I'm struggling to contain myself. If the cynical out there wrote "Like Sugar" off as a fluke, they're about to get slapped silly by the finest funk record in years.
    Opening salvo "Hello Happiness" and "Like A Lady" (check out those Belle Epoque strings) update Chaka's classic sound with some pristine modern production, while "Don't Cha Know" erupts into some hard rocking, trap rattling, gospel organ mutant made for scaring the neighbours. Skipping to the flip, the rough and tough funk continues via "Too Hot", this time with a NOLA blues flavour which is frankly irresistible. Next up it's "Like Sugar", the Fatback chopping, B-boy big beat hit of the last decade, not just a high point on this LP, but on recent pop music in general. "Isn't That Enough" finds Switch exploring his Black Ark fascination, cooking up a humid dub disco groove for Chaka to turn inside out with her powerhouse vocals. Last but not least, we're in end of night soul territorie via the "Long Train Running", "M.P.B."  vibe of "Ladylike", a sultry, snaking shuffler for dancing upclose. 
    Long live the Queen!





    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: After over a decade out of the limelight, a Chaka Khan comeback seemed unlikely, and the quality of "Like Sugar" took everyone by surprise (best pop single of the teens?). Well, that was no flash in the pan, and this whole LP bangs, covering a variety of styles, showcasing Chaka's sensational voice, and marrying the vintage and cutting edge perfectly.

    Kumasi was a group comprised of Ray Phiri, Jabu Sibumbe, Isaac Mtshali and Lloyd Lelosa. Sometime between their formation as The Cannibals (*needing reissues*) and the almighty group Stimela, Kumasi released one album and a couple of singles. The artists had contracts under Gallo and couldn't reveal that they were linked to the music in any way, leading Kumasi to have only a brief mysterious run in the early 80s.
    But the secret's out! This release presents a collection of five songs from their incredibly rare full length LP, and adds to that their version of the South African classic, ‘Picnic’. Pressed as a 2x12” compilation, sounding incredible! Kumasi brings a unique blend of disco funk with that special South African tinge.
    Ray Phiri died in 2017 - this album goes out in his dedication.




    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: All the bloggers and deep diggers rejoice - Smiling C are here with a reissue of Kumasi's dubby, Afro-disco masterpiece "I Know You Feel It". Jazzy chord progressions, infectious grooves, sleazy synths and rock action abound on this frisky biscuit, take a bite and shake a leg.

    Well they got the title right on this one didn't they: "Confuse The Marketplace" brings together the three CD bonus tracks from "45:33", but all have also been previously released on vinyl too - yes, you knew you'd seen them somewhere before. The EP kicks off with the brilliant "Freak Out" (on the flip of Harvey's mix of "All My Friends") - a better tribute to Edwin Starr's "Get Up Whirlpool" you will not find. Here's the difference though, where as the original mix was blended into "Starry Eyes" here you get a little break so the drum solo won't mess up your mix. Over on side-B we have the Onastic Dub of "North American Scum" (previously promo-only) and last up is the absolutely brilliant "Hippie Priest Bum Out" ("North American Scum" B-side cut). Out of press for a decade, but still fresh as it gets. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Long live LCD. Just days after I had the pleasure of their recent "Electric Lady Sessions", New York's finest repress this classic EP of B-sides and remixes. "Freak Out / Starry Eyes" is as good as anything they've recorded, that Onanistic Dub is a triumph of kraut-laced nu-disco and "Hippie Priest" is full on live-jam Fall tackle. Ace!

    Payfone

    I Was In New York / A Prayer For Maya Angelou

    Payfone bring a double header of NYC styled heat for the inaugural release on their newly launched Otis Records. Marrying modern boogie and classic R&B, with cosmic leanings and Balearic touches, Payfone manage to keep all the essence of the early days whilst bringing a contemporary swagger to the floor.

    Each element in "I Was In New York" gets the space it deserves. Palm muted guitars and sashaying synth echoes flutter over the top of a strutting slap bass courtesy of Giulio Granchelli. A simplicity that sings - simultaneously giving your mind the space it needs to drift off into a daydream of sunsets over cityscapes. Introspective, meditative and innocent, Dayna Talley’s spoken word vocals lull listeners into memories of tranquil times. Set to be one of 2019’s standout songs, its refreshingly original and sure to cut through the noise.

    The B side, "A Prayer For Maya Angelou" takes a Balearic boat out across calming seas. Gravitating around a metallic, pulsating synth, modulated to bounce at points and brood at others, mystic flurries drift in the distance, as pads wash across the horizon. Len Xiang’s melancholic tale reverberates throughout, with those sweet sax sounds from Billy Brooks Paul and a spring reverbed guitar riffing off into the ocean - elevating this into pure paradise.


    Three 1982 disco classics from boogie trio Plush (formed under the guidance of Angela Winbush, René Moore and Bobby Watson), get the official, remastered & reissue treatment from the original tapes.

    Opening up the EP, an Angela & Rene original "Free & Easy" is taken on by the Plush troupe, with the legendary Tee Scott providing a trademark extended mix. It kicks off with cosmic synths that dissipate into heavy funk, electric bass riffs, whilst scorching top lines and choice guitar licks trade off over the top. Scott’s magic is clear to see in the composition of this extended mix. A man who clearly knew how to work a dancefloor, his use of breakdowns especially, extending the anticipation and power the track commands on its dancers. From the bass breaks that weave in modulated synths, to those that utilize the glorious sustained piano chords, cutting to just vocals and percussion before everything is added back in for ultimate dancefloor elation.

    First up on the B side, "We Got The Love", a more soulful, slowed down tip where staccato guitar plucks and chunky slap bass marries with warm Rhodes chords, and lush vocal harmonies blend with the power of Siedah Garrett commanding the lead vocals. A passion ingrained in their voices that cannot be taught, hanging in the air, as they hang onto their phrases.

    Lastly, "Livin For Your Love" a boogie-based serenade written by Herman Chainey and Tony L. Phillips, intertwines Phillips’ deep dulcet tones with Plush’s backing. Add in a dose of pure ‘80s bass synth, twanging funk flashes and juicy bass guitar ripples and you’ve got a recipe sure to woo any wandering hearts out there. 


    Prescription Pricing Authority

    1-2-1 / Lucky Duck

      The Prescription Pricing Authority duo hails outta London town and delivers the second 7" inch release ever on Gamm. Big, ballsy disco occupies side A, rich in strings, timpani and fat ass bass. It's the kinda raw disco that DJs like Zaf (Love Vinyl) and Mark Grusane (Chicago) like to spin out in the field. On the flip we take a jazz-funk tangent, "Lucky Duck" riding a sophisticated arrangement full of wild flute lines, rampant slab bass and wacked out wah-wah guitar, not to mention the dozens of keyboard lines that litter the mix. Surely big for the Southport Weekender crowd and all the soul all day traditions. Pop yer dancing shoes and hit the floor!

      Red Astaire

      Follow Me / The Wildstyle

      A beast of a track here that was pretty ubiquitious around 2003. Main elements are a catchy xylophone melody and a D'Angelo / Method Man sample lifted from 'Left & Right' - It pleased many punters with its perfect blend of bossanova and suave soul beats. This was on constant rotation back then and many will be very happy to see it officially reissued, rediscovered and hopefully on some instances, discovered by new audiences. 
       
      B Side has to be a James Brown sample - that shout says it all. Proper breakbeat / funk affair on this one. The piano loop is a monster on itself and the vinyl floritudes give it a raw feel that few edits achieve. Total classic. 
       
      Both sides are gold. No need to listen to this one. Just buy it, you will not regret it. Limited quantities! 


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Sil says: Few edits reach the category of classics. Here you have two on one single 7 incher. Official reissue oozing warmth and energy left and right!

      Eddie Russ was an important figure to emerge from the vibrant underground jazz scene that thrived in Detroit in the early 1970s, existing in the cultural and economic desolation of the city after the departure of Motown in the late 1960s. This scene included the musical collective Tribe (including members Wendell Harrison, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Harold McKinney and Doug Hammond) and Kenny Cox’s Strata Records. Eddie Russ’s ‘Fresh Out’ was first released in 1974 on the independent Jazz Masters record label. As well as including the classic jazz dance cut ‘The Lope Song’, Eddie Russ’s ‘Fresh Out’ featured the debut of the group The Mixed Bag who subsequently recorded for both Tribe and Strata Records.

      “If there was a mission it was to create something like absurd office funk,” says Stats’ Ed Seed, recalling the birth of his band. He was working a series of banal London office jobs, but rather than switch off or despair, Seed used this conventionally sterile backdrop for creative inspiration. “It was about taking things that are considered boring or are overlooked,” he says. “If you stare at anything long enough, it becomes weird.”

      Staring into the infinite oddness of office life was interrupted when Seed “fluked” his way into La Roux’s band - which itself proved a further inspiration for the evolution of Stats. “I'd always been in scrappy indie bands,” he recalls. “Then I met Elly and her crew and thought ‘wow’. This kind of pop music, I always thought it only happened over in Hammersmith, you had to have tens of thousands of pounds and a major label. But I realised you didn’t need a huge budget to make something more stylish than your average band.”

      This was a turning point for Seed, recognising he could create his own contemporary version of DIY art pop. “That gave me confidence,” he reflects. “I wanted Stats to be quite theatrical. I wanted it to be strangely glamorous, in a Roxy Music or Pet Shop Boys sort of way. Something that’s glamorous and quite silly. Those bands are very serious about being very silly.”

      Debut album “Other People’s Lives”, recorded at RAK studios with the full Stats band (Ed Seed – vox, guitar, John Barrett -drums, Stu Barter - bass, Duncan Brown - guitar, Nicole Robson – keyboards, Iso Waller-Bridge – keyboards, vox) is about investigating the gaps in the stories we tell about our lives. Says Ed, “the world encourages me to experience my life as a narrative: a story in which I am the lead character, going on a journey, moving towards the discovery and realisation of an authentic self. Other people’s lives are presented to me as coherent, relatable stories, full of passion and travel and wonder. But my story makes no sense: it is full of contradictions and formless subplots, and I barely feel like the same actor from one day to the next - let alone find any meaning in it.”

      Musically Other People’s Lives is in many ways a time-stamp of a record, something that captures the now, the fleeting, the fickle and the forgotten – like that perfect moment lost on the dance floor. Yet the album avoids being tied to a time and place, ricocheting between 70s art rock, 80s synth grooves and cosmic disco, presented honestly and experimentally via the all-encompassing prism of pop music.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: Duncan from Dutch Uncles hipped me to Stats a few months back (Memphis Industries fam innit), and I was on board instantly. Following the same absurdist pop route as Fujiya & Miyagi or Yacht, but with a touch of Roxy Music glamour, some Talking Heads vocal nods and a whole lot of DFA-style indie dance grooving, Stats are 2019's answer to Hot Chip, Metronomy and Holy Ghost.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive limited edition neon pink vinyl.

      Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Two sizzling South African boogie tracks from Kabasa’s Tata Sibeko. A killer producer, arranger and bass wizard, Tata channeled the gloomy current affairs landscape of 1985 into a glimmering Afro-synth nugget. As SA pop embraced 1980s synth sounds, Maxi Singles on 12-inch vinyl became a new canvas of expression with wider grooves for fat beats and extended mixes that suited dancefloors.
      The supergroups of the 1970s fragmented into solo recording artists with the likes of Harari’s Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse releasing his seminal “Burnout” single in 1984. Former Kabasa frontman Tata Sibeko dropped “It’s A Mess” in 1985, addressing the world’s Cold War climate with an appeal to “learn to love each other” and “save ourselves from catastrophe.” The B-side “Afro Breakdance” marked the evolution of Tata’s Afro-global sensibilities from “Afro Funkin’” that had appeared five years earlier on Kabasa’s self-titled debut in 1980. Tata Sibeko (RIP) passed away in 2017 after approving the restoration and reissue of this single. This release is dedicated to his kindness, charm and creative zeal.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: Was there a more OTT decade than the 80s? I think not. This 1985 mover sees former Kabasa frontman prove dry ice drama made it as far as South Africa with a sizzling synth funker about the cold war. Swtich it up on the flip for an e-e-e-lectro flyer called "Afro Breakdance".

      Alex Virgo drops the first release for his brand new Label "Pomme Frite", an imprint influenced by his love of disco & his keen ear for sampling in house music. If this first release is anything to go by, then it's the classic, loopy, 'French Touch' style of house music that Alex Virgo is looking to update for the new millennial.

      Main room AF and possessing that incendiary energy that should ensure repeated plays at all the global dance hotspots, three tracks of peak time house pleasure that conjure up vivid memories of catching DJ Sneak, Thomas Bangalter or Cassius at Manchester's Red Light club night. Funky house became such a dirty word as the noughties progressed, but these three tracks demonstrate just how mega the combination of catchy and killer disco loops, mixed with the most kinetic house beats can be. Word! 


      Melodies International brings forward its latest disco 12” reissue single and another You’re a Melody peak time classic: Shahid Wheeler – Just One Dance Before You Go. The song was written and recorded by producer James Hartnett – having studied music theory and composition back in high school and recognised back then for producing a charted northern soul spin in the UK titled “Hipit” in 1976 with his studio band “Hosanna”, it’s in 1978 that Hartnett produced and self released the scarcer and more compelling “Just One Dance Before You Go” which he refers to as his masterpiece. With a fairly stripped back line up for a disco tune including a rhythm section, hammond organ, horns and vocals, Hartnett manages to do so much through seemingly simple but clever arrangements and thumping, contagious energy. Hartnett had also invited friend and singer Leroy Shahid Wheeler to perform lead vocals, who’s signature high pitched falsetto lifts the whole operation above ground – a true feel good party anthem! 

      Lenny Williams

      Changes - Joaquin Joe Claussell Edits


        Joe Claussell is at it again, always searching for that groove and that re-edit that has yet not been discovered. Always going for under the radar stuff that deserves to be amplified and retouched. 

        On A side you get the original with plenty of soulful disco to fill that big room in that mega cool club in your home town, five minutes of blissful craftmanship that Joaquin is gonna extend to a whopping 9 minutes affair on the B Side. Here the focus is on the break for me. A groovy, hypnotic and very organic attack on the original take. If edits are your thing, you know that there are good ones and bad ones. This one is in the former camp and not just because it is a Claussell one but because it inmensely improves the original track. 

        The price tag is dear but this track is worth every penny and it will become a rarity in its own right. Bravo, mr Claussell once again!

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Sil says: So far, Claussell has not failed. There is not an edit that he has not mastered and nailed. This one here is no exception. Let it go at your own peril!

        Various Artists

        Africa Airways Five (Brace Brace Boogie 1976 - 1982)


        It's that time again. The skies are calling and its time to board our trusty jet for the 5th outing of Africa Seven's premiere class compilation Africa Airways. For volume 5 its time to brace yourselves for 10 slices of Afro boogie goodness.

        We up the boogie time groove with The Black Bells Group (the first band of lead singer Sidney 'Patrick Duteil' who went on to become the godfather of French hip-hop and a well know TV presenter. Here the groove is swinging... the perfect opener. Next up is German-based Cameroonian musician and cousin of Manu Dibango, Charly Kingson with this bass-synth boogie stomper. Big brass and jazzy trumpets add layers of sparkle too.

        Next its time for some highlife inspired boogie from Ghanian Gyedu Blay Amboley. Highlife fused with reggae, disco, boogie and jazz just as the lyrics say.

        Next we pair up with Africa Seven friend Eko once more under his Dikalo guise. The Cameroonian master musician is on fine form with his heavy brass and deep percussion with a driving afro boogie groove. To round off Side A its off to Cameroon again to groove with Jean 'Mekongo President'. Think Bernard 'Chic' Edwards on the bass with some African style and you can see it's the bottom end groove and afrobeat drums that power this gem along.

        We open the second side slowly and purposefully with the highly sought after 'French Girl' from Fotso. Drippy bass synth grooves and a wondrous percussion and drum shuffle pair with piano riffs to make this a unique sounding track. Our friend Tala AM is next with the foot-stomping 'Sugar Lump'. JK Mandengue is next with most definitely the catchiest chorus you will hear today. Nigerian Jide Obe gets synth and clavinet rich with his doe to sensible dating advice 'Too Young'. We close off the album with a track from label good friend Jo Bisso under his Mulamba guise. Sounding like a long lost TV theme from a late night TV show circa 1977. Let's get down and boogie with the brand new dance in town folks... the Dashiki.

        Until Volume Six takes flight it is time to unbuckle those seat belts folks.


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