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ATHENS OF THE NORTH

Athens of the north is not just here to release great music but to support our artist development and experimentation, to this end we always try to bring good people together to work on new music. This LP fuses two massive talents, for the first time to AOTN we introduce House and Techno legend Linkwood, joining him is one of the |UKs most respected Jazz Artists Greg Foat, who will need no introduction to AOTN fans

'Linkwood & Foat' is the first LP to be recorded in the new 'Athens of the North Studio', which was designed and built specifically for our artists so that they can create without the time pressures or expenses of studio hire elsewhere. With no fixed plans, no rules or expectations, the pair relaxed in the new studio and started making music. The result is very special indeed

Linkwood had just returned from walking in the wilds of an Ibiza summer and Greg had similarly been immersed on the sun drenched south coast of the Isle of wight. This freedom and sense of space saturates the grooves of the LP juxtapositioned against a deeper late night basement club feel they both love so much, the pull between nightlife and the freedom of nature. It's extroversion and introversion, the freedom and escapism of the two seemingly opposing environments permeates this recording.

LaRombé is one of the most talented songwriters to have graced our eardrums at Piccadilly. Having gone through much of his tape archive it obvious what a powerhouse of song writing and composition this man is. LaRombé music is of the strongest calibre all the way, from his first release in 1979 to present day. All of his Soul, Disco & R&B stands the test of time. It's easy to have one record that with luck ends up great but another thing to write record after record with great hooks you can't leave alone. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: LA soul writer LaRombé is on the notoriously good label for all things funk and soul Athens of the North. 'From Philly' is an archive of all his best stuff, with the hit single ‘You’re The Best’ which created a storm of fiery soul and R&B, it’s a favourite at Piccadilly!

Recording at Malcom Catto's analogue studio has been an ambition of Greg's for a long time, not only for the studio itself but for Malcolm's skill using this vintage equipment, very few people can achieve such an incredibly big sound.

Earlier this year we grabbed the chance to get the full Greg Foat group joined by Binker Golding (Binker and Moses) on Tenor Saxophone, Malcolm Catto on drums and Hugh Harris (The Kooks) on Guitar on the session.

Moving to a more rhythmic space, you could call it Jazz funk or Fusion, but labels suck so just listen and appreciate the pure sense of space Malcom achieves with this recording. Instruments float in space, aided by the Vintage EMI desk and a host of valve equipment which has taken Malcolm a lifetime to collect. In amongst the more rhythmic pieces we also have some classic Foat style compositions; 'Lake Kussharo' and 'The Dreaming Jewels' as emotive and personal as ever, a feeling that can only be expressed and articulated in music. These past few years will no doubt be looked back on with great favour in musical history, with prolific and high quality output in all his various projects this LP is his crowning achievement of 2019. A strong year indeed!




STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Foat without Hampshire? Still a delectable prospect I assure you, as the esteemed UK jazz luminerie moves through fusion and funk with a confident stride. Warmed through some classic vintage equipment this is raw Foat!

Athens of the North is back on the boogie tip with top Miami rarity MYTH. Recorded and mixed in Fort Lauderdale in 85 both the original 12s are pretty rare and both strong. We decided as it had never been on 45 and suits the format to d a little AOTN magic so here we are. you know what to do.




Companion 45 to the forthcoming unreleased LP of L.A soul singer, composer and producer LaRombé. We transferred all of larombes tapes in Holywood and pulled sa ton of Amazing track starting with this the original full-length masters of Modern Soul Grail 'You're The Best' (Running an extra one and a half mins) flipped with a previously unreleased track 'Train Of Thought. You know the score, 6k for an OG.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Finallllllyyy! The long awaited LaRombé is here at last. Full on funky-goodness, so much energy it could fill a room instantly. Make sure you play this one nice and loud!

Part two of our nod to the world of library from Athens of the North introduce Greg Foat journeys into the world of synthesis with good friend James Thorpe. This new LP was recorded in the old Bees Studio on the Isle of Wight earlier this year, a special, different piece of work which I was delighted to receive on ¼ inch tape without warning. Greg's output continues to be prolific without ever tiring, he never plays it safe and is always looking forward whilst having an ear for our musical-heritage.





James McKenzie & McKenzie Brothers

James McKenzie & McKenzie Brothers

Like a fine 40-year old whisky, the layers on this record and influences are complex, nuanced & Layered. You might taste something different but here are my tasting notes...

The Nose - Notes of Bobby Cauldwell, Steely Dan, David Crosby a definite Sun Drenched yacht folk dram.

The Body - I can taste strong notes of Jimmy Webb and Aztec Camera not present on the nose, this a much deeper dram than initially nosed, I can see myself enjoying this in front of a warm fire.

Finish - Long finish on this one, I can taste the Miami tarmac, the Beach and salt water, the nightclubs and linen clothing, Don Johnson's dirty washing.

Whisky tasting over, both the albums this LP was compiled from were recorded at Coconuts recording Studio in Miami, notable for Miami Sound Machine recordings and Blood, Sweat and Tears. I have been into these for a long time and whilst not the rarest AOTN re-issue to date (although that may change now the words out) they deserve to be recognised for the solid LPs that they are. Just buy it and float away.



Captured during two sunny afternoons in September 2017, The fourth LP by the much respected and collected duo, Hampshire and Foat, takes us to a new level of direct performance. Recorded live, with no overdubs, in two churches situated in Saint Lawrence on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, and mixed direct live onto a vintage stereo Nagra IV-S and AKG C24 Stereo microphone, every nuance of the performance is laid bare. Only the ambience of the room and the artists' skill make the recording what it is.

For a brace of sun soaked days, Warren and Greg were joined by their long time musical partners, Phil Achille and Eric Young, and a cadre of local musicians and friends, creating an album that truly captures the magical ambience of the churches and surrounding landscape - even the birds in the Church steeple can be heard at times. Tracks are named after local landmarks, secret beaches, and rural paths that Warren and Greg hold dear. The duo wanted to make something special and collectable for this unique ambient jazz folk gem, so the cover has been produced in a beautiful late '60s private press style and, limited to 500 copies on vinyl.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Recorded live, Saint Lawrence captures the duo’s ambient core with this stunning fourth album, matched with beautiful faded artwork of the church. Peaceful and captivating this release is one to treasure.

Gratitude's rare Canadian disco 12" is well know to the heads, there is also a VERY rare 7" with a slightly alternate mix that is almost entirely unknown (not even listed on Discogs).

'We Are Here To Party' is a driving Deepfunk disco banger in the vein of King Tut. On the flip 'Loving You' is a Chic influenced disco production as strong as the A-side, always good when its a solid flip as well. We have taken the 12" Versions and put it on to 45, the forthcoming David Haffner compilation will have the even rarer 7" Version on it. Back into disco turf, loads more on the way.




This Hampshire & Foat project should not come as too much of a surprise to those familiar with Greg & Warren's music, influenced heavily by not just Jazz but the library sound of the 60s and 70s along with film soundtracks from the same golden era. Greg& Warren are avid collectors of this music, Greg sends me links night and day to LPs he has picked up digging on his travels. This constant search sends him down new musical pathways and often sparks a whole new concept for projects. Warren and Greg are both fiercely creative talented individuals which means we have to keep them working, a challenge for us all, but the music rewards the effort many times over. Side one is five tracks in very distinct styles, musical paintings for the big screen. The vast sound of the Japanese influenced Jasmine, The Spaghetti Western melancholy of Mariposa Lily, the call to action that is Antonio's Theme, The Breezy Vintage sports car in the sun that Coastal Drivepaints, and Lost in Nostalgia, a late night Poirotesk piece.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: If "The Honeybear" saw the band languidly exploring an enchanted woodland by day, then "Night Shade" encapsulates the magic of said woodland at night; full of beguiling spirits and esoteric wanderings...

Millie says: Hampshire & Foat have yet again created a captivating album, this one is clearly packed with things that have influenced that and the result is a beautiful mix of ambient and folk.

Athens of the North bring us this precious tape extracted from the Sony vault for the first time since the records was released in 1980. A floaty disco masterpiece that has been on the soul scene for time but deserves a broader appreciation. Bursting with soul drenched energy this hand 7” will provide you will all you disco-soul needs and desires. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Fiery and bold, ‘Just You & Me’ is the track to get the party started. The flip side ‘Blame It on Me’ turns the dial down for a smoother calming vibe.

Feeling like you’re missing a funk shaped hole in your life? Ice’s official rare reissue soul funk jam 'Reality' via Athens of the North Records is here to cure that. Super rare modern soul, this massive boogie tune is needed in every collectors’ record shelf. First played by Ian Wright and a few others on the Deepfunk scene and was then picked up by the Northern soul scene where it flourished and made its way to being an all-time favourite.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Look no further for your new favourite funk single. Ice reveals this banging reissue to solve all the searching to be halted, this is the one you need. Smooth funky grooves and impressively swooning vocals, this is a dream.

Anthens of The North brings us more fire from Aaron Broomfield's archive. We have two sought after sides. 'I'm Gonna Miss Ya' was transferred from tapes by Aaron himself and is a brilliant boogie joint that's highly coveted on many scenes for good reason. On the flip we have got the super rare and relatively unknown 'Does Anybody Really Know' which is a Northern Soul classic dancefloor filler, smooth and cathcy this is easliest the best combination of Aaron Broomfield tracks around, pure bliss!

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Possibly the most groovy and sharp seven inch you’ll hear this year, ultimate cool vibes over here.

A Super rare disco / modern Banger to end Athens Of The North's prolific and exceptional year. Star Quake formed in Columbus, Georgia and as is always the case it seems, released this one, brilliant 7 inch and then got on with their lives as, who knows? Doctors, Lawyers, Burger flippers?
'Don't you know I love you' is a new kid on the block on the Northern scene with O.G copies easily going for over $1000 and with good reason. It's a disco floater over some brilliant bass, that no home should be without this festive season. It'll certainly be on my soundtrack and will go especially well with an Old Fashioned, I think...





Discovered about 7 years ago, when a good Mancunian friend of AOTN won a copy on ebay, this Willie Dale record changed from an expensive $500 record to a VERY expensive $4000 one almost overnight after being discovered on the Northern circuit.
It isn't a straight up Northern dance floor foot stomper though, in fact, it's pretty psyche in places, having more in common with say,  Shuggie Otis than your usual soul record.
Maybe it's because it can't be pinned down to one genre that it's blown up so much, Willie would sit comfortably in any set from soul to garage making it pretty much essential, again... 




Nubia

The Time Is Right

    'Chicano Soul Floaters' has to be one of the smaller sub genres of Disco but Nubia is probably the best example you're likely to hear this side of the Atlantic any time soon.
    It's a perfect summer record that will soundtrack your rainy, gale force wind, barbeque with aplomb.
    AOTN managed to secure the master tapes from original writer George Rivera so it sounds as good, if not better, as the day it was recorded.






    FORMAT INFORMATION

    7" Info: Just found 1 copy of this!

    JOB's musical journey started as students at the famed Booker T Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. United by a shared love of soul music and sweet harmonies, singers James Davis, Ollie Carbin, and singer-songwriter & musician Billy Bruner began to jam together and eventually formed their own band, J.O.B and, upon graduation in 1977. set to work building a reputation by playing local parties, venues and fashion shows. Very quickly the word of mouth on J.O.B became so strong that they were offered a house band gig at North Tulsa's most popular after hours spot, The Point After. During their tenure at the famed late night spot many bigger acts came to see J.O.B when in town. Tulsa's own Gap Band, Chaka Khan, and Bootsy's Rubber band all paying homage to the trio.
    Good quality quarter inch recordings from 1977 are thin on the ground so I can only imagine AOTN delight when this turned up. So, sit back grab a beer and transport yourself back to Saturday evening, 20 August 1977.

    Christopher Spraggins & The Strange Band of Rochester, N.Y released a grand total of one record. Introduced to the world by Cleveland Unlimited Records who still exist to this day, that one record failed to sell, well, anything at all really, so Strange disappeared as quickly as they arrived, until now that is.

    Our friends in (athens of) the north have cherry picked the best tracks off that long forgotten album and reissued them on every funk lovers favourite format, the glorious 7 inch.

    So, get down people, to the spaced out, trippy, disco funk of Strange and make a bunch of old dudes in Rochester NY that little bit happier and that little bit wealthier.



    Nobody

    I Saw You / Heaven's Love

    Mind blowing Minneapolis boogie, there is so much to this story but let's start with their original 1982 press release:

    "Hot group, NOBODY, definitely going somewhere!

    During the 1960s the American popular music scene was overtaken and dominated throughout most of the decade by a creative surge emanating from Detroit. "The Sound Of Young America" was Motown. As Motown declined another inspired voice took up the slack. Under the direction of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Philadelphia International, aka "The Sound Of Philadelphia" (TSOP), became the new voice under the early and mid-70s.

    As is becoming quite apparent, the 1980s belong to the Twin Cities. Most people thought it would stop with Prince. It hasn't. A new band called Nobody is making sure that it doesn't. And although the group has been wrapped in mystery ever since they started just four months ago, their recently released demo tape (which will shortly be pressed on vinyl) is a monster that has music insiders buzzing with enthusiasm, "Right now nobody knows who we are. Once we become established, however, we will be casting a highly creative shadow that will be profound, and that other people will have to live up to," says the group.

    The band has seven members: two vocalists-one male and two keyboard players, one guitar, bass and drums. All but one of the members are from the Minneapolis / St. Paul area, providing how fertile our sometimes mild little town can be. They've all had a diverse amount of experience-from jazz to funk - but their music doesn't fit any particular category. Some of Nobody's members even started out in the church, which gave their music a genuinely soulful feeling that can't be denied.

    Nobody was primarily put together by the female lead vocalist; a lady who's sung with manyTwin City jazz and gospel greats. But beyond anything else the band is a team. A team with a mission. A mission to bring quality music to the community. Many of you will soon get to judge the sounds of their debut songs for yourself. KMOJFM is getting ready to add the single "I Saw You" to its playlist, and WLOL's music director said he "loved it." Along with the airplay will be an appearance on Scott Thompson's "Showcase" on KWTN

    Meanwhile the group's manager, Jordanna Gold is keeping busy on both coasts attempting to hook up a deal with one of the major labels for this dynamic, multi-talented group that many people say will be busting out by grammy time."


    Starting out in late 1960s Chicago as The Fantastic Epics, the young, small group serviced dives of the oft-romanticised Chitlin' Circuit - with all its attendant racial tensions and segregations, rubber-cheque promises and 45 calibre resolutions - before being split up by the military draft. Former Rasputin's Stash band member, Paul N. Coleman himself narrowly escaped transportation to Vietnam, however, and spent his term on home soil instead, expanding his musical chops under the tutelage of an army bandsman with an ear for jazz; a little sunshine in a otherwise cloudy epoch.

    After coming out of the service the band reformed straight away. Despite apparent opportunities afforded by hard-earned major management and recording deals, the 1970s seemed to consist of little more than rare peaks of spiritual reward among expanses of misfortune. Whole album recordings were shelved following ownership squabbles between Motown and Atlantic, master tapes vanished seemingly forever and heavy nationwide touring schedules were endured without profit, the group even travelling a thousand miles to one venue they found closed due to race-riots there the day before. While supporting The Impressions in a hometown stadium, Paul was dragged offstage by overzealous front-row fans and had half the beard torn from his face. Hence the group being renamed after the infamous Rasputin. He was, as Paul plainly states: "a man very hard to kill."

    Luck eluded them still. The official new name of the band, now an eight-piece, was actually Rasputin Stash. However, after finally having inked a solid album deal with Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary in 1971, the band's mood was blighted anew as industry members struggled with its pronunciation. A label executive mistakenly added the apostrophe and 's' on its first release and the band got stuck with an irksome misnomer for the remainder of its career. The two evergreen, soulful funk albums the band recorded, an eponymous debut and 1974's 'The Devil Made Me Do It' on Gemigo Records, are rightfully hailed as classics of their day and sold respectably, but without furnishing the band with fiscal dues. An increasingly weathered Coleman would eventually drag the band's contract home to Chicago once more, to Curtis Mayfield's own Curtom imprint, for a couple of single releases around 1977 - but with another renaming of the band, to R-Stash. Before too long the Stash, however it was spelled, was spent. Paul would form another local group, Crystal Winds, for one superb, independently-released 1984 album before slipping unceremoniously out of the broader public eye and into the realms of the obscure.

    The previously unheard mid-1970s recordings here, lifted from two disparate sessions, are ostensibly a third and perfectly-realised Rasputin Stash album, if only one of several we might have otherwise heard. Well-earthed, but with a honed commercial polish, it stands as testament to the drive and talent of someone whose travails might have felled a lesser man.

    Paul, whose spirits have been renewed by a flurry of recent rediscovery and interest, is still indefatigably working for anyone who wants his music and now fully understands the achievements of which he can be justifiably proud: "One: being able and lucky enough to record your ideas and emotions on wax for the world to experience. Two: a legacy, very important. Three: to have gained the knowledge and experience to call myself, and to be, a good musician. I still keep the dream going by writing and programming my tail off in hopes to get great music to other artists. Causing or creating interest in the music industry and signing contracts is an achievement that many never, ever experience. These types of achievements, I guess, are the things that keep musicians going in a world of uncertainty."


    T'Spoon

    School Dance / Sweetness

      Athens Of The North continue to serve up the goods, hot out the Fryer (DJ Fryer of course) and straight to the platter for your disco delectation. Here, the flawlessly curated label dish out some French boogie collector's catnip in the form of the uber-rare Billy Bruner penned T'Spoon from his obscure Oil Capital Records. The originals are impossible to find even for hardened collectors, and when they do turn up they're always totally battered. Billy released two 45s on Oil Capital, and this AOTN 7" a track from each and gives them the usual fat pressing. On the A-side, "School Dance" is a P-funk burner packed with fat synth bass, smooth vocals and squelching synths, even incorporating the smurf style vocal much loved by everyone's favourite mother funkers. On the flip, "Sweetness" is a whole other kettle of fish; sunkissed, smooth and laid back soul for the lovers out there. Groovesome, hypnotic and loopy, given a different EQ, this could be a Garth Be classic.


      Born at Scotland's postpunk crossroads in 1979, Boots For Dancing kicked down the boundary walls of a played-out scene and introduced the UK to a more funky way of doing Punk. Hugely popular as a live act, often wiping the floor with the bands they were supporting, Boots was something genuinely ahead of the epoch's curve and played an important part in the vanguard of the burgeoning Post Punk and Punk-Funk movements. Sadly, Boots For Dancing's light shone brightly but briefly, though the band had connections with, and cross-pollinations between, better-known acts such as The Rezillos, The Human League and Josef K. Their boundless energy and undeniable talent never proved quite enough for great success. Great songs, even bolstered with good looks, are no guarantee of success in the fickle music business. Ultimately, business got in their way and the group disbanded in 1982 with just a few single releases in its canon, though a wealth of potential hits had been put to tape. Athens of the North is proud to present the band's 1982 album-that-never-was - an album that surely would have made them. It still sounds as fresh as it was when recorded.

      - The holy grail lost scottlish post punk LP - Extensive Sleeve Notes by Music and Theature writer Neil Cooper'

      - Additional Sleeve notes by Jo Callis (Human League /Rezillos) and Mark Hagen (BBC Radio)

      Lew Kirton

      Something Special / Love, I Don't Want Your Love

        Athens Of The North reach release number 8 in fine form, continuing to deliver nothing but dancefloor brilliance for all the rare groove, jazz-funk, soul, disco and boogie heads out there in vinyl land. This latest 7" features two essential cuts from early 80s love machine Lew Kirton previously only available on unwieldy and thinly pressed LP. Remastered for the occasion, Lew is bigger and bolder than ever, prepare for some serious seduction. On the A-side, "Something Special" gifts us a private screening of Lew Kirton's 'the amorous adventures of an early 80s club soul lothario', as the soul man hurls his big vocals over a smooth and buoyant post disco groove. There's a touch of Love Unlimited Orchestra in there, but Lew's emotion adds a raw touch which veers away from the polish of the Barry White vehicle. On the flip is Lew's straight up jack of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", a pure shameless anthemic dancefloor disco smasher that's certain to demolish dancefloors all over the globe with that catchy guitar line and Lew's massive vocals. 



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