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Ian Carr With Nucleus

Labyrinth - 2022 Reissue

    Labyrinth is dark, brooding, beat-heavy, melancholic mood music courtesy of Ian Carr and the Nucleus crew. A favourite of Madlib, it goes without saying that this is one magnificent record.

    Originally released on Vertigo in 1973, Labyrinth was never re-pressed and of course those original copies are now very tricky to score. Like all the Nucleus records, it’s aged ridiculously well and this Be With re-issue, re-mastered from the original analogue tapes, shows off just why this deserves to be back in press.

    Genius trumpeter and visionary composer Ian Carr was one of the most respected British musicians of his era. He was a true pioneer and saw the potential in fusing the worlds of jazz with rock, just as Miles Davis and The Tony Williams Lifetime did in the US. In late 1969, following the demise of the Rendell-Carr quintet, and tiring of British jazz, Carr assembled the legendary Nucleus. Regarding music as a continuous process, Nucleus refused to “recognise rigid boundaries” and worked on delivering what they saw as a “total musical experience”. We can get behind that.

    Under bandleader Carr, Nucleus existed as a fluid line-up of inventive, skilled musicians. This constant evolution and revolution was all part of the continuous musical exploration and discovery that took jazz to new levels. And the music has kept relevant. To steal a line from a recent review of our re-issue of Roots, when it comes to anything Nucleus “it’s basically already hip-hop”.

    At this point Carr had parted ways with guitarist Alan Holdsworth and as a result the Nucleus sound found itself returning to the core elements of groove and melody. Carr had become bolder and more self-confident in his compositions and it shows in the sheer ambition of Labyrinth. Composed by Carr, and with lyrics written by his wife Sandy, Labyrinth was the result of a commission from the Park Lane Group and funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain. Originally a live performance by an augmented Nucleus, some of the expanded cast were brought back for the recording sessions, including vocalist Norma Winstone. So as the front cover of the finished album says, this is literally “Nucleus Plus”.

    Labyrinth is presented as a suite, based on the ancient Greek legend of the Minotaur with musical instruments representing the various elements of the mythology. According to the LP’s original sleeve notes, the bass clarinet represents the tragic element, the trumpet represents the heroic element and the voice represents the human element. The rest of the musicians represent the two societies of Athens and Crete and their comments on the story as it unfolds.

    The album opens with the experimental, sumptuously dissonant “Origins”. Teasing strands of atmospheric bass clarinet introduce the first theme before swiftly fading out with a startling blast of staccato fanfares and big drums. Heavy. The album soon finds its rhythm as it alights on the spell-binding and groove-friendly “Bull-Dance”, showing off the best Nucleus has to offer: subtle trumpet melodies, compelling rhythms, a psych-rock vibe and tight soloing. And of course there’s Norma Winstone’s stunning wordless vocals, that also take the lead in the next track “Ariadne”, a spacey-jazz song with beautiful piano, flute and clarinet, and the only recognisable lyrics on the album. You might recognise a snatch of it being looped by Madlib on Quasimoto’s “Astro Travellin”. The first part of the improvised “Arena” closes out the first side of the album, a short experimental piece with piano and horns.

    Over on the flip-side, the powerful second part of “Arena” introduces a new theme. It swiftly builds, with vocal melodies, piano and horns all pronounced over the thick drums snapping your neck. It comes on like an alternate take on “Bull-Dance”, noisier, with a looser rhythm. The triumphant, shuffling Latin-jam “Exultation” leans on more scintillating vocals from Winstone, and a chunky counter melody from the rhythm section. It’ll get you moving.

    The final track, the haunting, twelve minute “Naxos”, is an incredible way to close out this remarkable record. A circling bass guitar loop inspiring the group to a meditative psychedelic jazz rock improvisation in a silent, Miles kind of way, with a great flugelhorn solo from Carr and an ace synth climax.

    This Be With edition of Labyrinth has been re-mastered from the original Vertigo master tapes, Simon Francis’ mastering working together with Pete Norman’s cut to weave their usual magic with these wonderful recordings. Another great Keith Davis sleeve has been restored in all its airbrushed Golden Age of comics, gatefold splendour. Complete with Minotaur of course.


    TRACK LISTING

    A1 : Origins (2:57)
    A2 : Bull Dance (8:17)
    A3 : Ariadne (7:47)
    A4 : Arena Part I (1:49)
    B1 : Arena Part II (5:12)
    B2 : Exultation (6:02)
    B3 : Naxos (12:22)

    Nucleus

    Under The Sun - 2022 Reissue

      Under The Sun is the follow-up to the astonishing Roots and contains yet more absolutely essential Nucleus material. Originally released on Vertigo in 1974, Under The Sun was never re-pressed and of course those original copies are now very tricky to score. Like all the Nucleus records, it’s aged ridiculously well and this Be With re-issue, re-mastered from the original analogue tapes, shows off just why this deserves to be back in press.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1 : In Procession (2:52)
      A2 : The Addison Trip (3:53)
      A3 : Pastoral Graffiti (3:28)
      A4 : New Life (7:01)
      A5 : A Taste Of Sarsaparilla (0:40)
      B1 : Theme 1 - Sarsaparilla (6:45)
      B2 : Theme 2 - Feast Alfresco (5:56)
      B3 : Theme 3 - Rites Of Man (9:58)

      Nucleus

      Alleycat - 2022 Reissue

        Come for the leopard, stay for the stone cold jams. Yet another thrilling, funky-prog jazzy-rock fusion beauty from Ian Carr’s Nucleus. Originally released on Vertigo in 1975, Alleycat was never re-pressed so those original copies are now very tricky to score. Like all the Nucleus records, it’s aged ridiculously well and this Be With re-issue, re-mastered from the original analogue tapes, shows off just why this deserves to be back in press.

        Genius trumpeter and visionary composer Ian Carr was one of the most respected British musicians of his era. He was a true pioneer and saw the potential in fusing the worlds of jazz with rock, just as Miles Davis and The Tony Williams Lifetime did in the US. In late 1969, following the demise of the Rendell-Carr quintet, and tiring of British jazz, Carr assembled the legendary Nucleus. Regarding music as a continuous process, Nucleus refused to “recognise rigid boundaries” and worked on delivering what they saw as a “total musical experience”. We can get behind that.

        Under bandleader Carr, Nucleus existed as a fluid line-up of inventive, skilled musicians. This constant evolution and revolution was all part of the continuous musical exploration and discovery that took jazz to new levels. And the music has stayed relevant. To steal a line from a recent review of our re-issue of Roots, when it comes to anything Nucleus “it’s basically already hip-hop”.

        Alleycat was the last Nucleus album recorded for the Vertigo label. Released in 1975, it was again meticulously produced by Jon Hiseman and is every bit as sinuous as anything else the group had recorded. As far as riff-laden accidental cop-funk goes, there’s so much energy coursing through the music that at times it sounds like a live recording. It’s pretty unbeatable.

        Uptempo opener “Phaideaux Corner” is a funk-flavoured opus with a groove that simply swaggers. This trademark Roger Sutton piece benefits from Trevor Tomkins’s percussive expertise and some excellent sax and keyboard soloing. Check out Geoff Castle on squelchy, stabbing Moog duties. Ian Carr’s elegantly laidback title track is a lengthy suite of magisterial themes. Typically complex, it still gets you hooked and is just riddled with the funk. Carr builds up his initially “straight” trumpet solo with later use of echo to mesmeric effect. And there’s some excellent wah-wah guitar shredding by Ken Shaw too. Nice.

        The second side opens with the killer “Splat” and finds Nucleus really ripping it up. A fat, funky bass guitar riff introduces us to the track and stays with us until the end. The often mangled bass groove is pushed along by rattling drums and percussion, dropping out for some restful moments of spacey calm, and along the way picking up some lengthy keyboard noodling by Castle. So so good.

        The cool “You Can’t Be Sure” is a gentle jam with Shaw on 12-string acoustic guitar, together with Carr’s muted trumpet and some marvellous fretless work from Sutton for extra colour. The album closes with Bob Bertles’ galloping “Nosegay”, written perhaps as a response to some of the faster Mahavishnu Orchestra pieces. It’s an example of well crafted jazz-rock that doesn’t compromise any of its jazziness, yet it still very definitely rocks.

        This Be With re-issue of Alleycat has been re-mastered from the original Vertigo master tapes, Simon Francis’ mastering working together with Pete Norman’s cut to weave their usual magic with these wonderful recordings. The cool AF cover - that leopard was just a cat before he heard Nucleus, you know - has been restored as the finishing touch to this long overdue re-issue.



        TRACK LISTING

        A1 : Phaideaux Corner (6:17)
        A2 : Alleycat (14:15)
        B1 : Splat (11:41)
        B2 : You Can’t Be Sure (4:14)
        B3 : Nosegay (4:51)

        Anna

        Systems Breaking Down - 2022 Repress

          Be With continue their 12" series by reissuing Anna’s seminal cosmic coldwave bomb “Systems Breaking Down”. Originally released in 1982, it’s undoubtedly one of the most mysterious singles of the period. Remarkably, it was released on a major label - RCA - yet very little is known about the shadowy Anna.

          Despite being recorded nearly 35 years ago, it still sounds strikingly vital. Both sonically relevant and lyrically prescient, it’s hard to imagine a more apposite track to soundtrack the dark days we currently occupy. A masterful study in dread, describing the gentle collapse of all structures, it is set against a backdrop of eerie, synth-heavy electronics.

          Produced by 80s disco-pop mavericks Geraint Hughes and Ken Leray, side A contains the epic synth-pop original, all heart-wrenching atmosphere and haunting vocals.

          Side B wins again, however. The more uptempo “Dance Version” is a dubbed-out dark-disco tour-de-force, with cut-up vocals drifting in and out of a bassline that throbs like Carpenter’s best (think Assault on Precinct 13) and a palette of head-nod minimal wave.

          Both sought-after mixes have been remastered for vinyl by Simon Francis and are housed in a replica jacket of the maxi original. Outstanding.

          20JazzFunkGreats: “The sound of mascara and tears, a flood streaming black across the pale landscape of a trembling face, lovely music and, oh, so sad.”

          TRACK LISTING

          A1 : Systems Breaking Down (7:11)
          B1 : Systems Breaking Down (Dance Version) (6:55)

          DJ Quik

          Rhythm-al-ism - 2022 Reissue

            DJ Quik is a giant of West Coast hip-hop. With his fourth album Rhythm-Al-Ism he created his masterpiece, a perfect hip-hop album. As Quik explains, “the name Rhythm-Al-Ism alone tells you what I was doing. I was mixing up rhythms. I was meshing R&B with hip-hop and jazz. And a little bit of comedy”. It’s absolutely sensational and as with a lot of mid-90s albums those original vinyl copies are now rare so here’s the Be With re-issue.

            A preternaturally gifted producer/rapper, DJ Quik has produced scores of LA gangsta rap classics. He’s released platinum and gold records of his own, as well as helped craft them for the likes of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and Dr Dre. Quik has always been quirkier and more interesting than his gangsta rap peers, both musically and lyrically. An old-school funk producer at heart, he’s also incredibly nice on the mic. His raps often deal in boasts, jokes and good times but also cover his beefs, his trials and his trauma. Partying and pain, all mixed up. DJing and producing hype beat tapes from age 14, Quik’s tracks blended the languid funk and rubbery synths of Zapp and George Clinton with a gangsta aesthetic, creating a more danceable foil to Compton’s more typical nihilistic hedonism. Ultimately, his records sound custom engineered to drift out over sun-soaked barbecues.
            Released in 1998 on Profile, Rhythm-Al-Ism was the closest Quik ever got to making a commercial splash. “You’z A Ganxta” and “Hand in Hand” made radio waves across the country and the less radio-friendly tracks like “Medley For A ‘V’” were bumping out of car stereos. Combining his soulful, jazzy P-Funk/G-Funk beats with his effortlessly smooth flow, Rhythm-Al-Ism was the quintessential West Coast Party. Squelchy synths, bouncy bass, monstrously knocking drums and freaky keys - this is peaking acidic party-rap, straight out the gate. Music for gliding, for skating, for time with your people and your poison. Sunshine. No cares. BBQs. Heavy smoke in the air. Dripping with wit and good humour. A real swing to the vibe.

            The album opens with Quik setting out his mission statement with “Rhythm-Al-Ism (Intro)”, telling us what this is all about before the self-explanatory “We Still Party” rocks the spot. It’s definitely all about the party here, complete with Quik’s signature head-nod/body-moving beat. Next up, the undeniable laidback funk and dripping swing of groove-laden “So Many Wayz”. This positively slaps.

            Then we get to the three huge singles. The R&B-tinged radio-friendly minor-hit “Hand In Hand” closes the first side only for the flip to get straight into the rolling and scratching of bleepy computer-funk banger “Down, Down, Down” (featuring a particularly nice use of Howard Johnson’s epochal “So Fine”). The effortlessly smooth, flute and guitar-laced “You’z A Ganxta” completes the trio. Next up the fast-paced, vocoder-enhanced, woulda-beena-global-hit “I Useta Know Her”. This coulda (shoulda) been a single too. Head-nod funk workout “No Doubt”, with its ace sample of Prince's “Sexy Dancer”, closes out the second side.

            “Speed” races out the gate on the second disc, sampling Edwin Birdsong’s “Rapper Dapper Snapper” in a harder, better, faster, stronger way than those daft Parisian punks. Amphetamine-swift raps over soaring, string-drenched b-boy beats. A total anthem. Up next, the staggering, near 8-minute laconic, lounge-y sax-rap of “Whateva U Do” cools things down and smooths things out with its flute wrapping around a sample of Smokey Robinson’s “So In Love” and some oh-so-classy lounge-piano tinkling. And speaking of smooth, things don’t get much smoother than the blissfully melodic glider-anthem “Thinkin’ ’Bout U” riding that ace flip of SWV’s “Use Your Heart”. Exceptional.

            The exquisite funky-flute-slapper “Medley for a ‘V’ (The P***Y Medley)” opens the fourth and final side, with star turns from Snoop Dogg and a typically suave Nate Dogg. It’s followed by the supremely skanked-out “Bombudd II”, a beautifully sweet reggae-fuelled ode to the herb. “Get 2Getha Again” is slick funk. Stunning.

            This 2022 Be With double LP re-issue has been mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis, cut by Pete Norman and pressed at Record Industry. Unusual for the time, Rhythm-Al-Ism was originally pressed as a double and we’ve reproduced the original LA vibe picture sleeve and insert to match.

            As that original front cover says, this is “over 70 minutes of commercial free music” and it’s absolutely perfect from start to finish. There are no stand-out tracks here. It’s all gold.


            TRACK LISTING

            1 A1 : Rhythm-al-ism (Intro) (1:40)
            2 A2 : We Still Party (5:13)
            3 A3 : So Many Wayz (5:41)
            4 A4 : Hand In Hand (4:18)
            5 B1 : Down, Down, Down (4:43)
            6 B2 : You’z A Ganxta (4:22)
            7 B3 : I Useta Know Her (3:50)
            8 B4 : No Doubt (4:12)
            9 C1 : Speed (3:21)
            10 C2 : Whateva U Do (7:47)
            11 C3 : Thinkin’ Bout U (4:05)
            12 C4 : EL’s Interlude (4:05)
            13 D1 : Medley For A “V” (The P***y Medley) (6:27)
            14 D2 : Bombudd II (2:59)
            15 D3 : Get 2Getha Again (4:41)
            16 D4 : Reprise (Medley For A “V”) (2:39)

            Kenny Dickenson

            Les Rivières

              We finally made it: BEWITH100LP! And what better way for a reissue label to celebrate such a landmark catalogue number than to give it to a record of new music. We couldn’t resist when the artist is Official Be With Family Member Kenny Dickenson and when the music is his lovely, lovely score to French-Vietnamese artist Mai Hua's 2020 documentary film “Les Rivières”. If you enjoy the more minimal, intimate piano of the likes of Nils Frahm or John Carroll Kirby’s solo work, you’re certain to fall for this beautiful album.

              Taking six years to make, Mai’s film explores what happened when she brought her dying grandmother to France, pulling together four generations of women from the same family. Kenny’s score accompanies all the pretty things, sad things, dirty, beautiful, happy, broken and reborn moments of these women’s experiences.

              The whole score is built around delicate, sparkling piano motifs. At times they’re joined by cello and complemented with ambient chords and other flourishes. It’s a very particular palette that Kenny and Mai established early on, as Kenny explains: “We had agreed on a particular sonic aesthetic early on in the process - to use specific and relatively minimal instrumentation, reflecting the intimacy of the picture. So piano and cello were quite prominent in instructing a sense of space and immediacy. Until I had to get the junkyard percussion out… ”

              When it comes to describing the end results, Kenny’s happy to wear his influences on his sleeve:

              “When the director and I sat down for the creative meetings early in the process, we watched ‘Wolf Children’, a Japanese animation film by Mamoru Hosoda. The amazing soundtrack by Masakatsu Takagi was a launching point for me and thereafter I leaned into more modern classical composers - Reich, Sakamoto, Glass as well as Jon Hassell’s Fourth World output. Richard Reed Parry’s ‘Music for Heart and Breath’ was a good early touchstone for me and Mark Hollis’ sparse, considered and deliberate approach was a constant presence. Also labels like Ghostly, ASIP and the ubiquitous Erased Tapes should probably get a nod here too…”

              We’d even suggest there’s the occasional Yann Tiersen moment in there too.

              Out of sheer necessity the collaboration between Kenny and Mai continued beyond this initial creative direction. With Kenny speaking neither French nor Vietnamese, Mai acted as translator, a process that naturally lead to discussing the film beyond just what was being said in the footage. Mai herself explains just how successful this relationship felt to her: “Music plays a very important role in all my work, particularly in Les Rivières. I cried every time Kenny sent me a new composition. I felt understood in a way that words cannot describe. It was absolutely magical and I am so happy if this music can make your soul vibrate too.”

              Kenny composed much of the music in London, at the same time that Mai was shooting and editing. As the film took shape and the music also evolved, another challenge presented itself when Kenny relocated to Los Angeles part way through, resulting in Arnulf Lindners beautiful cello taking on new shapes- multi sampled, played and manipulated by Kenny into new compositions.

              What Kenny has put together for the film score release is definitely a “soundtrack LP”, with the music arranged to work as a proper album in its own right that should be listened to from start to finish. Indeed the album also includes a new piece “Pour Marthe” that Kenny composed in memory of Mai’s grandmother who died after the film was finished.

              Kenny’s personal highlight is also ours: “When I listen back to the album as a whole now, I never want part II of the Trilogy (Belles Larmes) to end. I have fond memories of recording it and I love how the dynamic of the piece gradually evolves from falling on the ‘1 and the 3’ to the ‘1 and the 2’. It’s so short and sweet, I keep wanting it to last for longer. But it’s kind of perfect as it is.”

              Pretty much our sentiment for the album as a whole.

              Running a record label means we often get asked advice about pressing a record. In this case the music was too good not to offer to release it ourselves. To Kenny, having the Les Rivières score on vinyl also feels like the final part of the project.

              “It’s a beautiful thing to have it on vinyl. It’s quite an intimate soundtrack so there’s something really perfect about being able to listen to it on that format. When I was a kid, my Uncle Pat who used to work at Woolworths would visit and bring random records from their record department over to us. I can remember listening to “Theme From Exodus” by Ernest Gold. I had no idea what it was about but the imagery it conjured up when listening to that record was just mind blowing to me at that age. Soundtracks can have their own life on vinyl I think, and removed from their original context is this unique format for reinvention. So I’m excited that people who haven’t (and have for that matter) seen the film can have that experience.”

              This might not be a re-issue, but the Les Rivières film score album has still been given the full Be With treatment. The vinyl has been mastered by Simon Francis (under Kenny’s ever-watchful eye/ear, of course), cut by Pete Norman and pressed at Record Industry. The sleeve follows the film’s poster and other promotional material, including Lucile Gomez’s almost magical illustration.

              We’re under no illusions that many people reading this will have seen “Les Rivières”, but that doesn’t really matter when it comes to listening to the score. Just on its own, Kenny’s music still captures the robustness and the delicacy of lives lived.


              TRACK LISTING

              A1 : Deux Ans Plus Tôt (02:24)
              A2 : Trilogie I (Tâm) (04:04)
              A3 : Trilogie II (Belles Larmes) (01:33)
              A4 : Trilogie III (Phoenix Rouge) (02:24)
              A5 : Les Rivières Vont À La Mère (04:32)
              A6 : Pour Marthe (04:08)
              B1 : Mon Âme Vers La Tienne (02:19)
              B2 : Sur L’Embarcadère / Đêm Tàn Bến Ngự (04:14)
              B3 : Maman (02:31)
              B4 : Le Rêve Noir (02:11)
              B5 : Je Revive (01:57)
              B6 : Regarde Maintenant (03:43)
              B7 : La Floraison Du Bambou (02:52)

              DJ Quik

              Safe And Sound - 2022 Reissue

                DJ Quik is a giant of West Coast hip-hop. With 1995’s Safe + Sound, he scaled new levels of musical magnificence with his signature new age P-Funk/laconic G-Funk. A quintessential, sun-scorched LA album, this is pretty much essential. Typical for mid-90s albums the original vinyl copies are now rare so here’s the Be With re-issue.

                This 2022 Be With double LP re-issue has been mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis, cut by Pete Norman and pressed at Record Industry. Unusual for the time, Safe + Sound was originally pressed as a double, so all that was missing was the CD’s hidden bonus track “Tanqueray”, so we’ve fixed that. The original vinyl release never got a picture sleeve, so we’ve recreated the original’s promo-style silver-sticker and plain black jacket. A subtle cover for a wonderfully unsubtle record.

                A preternaturally gifted producer/rapper, DJ Quik has produced scores of LA gangsta rap classics. He’s released platinum and gold records of his own, as well as helped craft them for the likes of Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and Dr Dre. Quik has always been quirkier and more interesting than his gangsta rap peers, both musically and lyrically. An old-school funk producer at heart, he’s also incredibly nice on the mic. His raps often deal in boasts, jokes and good times but also cover his beefs, his trials and his trauma. Partying and pain, all mixed up. DJing and producing hype beat tapes from age 14, Quik’s tracks blended the languid funk and rubbery synths of Zapp and George Clinton with a gangsta aesthetic, creating a more danceable foil to Compton’s more typical nihilistic hedonism. Ultimately, his records sound custom engineered to drift out over sun-soaked barbecues.

                By the time of his third album DJ Quik was a household name on the West Coast - California’s premier rapper/producer not named Andre Young. Released on Profile in 1995, Safe + Sound was certified gold. Less reliant on samples and more focused on live instruments, it elevated him from producer to fully-fledged composer. This sound — the quick, winding basslines, tinny high hats, smooth instrumental solos, soulful pipes, and Roger Troutman’s talkbox — defined him. This is an album of full-blown masterpieces. Rich soundscapes and masterfully arranged orchestrations with dense layers of sounds, intricate rhythms, and well-balanced songwriting.

                The first track proper, “Get At Me” samples Cameo whilst Quik takes aim at the Judases in his life, the horn-laced chorus providing a triumphant feel. On the horizontal “Diggin’ U Out”, the soulful electric piano of Warryn Campbell lays a relaxed groove for Quik to talk over about one of his favourite topics: sex. Title track “Safe + Sound” chronicles Quik’s formative years over a slick instrumental. The moody bass locks a laidback infectious groove, the hook is catchy and Quik’s delivery is in fine form. On the uber-chilled “Somethin’ 4 Tha Mood”, Quik cooks up a breezy, feel good track of sparkly keyboards, syncopated claps, shuffling hi-hats, woozy synths and a floating two-minute flute solo courtesy of Robert “Fonksta” Bacon. Analysing the highs and lows of an average day in the hood, it echoes Cube’s “It Was a Good Day”.

                “It’z Your Fantasy” is a silky smooth soundtrack to Quik’s detailed retelling of a sexcapade with a young lady and whilst “Tha Ho In You” is musically perfect for that midsummer family BBQ, its lyrical content is unsurprisingly decidedly less family-friendly. A real highlight, the infamous “Dollaz + Sense” is one of the most ruthless diss tracks of all time. The brutal lyrics ride a laidback West Coast beat, flipping a sample from Young & Company’s “I Like (What You’re Doing To Me)” as Quik fires lyrical shots at his arch Compton nemesis, MC Eiht. On the loping, hazy “Let You Havit”, Quik is again in gangsta mode, with more bars of barbs aimed at Eiht, rhyming over sun-kissed synthy-rollerskate funk.

                Some of the finest tracks on Safe + Sound are those designed to de-stress. The evocative “Summer Breeze” is a classic warm-weather jam, anchored by a twangy funk guitar, breezy string arrangement, and a soulful hook delivered by Dionne Knighton. Quik’s nostalgic lyrics are not far from DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime”, reminiscing over barbecues at the park, young love, and the brevity of halcyon youth. The relaxed and jazzy “Quik’s Groove III” is another highlight, as bass, guitar, piano and flute combine to create a smooth, soulful instrumental.

                The swaggering “Shack Up”-sampling “Sucka Free” features a cameo from Playa Hamm, all funky braggadocio and over much too quikly (pun thoroughly intended). The jazz-flavoured “Keep Tha ‘P’ In It”, again featuring Playa Hamm but this time extending the cameo invitations to Hi-C, 2nd II None and Kam, is pure laidback P-Funk. The deep bass and industrial drums make sure the groove hits hard.

                “Tanqueray” was originally a hidden track on the CD version of the album, but it’s too good to hide. This wild party samples Brass Construction’s gigantic “Get Up To Get Down” and soars in its drunk-ebullience. An apt way to close this party-driven set.


                TRACK LISTING

                1 A1 : Street Level Entrance (1:52)
                2 A2 : Get At Me (4:08)
                3 A3 : Diggin’ U Out (4:48)
                4 A4 : Safe + Sound (4:49)
                5 B1 : Somethin’
                4 Tha Mood (5:55)
                6 B2 : Don’t You Eat It! (1:08)
                7 B3 : Can I Eat It? (4:59)
                8 B4 : It’z Your Fantasy (4:23)
                9 C1 : Tha Ho In You (4:45)
                10 C2 : Dollaz + Sense (5:53)
                11 C3 : Let You Havit (3:40)
                12 C4 : Summer Breeze (4:34)
                13 D1 : Quik’s Groove III (2:37)
                14 D2 : Sucka Free (2:11)
                15 D3 : Keep Tha “P” In It (5:25)
                16 D4 : Hooray 4 Tha Funk (2:11)
                17 D5 : Tanqueray (4:19)

                Sammy Burdson

                Background Action - 2022 Reissue

                  One of two Be With forays into the archives of revered British library institution Conroy, we present one of our favourites on the label - the super in-demand Background Action from Sammy Burdson, originally released in 1975. Rare and sought-after for many years now, this is one of those cult library LPs that rarely turns up on even the deepest dig.

                  Sammy Burdson was one of the many, many aliases of the mighty Austrian composer, arranger and conductor, Gerhard Narholz. Founder of adored library label Sonoton in 1965, and a classically trained composer, his work runs from easy listening through pop, jazz and electronic, to avant-garde.

                  Background Action’s first side is all Blaxploitation wah-wah, funky clav and heavy, heavy drums. It’s top-quality takes on the sort of hard-knocking psychedelic sleuth-funk that the library labels gave us in spades. However, we think the real killers are over on side B. Styles upon styles upon styles is what we have. The trio of swish “Water Pollution” variations are pure gold. The two-part mid-tempo b-boy drumathon “News Background” is nothing short of epic whilst the sensational “Kabul Trip A” and “Kabul Trip B” are two different takes on some tough funk, street jazz style with some dope organ, bass and drum sounds. In short, this is a must for both DJs and producers.

                  The British library label with those instantly recognisable “orangey-red” sleeves, Conroy began releasing production music in 1965. A sub-label of Berry Music Co, its catalogue typified the library industry’s strange mixture of tradition and experimentation from the start. Conroy’s early releases included work by big band stalwarts like Eddie Warner as well as early electronic recordings by the likes of Belgian experimental pioneer Arséne Souffriau. With Berry Music Co working as a distribution partner to the German library label Sonoton, it was through the Conroy that a great deal of German library music found its way into the UK market.

                  Conroy stopped putting out new music in the 1980s, but its history and its catalogue offer an excellent window into the trends and eccentricities of a highly unique industry at the height of its international appeal.

                  This re-issue of Background Action has been mastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis from audio from the original tapes. Richard Robinson has handled reproducing the iconic, hypnotic original Conroy sleeve. Essential.


                  TRACK LISTING

                  01 : A1 : Speed Unlimited A (2:00)
                  02 : A2 : Speed Unlimited B (0:45)
                  03 : A3 : Speed Unlimited C (0:41)
                  04 : A4 : Hurricane Wheels A (2:15)
                  05 : A5 : Hurricane Wheels B (0:51)
                  06 : A6 : Hurricane Wheels C (1:43)
                  07 : A7 : Hurricane Wheels D (0:45)
                  08 : A8 : Hurricane Wheels E (1:42)
                  09 : A9 : Hurricane Wheels F (0:45)
                  10 : A10 : Hurricane Wheels G (1:42)
                  11 : A11 : Route Africaine A (1:14)
                  12 : A12 : Route Africaine B (1:14)
                  13 : A13 : Route Africaine C (1:14)
                  --
                  14 : B1 : Kabul Trip A (1:58)
                  15 : B2 : Kabul Trip B (1:58)
                  16 : B3 : Kabul Trip C (0:47)
                  17 : B4 : Kabul Trip D (1:16)
                  18 : B5 : Water Pollution A (1:47)
                  19 : B6 : Water Pollution B (1:02)
                  20 : B7 : Water Pollution C (0:29)
                  21 : B8 : Centurion A (1:47)
                  22 : B9 : Centurion B (1:33)
                  23 : B10 : Centurion C (1:09)
                  24 : B11 : Gladiators (1:54)
                  25 : B12 : News Background A (2:31)
                  26 : B13 : News Background B (1:39)

                  Sammy Burdson / Klaus Weiss / Larry Robbins Background Rhythms

                  Dramatic Tempi / Larry Robbins Background Rhythms - 2022 Reissue

                    C-L-A-S-S-I-C library breaks and beats set of heavy drums and louche funk.

                    One of two Be With forays into the archives of revered British library institution Conroy, we present one of our favourites on the label - the super in-demand Dramatic Tempi / Larry Robbins Background Rhythms, originally released in 1975. Rare and sought-after for many years now, this is one of those cult library LPs that rarely turns up on even the deepest dig.

                    As a single LP, Dramatic Tempi / Larry Robbins Background Rhythms is two distinctly different collections of music. The first side, Dramatic Tempi, is made up of four tracks each from Sammy Burdson and Klaus Weiss.

                    Sammy Burdson was one of the many, many aliases of the mighty Austrian composer, arranger and conductor, Gerhard Narholz. Founder of adored library label Sonoton in 1965, and a classically trained composer, his work runs from easy listening through pop, jazz and electronic, to avant-garde.

                    About as cult as it gets when it comes to library music legends (German or otherwise) Klaus Weiss produced essential records on German library labels Coloursound, Selected Sound and Sonoton, as well as making two essential entries in the Conroy catalogue. Having started his career at the age of 16 as a jazz drummer, the Klaus Weiss trademark electronic sound is unsurprisingly built on top of sometimes funky, sometimes frenetic, but always hard-hitting drums.

                    The second side is both titled and also credited to Larry Robbins Background Rhythms. We have to admit to being stumped as to who Larry was, but we don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume it might well be yet another incarnation of Gerhard Narholz’s.

                    First up from Dramatic Tempi are the phased, gargantuan hip-hop beats of Sammy Burdson’s impeccable “Pop Waves”. This is otherworldly funk on a whole new level. Hearing is believing. The magnificently titled “Cyclodrom” is up next, a beast of booming bass and wah wah guitars over frenetic funk drums. “Devils Drive” is dramatic, blaxploitation street funk with rolling, pounding drums. “Crime Ways” is an acid-squelch, slow-pace neck-snapper.

                    Klaus Weiss starts by askings us “Is It Hip” and we can only answer “yes it is!” to the clean, skipping drums, booming bass and proto-hip-hop bells, layered beneath laconic and melodic guitar shredding. This is just horizontal soul perfection. “The Camp”, propelled by jazzy guitar à la Joe Pass over fast drum and conga breaks, gives way to the dark guitars and cymbal crashes of “Tomorrow”. It sounds like an early New Order jam session. Closing out a pretty startling side of library greatness, “Rhythm Trip” presents early stuttering funk before easin' on in to a jazzy, soulful groove; all breezy guitar and warm keys. Lush.

                    Larry Robbins Background Rhythms is a lighter, poppier affair, but it’s not without its drum-heavy bangers. “Vox Pop” and “Pop Phase” each have clean, open-ish drum breaks, ripe for sampling or more daring DJ sets. “Pop Twang” is a short and sweet beat-heavy number that gives way to the fantastically out-there “Canned Pop”. We‘d love to know if this was ever actually licensed for something! The final seven tracks are a set of 1-to-2 minute “Percussion Takes”. All compelling, and all equally useful for any number of production needs. Get sampling.

                    The British library label with those instantly recognisable “orangey-red” sleeves, Conroy began releasing production music in 1965. A sub-label of Berry Music Co, its catalogue typified the library industry’s strange mixture of tradition and experimentation from the start. Conroy’s early releases included work by big band stalwarts like Eddie Warner as well as early electronic recordings by the likes of Belgian experimental pioneer Arséne Souffriau. With Berry Music Co working as a distribution partner to the German library label Sonoton, it was through the Conroy that a great deal of German library music found its way into the UK market.

                    Conroy stopped putting out new music in the 1980s, but its history and its catalogue offer an excellent window into the trends and eccentricities of a highly unique industry at the height of its international appeal.

                    This re-issue of Dramatic Tempi / Larry Robbins Background Rhythms has been mastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis from audio from the original tapes. Richard Robinson has handled reproducing the iconic, hypnotic original Conroy sleeve. Essential.


                    TRACK LISTING

                    01 : A1 : Pop Waves (1:49)
                    02 : A2 : Cyclodrom (1:10)
                    03 : A3 : Devils Drive (1:28)
                    04 : A4 : Crime Ways (2:06)
                    05 : A5 : Is It Hip (2:00)
                    06 : A6 : The Camp (3:29)
                    07 : A7 : Tomorrow (1:53)
                    08 : A8 : Rhythm Trip (4:28)
                    --
                    09 : B1 : Vox Pop (1:22)
                    10 : B2 : Rock Pop (2:47)
                    11 : B3 : Pop Phase (2:46)
                    12 : B4 : Pop Twang (0:55)
                    13 : B5 : Canned Pop (1:40)
                    14 : B6 : Percussion Take 1 (1:24)
                    15 : B7 : Percussion Take 2 (1:08)
                    16 : B8 : Percussion Take 3 (1:16)
                    17 : B9 : Percussion Take 4 (1:10)
                    18 : B10 : Percussion Take 5 (0:52)
                    19 : B11 : Percussion Take 6 (1:54)
                    20 : B12 : Percussion Take 7 (1:24)

                    Willie Hutch

                    Season For Love - 2022 Reissue

                      A monumental force firmly rooted in the soul canon, Willie Hutch is most notable for recording two of the best Blaxploitation soundtracks, The Mack and Foxy Brown. Yet his legacy is much greater. Outside of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, Hutch was arguably Motown's top male solo artist of the 70s. Prior to his association with Gordy et al, Hutch crafted his opening statements for RCA, two vital LPs that Be With Records is honoured to present today.

                      Often-overlooked, his second album Season For Love (1970) is a must for all deep soul fans and has been sought-after by collectors of different stripes for decades. Whereas his debut featured thundering, gritty numbers, Hutch treats us to a mellower soul here - sumptuous, warm and string-led. He compared his approach to that of Otis Redding and there are definite parallels; from the raspy, rough-hewn vocals that tend to roam between sweet and deeply impassioned to the horn-heavy, emphatic sonic backdrops.

                      With flawless originals presented alongside a few well-chosen classics (his stunning cover of "Wichita Lineman" arguably bests the original's splendour), it's easy to see why sample-based musicians have been falling over themselves to plunder from this album. Witness the sweeping strings that grace "The Magic Of Love" and the heartbreaking "Walking On My Love"; the mellifluous guitar work on the contemplative instrumental "The Shortest Distance" and gorgeous single "When A Boy Falls In Love".

                      Whilst the arrangements and playing are subtly jaw-dropping throughout, Hutch's uncontrived voice has a certain warmth to match a Nat “King” Cole and a purity of tone that even recalls the great Sam Cooke. Indeed, a few numbers are almost in a jazz vocal territory reminiscent of artists Lou Rawls. That's not to say that others lack the righteous energy and undeniable groove of Willie's later sound.

                      Remarkably consistent throughout – a rare commodity for many 70s soul albums – the lack of one signature song likely hindered its progress. Regardless, it deserved to make more of an impact and now, paired with the majestic debut, Soul Portrait, these recordings shine a new light on the early work of a soul legend.

                      Original vinyl copies of this album are extremely rare – and correspondingly expensive – so we’re thrilled to present the first ever vinyl reissue of a true lost classic. 


                      TRACK LISTING

                      A1 : Season For Love (3:06)
                      A2 : The Twelfth Of Never (2:25)
                      A3 : Trying To Understand A Woman (2:27)
                      A4 : When A Boy Falls In Love (2:38)
                      A5 : The Shortest Distance (0:36)
                      B1 : Hurt So Bad (3:16)
                      B2 : Walking On My Love (3:02)
                      B3 : Wichita Lineman (3:21)
                      B4 : Let's Try It Over Again (2:09)
                      B5 : The Magic Of Love (2:47)

                      Freestyle Fellowship

                      Innercity Griots - Reissue

                        Innercity Griots, the second album from Freestyle Fellowship, is perhaps *the* essential West Coast leftfield rap album of the early ’90s.

                        Released in 1993 on 4th & Broadway, it’s a towering, progressive hip-hop masterpiece that expanded rap’s boundaries through lyrical elevation and production innovation. Their talent was ahead of everybody else by light years. This is pure b-boy jazz.

                        The original single vinyl LP is now hideously scarce, and of course the sound suffers from not being officially released as a double. This Be With re-issue fixes both problems, and for completeness also includes “Pure Thought” from the CD version of the album. This incredible display of imaginative hip-hop sounds better than ever.

                        Freestyle Fellowship were some of the earliest technically dazzling rappers to come out of California. Mikah 9, P.E.A.C.E., Aceyalone and Self Jupiter - along with DJ Kiilu - forged their famed lyrical dexterity in the ultra-competitive crucible of the Good Life Cafe. Founded in Leimert Park, South Central LA in December 1989, this earthy health-food store and cafe was where the city’s finest microphone fiends would gather to showcase their freestyle skills at the Thursday night open-mic.

                        Innercity Griots has been described as the Rosetta Stone for rap styles. The group’s dense, vibrant wordplay and enviable interplay quickly earned the attention and respect of the city’s hip-hop underground. Frenetically trading acrobatic rhymes with agility and grace, the Fellowship used their voices as instruments like true virtuosos, spraying improvised raps like a Coltrane sax solo.

                        With the bulk of the album’s production handled by The Earthquake Brothers, and Bambawar, Daddy-O, and Edman taking over for some of the tracks, Innercity Griots dances between organic and programmed music, largely forgoing sampling and instead built around live jazz jams. The likes of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” and Miles Davis’s “Black Comedy” were used more as templates for house band The Underground Railroad Band to spiral out from. As Pitchfork noted in their recent 9.0 review of this classic album, “Freestyle Fellowship embodied the style and spirit of jazz on a molecular level. They shared the effortless cool and tough countenance of the great bebop players from the ’50s without verging into jazz-rap parody. Their innate jazziness felt tangible and hard-earned”.

                        The unusual approach to the music was matched by the Fellowship’s lyrics. Eschewing the tired rap tropes of the time, this multifaceted album instead explores their ruminations on greed and homelessness, weed, sex, survival, insecurity and tribalism.

                        Remastered by Simon Francis for double vinyl and cut by Pete Norman, we hope this long-overdue re-issue of Innercity Griots satisfies the legions of fans that have since been bewitched by the majesty of this record. It should also introduce some new listeners to yet another overlooked classic.

                        Mykah 9’s beautiful and moving “Park Bench People” is one of Innercity Griots’ most beloved and unique tracks, something that wouldn’t feel out of place on a traditional vocal soul-jazz record. Arguably as skilled a singer as he is a rapper, Mykah 9 weaves a downbeat tale of the homeless in Leimert Park and across LA, channeled into stream-of-consciousness scats and whispers, bellows and moans. Just sensational.

                        The strung-out “Heavyweights” reveals the Fellowship at their most adversarial. They bring plenty of back-up to this rowdy posse cut, perfectly distilling the uproarious intensity of a cutthroat MC battle.

                        The album closes with the patchwork rap kaleidoscope of “Respect Due” and of course, for the sake of completeness, there’s also “Pure Thought” from the CD release, a stunning track full of elegant fireworks and a brilliant sample of Billy Cobham’s “Stratus”. Amazing.

                        The Fellowship weren’t all that concerned with following industry trends and 4th & Broadway struggled to market the group and get airplay. Overshadowed by the hype around fellow ’93 rap classics (Wu-Tang, Snoop, Tribe) the group never got the wider recognition that they deserved at the time.

                        In West African tradition a griot is a repository of vital history, sharing stories and wisdom with each generation by setting words to music. Over the past three decades, Innercity Griots has been ushered from rapper to rapper and from fan to fan as a rite of passage. As both oral history and foundational rap music, it will, indeed, outlast us all. Aceyalone was right.

                        Remastered by Simon Francis for double vinyl and cut by Pete Norman, we hope this long-overdue reissue satisfies the legions of fans that have since been bewitched by the majesty of this record. It should also introduce some new listeners to yet another overlooked classic.


                        TRACK LISTING

                        A* : Blood (1:08)
                        A1 : Bullies Of The Block (4:55)
                        A2 : Everything’s Everything (3:47)
                        A3 : Shammy’s (4:16)
                        A** : Heat Mizer (1:08)
                        B1 : Six Tray (4:39)
                        B2 : Danger (3:58)
                        B3 : Inner City Boundaries (4:39)
                        B* : Bomb Zombies (1:06)

                        C1 : Cornbread (4:21)
                        C2 : Way Cool (4:22)
                        C3 : Hot Potato (4:30)
                        C4 : Mary (3:45)
                        C5 : Park Bench People (4:59)
                        D1 : Heavyweights (6:11)
                        D* : Tolerate (1:01)
                        D2 : Respect Due (3:53)
                        D3 : Pure Thought (3:14)

                        Willie Hutch

                        Soul Portrait - 2022 Reissue

                          A monumental force firmly rooted in the soul canon, Willie Hutch is most notable for recording two of the best Blaxploitation soundtracks, The Mack and Foxy Brown. Yet his legacy is much greater. Outside of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, Hutch was arguably Motown’s top male solo artist of the 70s. Prior to his association with Gordy et al, Hutch crafted his opening statements for RCA, two vital LPs that Be With Records is honoured to present today.

                          His debut, Soul Portrait (1969), is an incredible slice of gritty, Southern-fried soul. Think Stax with a touch of Detroit sparkle. As a whole, the album demonstrates the self-contained act Hutch was; he wrote every tune on the album while also arranging and conducting for it. It features eleven timeless grooves, with a blend of beat ballads and undeniable dancers.

                          The album’s centrepiece is undoubtedly the iconic, brooding minor-key masterpiece “A Love That’s Worth Having”. The album’s most recognisable track, it's a towering ballad drenched in stylish, sliding horns and elevated by its stunning backing vocalists. It was famously sampled by Madlib to augment his soundtrack for Stones Throw’s Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton as well as 9th Wonder for the Murs classic “Dreamchaser”. Whilst one can understand these iconic beatmakers for leaning on the work of a master, you really need to own the track in its full, unedited glory.

                          Horn-heavy opener “Ain’t Gonna Stop” is a funk-fuelled monster, Hutch's fatback vocal aided by a vicious drum ‘n’ conga rhythm whilst the bumping uptown soul of “You Can’t Miss Something That You Never Had” anticipates the Motown-vibe that Hutch went on to create. Supple guitar licks propel the loping, head-nod breaks of “Good To The Last Drop” whilst “That’s What I Call Lovin’ You” features gospel piano and plaintive, tender vocal turn. Rounding out Side A, the blazing horns of “You Gotta Try” hints at the Blaxploitation that was to come.

                          Ushering in the flipside, the thundering proto-70s-Motown rhythm of “Let Me Give You The Love You Need” segues neatly into the bouncing Northern Soul favourite “Lucky To Be Loved By You” whilst Hutch’s gutbucket guitar stylings are all over the smouldering "Keep On Doin’ What You Do". “Your Love Keeps Liftin’ Me Higher” is not a rendition of the Jackie Wilson classic; rather, it’s a powerhouse original that indicates where Hutch would take his sound on The Mack. Closing the album, the anthemic “Do What You Wanna Do” name-checks contemporary dance fads before instructing the listener to just get up and dance.

                          Brilliantly supported by a heavy roster of studio cats who combined to create a winning combination of horns, strings, and gorgeous female background vocalists, Soul Portrait is as complete a soul album as the decade’s very best. Tricky to find for a number of years, this lovingly produced reissue is certainly welcome. Paired with the soaring follow-up, Season For Love, these recordings shine a new light on the early work of a soul legend. 


                          TRACK LISTING

                          A1 : Ain’t Gonna Stop (3:06)
                          A2 : You Can’t Miss Something That You Never Had (2:32)
                          A3 : A Love That’s Worth Having (2:47)
                          A4 : Good To The Last Drop (3:00)
                          A5 : That’s What I Call Lovin’ You (1:54)
                          A6 : You Gotta Try (2:26)
                          B1 : Let Me Give You The Love You Need (2:34)
                          B2 : Lucky To Be Loved By You (2:50)
                          B3 : Keep On Doin’ What You Do (2:18)
                          B4 : Your Love Keeps Liftin’ Me Higher (2:32)
                          B5 : Do What You Wanna Do (3:12)

                          The Mighty Soulmates

                          The Mighty Soulmates

                            The Mighty Soulmates is a towering early 90s project from the legitimate super group of André Cymone (bass player with Prince), St. Paul Peterson (guitarist with The Family and Prince), Mic Murphy (of Sass and The System fame) and Gardner Cole (writer, producer and musician probably best known for his work with Madonna). The sound is a majestic blend of sophisticated funk, emotional R&B, New Jack Swing flava and slick deep soul.

                            These should-be legendary sessions have been almost a secret since they were recorded back in 1993. The first Be With knew about the project was whilst working with Mic on some Sass re-issues and he told us he had something else we might be interested in hearing.

                            Mic explained, “In the summer of 1993, Gardner Cole asked if I’d be interested in coming out to work with him, André, and St. Paul. So we all headed out to what can best be described as a fantasy music summer camp at Gardner’s house in Woodland Hills, California. We had all worked together in the past in some form or another so everyone was energized and enthused and excited to see what we could create together. St Paul and Andre had already begun some songwriting at Gardner’s well equipped home garage studio. The songs and ideas progressed quickly and some additional recording was completed at André Cymone’s studio in downtown LA. We ended up working on the project for about 6 months, off and on, until Gardner's house fell victim to the Northridge Earthquake in January 1994.”

                            There were some vague ideas at the time about turning the sessions into a finished record, but everyone went back to their day jobs and as St. Paul puts it: “[for nearly 30 years] it just sat there, marinating like a fine funk masterpiece. Everything has its right time and now just be the time”.

                            From all the tracks Mic sent over, we’ve cherry picked the absolute cream for a tight four track EP. In an alternate history all four for these would’ve been radio smashes. No doubt. But these songs never even reached a plugger. A mixture of beat ballads and uptempo non-hits, coming on like Al B Sure! or Babyface take on Shalamar or, dare we say it, The Purple One - maybe not so surprising given who’s playing!

                            The feel-good dancefloor dynamite of “I Wanna Be The One” is the explosive opening track. A piano-driven, groove-laden blast of yearning deep-pop, with perfectly delivered soulful vocals and an unmistakable “early 90s” sound. Indeed, fans of Eddie Chacon’s old group will dig this for days. “Back In The Day” has a timeless swing and swagger, the lyrics reminiscing about the halcyon streetlife of the Soulmates’ youth, about Curtis, Superfly and innocent days gone by, about hustling with friends. Yet more spine-tingling vocals over yet another perfectly produced musical backdrop. Stunning.

                            Opening side B, “Blue Tuesday” is the thrilling pinnacle of the EP, at least for us. It’s absolute soulful-pop perfection, and the one we’ve been asked about most after teasing this collection on our NTS show. A soaring beat ballad full of chiming guitars, gorgeous harmonising, falsetto “doo-doo-doo-doo do-do-do-do” backing vocals and a real steppers’ groove. Glide to this with your loved one at the next roller rink party.

                            Dramatic, purple-hued closer “Private Time” seems to predict the Timbaland-dominated sound of the mid-to-late 90s, all synthetic strings and squelchy, acidic-drum-machine soul. There’s even room for funky piano breaks, vocoder bridges and more cowbell than you can shake a cowbell at. You could just as easily hear Aaliyah vibing over this as much as Mic.

                            This EP represents the sound of four incredibly soulful, talented, and influential (soul)mates jamming together over one long hot summer and weaving pure sonic magic. André Cymone loved the “kinda pop, experimental exploration of sound and music. I think these songs make a statement. Not just because of the collection of talented musicians involved but the idea of musically branching out and experimenting; which is what I loved about the project and for people to hear and hopefully appreciate the artistic adventure this music takes, I think it’s a much needed breath of fresh air.” As Mic recalls, “it had the feeling of recovery in a circle with my dudes making music sitting around catching up on life - it felt like living a second childhood. We just wrote what we felt. I don’t remember ‘aiming’ at anything but a great song, melding all our different influences from throughout our lives. We had no restraints. For me personally, it was a time to make music and regroup. I call it the ‘Soulmate Experience’ because in many ways we are kindred souls as a band. We did have an amazing time making the record and so much fun together. Probably my best summer ever”.

                            The Mighty Soulmates EP has been mastered for vinyl by Simon Francis, cut by Pete Norman at Finyl Tweek and pressed at Record Industry. That early 90s gloss sounds spectacular, if we do say so ourselves.

                            And such a special record needed some truly almighty artwork, so thanks go to DJ Ruby Savage for directing us to London-based illustrator and designer River Cousin. This music needed something elegant and indulgent yet soulful and striking and something as simultaneously tongue-in-check and deadly-serious as the group’s name. The end result is as modern yet timeless as the music itself.

                            And these are just our four picks. There’s plenty more where this came from and Mic tells us he’s even picked the album title: “Earthquake Summer”.


                            STAFF COMMENTS

                            Matt says: Manchester's Be With records usher in another imperative reissue just in time for our Christmas stockings...

                            TRACK LISTING

                            A1 : I Wanna Be The One (3.37)
                            A2 : Back In The Day (4.40)
                            B1 : Blue Tuesday (3.44)
                            B2 : Private Time (4.11)

                            Another Thought was the first collection of Arthur Russell’s music to be released after his death in 1992. Released in 1993 on Point Music it marked the beginning of nearly 30 years of work to let the world hear the enormous archive of unreleased recordings Arthur left behind. Be With revisits this first compilation for a new gatefold double vinyl version and a triple-fold digipak CD reissue.

                            Both versions of Be With’s 2021 reissue of Another Thought have been mastered by Simon Francis and the vinyl cut by Pete Norman. The original artwork has been restored and tweaked at Be With HQ for the gatefold sleeve and the triple-fold digipak, with the essential help of Janette Beckman. Each version comes with an insert reproducing the liner notes and lyrics from the original CD release.

                            Together with Calling Out Of Context, Soul Jazz’s World of Arthur Russell, and much of the ongoing work of Audika, Another Thought is absolutely essential for even the most casual Arthur Russell collection. In fact we’d argue it’s essential for any fan of non-obvious pop music. This is the only place where you can hear some of Arthur’s most recognisable tunes and it’s an album that absolutely deserves to be kept in press.


                            We’ll assume that by now you’re all at least a little familiar with the story of Arthur Russell, the farm boy from Iowa who moved to 1970s New York. Arthur Russell the genuine musical genius who died just 40 years old, leaving behind a wealth of music that dwarfed the few 12"s and LPs that were released during his short life.

                            Although Arthur had been working on an album for Rough Trade during his last years, with the label no-longer operating it was Point Music (Philip Glass and Michael Riesman’s label set up together with Philips) who stepped in to help Arthur’s partner Tom Lee start working out exactly what Arthur had left behind.

                            Tom suggested that Arthur’s friend Mikel Rouse was the right person to make the first catalogue. Working in Tom and Arthur’s apartment he had only two weeks to go through what turned out to be around 800 tapes.

                            As Tom explained “at the end of each day he would generally wait for me to come home and I would, to the best of my knowledge, name and identify pieces in question from that day’s work. As he worked Mikel compiled about a dozen cassettes that he thought would present the most finished sounding songs for Don/Point to use. As Don listened he would then suggest and ask me and thus we collaborated on the choices.”

                            Don is Don Christensen, Another Thought’s producer. With a final selection of songs from recordings made between 1982 and 1990, including sessions with some of Arthur’s regular collaborators Peter Zummo, Steven Hall, Mustafa Ahmed, Elodie Lauten, Julius Eastman, Jennifer Warnes and Joyce Bowden, it was then Don’s job to turn these into a finished album.

                            Another Thought is a little different from the compilations of Arthur’s music that came out since. In our conversations with Steve Knutson (who founded Audika Records and who manages Arthur’s estate together with Tom), he explained that “more than any project released by Arthur during his lifetime or posthumously by Audika, ‘Another Thought’ is the most worked over. The material was significantly edited and rearranged from the original source tapes”.

                            If the aim was to release a comprehensive exploration of every facet of Arthur’s music, from the most avant-garde of his avant-garde compositions through to the most disco-not-disco of his disco-not-disco tunes then the project was a spectacular failure. But as a coherent album of non-obvious pop music Another Thought is wonderful.

                            Starting with the sparse voice-and-cello of the title track, A Little Lost adds some guitar along with the sneaking suspicion that we’re listening to something nowhere near as simple as it first sounds. By the time we get to This Is How We Walk On The Moon - it could be the moment you notice the congas, or the percussion that’s been building behind them, or maybe it’s that blast of trumpet and trombone - we realise we’ve gone from splashing around to being completely submerged in the musical world of Arthur Russell.

                            From here the album heads off on its journey around the sounds of the left-field contemporary classical music of the time, re-directed towards pop ears, with minor detours through the swirling woozy disco of the half-remembered night before on In The Light Of The Miracle and My Tiger, My Timing. Whether it’s just Arthur, his cello and some bleeps on Just A Blip, or whether he has some vocal help as he does on the bounding Keeping Up, this is difficult music made so, so easy. And through it all is Arthur’s voice and cello. Sometimes drowned in distortion and sometimes clear as a bell, but always there somewhere.

                            A Sudden Chill finally returns us to the calmer waters we started in and this last track closes the album with a melancholy that’s not surprising given how soon after Arthur’s death the album was put together.

                            Whilst Another Thought holds together with the consistency of a proper album, there’s still no getting away from the fact that this was put together from audio recorded in different ways, in different places, with different people at different times. Those with keen ears will hear traces of tape hiss, the occasional blown-out note and some digital fuzz, all fingerprints of those original recordings as well as of the 1990s digital equipment that was used to piece Another Thought together.

                            Add to this Arthur’s obvious pleasure in making music from the sort of sounds that can make microphones, speakers and ears uncomfortable, it’s no surprise that Another Thought isn’t glossy and pristine. Don Christensen’s productions have been careful to not scrub up those original recordings so much that they lose their original vibe, understandable given that Arthur wasn’t around as a guide. We’ve applied a similarly light touch with the mastering for these Be With versions, just working to make sure they sound like they should on both the vinyl and the CD.

                            Despite the Discogs rumours, Another Thought was never originally released as an LP. So when it came to the sleeve for this Be With vinyl version we took the original CD artwork as a starting point to come up with something that looks like it could have been in the record racks back in 1993.

                            We have to thank Janette Beckman for helping us reproduce her iconic photograph of Arthur in his newspaper boat hat. One of many photographs she took of Arthur, Janette shot this in her New York studio back in 1986 for a short article in the January ’87 issue of The Face Magazine. Those with eagle-eyes will notice we’ve used an ever-so-slightly different shot from the one that appeared in The Face and then again on the original cover of Another Thought. The original has long since been lost so we’ve worked with what is left in Janette’s archives. And we also have to thank Tom Lee for giving us permission to reproduce his liner notes from the original CD booklet, together with Arthur’s lyrics.


                            TRACK LISTING

                            01 : A1 : Another Thought (02:16)
                            02 : A2 : A Little Lost (03:18)
                            03 : A3 : Home Away From Home (05:12)
                            04 : A4 : Lucky Cloud (02:16)

                            05 : B1 : This Is How We Walk On The Moon (04:42)
                            06 : B2 : Hollow Tree (02:30)
                            07 : B3 : See Through Love (04:46)

                            08 : C1 : Keeping Up (06:20)
                            09 : C2 : In The Light Of The Miracle (06:05)
                            10 : C3 : Lucky Cloud (Return) (03:00)
                            11 : C4 : Just A Blip (03:42)

                            12 : D1 : Me For Real (04:55)
                            13 : D2 : Losing My Taste For The Night Life (04:34)
                            14 : D3 : My Tiger, My Timing (05:41)
                            15 : D4 : A Sudden Chill (02:45)

                            Ian Carr's Nucleus

                            Roots - Reissue

                              What an unbelievable record. From the wild cover to the iconic breakbeats, Roots from Ian Carr’s Nucleus is one of the dopest albums we know. This is seriously thick, funky-prog jazz-rock heaven. Originally released on Vertigo in 1973, other than a couple of versions at the time for other territories, Roots was never re-pressed since so it’s gone on to become another one of those impossible to find records.

                              Maybe it was a little too out there for the time, but it’s aged very, very well indeed and this Be With re-issue, re-mastered from the original analogue tapes, shows off just why this deserves to be back in press.

                              Genius trumpeter and visionary composer Ian Carr was one of the most respected British musicians of his era. He was a true pioneer and saw the potential in fusing the worlds of jazz with rock, just as Miles Davis and The Tony Williams Lifetime did in the US. In late 1969, following the demise of the Rendell-Carr quintet, and tiring of British jazz, Carr assembled the legendary Nucleus. Regarding music as a continuous process, Nucleus refused to “recognise rigid boundaries” and worked on delivering what they saw as a “total musical experience”. We can get behind that.

                              Under bandleader Carr, Nucleus existed as a fluid line-up of inventive, skilled musicians. This constant evolution and revolution was all part of the continuous musical exploration and discovery that took jazz to new levels.

                              Working together with producer Fritz Fryer and engineer Roger Wake, the seven compositions by Carr, Brian Smith and Dave MacRae that make up Roots flirt with perfection, and Nucleus at that time made up of the cream of 1970s UK jazz with Brian Smith on tenor saxophones and flutes, Dave MacRae on piano and electric piano, Jocelyn Pitchen on guitar, Roger Sutton on bass, both Clive Thacker and Aureo De Souza on drums and percussion, Joy Yates delivering the vocals and of course Carr on trumpet.

                              The spellbinding title track immediately renders the album indispensable. Riding the illest of loping breakbeats, “Roots” is low-slung, doped-out heist-funk. An absolute monster. If it sounds familiar then that’s likely down to it being sampled by Madlib for Lootpack and Quasimoto’s “Loop Digga”, as well as by a whole host of beat manipulators. “Roots” conjures prime instrumental hip-hop / beat music, only 20 years ahead of its time. Truly, these are the roots. Through sinuous bass, twinkling keys and a hypnotic guitar riff, a smoky brass motif weaves its way into a gloriously deep haze around Carr’s solos. “Roots” is over 9 minutes long, but there’s not a single wasted second, not surprising given that this is a condensed version of an originally 40 minute long commissioned composition.

                              The soothing vocal fusion delight of “Images” follows. Meticulously constructed, with gorgeous flute work from Brian Smith, with Joy Yates’ silky vocals and Dave MacRae’s Rhodes never sounding better. The cool, driving “Caliban” closes out the first side. Originally the third movement in a four part commission to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday it stands up on its own, all robust rhythms and blended brass. Keyboard colour and Carr’s trumpet are splashed across the funk drums and basslines (and there’s even some bamboo flute). This really is fusion: the elements of jazz and rock coming together in beautifully synthesis.

                              Side two opens in riotous fashion with the short, thrilling samba of “Wapatiti”. Next up, “Capricorn” forms a smoothed-out, jazzy constellation. Mellow and dreamy, its twinkling percussion and languid horns slowly build the vibe before head-nod drums and a killer bassline enter the fray. With a distinct heaviness that Black Sabbath would’ve envied, “Odokamona” is a venomous slice of riff-soaked jazz metal (yes, you read that right), elevated by Carr’s wah-wah horns.

                              The album closes with MacRae’s exceptionally cosmic “Southern Roots and Celebration”. Very much in conversation with Weather Report, it opens as a languorous, spiritual jazz of chiming keys and serene guitar that turns slowly, gorgeously into a mid-paced, brass-laced banger. It’s another sure-fire party starter and the sound of the band having a righteous blast, building an ecstatic chaos that ends with Yates screaming.

                              And of course we need to talk about Keith Davis’ cover for Roots. Perhaps the coolest record cover of all time? Certainly one of the most bonkers. Just your run-of-the-mill high-gloss, acid-tinged airbrush dystopian/utopian living-room party scene. Consider this your chemical flashback trigger warning.

                              Front-and-centre the hip-to-death green robot holds court with their giant ball of yellow barbwire wool, hooked up to… something(?) being teased out from under the stairs (probably best not to ask). A thoroughly zoned-out, long-legged Pop Art party-goer lounges half-plugged in to the painting behind her as a pair of legs flail into shot from the the top of the stairs opposite. We won’t even begin to guess what the chap’s up to in the middle, but the view out of the windows is rather nice, and someone’s already got the hoover out ready to tidy up. All of the Nucleus sleeves are something special, but this particular one? Crikey.

                              This Be With edition of Roots has been re-mastered from the original Vertigo master tapes, Simon Francis’ mastering working together with Pete Norman’s cut to weave their usual magic with these wonderful recordings. The crazy cover has been restored at Be With HQ as the finishing touch to this long overdue re-issue.


                              TRACK LISTING

                              A1. Roots (9:24)
                              A2. Images (4:55)
                              A3. Caliban (4:35)
                              B1. Whapatiti (3:22)
                              B2. Capricorn (4:00)
                              B3. Odokamona (3:24)
                              B4. Southern Roots And Celebration (7:45)

                              Maston’s Darkland is a breezy collection of the material from the Tulips sessions that didn’t make it onto the original LP. Originally a digital-only release for those in the know in the autumn of 2018, after re-issuing Tulips in 2020 it made too much sense for Be With to give Darkland a vinyl release.

                              Like Tulips, Darkland was recorded mostly in Hoorn, in the Netherlands, between 2015-2017 during downtime from Frank’s touring duties with Jacco Gardner’s band. Bits were also done in Los Angeles on some extended trips back home.

                              The collection plays like an alternate view of Maston’s instant modern classic Tulips; a companion piece to the LP proper with similar mixture of shorter themes and more full length tracks. As Frank Maston explains: “I think Darkland is the shadow of Tulips in a way… what it might’ve been in a different universe. But the heart of Tulips beats in these songs as well and they evoke the same memories and feelings for me. I see my process playing out across these songs - lots of experimentation and trying out new techniques and sounds and just sort of going for it.”

                              Frank goes on: “It was all from the same pool of material, like 30+ ideas. I was making a lot of little demos… some would be more fleshed out and become songs and others would just be a cool riff and not go anywhere. When I started trying to form it all into an LP I went through all the sessions and ideas and collected the ones I thought were the most fleshed out and cohesive together as a whole. There were a fair amount of songs that were finished and in hindsight really should have been on Tulips (like what would’ve been the title track). And the rest of these songs are either very early versions of tunes that ended up on Tulips or some cool ideas that just ended up being dead ends. It definitely shows how wide my net was in the beginning before I narrowed the record down stylistically.”

                              Darkland opens with its ornate 39 second title-track before striding into “Tulips”, that full-length title-track that never was. It’s a real head-nod, percussive-rich electric piano stunner that would’ve been a comfortable standout on the album proper. But now this “downlifting” gem is given ample room to shine on this record.

                              The funky organ-led bass and drums workout “Immaculate Conception” will keep your neck gently snapping while MPC fiends go reaching for their sampler. And that’s gospel. “Love Theme No 3” cuts a breathtakingly stylish vibra-slapped swathe through the middle of the opening side before we’re startled by the pronounced bass and twinkling percussion of “The Owl In Daylight”. Charming digi-drums underpin the wonky synth (quiet-)banger “Innovative Patterns” which has a lovely melodic switch-up in the final third before the tempo (and hairs on your neck) rise on the faintly creepy yet imminently groovy “Osiris”. The gorgeously soft-focus “Groove Experiment No 3” closes out the first half in slow-mo wonderment.

                              The lushly melancholic “Raincloud” ushers in side B before the emotionally-stirring “Phonic” taps at the door, coming on like the long lost sister to Pet Sounds’ “Let’s Go Away For A While”. Next up, the swooning beauty “Love Theme No 2” keenly sways in front of you, growing ever more insistent and hypnotic. The too-short “Italian Summer” conjures the same flirtatious imagery as the title hints at whilst “Endless” is a fascinating “piano-pella” alternative version to “Rain Dance” from Tulips. “Wonder Theme” has a nostalgic, exotic 60s swing and album closer “Willow” is a hushed, campfire folk gem. The gently circular strumming is just magical.

                              Speaking to Aquarium Drunkard back in 2019 about the sessions that became Tulips, Frank noted: “I was really surprised by the lack of sunlight during my first winter in Holland, so I would call it Darkland which then became the name of the first demo I wrote during that time. It was also the working title of the record when I first started writing. Some are full songs that didn’t make the cut (including what would have been the title track), some are just ideas that I never finished.”

                              Whilst we were working on Darkland’s vinyl release Frank explained more specifically about the music that didn’t make it on to Tulips: “When I was putting together the tracklisting for Tulips I was already thinking that whatever didn’t make it onto the LP would be cool to release eventually somehow. The response to Tulips has been so passionate over the years that it’s nice to be able to offer another piece of that world. And for me personally it’s amazing to have more of my work out there in the world. Most common bit of feedback was that many of these songs should have been on Tulips. The odd friend says it’s much better than Tulips.”

                              Just like Tulips before it, Simon Francis’s vinyl mastering for Darkland has been cut at 45rpm so you can trip out to this as well at a woozy 33 1/3. The artwork too has been designed by Frank himself as a literal visual continuation of the Tulips cover.

                              We couldn’t possibly say whether Darkland is better than Tulips, and luckily we don’t have to decide.


                              TRACK LISTING

                              A1. Darkland (00:39)
                              A2. Tulips (02:55)
                              A3. Immaculate Conception (00:46)
                              A4. Love Theme No 3 (01:23)
                              A5. The Owl In Daylight (00:51)
                              A6. Innovative Patterns (02:24)
                              A7. Osiris 
                              A8. Groove Experiment No 3 
                              B1. Raincloud
                              B2. Phonic 
                              B3. Love Theme No 2 
                              B4. Italian Summer 
                              B5. Endless 
                              B6. Wonder Theme 
                              B7. Willow

                              Ocean Moon is a solo project from Jon Tye of Seahawks. A long time explorer of the sounds of spaciousness, having released the ambient classic LP iO in 1994 as MLO, Crystal Harmonics is a document of Jon’s latest discoveries. An ambient/new age/modern classical library suite for KPM, this is inter-dimensional music for mind, body and spirit.

                              Island Visions, the recent collection of music from Seahawks for KPM, touched on the deeper, more spatial side of music and led to Jon exploring this territory in greater depth, again for KPM, under his Ocean Moon alter ego. This time he brought along some of today’s most visionary musicians: Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle / Ghostbox) for his intuitive melodic mastery, Seaming To (Graham Massey’s Toolshed) for her extraordinary vocal talents, Steve Moore (Zombi) for his sophisticated and inventive rhythmic sensibility and Richard Norris (The Grid) for his sensitive and deeply resonant ambience. The initial recordings were made at The Centre Of Sound in Cornwall, with the collaborators various contributions coming from London, Derbyshire and the US.

                              The supremely serene electronic flute and bells of “Crystal Drift” ease us into our journey and we take our next steps with “Rainbow Ripples” as it gently folds space with arpeggiated synth swells and delicate machine beats. Light vocal tones, bells and breath FX on “And Breathe” keep us going, accompanied by synth drones and billows of electric piano.

                              We travel through the synth-space-surf haze of “Lost Oceans”, with soft bass and warm ambience, to reach the “New Infinity” of revolving melody, spacious pads and light electronic beats. The celestial tone floats of “White Mirror” close out the first side.

                              Temple bells ring out to running water flowing together with deep resonant vocal tones as the second side opens with “Peace Bells”. “Revolving and Evolving” follows, a tranquil electronic meadow of lush pastoral synth tones where we rest for a while for “Mountain Dreaming”, a light rhythmic dance of zither and birdsong.

                              The undulating “Forest Motion” ripples with synth arpeggios, dreamy Solina strings and percussive modular electronics before allowing the crackling ambience and Cantonese whispers of “Sleep Golden” to wash over us. Finally we find ourselves on “The Long Path”, its warm temple ambience of drones and chants guiding us home.

                              Crystal Harmonics is inspired by four particular albums from KPM’s catalogue. There’s The Electronic Light Orchestra by Adrian Wagner from 1975 and then Temple Of The Stars, Breath Of Life and finally Keith Mansfield’s Circles, these last three coming from KPM’s mid-1980s run of modern classical/New Age gems. For Jon, “making library music can be very liberating. I really enjoyed the additional focus it brought to the music working on different facets of composition with each collaborator”.

                              But Crystal Harmonics is no mere exercise in vulger pastiche. As the past, present and future sound of paradise, this fresh exploration of mid-90s ambient and original New Age sounds exists outside of our linear experience of time.

                              The cover started as a collage Jon made a couple of years ago, a different expression of the same impulses that guided the music. As a nod to the records that provided seeds of inspiration, the collage was framed by KPM’s house style of the 1980s for the finished sleeve by Richard Robinson.

                              Mastered for vinyl by Be With’s sonic shaman Simon Francis, cut by the legendary Pete Norman and pressed in the Netherlands by Record Industry, Ocean Moon’s Crystal Harmonics is the tranquil balm for these turbulent times.


                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Matt says: Ex Piccadilly staff Rob Butler's labour of love continues in earnest signing up this fully original work of art by Seahawks main man, John Tye. Calm and unhurried, strikingly emotive and serene.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              A1 : Crystal Drift (03:56)
                              A2 : Rainbow Ripples (04:08)
                              A3 : And Breathe (02:10)
                              A4 : Lost Oceans (01:34)
                              A5 : New Infinity (05:03)
                              A6 : White Mirror (02:54)

                              B1 : Peace Bells (02:40)
                              B2 : Revolving Evolving (03:34)
                              B3 : Mountain Dreaming (02:03)
                              B4 : Forest Motion (03:16)
                              B5 : Sleep Golden (03:16)
                              B6 : The Long Path (03:29)

                              Tommy Guerrero

                              A Little Bit Of Somethin' - 2019 Repress

                              The cult skater from San Francisco is globally renowned as one of the original members of the legendary 'Bones Brigade' team. And as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, his laid-back soul is beloved by all who’ve basked in its blissful glow. There’s something elemental about this music that really stirs the soul. Strikingly beautiful and instantly addictive, it’s a kind of funk-fuelled, melody-driven, groove-based magic. There's a serenity and heart in the playing that radiates warmth and splendour, as if crafted for endless sunsets. His albums that surfaced on Mo Wax at the turn of the century have been treasured since their release and it’s two of his most vital LPs that we're honoured to reintroduce.

                              "A Little Bit Of Somethin" is a quietly majestic gem. Brimming with Guerrero’s horizontal 'loose grooves', these brief but innovative instrumentals demonstrate a rich variety and, as such, comprise an LP that is aptly titled. An enchanting start-to-finish listen, it was instantly regarded as essential upon release via Mo Wax in 2000. It has aged remarkably well.

                              Throughout this inspired collection, simplicity is key. In deploying it, Guerrero presents a beautifully crafted melodic soundscape. The distinctive, mellifluous approach of his guitar style, blending Brazilian, Cuban, Mexican, soul and jazz motifs, is at once startlingly new and tantalisingly familiar. Set against unrushed percussion, the music releases a crystal clear stream of healing frequencies to create a fragile, hypnotic atmosphere.

                              Each track clocks in at around three minutes and, with a lack of studio polish or commitment to traditional song structure, it’s a wonder how this enigmatic record demands your attention. However, through its gentle dynamism and impressive playing, it does just that. Whilst resolutely low-key, this lo-fi aesthetic feels genuinely organic and remarkably personal; its powerful intimacy truly connects. It’s what makes this album so beloved of those lucky enough to be already familiar with it. From Margaret Kilgallen's truly iconic cover artwork to the music contained within, it's all brilliantly effortless.

                              Guerrero’s musical ideas are consistently compelling throughout, making it impossible to select highlights. The album’s laconic drift touches upon jazz-fusion workouts and slow-mo hip-hop drums, Tortoise-style experimental post-rock and cinematic sound textures. It’s at once hazy, light and bouncy yet sombre and bluesy. The Latin soul of El Chicano blends with the breezy jazz of Grant Green. By employing guitars and drum machines to create a stripped down rhythmic tapestry of spellbinding, addictive songs, there are even traces of The Durutti Column. A little bit of country, a little bit of rock & roll. "A Little Bit Of Somethin’", indeed.


                              TRACK LISTING

                              A1 : Blue Masses
                              A2 : Four Trk Samba
                              A3 : Tiny
                              A4 : Numb Millenium
                              B1 : 100 Years
                              B2 : Pescadito
                              B3 : Azucar
                              C1 : Flux And Meter
                              C2 : It’s Raining Again
                              C3 : Today Like Everyday
                              C4 : Soul Miner
                              D1 : As The Sea Holds Creatures Vast And True
                              D2 : So Blue It’s Black
                              D3 : Little Chin

                              Tommy Guerrero

                              Soul Food Taqueria

                                It's rare that a certain sound is entirely an artist's own. Although undeniably a stew of impeccable influences – from blues to folk to Latin to dusty funk, soul and hip-hop – one cannot hear a Tommy Guerrero song without immediately recognising it as his - and his only.

                                The cult skater from San Francisco is globally renowned as one of the original members of the legendary "Bones Brigade" team. And as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, his laid-back soul is beloved by all who've basked in its blissful glow.

                                There's something elemental about this music that really stirs the soul. Strikingly beautiful and instantly addictive, it's a kind of funk-fuelled, melody-driven, groove-based magic. There's a serenity and heart in the playing that radiates warmth and splendour, as if crafted for endless sunsets. His albums that surfaced on Mo Wax at the turn of the century have been treasured since their release and it's one of his most vital LPs that returns today.

                                The originals were quietly pressed on to a single piece of vinyl and they have been lovingly remastered, cut nice and loud on to heavyweight double vinyl and presented in deluxe gatefold jackets. “Soul Food Taqueria” continued Guerrero's guitar soul but represented a step forward with its polished production and greater complexity of instrumentation. Denied the promotion it deserved upon release, it flew under the radar. It is now the most wanted record of his wondrous back catalogue.

                                Guerrero's atmospheric touch and subtle guitar provide lush, glimmering pieces of musical texture. Within his spacious compositions, uniquely arranged instruments flourish alongside each other to create a languid soundtrack for halcyon days.

                                As ever, the diversity on display is beguiling. From bossa nova, samba and cumbia rhythms to understated folk, funk and soul grooves, this is another exotic set of mellow gold; perfectly represented by ESPO's memorable artwork. Furthermore, the title's hybridity reflects the intoxicating sweep of stylistic flavours served up, reminding us that, however tricky it is to categorise Guerrero's special blend, it's always a pleasure to indulge in something so creative and adventurous.

                                Dubby, bass-heavy instrumentals give way to moody folk-soul – witness "It Gets Heavy", featuring melancholic vocals from Gresham Taylor – whilst "Thank You MK" is a gentle ode to the tropics, featuring ethereal instrumentation, bright bass and warm, jazzy guitars. The second half in particular contains a number of stunning ambient tracks – check "Lost Unfound", "Another Brother Gone" and "Broken Blood" - built around minimalist, laid-back grooves and detailed guitar orchestrations which wouldn't be out of place on the latest Jonny Nash release.

                                Guerrero closes this flawless set with a moment of true beauty. Restrained and graceful, "Falling Awake" is a pared back piece containing meditative guitar melodies set against melancholic piano arrangements. It brings proceedings to the most peaceful close. Seductively good, it reminds you just how great simplicity can sound.


                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Patrick says: Superb slacker funk and sunkissed downbeat from legendary skater Tommy Guerrero. A classic that's filling the margarita shaped hole in my life on this sweltering Piccadilly afternoon.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                Lectric Chile Goat (intro) (0:57)
                                Abierto (3:58)
                                Organism (4:07)
                                Thank You MK (3:51)
                                Tatanka (4:09)
                                Train Of Thought (interlude) (1:20)
                                It Gets Heavy (feat Gresham Taylor) (3:23)
                                Thin Brown Layer (4:39)
                                So Many Years Ago (interlude) (0:31)
                                Terra Unfirma (4:04)
                                Gettin It Together (feat Lyrics Born) (3:21)
                                Another Brother Gone (2:25)
                                Broken Blood (3:47)
                                And The Day Goes By (interlude) (1:30)
                                Lost Unfound (3:30)
                                The Color Of Life (3:55)
                                Falling Awake (3:53)

                                “Larry Jon Wilson? He can break your heart with a voice like a cannonball.” - Kris Kristofferson.

                                Larry Jon Wilson came to the party late. When he arrived in Nashville, country soul pioneer Tony Joe White had already made six albums. Townes Van Zandt had made seven, Mickey Newbury eight. Kristofferson, the accepted High Priest of the New Nashville, had made five. Larry Jon, by the time he arrived, had spent ten years in corporate America.

                                He did not start playing guitar until the age of 30, but five years later he released his debut, New Beginnings (1975) and followed it just a year later with Let Me Sing My Song To You, both on Monument Records. A revelation among the hipsters and critics of Nashville, the LPs ensured Larry Jon was immediately embraced as part of the mid-70s “outlaw country movement” that eschewed slick production in favour of a raw, gritty approach. When a film crew came to document this burgeoning sound, they made straight for Larry Jon's door. The legendary Heartworn Highways (1981) featured his mesmerising performance of “Ohoopee River Bottomland”.

                                He was a singer and writer of intensely private, painfully moving tales of southern life. With his deep, papa-bear voice, funky southern groove, and richly evocative narratives of rural Georgia, Larry Jon was a unique stylist but his gutsy, greasy sound did not translate into sales. Too funky for the country crowd, too heartfelt for pop radio, he fell between the cracks. We hope the long-overdue reissue of his first two albums will go some way to rectifying this. Indeed, both New Beginnings and Let Me Sing My Song to You - so similar they play like two halves of a double album – showcase his unique mix of country, folk, soul and swampy blues.

                                New Beginnings failed to propel Larry Jon to even the relatively modest cult acclaim enjoyed by his likeminded contemporaries. And some of the frustration this conjured can be heard on 1976′s Let Me Sing My Song To You. Both the title track and the self-deprecating “Drowning in the Mainstream” speak of Wilson’s hope to inch at least a few steps towards the big time without making too many compromises. Any album containing the likes of the heartfelt, deeply beautiful tribute of “Ballad of Handy Mackey” and the superlative country-gothic funk opus ‘Sheldon Churchyard’ – the lead track from the lauded Country Got Soul compilation - must rank as essential listening.

                                The audio for Let Me Sing My Song To You comes from the original analogue tape transfers and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. We’ve taken the same care with the striking cover art and we were honoured when Larry’s close friend Jeb Loy Nichols kindly agreed to contribute wonderfully unique liner notes, presented beautifully on the printed inner sleeve opposite a gorgeous black and white shot of Larry, mid-performance.


                                TRACK LISTING

                                Drowning In The Mainstream
                                Let Me Sing My Song To You
                                Sheldon Churchyard
                                I Remember It Well
                                The Ballad Of Handy Mackey
                                Think I Feel A Hitchhike Coming On
                                Willoughby Grove
                                Life Of A Good Man
                                Kindred Spirit

                                Nick Ingman

                                Distinctive Themes / Race To Achievement LP (THE KPM Reissues)

                                2018 Reissue – Remastered From Original Tapes, Carefully Reproduced Original Art.

                                Released in 1976, Distinctive Themes / Race To Achievement is legendary arranger Nick Ingman exploring the two distinct ideas of “impressive themes varying in style from ‘Basie to Elgar’” and “a study in the pressure and rewards of achievement”.

                                Distinctive Themes is a veritable indulgence of variously-tempoed, full orchestra, big band workouts, from relaxed swing to more propulsive themes. The progressively building “Expanding Markets” is a true highlight, with its rolling pianos, contemplative electric guitar solos and moody horns over skipping beats. The dramatic “Against The Odds” is another stand-out.

                                Race To Achievement is all rugged funk with stabbing chords and strutting horns and it’s probably our favourite side. Of course we have to acknowledge the fantastic “Tense Preparation”, sampled by Prince Paul and Dan The Automator for Handsome Boy Modeling School’s seminal “Magnetizing” with Del Tha Funky Homosapien. But the whole side’s range from tense underscores to fast and punchy chase themes makes this is a gem of the KPM catalogue.

                                As with all ten re-issues, the audio for Distinctive Themes / Race To Achievement comes from the original analogue tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. We’ve taken the same care with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity.


                                TRACK LISTING

                                Happy To Be Alive
                                Basie 77
                                It's Easy
                                Expanding Markets
                                Land Of Opportunity
                                Against The Odds
                                Ooops!
                                Pride In Purpose
                                Winner Takes All – Opening
                                Winner Takes All – Closing
                                The Road Forward – Opening
                                The Road Forward – Closing
                                Trademark, Tense Preparation
                                Light Preparation
                                Under Pressure
                                Speedway
                                Double Quick
                                Made It
                                Pick Up
                                Accolade

                                Alan Hawkshaw And Brian Bennett

                                Full Circle LP

                                  Their NEW album, in full, iconic KPM cover is a return to the laidback jazz-funk that helped Alan and Brian demonstrate their library chops. The album is classic Hawkshaw/Bennett. It swings, it grooves, moves and thrills with a flair these two have perfected over years.

                                  Alan Hawkshaw (piano/Hammond) and Shadow’s drummer Brian Bennett are responsible for some of the slickest, funkiest and most sought-after library records ever made in the UK, particularly ones recorded on the legendary KPM label. Their work has now become the go-to place for sampling in music today. Artists such as Dilla, Nas, and the xx, right through to the billion selling Kanye & Drake have taken Hawkshaw’s and Bennett’s immaculate beat-driven soundscapes for their own usage.

                                  Their new album, in full, iconic KPM cover is a return to the laidback jazz-funk that helped Alan and Brian demonstrate their library chops. The album is classic Hawkshaw/Bennett. It swings, it grooves, moves and thrills with a flair these two have perfected over years.

                                  Standout tracks such as "Hole In One", "In The Clouds", "Interchange", "Oasis", "On The Nile" and "Corcovado" are no mere excursions in nostalgia, for they carry lots of deft studio work that many a producer would give their right arm for. Hawkshaw’s arrangements allow the drums, guitar, bass, strings, Hammond, flute and brass to swirl elegantly around the 12 original tracks; a masterclass in recording.

                                  Cut by Pete Norman, housed in a beautifully designed Richard Robinson sleeve and pressed at 180g by Record Industry in Holland, this release has been afforded the care and attention it rightly deserves. Essential.


                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Patrick says: The kings of the KPM library scene, groove barons Alan Hawkshaw and Brian Bennett hit the studio together for the first time in years and treat us to an eagerly anticipated LP of new material. As you'd expect from this pair of heroes, it's a far out and funky affair. KPM x BeWith for the win!!!

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Flying
                                  Hole In One
                                  Reignited
                                  Straight Up
                                  Serengeti
                                  Open Road
                                  In The Clouds
                                  Corcovado
                                  On The Nile
                                  Marrakech
                                  Oasis
                                  Midnight Jazz

                                  2018 Reissue – Remastered From Original Tapes, Carefully Reproduced Original Art.

                                  James Clarke’s Mystery Movie was released in 1974 as “modern, small group compositions in various moods. Ideally suited to the new Americanised style of T.V. and cinema film where music is used to create the mood and carry the action”. So this collection covers a lot of bases, but it does so brilliantly and has absolutely no right to be such a fantastic listen from start to finish. Mystery Movie is best known for the slick drum breaks underpinning the top-notch jazz-funk chase theme “Car Patrol”, the fuzz riffing and ARP soloing of “The Heavies” and the slow-mo strut of “Mystery Moll”. “Study In Fear” and “Empty Streets” are horror soundtrack fodder of the finest sort. However, it’s the understated, plaintive pieces that we find the most rewarding. Ambient feels and strung-out fried-folk treats, full of cyclical naïve melodies. Music that evokes the ‘downlifting’ Ronnie Lane and Ron Wood instrumentals from their great Mahoney’s Last Stand LP, as well as the beautiful soundtrack work of Jack Nitzsche and Ry Cooder. You might also recognise “Waiting Game” from being sampled by melodic downbeat masters Express Rising. Check “Relaxed Theme”, “Quiet Girl”, “Routine Procedure” and “Quietness Sustained” for a melodic, melancholic set, with the last three performed on just acoustic guitar and harp. Gorgeous work. As with all ten re-issues, the audio for Mystery Movie comes from the original analogue tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. We’ve taken the same care with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity.


                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  Mystery Prelude
                                  Car Patrol - Title Sequence
                                  Breathless
                                  Breathless - Short Version
                                  Waiting Game
                                  Mystery Moll
                                  Mystery Movement
                                  The Heavies
                                  Dirty Scene
                                  Study In Fear
                                  Empty Streets
                                  Night Watch
                                  Foot Patrol
                                  Quiet Girl
                                  Relaxed Scene
                                  Routine Procedure
                                  Quietness Sustained

                                  Francis Coppieters

                                  Piano Viberations LP (THE KPM Reissues)

                                  2018 Reissue – Remastered From Original Tapes, Carefully Reproduced Original Art.

                                  Piano Viberations’ “small group jazz featuring piano and vibes with rhythm” makes for a gorgeous Francis Coppieters showcase, surely one of Belgium’s best-kept musical secrets. Released in 1975, and arguably the most low-key of the KPM and Themes records we’re re-issuing, this is easily our current favourite.

                                  “The Open Highway” is the appropriately-named opener, and immediately demonstrates Coppieters’ dexterous interplay between piano and vibes in assured, joyous fashion. The shuffling bossa of “Sales Notes” is a jaw-dropper, well-mined by samplers with impeccable taste. The mellow head-nod drum-break that is “Funky Chimes” brilliantly demonstrates Coppieters’ quiet majestic side with its slow-motion funk rhythm with beautifully reflective notes throughout.

                                  The upbeat and joyful “Cross Talk” closes out side A. Vibes and piano are definitely at the heart of the arrangement here. The quick cut movement of “Piano In Transit” is another gem, driven principally by piano but those vibes along for more than just the ride. On a more gentle, elegiac note, “To Shearing With Love” is a warm, slow, romantic piece in the style of George Shearing. It’s plaintive and sublime.

                                  Piano Viberations is one of those rare library records the original description of which makes as much sense now as it did when it was first released. Piano and vibes with rhythm indeed.
                                  As with all ten re-issues, the audio for Piano Viberations comes from the original analogue tapes and has been remastered for vinyl by Be With regular Simon Francis. We’ve taken the same care with the sleeves, handing the reproduction duties over to Richard Robinson, the current custodian of KPM’s brand identity.


                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  The Open Highway
                                  Funky Chimes
                                  Bright Blue Note
                                  To Shearing With Love
                                  Cross Talk
                                  Waltz On The Off Beat
                                  Blues In The Basement
                                  Piano In Transit
                                  Sales Talk
                                  Kings Road Chelsea
                                  Samba De Negra


                                  A certified UK boogie bomb, originally released in 1982, and coming hot on the heels of the Be With Records Pink Rhythm reissue campaign. Original copies are incredibly hard to come by so grab a copy of this officially licensed, fully remastered, reissue before the 500 copies (for the world) find their forever homes.

                                  Side On were a one-off UK soul dream team, consisting of Peter Maas (Freeez/Pink Rhythm bassist), Everton McCalla (Freeez/Light Of The World/Potion) and the legendary Rick Clarke (Potion). 

                                  Originally released on Beggars Banquet, it's a huge, feel good, Brit Funk classic and a massive record with everybody's favourite boogie aficionado, Dam-Funk.

                                  Unmissable.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  David says: Hoowee it's getting hot in here, did someone put the heating on? No? Then it must be the fire that is Side On's 'Magic'playing in the shop. The ace, Beggars, Brit Funk classic, lovingly restored just for you, you lucky LUCKY people.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Magic
                                  2. A Magic Version 

                                  Bô'vel

                                  Check 4 U

                                    This is it. The number one. El Numero Uno. The Bomb. The tune that gives you street soul bass up in your face and will destroy your speakers if you're not careful. Quite simply the greatest & most sought after street soul holy grail of them all. The sound of Manchester then and now. Adored the world over and currently (ambitiously) selling on Discogs for £1999.00. Bô'vel - Check 4 U (1996) will finally be available again via Be With in July.

                                    Fully remastered, produced in conjunction with Bô'vel herself and our man RUF DUG and featuring the huge METRODOME remix everyone's been raving about on the flip. Ltd. to 1000. Don't sleep. ENJOY.

                                    STAFF COMMENTS

                                    Matt says: Here it is folks! Most anticipated 12" of the year following HOT-2-TROT plays at Ruffy's Lab, Red Laser, Wet Play AND Friend's And Family. A taste of pure MCR history, from '96 to now with the original conceived way back during the first bout of Three Lions fever while Metrodome's remix brings the flavour straight back to Moss Side circa 2k18. This is the real shit!!!

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1.  Check 4 U
                                    2.  Check 4 U (Metrodome UK-Gee Mix)

                                    Michael Wycoff

                                    Looking Up To You / Diamond Real (Tee Scott Instrumental Mix)

                                      Two seminal 12" mixes of a pair of Michael Wycoff heavy hitters from 1982. One a two-step favourite and one a Loft classic, these sought-after versions have never been paired on the same record.

                                      Side A features the smooth-gliding anthem "Looking Up To You". The unmistakable snap of that sighing intro is unlike anything else. As such, it's no surprise that Leon Ware, celebrated master of the unexpected chord, has his fingerprints all over the track. Co-written with Zane Grey, "Looking Up To You" stands among the very best of Leon's staggering bank of compositions, both solo and with Michael Jackson, Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye. It's such an influential track, serving as the sample foundation of a massive top five R&B hit for Zhane in 1993, but it has never been bettered upon. Original 12" copies – if you can find them – go for over £50 today, making this side worth the price of admission alone.

                                      If that wasn't enough, it's arguable that the B-Side wins again. A staple of David Mancuso's New York Loft parties, the Tee Scott mix of uplifting boogie gem "Diamond Real" is on another level entirely. A DJ legend of infamous clubs Better Days and Zanzibar and a trailblazing innovator, Tee Scott mastered the art of the reconstructive club mix.

                                      For maximum destruction of discerning dancers, Be With have opted for his heavenly dub. 7 minutes of devastatingly slick dance floor dynamite, at once polished and dilapidated, its ecstatic charm is universal.

                                      Devout lovers of modern soul have long worshipped the rapturous, sophisticated funk of Michael Wycoff. In combining that richly elegant voice, redolent of Donny Hathaway, with the production of keyboardist and arranger Webster Lewis, it's no surprise that both of these tracks became vital club classics of the early 80s R&B scene. Clear, full-bodied and bright – the 12" versions of these tracks are notoriously punchier than those featured on Wycoff's LP, and feature boomin' low end and neck-snapping drums. Buy on sight.



                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                      Patrick says: MASSIVE Be With 12" here pairing Michael Wycoff's biggest hit, the hair raising disco/club soul/jazz funk gem'Looking Up To You', with a rare Tee Scott instrumental mix of Loft classic "Diamond Real". Pressed to perfection, this is must have tackle for the collector and DJ alike.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      Looking Up To You
                                      Diamond Real (Tee Scott Instrumental Mix) 


                                      Latest Pre-Sales

                                      198 NEW ITEMS

                                      Looking great John 👌Thanks for ordering and sharing 🙏 https://t.co/rHCupRQrAG) @DeadOceans @whereisMUNA https://t.co/B0pGopRUjc
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                                      Fri 24th - 12:12
                                      #newmusicfriday has come round once again 🙌 Here’s a small selection of some of the great records out today. Labe… https://t.co/sVeUkRwTNe
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