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MELODIES INTERNATIONAL

Womack & Womack

MPB - Missin' Persons Bureau

Any Melodies International release causes a certain amount of hullabaloo, but their latest disc has had eager customers beating down our door in anticipation. Dedicating their 11th release to both soul and house royalty, the digging crew have licensed a pair of tough to track down Frankie Knuckles remixes of Womack & Womack soul classic M.P.B. Originally appearing on their late 80s "Conscious" LP, "Missing Persons Bureau" is a beautiful slice of modern soul all about a lover running out on you. Though the Womacks were initially apprehensive about the idea of a rework, Island impressario Chris Blackwell won them over and sent the masters to all time house hero Frankie Knuckles, who turned out a pair of pearls. Working his magic for 9 A-side minutes, Frankie splices the club soul of the original into a slow and soulful house groove, flipping our lids with a wondrous SH101 bassline, subtle percussion, bright vamps and a sparing use of the original instrumentation. Spacious and special, this is up there with the legend's Loose Ends remix. If you're peaking already, I suggest you call to mind the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre (something to keep the wolf from the door), because the money shot is over on the B-side. A long time Balearic holy grail, Frankie's Folk Version takes some of the 'Hallucinagenic' sound design he brought to "Ain't Nobody", applies it to the Havens's style guitar and vocals, then gradually introduces synth bass, subtle drums and some very familiar piano to create an absolute masterpiece. As good as any of Frankie's productions, and the best moment in the Womack and Womack catalogue, this is total must have tackle.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Melodies International come through with an ESSENTIAL reissue here, delivering some psychedelic folk splendour courtesy of Frankie Knuckles sublime 'Folk Version' of MPB. Soulful, grooving and folky in a Richie Havens kind of way, this is a must have record for soul fans, house heads and the Balearic crowd.

With its latest reissue, Majik’s "Back Into Your Heart", Melodies International dig deep into the back catalogue of Hi Records, legendary soul label from Memphis founded in the 1950s.
Originally signed as a recording artist, Willie Mitchell took the reigns of the label and guided it through its most successful period in the 1970s, notably producing a string of studio recordings for Al Green, Syl Johnson and O.V. right among other eminent soul musicians of the time. Whilst the Hi Records catalogue shifted hands multiple times since the late 1970s, it was mainly exploited as a means to reissue recordings from Al Green and other high profile Hi Records artists (notably by Motown) while the label’s more obscure back catalogue remained largely untouched. Years later, a few of the lesser known one offs from the label’s vaults have found a second life amonst collectors, DJs and dancefloors the world over. Instilled with the distinctively raw Hi records production and a floor ready 4/4, cuts such as Africano's "Open Your Hearts" have become classics at You're A Melody, and their latest reissue looks set to join it. "Back Into Your Heart" does its thang with the uptempo bump of a disco winner, the emotive vocals and outrageous playing of a soul classic and the aggression and attitude of a funk bomb. Think Theo, Jeremy Underground, MCDE or Floating Points and you're in the right record bags. Skip to the flip and "Dance. Dance, Dance" keeps the party powering on with a squelching bassline, wild clavinet riffs and an incessant groove. Licensed and re-mastered, MEL010 comes forth in its original 7” format with a folded 14”x14” poster designed by Mafalda.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Outrageous disco funk here on Melodies International's latest reissue heater. Rescued from the vaults of Hi Records, Majik do their thing with two unstoppable uptempo jams that are guaranteed to make you "ugh" with their total funk power.

It is Melodies International’s greatest pleasure to bring forth its latest reissue comprising two stripped-back, reflective pieces of US folk soul. Largely forgotten for the past forty-odd years, Bobby Wright (now Abu Talib)’s "Blood Of An American" and "Everyone Should Have His Day" resurface as politically-infused works that shine bright and still hold meaning to this day.

The 60s and 70s constituted an exceptional era for its unique blend of popular culture and political radicalism. Household names such as Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye and Gil Scott-Heron used art to express their discontent with the current state of affairs, namely the US government’s involvement in warfare and their inability to deal with critical social issues of the time. Though not a musician, Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay Jr) was advocating a similar anti-government stance in the boxing ring, and his objection to serving in the Vietnam War sealed his status as an icon for the wider counterculture generation. Meanwhile in Queens, New York City, Abu used to work several jobs as a construction worker and cab driver – but still found time to play with his band in clubs for $100 a night to support his family. Against the backdrop of international conflict and violence, most of his surroundings failed to listen to how he felt. However, he considered music to be the greatest form of communication with the world and it was his belief that a positive message should be spread to future generations. After one band member was killed in Vietnam and another went into the service, Abu resolved to pick up his guitar and record these songs as a duet in 1974 with his bassist – the only other remaining band member. Combining guitar, bass and a voice that quavers with emotion he self-released the record in 1974, one which holds its own alongside the all-time greats.

These songs of introspection remind us of the beauty there is in simplicity and how moving art can be when the feelings expressed come from the heart. MEL009 will be released in its original 7” format alongside a 16-page Melozine, featuring words from Abu Talib, social studies professor Paul Rekret and much more.


Melodies International proudly moves forward with an elusive piece of mid-tempo Chicago soul originally performed by Gloria J. Jennings in 1977.

Gloria was signed to Stage Productions as a gospel singer with pure and raw talent she had developed in the choir of her father's Southern Baptist Church. She was 16 years old at the time. To tutor her for R&B vocals, Willie C. Nance of Stage Productions spent 3 months taking the artist back and forth for vocal training 25 miles each way, 3 days per week.

At the time, Mr. Nance had made plans to work with singer and songwriter Theresa Eagins to record “Know What You Want”. However, two days before the recording was set to begin, Ms. Eagins refused to move forward with the recording as she chose to take her religious faith more seriously and forgo the singing of secular music. Hence, Stage Productions turned to Gloria Jay to perform a song that would go on to move people thousands of miles away, many years later.

One of them was Patrick Forge: “Back around 1990 I had a residency upstairs at the Wag Club on a Friday night alongside Paul Martin (he was Gilles P’s A&R right hand man at Talkin Loud), the night was called Respect and we played mainly Soul, Boogie and Jazz-Funk. Many years later I bumped into Paul at a record shop and he quizzed me about a tune I used to play at the end of the night at Respect. Hhe described it as being an independent Soul seven inch on a red label, slow to mid tempo... and more to the point a bullet of a record. It piqued my curiosity so much I burrowed through my seven inches and even made Paul a compilation of likely contenders; his response was “lovely selection, but it’s not on there!”. Damn, a mystery! Many moons later whilst I was living in Japan, my tenant in my London flat said she’d found an old mixtape I’d done for her way back when and was desperate to know the identity of something she was calling the “choo choo song”. Eventually when I was back in London she played the mixtape and I quickly identified her tune as “Fabrica” by Cesar Mariano, however letting the tape play some time later a familiar descending chord sequence catapulted me back to those Friday nights at The Wag, and Gloria Jay’s plaintive vocals reminded me of a record that had been absent from my life for far too long. I’ve no idea what happened to my original copy, I hunted another one down straight away, and I’ve kept it close ever since. “Know What You Want” is a song that goes deep in such a simple, unaffected, almost naive way, Gloria's voice is both sweet and raw, it’s built on simple chords and obvious instrumentation, but it’s so much greater than the sum of its parts.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: Gloria Jay swings us into a soulful haze of funky beats and heavenly vocals which just make you wanna groove! Charmingly simple yet filled with beautifully composed aspects which bring this to life with soul.

FORMAT INFORMATION

7" Info: 7” comes with a 14” by 14” fold out poster.


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