Last year the Daptone Records family went on tour with a series of revue style shows that saw the entire Daptone roster perform together for the first time, culminating in three sold-out nights at the Apollo Theatre in New York. The second volume of “Daptone Gold” – greatest hits, rarities and favourites – further showcases the talent at the Brooklyn label and is ever more vital by the inclusion of a few 45 only tracks as well as 2 unreleased tracks.
Amongst label favourites here are Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ “Better Things”, their excellent Shuggie Otis cover “Inspiration Information” and the storming “Retreat!” from their latest album – as well as The Dap-Kings “Thunderclap” instrumental, one of the unreleased gems here together with 45 only “Little Boys With Shiny Toys”. The inimitable “Screaming Eagle of Soul” Charles Bradley spotlights on album tracks “Strictly Reserved For You” and “Heartaches and Pain”, as well as the 45 only funk of “Luv Jones” duet with LaRose Jackson. Antibalas’ Fela styled “Dirty Money”, Sugarman 3’s “Got To Get Back To My Baby” and the unreleased “You Got To Move” by Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens amongst other winners here.
The double LP is packaged in a silver foil gatefold sleeve and comes with a full-size poster, liner notes and Daptone logo iron-on. The CD is packaged in a deluxe embossed silver foil digipak with liner notes. 21 tracks of greatness on Daptone Gold II showcase brilliantly why Daptone Records is so highly acclaimed amongst listeners.
Helsinki’s soul revivalists, The Soul Investigators return with their third collaborative album with Brooklyn born, Helsinki resident, Nicole Willis. Self penned, performed, produced and released on their own label “Timmion Records”. Entitled “Happiness In Every Style”, it does indeed shift through a variety of styles, each track quite different from the last; though not all about happiness, it does have some very high moments and is generally a lighter affair than their 2013 “Tortured Soul” album. Two of the highest moments are provided by the singles “One In A Million” and “Paint Me In A Corner”, both with a bright and catchy northern soul meets deep funk feel and both with terrific energy. The album title itself comes from a line in the lyrics for the thrilling, high energy funker “Let’s Communicate”. Elsewhere the feel ranges from moody, to light, reflective, noirish and even some nice afro influences to the flute-driven instrumental “Bad Viberations”. The playing handled on all with a raw tinged, confident swagger.
Admittedly, all through my first listen, I was secretly hoping to hear the likes of the epic closing track from Tortured Soul, “You Got Me Moon Walking” – one of my favourite album tracks of recent years – a full, stretched-out groove with plenty of interesting changes. Whilst perhaps there is nothing quite as epic here, there are certainly epic moments such as the vibes solo of “Paint Me In A Corner” for one, the magnificent organ solo that closes the beautiful “Angel” for another. I certainly feel this is their most accomplished, mature album yet and the lofty singles to be career best. Also noteworthy, is the very tasty bonus track “Hot Sauce”, a very simple groove that doesn’t change up much but is nevertheless a low-down, nasty piece of funk in all the best ways.
All round greatness, variety, warmth and depth from Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – a fine and mature album with a few tracks that should stay with you for a while and last the test of time as all good soul music does.
Funkalicious is serving up the real-deal funk & soul with all natural ingredients. Selected by DJs Philster & Mr Higgs, we will be bringing dance floor favourites to White Horse Brixton once again – from the 60’s to now. Come join in.
Friday 4th September
9pm-3am – Free
White Horse Brixton
94 Brixton Hill
London SW2 1QN
Solid West Coast grooves from San Diego, California, The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble neatly play their way through 12 cool and deep instrumental numbers. Taking on a variety of different styles, the band master stripped down funk on “Laying Low”, afro funk on “The Hunt” and choppy funk on “Strollin’ Adams”. There’s even the sound of 1960’s London thrown in on the groovy “Funky River” but its really all about the sunny and cinematic sound as exemplified on “City Heights” – a solid dance floor stroll with a really uplifting sunshine vibe which shows the West Coast can hold their own alongside East Coast favourites such as Menahan Street Band or The Expressions. The band prove to be just as versatile as their sound, giving each other space to play some nice solos and drop-outs on this latest release from Ohio’s fantastic Colemine Records. Don’t sleep on this one.
For anyone not familiar with the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom”, the film highlights how, despite being talented artists in their own right, backing vocalists seldom get the opportunity to come to the fore and showcase their own artistry. Fortunately this is not the case at Daptone Records as Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Lowe, who as “The Dapettes” provide backing vocals for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, have been granted such an opportunity as an act to step into the foreground with their debut album release.
Both grew up in the Bronx, NY and met at an open mic session in 1986, which led to the start of a firm friendship. When in 1990 they joined a professional function band, they were teamed with none other than Sharon Jones. Jones of course, would later go on to international success, fronting the Dap-Kings for New York’s Daptone Records and as the act and label grew, she called on the pair to provide BVs for the band’s 2008 album “I Learned The Hard Way”. Since then, their role has grown, firstly into the opening act for the label’s revue shows – and to now, as fully fledged artists in their own right with original material penned, backed and produced by the Dap-Kings.
They have grasped the opportunity with both hands and bring bags of enthusiasm, warmth, soul, professionalism and humility to the project. As expected, the Dap-Kings provide the solid-as-ever backing to the ladies’ versatile vocal and the sturdy production is the signature Daptone ‘House of Soul’ sound, employing a wealth of vintage methods to great effect. At times the stories are deep and heavy such as on “Dear Mr. Teddy”, the tale of a baker who cannot attend her cousin Betty’s wedding, as we learn that just days earlier she’d believed the eponymous groom to in fact be her man – and now in a twist of fate, she is charged with the task of preparing the wedding cake, something she does with quiet dignity. It’s classic heartbreak soul and handled with expertise all round. Never weighing too heavily, every deep moment is countered elsewhere with a sunny number. Very sunny in fact as there is such a good vibe to some of the proceedings that the good energy goes through the roof. “Sunshine (You’re Blowing My Mind)” is set to become a summer favourite; whilst “Big Wheel” will put feet on the dance floor at any party, especially as the lyrics entertain about the kind of guy who never should get an invite to said party, as he (Big Wheel) is always the one to get drunk early and run his mouth off. “Leave Big Wheel behind. He ain’t got no class at all”; “Roll on, Big Wheel” the ladies proclaim, in an irresistible style that would make Jean Knight proud. The fantastic backing on “Another Love Like Mine” is pure Isaac Hayes with The Bar-Kays, “Hot Buttered Soul”, dripping with poise and tension, shimmering guitar and heavy bass and drum accents; whilst “Look Closer (Can’t You See The Signs?)” and “Hot Shot” (the label’s best selling single to date) are both full strutting, uplifting grooves.
Adding another fine string to the Daptone bow, Saun & Starr glow on this well-crafted and charming album. For the pair, it has been a long time coming but now that it is here, it has been very well worth the wait, with huge measures of heart, soul and conviction, its a wonderful expansion to the soul universe.
It has been a long time since Finland’s Nicole Willis & The Investigators have played a London show. This band have built up a solid reputation by playing vintage sounds inspired by 60s and 70s raw soul and funk with two highly respected albums under their belt and a slew of sought after 45s. This October, they will return with their much anticipated third album “Happiness In Every Style” and a show at London’s Rich Mix. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, simply like and share this Facebook post and a winner will be chosen at random which we’ll announce here on Friday 22nd May.
Soundcrash Presents: Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Live
Sunday 25 October 2015
35-47 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA
Get down to White Horse Brixton on Friday 5th June for another round of kick-ass funk, soul, latin & breaks. Dance floor grooves that pack a real punch with DJs Philster & Mr Parker delivering the hooks.
Friday 5th June
White Horse Brixton
94 Brixton Hill
London SW2 1QN
L.A.’s mighty Orgōne return to the scene with new album “Beyond The Sun”. Connecting the dots as usual between soul, funk, rock and afro sounds, this album is their first to feature new vocalist Adryon de León who co-penned original material with the band.
“Don’t Push Your Luck” is the album’s opener and first single, which seems to be channelling Rufus on this feisty number and continues in the funk vein as de León delivers a sturdy vocal performance on top of a heavyweight groove from Orgōne, on this their seventh full album.
We are treated to percussive grooves and some heavy guitar and bass on the instrumental portions of the album, while vocals are featured on 9 of the album’s 12 cuts. Mostly taking on the heavy funk vibe, there is also some lightness of touch such as the uplifting, sunny groove “People Beyond The Sun” with an earthy vibe and infectious quality. Also very infectious, “Take You Higher” is a wonderful late seventies sound. Fittingly, the album also features a cover version of the aforementioned Rufus, on a terrific cover of “I’m A Woman (I’m A Backbone)” which really showcases de León’s vocal prowess to the full.
Orgōne are really on fine form here, hitting full stride from the get-go. And with the addition of de León, have finely focused their sound over the 12 tracks presented here in a mostly high energy set that is as raw as it is tuned. Take a look at the video for “Don’t Push Your Luck” below and get down with Orgōne.
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators are back with this gem, ahead of their forthcoming third album “Happiness In Every Style”, set to be released in late 2015. Having turned in two, sure footed albums, I have no doubt they can strike a third time. The mood here may be heavy – but the sweetness of the groove is light. Do I detect a concept for the album here?
For May’s DJ party, we are extremely excited to bring you a latin music special “Boogaloo Latin”. Latin has been a popular part of our sets for a long while and so it is about time we explored it in more detail with a full-on night of party music, centred around New York’s boogaloo and salsa scene that was a strong fusion of American R&B with Puerto Rican, Cuban and many other flavours from around the world in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. We’ll also be pulling in other flavours from elsewhere including Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Add to this some Chicano rock and latin funk and we have an explosive dance floor party of incendiary music waiting to happen! Check out our promo video above and tell your friends, your neighbours, your mama! Just don’t miss this one.
Musica De La Libertad!
Friday 1st May
White Horse Brixton
94, Brixton Hill
London SW2 1QN
Funkalicious is all about heavy, heavy funk & sweet, sweet, soul. We have been spreading the funky word since about 1995 (we're not even exactly sure ourselves just when we started doing this). We currently DJ at our residency at the White Horse in Brixton, where we play a mix between classics from the 1960's and 1970's, along with the very latest releases from today's thriving modern funk & soul scene.