28 February 2007

Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators


Good music has a way of finding you. Sometimes it has to bump into you a few times in order to register, but eventually it’ll get through. So it comes as a great surprise that I didn’t notice Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators sooner…

Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Feeling Free
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Holdin’ On

I heard “Feeling Free” for the first time this month via a compilation, and it promptly knocked me for six. It’s effortlessly brilliant and bursting with soul. The album proves to be no different evoking memories of northern soul & motown classics at every turn. Just like ‘Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings’, looking to the past can be just as fresh as constantly moving forward.

The only track that has any hint of modernisation is “Holdin’ On” which, truth be told, I have real trouble categorising. It remains a favourite mainly due to some heavy organ work.

Nicole Willis hails from New York and started out as early member of Deee-Lite. Currently she lives in Finland with musical husband Jimi Tenor and recorded a number of solo albums before hooking up with the 10-strong Soul Investigators for this release.

“Keep Reachin Up” was released in Finland in 2005, but didn’t see wider distribution until 2006. Plenty have picked up on the release with “Feeling Free” gaining top position in Giles Petersons 2006 Listeners Poll.

However, it still seems to be poorly distributed in the UK with a direct purchase from Timmion or Amazon (or Marketplace) as your best choices.

27 February 2007

Winners Don't Do Drugs

iDJ Magazine have a mixtape competition each month called Raw Talent. You send them a mix and if they like it they print your details; simple stuff really. I made a nice mix back in December, I really liked it and so did a few other people that heard it. Perhaps you heard it yourself, it's been on my blog for a while. Anyway, a mate of mine was a runner up at the time and suggested I send my effort in.

I hadn't heard anything from them and almost forgot about it to be honest, until I got an email from some guy in London this week asking if there was somewhere he could download the mix featured in the latest issue. I grabbed a copy of the magazine today and there is my ugly mug in print, along with some nice words about the mix. Result! Apparently, I've won a record bag or something, maybe a gig too (which is scary as I don't practise as much as I used to!).

Well this is just me blowing my own trumpet really but I don't win stuff often so I thought I'd make the most of it. You can read the piece from the magazine below as well as download the mix itself. I hope you like it.

View the magazine write-up

Download the mix


Carl Craig - Home Entertainment (version)
The Future Sound of London - Lifeforms (Wighnomy Brothers & Robag Wruhmes Simetikon 002-06 Re-Edit)
Cosmo Vitelli - Delayer (Quiet Village Project Remix)
Claro Intelecto - Only Yesterday
Skatebaard - June Nights South of Siena
Lindstrom - The Contemporary Fix (Serious Symptoms Version)
Sebo K - Horizons
Ferrer & Sydenham Inc. - Timbuktu (Âme Original Mix)
Felix Laband - Whistling In Tongues (Todd Terje Remix)
The Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
Answering Service - Call Me Mr. Telephone (Lindstrom & Prins Thomas Remix)

Artwork from: http://stupidnick.deviantart.com/

18 February 2007

Cheese & Lime

What an awesome sleeve! The artwork of Studio Graffiti graced all of the Lime album covers with the exception of their debut "Your Love". Lime II is another old LP that I picked up in Reading the other week, along with the Mandre albums I posted about previously. Quite different in style though, this is very upbeat, almost synth-pop style disco from 1982. It's pretty cheesey but I think it's great. Lime were Denis & Denyse Lepage, a middle-aged husband and wife duo from Montreal. Although the pair wrote and sung all of the tracks on the album, there was some confusion surrounding the groups identity at the time as they decided to hire two younger and more attractive singers, Joy Dorris & Chris Marsh, to perform their live shows. The group enjoyed great success in the club charts throughout the Eighties, spanning seven albums and numerous 12" singles and remixes. Head over to the Disco Museum for some more information. They suggest that the albums can be ordered on cd via Unidisc. Personally, I'll look forward to finding some more of their beautiful LP's in future digging sessions. Enjoy the music!

Lime - Come And Get Your Love.mp3

Lime - Babe, We're Gonna Love Tonight.mp3

Gavin @ MySpace

A Tom Moulton Mix

Tom Moulton

I've been meaning to buy this 2006 Soul Jazz compilation for a while and only just got round to doing so, collating some of disco producer Tom Moulton's - originator of the 12" single, amongst other things - best mixes.

Developing longer mixes mainly as a way to keep people dancing to a song longer than the standard 3 minute singles would allow (although to me it improves them for pure listening - virtually all my favourite Disco tracks are 5 minutes plus), many of the mixes on the compilation are promo-only or unreleased versions from his remix ouvre of around 4000 (!!) tracks (according to this interview with the man). With so much material to choose from, hopefully Part 2 will be on the way soon.

Choosing a sample track was a challenge due to the quality of the compilation, but I love the extended instrumental section (a Moulton trademark) in Dreamworld:

Don Downing - Dreamworld (Tom Moulton Mix)(MP3) : Alt Link

You can buy A Tom Moulton Mix and hear more audio samples at Soul Jazz and Amazon.

11 February 2007

Space Jazz

I picked up a nice selection of old vinyl last week on a shopping trip to Reading, including two rather good funk albums by Mandre. Not a lot of info on the sleeves but I've gathered what I can online. Mandre was a group, and fictitious persona, of Andre Lewis, an instrumentalist who played and recorded with artists such as Grant Green, The Who, LaBelle, Earth Wind and Fire, Frank Zappa. Huey Lewis, Edwin Starr, Charles Wilson and the Gap Band, Sly Stone, Bobby Womack and Johnny Guitar Watson. He was also a tester of Roland products and was one of the first musicians to record with the infamous Roland TR-808 drum machine (featured in the second track linked below).

The first (self-titled) LP came out in 1977 on Motown Records and featured a mixture of Funk, Disco and some more Jazzy elements. It was mostly vocal tracks, including a great cover of Frank Zappa's "Dirty Love", but the standout track for me was the instrumental "Solar Flight" with its sweet synth solo's and a cracking bassline. The cover art (above) is also fantastic, very Daft Punk as somebody pointed out to me.

Mandre - Solar Flight (Opus I).mp3

Mandre - M3000 (Opus VI).mp3

The follow-up entitled "M3000" had a boring sleeve, but at least the music remained decent. The opening track of the same name kicks in with some space effects and a fast electronic arpeggio bassline, shortly followed by some TR-808 beats. Pretty impressive for 1979 I'm sure you'll agree. The tune continues in a similar vein to Solar Flight, with a Space Jazz kinda vibe to it. The rest of the album is not quite as strong as the debut, heading in more of a P-Funk direction, but it's certainly worth a listen if you can find a copy.

Gavin @ MySpace

05 February 2007

Lefties Soul Connection

Last week has been a hectic one having just got back from Amsterdam. It was an enjoyable few days that saw me take in the sights and sounds and I afforded myself some time to do some record shopping. I thought it'd be nice to pick up something from the local music scene and "Lefties Soul Connection - Hutspot" came recommended.

Lefties Soul Connection - Sling Shot
Lefties Soul Connection - It's Your Thing / Hey Pocky A-Way

Not unknown to me (I mentioned their cover of Organ Donor in a previous post) the Lefties are an Amsterdam based funk band. The album is full of spark and there is a certain "liveliness" that I often don't get from groups of a similar ilk. Also in a somewhat unique move, the band tends to eschew covers preferring instead to create original jams. Old tricks do seem present throughout and workouts like "Sling Shot" sound like they could have come from almost any one of the groups from the 60's/70's. "It's Your Thing" obviously, is.

On my final day in Amsterdam I checked the sleeve notes to see that the record shop photographed on the cover is actually in Amsterdam. A short walk and I end up outside Wax Well Records and quickly take the picture shown above. If you look in the shop window you can see the Lefties album along with other classic albums.

Buy "Hutspot" from Juno(LP) or Melting Pot(CD/LP)

04 February 2007

This Is Not Another Trilogy

I love an album that just comes straight out with an amazing track from the off. The fact that this particular album has ten more excellent tracks following it is a treat indeed. I'm talking about "Just Another Story" from Jamiroquai's second album: The Return of the Space Cowboy [1994]. The opening chords on the rhodes are oh so smooth, little Moogs bubble away in the background, the drums start a light but urgent shuffle and of course the bassline is pure funk. Sweet melody lines come in from the synth lead and JK begins his story. After the opening section, a new groove emerges and the rest of the band get their chance to play. The DJ slips in some well timed cuts and the percussion is tight and perfectly placed. Later, the lead guitar starts to jam amd the brass section get to do their thing. Things eventually break down to a flute solo and the tune mellows out for a while before building up to the climax.

Jamiroquai - Just Another Story.mp3

A bold opener from a band who were obviously very confident in their sound. There are so many things going on throughout the duration of the track, but never is the music overbearing or cluttered; this was a band who were totally in tune with each other. Much as I like their new brand of poppy disco, I find it slightly dissapointing that they have pretty much left this jazz-funk sound behind. The first two albums will always be classics to me, the later albums merely being 'good' with a couple of classic tracks scattered throughout them.

Buy it at Amazon if you don't already own a copy.

Gavin @ MySpace