Matinee ... CD Columbia/FTG, 1981. New Copy ...
A distant star in the Earth Wind & Fire galaxy – and the only album by this sweetly grooving group that owed a lot to the EWF sound! The record's produced by Verdine White, executive produced by Maurice White, and even features a bit of guest vocals by Philip Bailey – and the overall style is sort of in a bouncy 80s groove mode, with a mix of jazzy touches, and warmer instrumentation than you might usually hear on this sort of set. The sound's a lot leaner than Earth Wind & Fire – but carries some of the best modern soul influences of the massive group, and certainly shows some of the best influences of both White and Bailey. Titles include "Ladies Of The 80s", "Wanna Fill You Up", "I Thank Heaven", "It's You", "Wrap It Up", and "Me Myself & I". CD
One of the original Dramatics, singer Ron Banks strikes out here on his own – a slept on gem from the early 80s! The set's in a similar modern soul mode to LJ Reynolds, who also worked with him in the group, and was having a bit of a solo career of his own at the time. It's got sort of a D-Train feel to it – with classic male soul vocals over instrumentation that includes some slight electro touches, especially on keyboards and drum programs. Banks keeps the whole thing nice and soulful, thanks to some great vocal work, which you'll hear on the smooth mellow track "Let Love Flow", which has a beautiful down-tempo groove, and a nice two-step beat – plus the other mellow tracks like "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "You and Me". Uptempo club cuts include "Truly Bad", "Zap", and "She's So Good to Me". CD
An overlooked killer from Brick – the group's fourth album, but every bit as tight and funkier as earlier sets! Brick's Atlanta-bred groove is very much in place here – that lean, mean approach to funk that made them a standout right from the get-go – almost setting the scene for the stripped-down modes that so many other groups would follow well into the 80s! That tighter sound lets the group really hit a strongly soulful focus here – serving up some of their best vocals to date, and reminding us that some of the best mainstream funk groups always had a strong ability to harmonize over their grooves. Titles include "Push Push", "Get Started", "All The Way", "Waiting On You", "Free", "Sweet Lips", and "Let Me Make You Happy". CD also features 2 bonus cuts – "Dazz" and "Dusic", served up in longer 12" versions! CD
Brothers Johnson —
Winners ... CD A&M/FTG, 1981. New Copy ...
Smooth jazzy soul from the Brothers – still sounding wonderful at this point, producing themselves for the record, and using the best parts of all those lessons they learned from Quincy Jones! The bass is a bit down in the mix for this album – a good move, considering that 1981 was kind of drowning in bass-heavy soul – and the Brothers are wonderfully concentrating on their strong talent for a jazzy harmony vocal! The set's polished without ever sounding too slick – a balance that the Brothers seemed to do better than most – and titles include "The Real Thing", "Dancin Free", "In The Way", "Caught Up", "Daydreamer Dream", and "Hot Mama". CD
The cover's a bit unassuming, and almost makes this set look like some throwaway disco album – but Chanson's got a lot more to offer than that, and groove tightly here in a really great modern soul vein! The rhythms are strong and bold – forged by the duo of bassist James Jamerson and guitarist David Williams – with a lean vibe that's somewhere in the space of Columbia Records modern soul of the time, with all the depth that might imply – but with plenty of clubby touches too! Key players include Harvey Mason on drums and Donald Myrick on sax – both players who give the record a really top-shelf, all-quality groove. Titles include "Rock Don't Stop", "Sing All Night", "Jack Be Nimble", "Magic Carpet Ride", and "Make It Happen". CD features bonus tracks – "Jack Be Nimble (12" mix)" and "Rock Don't Stop (12" mix)". CD
A sweet new groove from The Chi-Lites – working here as a trio, and stepping out with a lean groove to match! The album's got the 80s soul vibe you'd expect from the group's image on the cover – lots of keyboards and beats alongside the vocals – which themselves are slightly transformed by the approach, and come across with a bit more boldness than in the early days. Eugene Record is still at the helm – and wrote most of the tracks on the set, and was also the driving spirit of the project. Original members Marshall Thompson and Robert Lester complete the group – and titles include "Do What You Want", "Stop What You're Doin", "Gimme Whatcha Got", "Little Girl", "Runnin Around", and "Let Today Come Back Tomorrow". CD features bonus tracks "Gimme Whatcha Got (7 inch mix)", "Gimme Whatcha Got (club)", "Gimme Whatcha Got (dub)", "Stop What You're Doin (club)", "Stop What You're Doin (inst)", and "Let Today Come Back Tomorrow (7" mix)". CD
One of the best later albums by Chocolate Milk – a bit different than their earlier work with Allen Toussaint, but still bouncing along in a sweet 80s groove, with more than enough traces of their roots as a funky combo! Leo Nocentelli's sitting in on guitar, adding some nice licks to keep some tracks a bit more firmly grounded in a New Orleans funk tradition, alongside some more modern production touches – and the album's got a compelling vibe that's partly pointed towards the boogie generation of the 80s, but with a heavier funk component overall! Titles include "Let's Go All The Way", "Like My Lady's Love", "Honey Bun", "Running On Empty", "Blue Jeans", and a version of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long". CD also features 7" single mixes of "Honey Bun", "Take It Off", "Like My Lady's Love", and "Blue Jeans" – plus 12" mixes of "Video Queen", "Let's Go All The Way", and "Who's Getting It Now". CD
A landmark album in harmony soul – one of those records that pushed the genre to a whole new level! The Delfonics emerge fully formed here as one of the most compelling groups of their time – a tremendous trio with a really unique approach to soul music – one that's heartfelt and heartbreaking, but never too sweet to be cloying or poppy – definitely just the right groove to keep things hip while also cracking the charts! The album's their first full collaboration with legendary producer Thom Bell – and it's got a sound that's summed up perfectly in the quintessential cut "La La Means I Love You" – and which is followed through beautifully on a batch of tracks that includes "Losing You", "Can You Remember", "You're Gone", "I'm Sorry", and "Break Your Promise". 5 bonus tracks: "Can't Get Over Losing You" (7" version), You Got Yours And I'll Get Mine" (7" version plus a version w/intro), "Loving Him" and "Funny Feeling". CD
A funky concept album from George Duke – and one that's filled with some mighty nice grooves! Guardians Of The Light is a full-on "musical fantasy" – with the story line laid out in the liner notes, yet still a bit difficult to follow – but we can't fault him for that when it's done in his masterful R&B-fusion-funk approach! George sings on all cuts, but he also gets some stellar vocal assistance from Jeffrey Osborne, Portia Griffin, and Patti Austin. The record also has some surprisingly sweet mellow moments that bring a deeper level of spacey soul to the out-there concept – those laidback lines that George could always do better than anyone else! Titles include "Born To Love You", "You Are The Light", "Reach Out", "Give Me Your Love", "Stand", "Soon", and "Fly Away". 3 bonus tracks on this FTG CD edition: "Reach Out (12" Version)", "Celebrate (Instrumental)" and "Brazilian Love Affair". CD
A great little groover from keyboardist Charles Earland – and an album that definitely lives up to its title! There's plenty of street sounds going on here – lots of modern R&B modes that echo the changing styles of early 80s soul music, especially on the east coast! And as part of that, there's a good deal of vocals on the record, alongside Charles' keyboards – work by singers who include Larry Hancock, Bruce Gray, and Sheryl Kendrick – each of whom adds plenty to the record, working over jazzy grooves nicely scored by Earland. Titles include "Be My Lady", "Take Me Away", "Feels So Good To Me", "Burning Devotion", "Tell Me What It Is", and "Go All The Way". CD features a bonus track – "Be My Lady (7" mix)". CD
One of the few 70s albums from the wonderful Major Harris as a solo act – and a lesser-known set that's a great follow up to the Major's previous records for Atlantic! The vibe here is a bit less Philly, but still in that mellow grooving style that works so well for Harris' vocals – a mature modern soul mode, with some excellent production from Jerry Ragovoy, who co-arranged the set with David Matthews. A few of the numbers go for a clubby feel, the best tracks are the mellower ones – which have Harris hitting those mature and personal notes that always made him one of the best romantic male soul singers of his time. Titles include "Lucky Day", "Night Moods", "How Do You Take Your Love", "Pretty Red Lips", "You're So Good You're Bad", "Your Sweet Song", and "This Is Forever". CD
Amazing grooves from the Jack Sass Band – a really under-discovered gem from the New York scene at the end of the 70s! The group often played as a backup combo behind bigger acts, but they've got a really rich sound of their own – a slightly righteous version of club soul that echoes some of the hipper Prelude groups of the time, or reminds us a bit of the equally great Kinky Foxx! Supposedly, there's an influence going on here from British punk and funk – but that aspect of the music is warmed up with plenty of American soul, too – which makes for a deeply soulful sound on top of the group's sometimes quirky rhythms. Wonderful stuff throughout – a record you might even stack next to your gems on Uno Melodic – with titles that include "I'm The One", "Save My Life", "Much Too Much", "I've Got My Eyes On You", "It's Real", "Homespace", "Midnight Punk", and "Sweet Hot Suzy". CD
A nice mid 80s groover from Paul Laurence for Capitol – whose biggest successes, arguably, were in his services as a songwriter and producer for other artists – making a pretty great case for his own work as a headline act on Haven't You Heard! May may not have heard it, actually, but it's well worth checking out. The sound is blueprint 80s synth soul on one level, but the melodies really soar here, and the songs are strong and hit-worthy. Paul's a solid singer, too. You should hear this! Tiles include "Strung Out", "She's Not A Sleaze" (with Freddie Jackson & Lillo Thomas), "You Hooked Me", "I'm Sensitive", "Haven't You Heard" and more. This FTG edition has 4 bonus tracks: "Strung Out (International Version)", "She's Not A Sleaze (Extended Version)", "Strung Out (Extended Dance Mix) and "You Hooked Me (Single Version)". CD
Rare 80s grooves from female soul trio Mai Tai – carrying an effervescent post disco soul groove well into the mid 80s on this self-titled album from 1985 – plus a handful of bonus tracks! Mai Tai never really got over in the States, but made a pretty pronounced impact in the Dutch scene where the group formed, with a clean Euro electro soul sheen to the tracks courtesy of producers Eric Van Tajn & Jochem Fluitsma – but it's the vocals that really charm on this one. Corolien De Windt, Jetty Weels and Mildred Douglas bring true soul in their dynamic lead vocals and big backing vocals, and they really shine! Titles include "History", "Body & Soul", "Chemistry", "What, Where, When, Who", "You Control Me", "Am I Losing You Forever" and more – plus bonus tracks including 12" mixes and some later singles, including "History" (12" extended mix), "1 Touch 2 Much", and more. 14 tracks in all! CD
A pair of late 70s albums from Johnny Mathis – back to back on a single CD! You Light Up My Life is mellow magic from Johnny Mathis – a late 70s set that updates his older style for a crossover audience in adult contemporary! The style is smooth and polished, but never so much so that Johnny's amazing voice can't shine through – thanks to soulful arrangements from Gene Page, who'd done plenty of work with hipper soul artists in the 70s – and Deniece Williams makes a great guest appearance on a number of tracks – really bringing Mathis into that duet style that would hit even bigger for the singer in the 80s. Titles include "If You Believe", "To Much Too Little Too Late", "How Deep Is Your Love", "It Was Almost Like A Song", and "Till Love Touches Your Life". Mathis Magic has a nice sort of bite at times – Johnny breaking out of just mellow modes, and getting a bit of inspiration from Gene Page, who handled the arrangements for the set. A few tunes almost kick into a clubby sort of vibe, in which Johnny's vocals soar nicely – and titles include "Love", "Night & Day", "My Body Keeps Changing My Mind", "No One But The One You Love", "To The Ends Of The Earth", and "Heart Soul Body & Mind". CD
Bobby Nunn's holding a private party, but it's heavy on the best street soul modes of the 80s – put together with a wickedly sharp electro-styled groove that makes Nunn's work a real standout from some of his Motown contemporaries! There's plenty of basslines and keyboards in the mix, but used in a way that's not trying to cover up a lack of anything else – as the production is great, and every bit as right on the money as some of Motown's other funk records of the period – even if Bobby's sound is a bit more distinct! Titles include "Sex Maniac", "The Lady Killer", "Private Party", "Do You Look That Good In The Morning", "Hangin At The Mall", and "Don't Knock It Until You Try It". CD
The start of Ray Parker's big hit run of the 80s – a set that has the Raydio group stripped down to just a duo behind Ray, and Parker very firmly out in the lead on vocals! The title hit's a smooth standard that's kept on going for many years – just the kind of cut that crossed Ray over to a big audience that would hang on for most of the decade – but the record still has plenty of the funkier soul touches that bear the Raydio name, including some tight rhythms from drummer Ollie E Brown, who also co-produced part of the set with Ray. Some tunes are a bit softer than before, but never too mellow – and titles include "A Woman Needs Love Just Like You Do", "So Into You", "It's Your Night", "Still In The Groove", "That Old Song", "Old Pro","All In The Way You Get Down" and "You Can't Fight What You Feel". 3 bonus tracks: "All In The Way You Get Down (Remix)", "It's Your Night (7" Version)" and "A Woman Needs Love Just Like You Do (7" Version)". CD
The last in Beau Williams' great run of albums for Capitol Records in the mid 80s – and a sweet little set that equally balances quiet storm ballads with more uptempo groovers! Williams is one of the great unsung male vocal acts of his generation – and he's got a great way here of putting over a mellow track with a level of care and sensitivity that weren't always that common in mainstream soul at the time – a approach that reminds us more of Marvin Gaye or The Isley Brothers in years before, than you might guess from the date of the album. Production is by William Reinhart, McFadden & Whitehead, Williams, and others – and titles include "I Found A Love", "All Because Of You", "There's Something About You", "Give Me Up", "Don't Be Gone To Say", "No More Tears", and "Been Too Long". CD also features a bonus instrumental version of "Give Me Up". CD
An 80s soul classic from Philip Bailey – stepping out here from Earth Wind & Fire in a set that has him sparkling strongly as a solo act! The vocals still have that trademark Bailey sound – a wonderful range that's never overdone, and which seems to shine especially well on the mellow and midtempo tunes in the set! Production is by George Duke, who does a lot to preserve the jazzier warmth of Bailey's previous settings – and although there's a bit more crossover potential here, the sound is still never too commercial or aimed at the charts. Titles include "It's Our Time", "Trapped", "I Know", "I'm Waitin For Your Love", "Desire", "The Good Guy's Supposed To Get The Girls", and "Your Boyfriend's Back". CD
(Out of print.)
Party ... CD T Neck/FTG, 1984. Used ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
One of Bloodstone's great groovers from later years – work that has a very different feel than the group's fragile harmony soul of the 70s, and which has them taking off into a much more confident sound! Production is by McKinley Jackson, and the album's a mix of a few funky 80s groove numbers with some even better mellower tracks – tunes that glide along in a rich production mode, and showcase the maturing vocals of the group wonderfully. Titles include the sweet stepper "Instant Love", a really great spacey soul track – plus "It Feels So Good", "Why Be The First One Home", "Contagious", "Feel The Heat", and "Bloodstone's Party". CD
A great little set from One Way – post disco Detroit dancefloor soul of the first order! There a crisp, tight bubbling sound that's pretty wonderful – and warm in the spots where so many records of the period and cold and mechanical – that great mix of funk, modern soul, and tight instrumentation that Al Hudson and One Way could do so well! The tunes bounce along nicely with production from Al Perkins, and some nice bass work by Kevin McCord – and titles include the nicely snapping funky tune "Hold It" – plus "Pull Fancy Dance/Pull". "Burn It", "Your Love Is All I Need", "He Is My Friend", "Get Up", and "Show Me". CD features the bonus track "Let's Talk". CD
A nearly-lost relic of 80s groove – and a sharp little side project from Rick James! Process and group are clearly going for a sound to rival the Time on this set – working as a well-costumed group ensemble with a bass-heavy funky groove at the bottom of every track – and their groove is definitely as sharp as any of the big names from the Twin Cities who were topping the charts at the time! And although you might be attempted to dismiss them as a copycat combo, the group actually comes off pretty darn well – with songs that we dig quite a lot – and which have held up surprisingly well over time. Titles include "Ooh Wee", "Stomp & Shout", "Serious Freak", "Too Sharp", "Come Into My Life", "Dance The Way You Want (Party Freaks)", and "Daddy's Home". CD features three bonus tracks – "Stomp & Shout (long inst)", "Stomp & Shout (7" version)", and "Stomp & Shout (short inst)". CD
A heavy 2-fer – featuring a pair of 70s gems from Chocolate Milk! First up is We're All In This Together – an overlooked funky classic from Chocolate Milk – and a set that still preserves the tight grooves of the group's earliest work! Allan Toussaint is still on hand this time around to help with both production and songwriting – and his touches can definitely be felt on the record – a tight funky undercurrent that's definitely rooted in New Orleans soul, but has some warmer, more contemporary elements too – just like that mid 70s change Toussaint was bringing to his own grooves. Standout cuts include the funky numbers "Grand Theft" and "America" – plus the groover "Girl Callin" – although there's some mellower numbers we like pretty darn well too. Other tracks include "Help Me Find The Road", "Thinking Of You", "That's The Way She Loves", and "Fertility". Milky Way is tight, funky, and plenty groovy – a set that has Chocolate Milk sounding a lot smoother than at their start, but still pretty darn great overall! Allan Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn are still around to help the group on production, but the sound is more LA than New Orleans – a well-crafted set of grooves that almost seems to have the group's Crescent City roots shaking hands with the sunnier sound of California soul in the late 70s. That latter aspect adds in some nice jazzy touches – ala Fantasy Records – and almost gives the record a Wayne Henderson-styled groove at points, especially on some of the mellow steppers and midtempo numbers. Titles include "Milky Way", "You're The One", "Hurry Down Sunset", "Groove City", "Say Won'tcha", and "Paradise". CD
Much as we like Michael Henderson, we almost want to hate him for the cover of this one – which features him in a skin-tight Speedo – but the record is just too damn good! The music is fantastic – and is sort of an update of the earlier east coast smooth soul sound, with lots of elements of older harmony soul, wrapped up in some modern arrangements that work better for Henderson's voice than those on some of his other albums. The record's got a few tracks that are clinkers – more uptempo tunes that don't work well – but Henderson really shines on sophisticated interpretations of classics like "Never Gonna Give You Up" and "Make It Easy On Yourself", as well as on modern tunes like "Can't We Fall In Love Again" with Phyllis Hyman, "Take Care", and "Come To Me". CD
Paul Simpson & Others —
Biography ... CD FTG, 1980s/1990s. Used ...
Out Of Stock
Soulful club galore – a cool collection of work from Paul Simpson – one that features both tracks issued under his own name, and some remixes done for other artists as well! The styles here run the gamut from 80s club through 90s crossover – and on the remixes, Simpson's definitely got an ear for putting a bit more "punch" into a tune that might have been lacking something in its original incarnation! Titles include Paul Simpson numbers "Musical Freedom" (with Adeva), "Treat Her Sweeter (Timmy Regisford edit)", "Use Me Lose Me", and "Could It Be (alt mix)", with Colonel Abrams – and other cuts include "You & Me" and "Can't Get Over Your Love (Joey Negro mix)" by Simphonia, "Gonna Put Up A Fight (club fight mix)" and "Gotta See You Tonight (dance version)" by Barbara Roy, "The Truth Will Set You Free (smack rmx)" by Peacetime, "Music In Me (Paul Simpson rmx)" by DJ Spinna with Shaun Escoffery, and "You Don't Know 2008" by Paul Simpson & DJ Romain. CD
A fantastic album by this up-and-coming spiritual group from London – an ensemble led by alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, but definitely a unified group effort all the way through! Konishi composed all the music – and a few songs feature words by Langston Hughes – and the rises with a proud, vibrant spirit right from the start – full of bold modal rhythms, and risen to the heavens on a mix of two trumpets, tenor, trombone, and tuba – plus piano, Fender Rhodes, and some mighty nice bass and drums. All tracks are long, and very individual – not slavish spiritual jazz numbers trying to recapture the past – but instead a very bright vision for tomorrow. Titles include "Afronaut", "Wake (For Grenfell)", "Mirrors", "Interplanetary Migration", "The Dreamkeeper", and "The Darkies". CD
Seed Ensemble —
Driftglass ... LP Jazz Refreshed (UK), 2019. New Copy 2LP ...
Just Sold Out!
A fantastic album by this up-and-coming spiritual group from London – an ensemble led by alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, but definitely a unified group effort all the way through! Konishi composed all the music – and a few songs feature words by Langston Hughes – and the rises with a proud, vibrant spirit right from the start – full of bold modal rhythms, and risen to the heavens on a mix of two trumpets, tenor, trombone, and tuba – plus piano, Fender Rhodes, and some mighty nice bass and drums. All tracks are long, and very individual – not slavish spiritual jazz numbers trying to recapture the past – but instead a very bright vision for tomorrow. Titles include "Afronaut", "Wake (For Grenfell)", "Mirrors", "Interplanetary Migration", "The Dreamkeeper", and "The Darkies". LP, Vinyl record album