Fred Williams – ‘Tell Her’
During the last couple of years, the Athens of the North imprint have joined the likes of legendary labels such as Numero Group and Jazzman in releasing a collection of ultra rare, classic-sounding soul and funk 45s, such as Bileo’s ‘You Can Win’ and Noheliano Cyprianio’s ‘Lihue‘. Now comes the release of this Fred Williams track from 1969, the first release of AotN’s new sister label, Owl of Athens. Like much of AotN’s output, ‘Tell Her’ is good, old fashioned and honest soul music of the highest order. Therefore, it’s not much of a surprise that the record has reportedly been traded for approximately $3,000 before being reissued.
Manabu Nagayama & Soichi Terada – ‘Low Tension’
The great thing about reissuing records that are either lost or out of print is that legendary artists who may have fallen off the radar may find a whole new generation of listeners. For many record buyers and especially soulful house heads, the great discovery of last year was Soichi Terada, as the reissue of ‘Do It Again’ by Rush Hour shed light on Japan’s most consistently brilliant producer. Now comes the re-release of ‘Low Tension’, a collaboration with fellow countryman Manabu Nagayama, who was also a key player in the 1990s Japanese house scene. Originally recorded in 1993, the track is smothered in a sheen of drowsy ambiance. This is undoubtedly one of Soichi Terada most spiritual, affecting and beautiful works.
Junko Ohashi – ‘Feel So Fine (Pruned by Sukebe)’
As demonstrated by recent compilation such as Bombay Disco and The Brazilian Boogie Connection, the American phenomenon of disco may have been born out the ghettos of Philadelphia and New York, but by the time the 1980s swung around, the beautiful combination of soul, funk and jazz was blasting out of every speaker across the globe. Now, the Last Japan imprint has shed some light on their own country’s take on the genre by reissuing Sukebe’s edit of Junko Ohashi‘s 1979 classic ‘Feel So Fine’. Regularly played out by the likes of the Pender Street Steppers and Red Greg, the track combines together a George Clinton-esque bass line, rhythmic percussion and idoysincratc Japanese vocal to fine effect.
Marcos Valle – ‘Mentira’
Without the help of a certain Brighton-based imprint, Mr. Bongo, lovers of rare Brazilian and African music would be forking out ridiculous prices on Discogs to purchase their favourite records. Especially if you are into the multi-instrumentalist hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Marcos Valle, whose records are often out of print and impossible to find. Thankfully, the UK label has pulled off another coup and reissued Valle’s hit from 1973, ‘Mentira’. Originally backed by Brazilian music royalty Azymuth, the track represented Valle moving away from his signature dreamy folk and samba sound to funkier and jazzier territories, making ‘Mentira’ a real precursor to the disco tracks which he would explore in greater detail on his later albums.
Johnny Hammond – Gears
During the 1970s, Larry and Fonce Mizell – best known as the Mizell Brothers – were key players in the development of jazz-funk fusion, as they took respected instrumentalists like trumpeter Donald Byrd and flautist Bobbi Humphrey from labels such as Blue Note and Epic to create seminal albums. These included Byrd’s masterful Places and Spaces and Humphrey’s ‘Harlem River Drive‘. Whilst the Mizells may have produced more popular and accomplished works, none has proved more influential than Johnny Hammond’s Gears, which in many ways lay the foundations for acid jazz and the neo-soul movements. Not only that, but at the time, tracks from the album like ‘Los Conquistadores Chocolatés’ became anthems at legendary clubs like the Loft and Paradise Garage.