A weekly dig through the crates for the stuff you haven't heard.
Lately I've been on a funky 70s Finnish fusion kick, and the Säkhö label's JazzPuu 12-inch reissue series has been a godsend. The fab Silva The Cat four-track EP from prog guitar great Jukka Tolonen, which culls the jazzier Moog-enriched joints from his early Love label albums The Hook and Hysteria, is just the latest brilliant unearthing. Even better still are Olli Ahvenlahti's deeply bumpin' Grandma's Rocking Chair (complete with a Kenny Dope remix) and Pekka Streng's folk-funk epic Puutarhassa, which sounds like Nick Drake getting busy with Weldon Irvine in an after-hours Helsinki clip joint.
Overdue library items
Every time you turn around there's another weak European sound library compilation on the racks. Add N to (X) mainman Barry 7 did a decent job on his first Connectors collection for Lo Recordings, and the Connectors 2 follow-up -- which digs into the CAM vaults -- is strictly primo Italian soundtrack business. There are four amazingly trippy obscurities from maestro Ennio Morricone, and they're not even the best of the bunch. Just check out Giuseppe de Luca's dope Rito A Los Angeles and Giampiero Boneschi's sizzling Sisy and oddball Oakum. Super-swank.
The third volume of the Italian Plastic label's excellent Stroboscopica series departs from the psych-oriented soundtrack sleaze of the past, instead going for a lounge vibe with a top-end load of jazzy orchestral 70s film fodder. With swinging contributions from the likes of the great Alessandro Alessandroni, Rino de Filippi and Giuliano Sorgini, who's complaining?
Speaking of Italian illness, Bari-based DJ/producer Nicola Conte strikes again with a brilliant reinvention of the Bobby Hughes Combination's Hammond heater Kerma Elastica that's well worth digging up. The Stereo Deluxe 7-inch comes with the gorgeously groovy flip Bobby's Second Warning, exclusive to this single. Also worth scrounging for is the fab new bossa jazz album Conte cut with the sultry-voiced Rosalia de Souza, called Garota Moderna (Schema).
Conte's Schema label cohort Gerardo Frisina is causing a stir in clubs at the moment with his boisterous Latin descarga-house jam Cubana, which skilfully blends sampled percussion with live acoustic instruments. But the Afro-jazz burner Zambele on the backside is really the shit.
French fried funk
Quasi-cool funk comps of questionable legitimacy have filtered out of France for years on the Soul Patrol label, typically with dubbed-from-disc sound quality and scant artist information. The Fabulously Funky Soul Organization Are Back... (Soul Patrol) comp is no exception, although the track selection is better than you might anticipate. Most of these dance-floor burners like Chris Columbus's take on Tighten Up, Pure Funk's Nothing Left Is Real and the Pamoja rare groover Ooh Baby haven't appeared elsewhere. Little Eva's acetate-only Follow The Wind is the discovery of the set. Soul Patrol is also getting into the funky-sevens game, boasting hot-sounding reissues of the Road Runners' Every Man For Himself, Paul Jackson's Quack, Quack, Quack and the Brothers' Brother Groove. The latter track alone would set you back at least four bills for a scratchy original.
Vancouver supergroup the New Pornographers are threatening to release their new Electric Version (Mint) disc -- the long awaited follow-up to their Juno-winning Mass Romantic debut -- on May 6. Expect more of the same slightly oblique thrill-pop zaniness from mastermind Carl Newman and company, with featured vocalist Neko Case taking a lower profile. Incidently, Case ducked into a studio recently for a tasty take on Bob Dylan's Buckets Of Rain, which could turn up on a straight-to-DVD crime thriller at any moment.