Polyester funk soul brothers
Back in the 70s, before the advent of satellite sports and video blackjack, small-town UK community halls regularly booked plaid-suited jazz combos for entertainment. Although their lightly swinging versions of popular tunes of the day (Light My Fire, Vehicle, Aquarius, Watermelon Man, etc) would go down well with a pint, recordings by such outfits as the Famous O'Hara's Playboys , Plimsoul Sandwich and Maxwell Plumm were rarely heard outside of the lower Midlands.
Props to the Licorice Soul crew for doing the detective work to track down the funkiest lambchop soul grooves from the era for their ace Working Man's Soul comp and shedding light on this once thriving scene. www.licoricesoul.com
I enjoy a decent Afrobeat jam as much as anyone, but there's been far too much reissue focus on Fela Kuti sound-alikes in recent years and not enough attention paid to presenting the important but rarely heard work of African artists whose inspiration came from someone other than James Brown.
I'm pleased to report that the Senegalese , Gambian and Congolese artists featured on the fab new CD comp From Dakar To Cuba Swinging The Rumba (Sheer Sound) looked to the Caribbean instead and came up with unique variations on the slinky Latin rhythms they heard and transformed into rumba. This well-chosen selection offers overlooked classics from scene stars like Franco , Bembeya Jazz , Grand Kalle , Rochereau and Orchestra Baobab as well as a few corkers from hombres like Keletigui and Laba Sosseh deserving wider recognition. The sweet stuff. www.sheer.co.za
Considering all the hype being heaped upon freak folk songbird Joanna Newsom and critical acclaim bestowed on the reissues of Karen Dalton's recordings, there are bound to be many more folk artifacts from the hippie era surfacing in the coming year. Not to be left out, the Numero Group is reissuing Catherine Howe 's lovely orch-folk masterwork What A Beautiful Place, momentarily released by the tiny UK-based Reflection Records in 1971. But rather than your typically forlorn waif strummery, this is an altogether jazzier affair with impressive musicianship and production more in keeping with Bryter Layter-period Nick Drake.
Those looking for the roots of Josephine Foster should check out Sunbeam 's recent re-release of Mary-Anne Patterson 's ultra-rare Me album, the only known recording by the Scottish drama teacher whose haunting voice is hard to shake. While Patterson sticks mostly to straight-up renditions of traditionals, her take on Leadbelly 's Black Girl is a twisted treat. Anne Briggs fans will find a lot to love. www.sunbeam.com