Funk ‘N’ Stein Bring Some Hot Ass Funk

26 11 2010

Funk ‘N’ Stein is an Israeli funk band with a refreshingly old-school sound akin to a laidback Tower of Power. Out on the mighty Phil Driver’s Soul Unsigned label, Funky Mission balances ass-ripping funk and mellower moments like two fatties giving it their all on a see-saw. If you like real songs, proper musicianship and all that old and crusty good stuff, then this album’s right up your dirty alley, make no mistake! But if you like overproduced, one-dimensional pap, then you’d better scarper! Right now, before I get the fuzz on you!

Funky Mission compiles a bunch of the best cuts culled from the group’s past few albums. Whatever the age of the tracks on Funky Mission, this album is a breath of fresh air for the funkateer. Warm arrangements, stirred up with strings, horns and a nimble rhythm section give Funk N Stein the edge over their competition. We’ll be bringing you a full review sometime in the next week or so. Until then, enjoy these little tasty funk soul biscuits!

You can grab a copy of the album over at the excellent Soul Unsigned website! Go on, treat yourself! You deserve it!


JD73’s Pure Gold Gives SoulCuts One Helluva Rush

26 10 2010

We love the new JD73 album at SoulCuts. It’s a veritable treasure chest of jazz-funk, boogie and soul aimed unabashedly at the dancefloor. From the first lick to the closing cut, Pure Gold is one of the most energetic soul albums of recent times. I’ve been dad-dancing with wild abandon since it plopped through the SoulCuts letterbox a week or so back.

It may share its name with a popular, and undoubtedly disgusting, brand of poppers, but JD73’s Pure Gold’s headrush lasts much longer than a couple of flithy minutes, and it won’t leave you feeling all pukey. Pure Gold is some honest to goodness Herbie Hancock flavoured disco funk. It’s nothing but good for your soul!

We’re working our way up to a review of the whole album, but it’d be rude if we didn’t share a little of the goods before then. Check the mix below. It runs through all the album’s killer cuts and is bound to whet your appetite for the whole tasty concoction.

The album is released on Joey Negro’s Z Records, a wholly appropriate home. If you enjoy The Sunburst Band, you’ll bust a nut over JD73. Pop on over to the Z Records website and get yourself some digital goodness before it’s too late. You can also get it at Amazon and iTunes too, but they’re not as lovely.

Stay with SoulCuts for more on JD73. In the meantime, check the website,

Soul Cycle – Flipped – Review

22 09 2010

New York’s Soul Cycle come correct with their new release, Flipped. At seven tracks deep, Flipped mixes up a few old tracks from their back catalogue and covers a handful of popular soul and jazz classics. An initial review of the tracklisting suggests an uninspiring collection of cuts that have been covered to death. I mean, we surely don’t need another version of I Can’t Help It or My Cherie Amour? Well, Jesse Fischer’s Soul Cycle somehow manage to breath life into a bunch of classic tunes, delivering smartly arranged cuts smack-bang at the intersection of soul, funk, jazz and R&B.

The opening cut is a reworking of Empty Pockets from their 2007 album, Urban Organics. This new version drops the Headhunters vibe of the original for a more contemporary sounding, sticky-synth driven, future-funk feel, and it works a treat, declaring a new chapter in Soul Cycle’s approach to jazz, resulting in a cut that is both a little more cutting edge and accessible than their earlier work.

Saunders Sermons (Maxwell’s trombonist and an accomplished soul/jazz vocalist in his own right) drops in to anoint the contemporary R&B meets jazz-standard interpretation of oft-covered In a Sentimental Mood, replete with some lounge-reggae vibes(I just made that genre up, believe me, it’s cooler than I’m making it sound). It’s a fascinating version, respectful and progressive.

Stevie’s My Cherie Amour arrives with a blast of hot synth action before tumbling into a sweet latin flecked groove. Melanie Charles provides an expressive vocal perfectly poised between soul and jazz, with ethereal backing vocals floating in and out of the fascinating arrangement. It’s one of those cuts that’s over all too soon. Maybe the guys can bring out ‘Flipped & Extended’ as their next release!!!

We’ve already raved about the Rogiers starring Outkast cover, Prototype. This firm SoulCut favourite mixes up a nice 80s quiet storm soul vibe with a little hip-hop and drum and bass action. The respectful but original arrangement is complemented by Rogiers’ beautiful vocals and a righteously funky keyboard solo from band leader Jesse Fischer.

Stevie crops up again in the shape of I Can’t Help It. I have to doff my cap to vocalist, Mavis ‘Swann’ Poole, Jesse and the Soul Cycle crew for breathing new life into this cult MJ track. The arrangement even has a little old school house feel, complete with a spot-on keyboard vibe solo. The track segues effortlessly into a reworking of the instrumental cut Streets of Gold from Soul Cycle’s recent Mosaic album. The production on this track is so fresh and, as with the preceding tracks, clearly highlights the group’s undoubted progression from an old school jazz-funk collective into a tight, contemporary and relevant act.

Soul Cycle’s earlier albums were certainly enjoyable, but perhaps a little parochial in their undeniably accurate recreation of 70s funky jazz. This new album, however, should encourage a broader audience for Soul Cycle’s brand of jazz and soul, without alienating existing fans. Flipped cogently captures the spirit of a progressive group looking to be part of the future of soul and jazz while delivering accessible and enjoyable music.

Get yourself over to their Bandcamp site and download a copy. Perhaps the best 5 dollars you’ll ever spend! Tell ‘em SoulCuts sent ya! You won’t regret it!

Find out more about Soul Cycle over at their website.

Hot SoulCut Alert! – Tom Glide & the Luv All Stars

11 09 2010

Tom Glide & the Luv All Stars is the brainchild of fellow Frenchmen, Tom Glide and Patrick Smadja. Years ago, as students, the two promised one another that they would one day record an album with a bunch of Earth, Wind & Fire musicians. Fast-forward a few years and Tom Glide has assembled his dream team (including RahmLee, Larry Dunn, James Gadson and a whole host of top-brass soul luminaries) to produce one of the most joyous albums of recent times. It’s an unabashed love letter to the classic American soul sounds of Quincy Jones, Kool & the Gang and, overwhelmingly, Earth, Wind & Fire, replete with punchy horns, sweet strings, real musicians and a truckload of fantastic tunes.

Please check out the tunes, Can You Feel It and What’s Your Fantasy, both posted below. Let us know what you thoughts. I reckon you’re going to LOVE IT!

We’ve been ever so lucky to have a listen to the album and we’ll be giving it a review in the coming weeks. Believe me, this album will be getting nothing less than a five stars! It’s exceptional! In the interim, hop on over to SoulTracks who have a nice bio for your reading pleasure and check out Tom’s website for a great video on the making of the album and lots more information on the amazing cast-list!

The album should hopefully be available to download sometime in the next month. As soon as we get any more information on when and where you can purchase Tom Glide and the Luv All Stars, we’ll let you know. This is going to be BIG!

Richard Earnshaw – In Time – Review

1 09 2010

Seven years in the making, In Time is a wonderful collection of jazz-funk and soul sure to get the soul fraternity, and dancefloor, all hot and sticky. It’s an album that’ll resonate with lovers of Incognito, George Duke, Jamiroquai, Roy Ayers and The Sunburst Band. It’s also one of the finest UK soul albums of the past few years.

Richard Earnshaw is a producer, writer and classically trained musician (keyboards) who has been active on the dance scene as a DJ, remixer and producer for over 10 years. In Time may be Richard’s first solo album, but it’s undoubtedly the work of a seasoned professional. The production and musicianship is second to none, matched by top notch songwriting that justifiably warrants comparisons with legendary artists such as Masters at Work and Blaze.

Good Love starts the show with a synth heavy boogie groove, featuring an impassioned vocal from Erik Dillard, before giving way to the album’s absolute killer cut, My Door is Open, featuring the UK’s finest, Carleen Anderson. Already featured on the site as a SoulCut of the Week, this track rides a wicked slap-bass punctuated groove, complimented by what may be Carleen’s greatest ever vocal (She absolutely kills it!), rabidly funky horns and a short, but incredibly sweet, piano break. Worthy features that evergreen vocal powerhouse Jocelyn Brown on an emphatic gospel house cut. Green Room is a nice slice of 2010 jazz-funk reminiscent of Herbie Hancock’s jazz-funk forays, complete with some tasty improvised sax and keys solos. Young and Foolish is a Corrine Bailey-Rae song soul geeks may remember from Mark Hill’s (Artful Dodger) The Stix project of a few years back, here delivered in a more neo-soul style.

Waiting features another SoulCut of the Week star, Kenny Thomas, sprinkling his magic over a soulful disco track with Roy Ayers adding a sweet scat/vibe solo. The album rounds off with the wonderful, spacey jazz-funk of the title track, featuring some blistering sax and vibes (courtesy of our old pal Roy Ayers, again).

In Time reminds me of Miguel Migs’ classic album, Colorful You. It marries a dancefloor producer’s aesthetic with a soulful slant to offer an album packed with tight grooves and a surprising depth. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait seven years for a follow-up.

Grab a copy of In Time right HERE. Tell ’em SoulCuts sent ya!

A Tribute to the Mizell Brothers – SunStorm Week

28 07 2010

Zo!’s SunStorm is gathering plaudits far and wide, with many fans singling out the jazz-funk collaboration with Phonte, Flight of the Blackbyrd, for the highest praise. The tune has been billed as a tribute to the Mizell Brothers and George Duke. Given all the interest in the track, and SunStorm in general, SoulCuts took a moment to look back at the work of the Mizell Brothers that has undoubtedly influenced that majestic Zo! cut, Flight of the Blackbyrd.

The Mizell brothers, Fonce and Larry, became synonymous with epic jazz-funk productions in the mid-1970s, perhaps best known for their work with Donald Byrd. Under the tutelage of Byrd himself, at Howard University in the Sixties, the Mizell Brothers released their first production on a short-lived self-owned label, Hog; the now incredibly rare northern soul track Baby I Want You by The Moments.

Following graduation, Fonce Mizell joined Motown and became part of the ‘Corporation’, the writing and production team that consisted of Fonce, Motown producer Deke Richards, Freddie Perren and label boss, Berry Gordy. Their most famous work was undoubtedly with the Jackson 5, via unstoppable soul classics I Want You Back (originally called I Wanna Be Free and written for Gladys Knight) and ABC.

After leaving Motown in the early 70s, Larry and Fonce reacquainted with Donald Byrd and started a period of writing and producing what would become seminal jazz-funk albums such as Donald Byrd’s Street Lady, Places and Spaces and Caricatures, Bobbi Humphrey’s Blacks and Blues and Johnny Hammond’s 1975 Milestone album, Gears, containing my personal favorite Mizell Brothers track, Los conquistadores chocolates.

I came to Donald Byrd and the wider work of the Mizell brothers through hip-hop records that sampled their funk-fueled, soulful and jazzy, layered arrangements. It’s a trajectory many will recognize. Sing it with me, ‘You are not alone, I am…’ OK, scrap that. Think I just lost some soul points. Damn! Hey, maybe some Tribe will restore the balance? Here goes:

Thanks Q-Tip.

So, I used to listen to ATCQ’s Footprints, from the People’s Instinctive Travels album, and Main Source’s Looking at the Front Door on repeat in the early 90s, up in my room on the mighty Philips Roller.

But as much as I enjoyed the beats and Tip’s and Large Professor’s flows, it was the sample, this otherworldly groove, that had me transfixed. I was nothing but a straight-up hip-hop lover to that point (and still rocking much Troop, which didn’t look all that fly in a parochial English village) but I needed to hunt that groove down.

Everything changed musically for me in ‘92 when I purchased the cassette (!), The Best of Donald Byrd and discovered Think Twice, a cut that contained that break used on the Main Source track and ATCQ’s Footprints, and a whole host of other amazing tunes seamlessly blending jazz, soul and funk.

From that point I became obsessed with the Mizell Brothers, collecting all their key mid-70s work and playing them to death. My obsession led to discovering other jazz-funk artists of the same era, Lonnie Liston Smith, Roy Ayers, Ronnie Laws, Crusaders, Gil Scott Heron, all informed by the outstanding Mastercuts Jazz-Funk series of the early 90s.

If you’re a fan of Zo! but never checked out the Mizell Brothers, take a listen to the above tunes and go grab a copy of The Best of Donald Byrd as an introduction. Believe me, it’s life-changing.

Even Marvin had love for the Mizells!

For more schooling, head over to the Red Bull Music Academy for a 2 hour lecture! Larry Mizell even fills us in on the failings and unreliability of PowerPoint. Gotta love the Mizell Brothers. I’m calling Larry and Fonce the next time my printer goes on the blink, or my proxy settings go awry!

For more details on the inspirations behind the tracks on SunStorm, check Zo!’s own insightful blog: Musical Architecture.
Oh! And check out the SoulCuts review of SunStorm right HERE.

Incognito – Transatlantic RPM – Review

27 07 2010

Incognito’s new album Transatlantic RPM finds Bluey and the crew entering their fourth decade in the music industry with a studio release jam-packed with impeccably crafted soulful treats as tasty as any offered up on previous glories.

Just the idea of a new Incognito album gets me all warm and fuzzy. I’ve been listening to Bluey’s music for as long as I can remember, providing the soundtrack to so many great experiences. I don’t think I’m the only one.

However, when I heard that the first single would be a cover of Boz Scaggs’ Lowdown, I wasn’t overly excited. Okay, so two of my favourite vocalists were on the track, namely Mario Biondi and the legendary Chaka Khan, but the idea sounded unoriginal. How stupid was I to doubt Bluey? Incognito’s Lowdown is the definitive version, above the original and Sylk 130’s The Reason. Mario Biondi captures the spirit of the original vocal, but ramps up the soul quotient so that when Chaka Khan’s comes in, the tune enters classic soul territory making for a perfect, timeless and excellent opening cut.

At 16 tracks deep, Transatlantic RPM is good from start to finish, with all the Incognito stalwarts in full effect (with special mentions to vocalists Tony Momrelle and Joy Rose and co-producer, writer and keyboard player, Matt Cooper). The album differs from previous Incognito LPs by including a number of big name ‘guest’ vocalists such as Mario Biondi, Chaka Khan, John-Christian Urich of Tortured Soul, Ursula Rucker and Leon Ware. It’s testament to Bluey’s songwriting and production skills that the album still sounds wholly Incognito, however well known the guest vocalist may be.

It’s a challenge to pick out highlights with such a consistent album, but the following cuts, and the aforementioned Lowdown (featured above), are currently receiving the most attention chez SoulCuts:

1975 is a brassy, rare-groove sounding tribute to the year Bluey fell in love with music. It’s a track soul music junkies will instantly connect with, both thematically and musically (like a contemporary Music is My Sanctuary). Let’s Fall in Love Again is a string-laden dancefloor soul collaboration with Tortured Soul vocalist John-Christian Urich, complete with accomplished Benson-like scatting. The Song once again features the magnificent Chaka Khan and marries the Incognito sound to classic Rufus, creating a magical vibe that leaves you desperate for Bluey and the guys to work with Chaka on a whole album. All of my Life is a beautifully arranged ballad delivered with power and restraint from Joy Rose. Line in the Sand is the finest tune from Leon Ware since the Seventies with an exquisite string arrangement. It’s perhaps the strongest song on the whole set. And there’s more, so much more, even a Bluey lead vocal on the hypnotic groove of Tell Me What To Do!

Transatlantic RPM is a timeless soul set, maybe even Incognito’s greatest album. And that’s saying something!

It’s out in the UK on Dome and Shanchie in the US. Raid the piggy bank and tell ’em SoulCuts sent ya!

You can listen to cuts from the album over at Giant Step, and download the track, Gotta with Ursula Rucker.