by: Jarret Lovell
Lee Fields & the Expressions - Special Night - (Big Crown Records)
Funk/soul/R&B has seen a resurgence in recent years. Today, artists like the Budos Band and labels like Now Again Records are soaring. In an era when computers are musicians and melody often takes a backseat to the beat, it seems that listeners are demanding music that displays command of an instrument and that uses melody to reach deep into the heart. Amidst the resurgence is Lee Fields. Producing funk/soul since the late sixties, Fields has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning 43 years, he’s certainly not new to the scene. But like Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Sharon Jones and others, he seems to have become “hip” long into his career. So be it. His music is great for all of the aforementioned reasons. Check out the title track “Special Night” which is great! “Lover Man” has a great guitar/bass lick. “Make the World” begins with horns and beats - a fast paced track with a social conscience. “Let Him In” is deep soul pure and simple. All are great. Play.
Bud Collins Trio - Quasarmoto - (Soundcloud)
The Bud Collins Trio describe themselves this way: “We are the Bud Collins Trio, from the forlorn wilds of Connecticut. We write and record a blend of original alternative sorta-prog pop jazz funk rock folk reggae psychedelic, whatchamacallit, 70's type of music.” If that sounds like a hard act to describe, well, sort of, yeah. This 4 track e.p. is varied, with lots of genre/instrumental shifts that keep things fresh. No, this isn’t reggae, nor is it folk or rock, despite their self description. But it does have neat beats, Partridge Family style vocals, fun bass lines (“Fool Tonight”), and a general eclectic sounds. Pretty cool. “Blue Driver has a great downtempo/lounge feel with a great bass line.” They remind me of Flaming Lips, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Dreadsquad & Blackout Ja - World Destruction - (dreadsquad.com)
Typically, it was thought that for reggae music to be danceable, it had to be dancehall. Yet electronic music has done wonders for reggae, and Dreadsquad and Blackout Ja prove it with some of the most dancefloor friendly tunes around. More reggae than dancehall, these tracks will definitely get you moving. From Poland, the songs here cover a range of social issues, from “Police Brutality” to “World Destruction.” Great stuff. Check for OPI.
Ethiopia Ringaracka - Afrofuturism - (Miraloop Spades)
Great electronic music with a tribal flare. The outfit describes itself as an “experimental project that brings reggae music to its afro/dub dance evolution in an electronic key, mixing African tribal music with the Caribbean rythms. Ethiopia Ringaracka is the most powerful expression of Afrofuturism in music.” This is really electronic music that’s more interesting than your typical 4/4. Fun stuff