Can You Jack?Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 isn’t a new compilation. Not at all. It was originally released way back in 2005. Now eight years later, just as the Chicago House is about to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary, Soul Jazz Records have decided to rerelease Can You Jack?Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995. That’s no bad thing though. It’s a reminder of the heady, hedonistic, glory days of Chicago House and beyond.

Rather than limiting the music from 1985-1989, which were the golden years of Chicago House, extending this to 1995 worked well. It allowed the compiler to include music from the second wave of producers. This new generation of producers took Chicago House in a new direction. Sometimes, this meant a more experimental direction. This meant Chicago House enjoyed a longevity that few forecast it would. They doubted whether it would survive beyond a few years. Mind you, look at the pioneering producers were working during this period.

Looking through the track-listing of Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995, it’s certainly not short of Chicago House legends. There’s contributions from some of the pioneers of Chicago House. This includes contributions from Sweat Boyz, Virgo, Mr. Fingers, Phuture and Roy Davis. There are also contributions from Maurice, Tyree and Fresh. They played their part in making Chicago House’s history.

As Chicago House approaches its thirtieth anniversary, there’s been a resurgence in interest in the music’s roots and history. One way to find about Chicago House’s roots and history is by buying Can You Jack? It was released in April 2013 and features a lengthy and informative fifty-two page booklet. Can You Jack? Chicago House and Experimental House 1985-1995 also features some of the greatest, most influential and innovative music in the history of Chicago House. 


Earlier this year, Strut Records released Change The Beat-The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987. This showcased the eclectic, experimental, innovative and pioneering music Celluloid Records released. Founded by Jean Karakos, Celluloid Records, established a reputation as a record label that pushed musical boundaries. A reminder of this is  Change The Beat-The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987.

Change The Beat-The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987, feature a suitably eclectic selection of tracks that’s representative of Celluloid Records back-catalogue. Celluloid Records lasted only eight years, but during that time, Celluloid proved one of the most innovative record labels. They were never afraid to challenge musical norms, releasing music that strayed from the norm. 

Indeed, Celluloid Records proved to be a trendsetting label, masterminded by Jean Karakos. Hip hop, electro, synth pop, Afro Beat, dance, avant garde, jazz, rock and much, much more. You’ll realise that when you listen to Change The Beat-The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987. Musical genres seamlessly melt into one as musical boundaries are pushed to their limit during this compelling and captivating, genre-sprawling, musical journey.


Cosmic Machine, which was compiled by Uncle O and released in October 2013 on Because Music, charts the development, innovation and revolution in French electronic music. Drawing inspiration from sixties psychedelia and rock, and drawing upon the sounds of the latest synths a lysergic, cosmic, electronic revolution unfolded. A new generation of French musicians created some of the most innovative, inventive and mind-bending music of a generation. Twenty examples of this can be found on Cosmic Machine, which is described as “a voyage across French cosmic and electronic avant garde 1970-1980.

Cosmic Machine is a bit like a musical equivalent of Pythagorus’ Theorem. I know 3.14 infinity equals pie, but don’t know how the pieman got there? Similarly, it’s almost impossible to understand how the artists on Cosmic Machine were able to make music that was so far ahead of the musical curve? That’s the eight mystery of the world. Some of the music sounds as if it was recorded only recently. It wasn’t. Far from it. Instead, it was recorded in the early seventies, over forty years ago. That’s quite remarkable. Despite the equipment being much more basic, the music sounds truly timeless. If only artists and producers were producing music that’s just as inventive and groundbreaking as the music on Cosmic Machine.

For newcomers to French electronic and avant garde music, Cosmic Machine which released on 14th October 2013 on Because Music, is the perfect starting place. It might be the first album of French electronic and avant garde music you buy, but believe me, it won’t be the last. Described as “a voyage across French cosmic and electronic avant garde 1970-1980,” that’s almost an understatement. Instead, I’d describe Cosmic Machine as a magical, mystical, musical mystery tour through innovative, inventive and imaginative electronic and avant garde music. The lysergic, genre-melting music on Cosmic Machine is truly timeless and way ahead of the musical curve. So much so, that Cosmic Machine features music from the golden age of French electronic and avante garde music. Don’t just take my word for it, climb onboard the Cosmic Machine and head off on a magical, mystical, musical mystery tour.


Featuring thirty-two tracks spread over two discs, Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub, which was compiled by Rodrigo Brandão  shows another side to Brazilian music. It’s best described as featuring progressive hip hop, leftfield beats, Afrobeat and dub drenched sounds. A simpler way to describe it as Daora, which in downtown San Paulo, is slang for something that’s fucking cool. Even that’s something of an understatement. 

Everything from funk, hip hop, Afrobeat, dub, soul, jazz, rap, reggae and samba is thrown into a Brazilian melting pot. So too are snatches of haunting samples, sound effects, snare drums, squelchy synths heartfelt vocals and impassioned raps. Then there’s hissing hi-hats, loops, 808 kick drums and the unmistakable sound of the Roland TR-303. When it’s given a stir, what comes out is variously energetic, emotive, edgy, progressive, hook-laden, soulful, imaginative, dance-floor friendly, melodic and downright funky. That’s what the music on Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub sounds like.

Daora-Underground Sounds Of Urban Brasil-Hip Hop Beats and Afro Dub which was released by the Mais Um Discos label, shows that right now, music is one of Brazil’s success stories. There are so many innovative, inventive and imaginative producers within Brazil, who like Shaman, casting a musical spell over their listeners. Their style is best described as genre-melting. Musical genres and influences melt into one lysergic haze. Multilayered, complex, dramatic and dark, just as quickly, it can become uplifting and joyous. Other times, the music is intriguing and enigmatic. Compiler Rodrigo Brandão throws a series of curveballs, just to keep the listener on their toes. Best to expect the unexpected. Anything and everything is possible. Rodrigo Brandão rules nothing in and nothing out. The result is a compilation of cutting-edge, contemporary music.


In March 2013, British reissue label JSP released Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1597. Compiled by Neil Slaven, Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1597 is a four-CD box set which focuses on the blues music released by King Records, and its sister label Queen Records, during the eleven year period between 1946 and 1957. Queen Records was part of Syd Nathan’s musical empire and released some of the best blues music of that era. 

Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957 is a musical journey that’s four discs and 100 tracks long. Lasting an eleven year period between 1946 and 1957, there are contributions from some giants of blues music and some less familiar faces. This means that Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957 will appeal to veterans of many a blues compilation, plus relative newcomers to blues music. For blues veterans, Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957’s U.S.P. is the twenty unreleased tracks. For completists, this makes Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957 an essential purchase.

What makes Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957 an essential purchase is emotion and potency of the music. That many of the tracks have a raw, almost primitive sound just adds to this. It makes Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957 one of the most captivating and compelling box sets of 2013 so far. In many ways, Devil’s Jump: Indie Label Blues 1947-1957 is just a tantalising taster of the hidden delights of King and Queen Records’ rich and illustrious back-catalogue. 


Glasgow’s disco don Al Kent made his return earlier this year. back, He’s back from another crate-digging expedition. Digging deep. Way deeper than he’s ever dug before. The result was Disco Love 3, which was released on BBE Music in February 2013. Like the two previous volumes of Disco Love, Disco Love Volume 3 is a double-album. Disc one features a continuous mix from Al, featuring the fifteen tracks on disc two. So, for anyone who likes their disco soulful or funky, then Disco Love Volume 3 is for you. 

Of the fifteen tracks on Disco Love Volume 3, five were edited by Al Kent. Just like the two previous instalments of Disco Love, some of the tracks on Disco Love Volume 3 are extremely rare, so rare, that until now, most people will never have heard them before. To discover these tracks, Al’s been on another crate-digging expedition. Al has dug deep, dusty basements, warehouses and backstreet record shops have all been scoured. So too, has Al’s extensive record collection. He’s decided to share some of the soulful and funky disco delights, that, until now, have been tucked away in his arsenal of secret disco weapons. No wonder, many of the tracks on Disco Love Volume 3 are almost too good to share.

During Disco Love Volume 3, Al Kent so has decided to share some of his delicious disco delights. These are Al’s secret disco weapons. Each of these fifteen tracks are guaranteed to get get any party started. Every one of them is guaranteed to fill any dance-floor. One listen to disc two of Disco Love Volume 3 and you’ll realise why.  Then on disc one, Al seamlessly weaves his way through the fifteen tracks. That’s why Disco Love Volume 3, picks up where Disco Love Volume 3 left off, with Al Kent sharing some more of his soulful and funky disco tracks. 


Despite only being around for three years, Flair Records released some of the best R&B and blues of that period. Formed in 1953, Flair Records became the second subsidiary of Modern Records. It was the idea of Jules Bihari, who with his brothers, co-founded Modern Records. Jules was also the head of A&R at Modern Records. He realised that music was changing and Modern Records’ roster was expanding. Modern Records was releasing different types of music. Jules realised different labels should release different types of music? An example of this would be Flair Records. For its first ten releases, it only released hillbilly and country and western music. After that, Flair Records roster changed, establishing a reputation as one of the best R&B and blues label. Then in 1955, Flair Record closed its doors. Since then, the eighty singles Flair Records released have become hugely collectable. No wonder.

Featuring fifty tracks spread over two discs, Dust My Rhythm and Blues-The Flair Records R&B Story 1953-1955, which was released by Ace Records, documents the three years when Flair Records were in business. During that three year period, Flair Records released some of the best blues and R&B music of that era. Despite its undoubtable quality, the singles released by Flair Records weren’t a commercial success nationwide.

So it’s no surprise that after three years where its music wasn’t commercially successful, Flair Records closed its doors. However, Flair Records’ left behind a rich musical legacy. That legacy is Flair Records’ back-catalogue. Dust My Rhythm and Blues-The Flair Records R&B Story 1953-1955is  tantalising taste of Flair Records’ back-catalogue, which truly, is a veritable musical treasure trove.


Back in 1955, two cousins decided to decided to form a record label in their hometown, Los Angeles. They called this new label Era Records. The two cousins were Lew Bedell and Herb Newman. Lew Bedell was a comedian, whose career seemed to have come to a halt. So he was looking for a new career. Herb Newman was a music industry veteran. He’d started out as a West Coast sales rep for Mercury and later Decca. Now he’d learned the ropes, he wanted to form his own company. With his cousin looking for a new career, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. After all, Herb and Lew had been brought up together. With the financial support of Herb’s father Max Newman, they founded Era Records in 1955. Seven years later, in 1962, Era Records became a soul label.

Having started their own label, Herb and Lew concentrated on releasing music that was popular locally. Los Angeles’ music scene was much more conservative than New York, Washington or Philly. So, originally, they planned to released just pop, country, rockabilly and jazz. With black music not as popular in Los Angeles, they only occasionally released soul or R&B. Their first soul single Era Records released  was in 1957. It was as if they were just testing the water. Seven years later, in 1962, Era Records took the plunge and became a soul label. 

By then, Era Records had already released over 150 records. Following the decision to change direction musically, Era Records released a whole host of singles that have become popular on the Northern Soul scene. A tantalising taste of them can be found on Ace Records’ Kent Soul imprint’s recent release Era Records Northern Soul. Featuring twenty-four tracks, where there’s ballads, floaters and stompers aplenty, Era Records Northern Soul is essential listening for fans of Northern Soul. 

Compiled by Ady Croasdell, a man whose life has revolved around Northern Soul, Era Records Northern Soul which was released by Kent Soul, is quality all the way. A delicious mixture of ballads, floaters and stompers Era Records Northern Soul is belongs in the collection of anyone whose interested in Northern Soul Whether you’re a veteran of Northern Soul compilations or newcomer to the genre, you can’t afford to be without Era Records Northern Soul.


Uplifting, joyous, soulful and funky, music doesn’t get much better than Good God! Apocryphal Hymns, which was the third in Numero Group’s instalments of contemporary gospel. Veering between soulful and spiritual, it’s music that’s soulful and downright funky. Released just sixteen months after the release of the first in Numero Group’s series of gospel music compilations, Good God! Apocryphal Hymns, is the third in the series. That’s no bad thing, as there’s a real lack of quality modern gospel compilations. Compilations like Good God! Apocryphal Hymns will rectify this

With its fusion of soul, funk, rock and gospel, Good God! Apocryphal Hymns, will be something of an eyeopener for newcomers to gospel music. The nineteen tracks will show that gospel can be downright funk and always, always, always, is soulful. Even after one listen to Good God! Apocryphal Hymns, newcomers will realise that there’s much more to gospel music than they first thought. Soulful, funky and sometimes psychedelic, this eclectic collection of gospel music is the perfect primer for newcomers to the genre. Surely, Good God! Apocryphal Hymns will make a believer out of you?


Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, music almost overnight, became illegal. No longer were concerts held, sheet music printed or albums released. Suddenly, Iran’s vibrant and eclectic music went into hibernation. Musicians headed overseas. They became exiles. There was no point living in a country where they were persecuted and banned from making a living. So they headed overseas. Those that were left behind couldn’t believe what was happening. For those left behind, they watched helplessly as musical instruments, sheet music and even records were destroyed. The only music allowed, was Islamic music. So no longer were Iranian musicians able to play the music they loved. That included everything from soul and jazz, right through to funk, psychedelia and pop. Iranian music before the revolution was eclectic. Proof of this is Goush Bedey is the fifth release in Pharaway Sounds series of pre-Revolutionary Iranian music. Funk, psychedelia and pop can be found on Goush Beady.

Goush Bedey is a truly eclectic compilation of hidden gems, rarities and forgotten musical nuggets. Although this is the fifth instalment in this series of pre-Revolutionary Iranian music, there’s no sign of the series running out of steam. Far from it. Pharaway Sounds have surpassed their previous efforts on Goush Bedey. To do that, they’ve combine jazz, funk, soul, classical, folk, psychedelia and rock. All this is thrown into the musical melting pot. What comes out is a mesmeric fusion that captivates and compels. You’re taken on a musical journey, one that veers between, ethereal, emotive, surreal and trippy, to beautiful, understated and melancholy. One thing the music never is, is boring. Not at all. There’s numerous changes in direction. That’s what makes Goush Bedey such a captivating and refreshing compilation. 

The reason I refer to Goush Bedey as a refreshing compilation, is that Pharaway Sounds eschew the safe and sterile music that can be found other compilations. They take a different approach. They’re brave and bold, and seem determined to give the compilation world a shakeup. To do this, they’ve managed to lay their hands on tracks other record companies can only dream of. Many of these hidden gems and musical nuggest feature on Goush Bedey, which not only is crammed full of quality music, but surpasses the quality of Pharaway Sounds’ previous compilations of pre-Revolutionary Iranian music.

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