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Showing posts from 2016

Jukebox Grooves From The Crates (1965-1975)

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Let’s leave 2016 with sounds from the last years of the jukebox era (1965-1975). Around the mid-seventies disco took over and dance music was played more and more at big, crowdy clubs instead of intimate local bars and cafes. From then the jukebox, an early version of Spotify, slowly disappeared out of sight.

Some of the songs clearly give away that disco was not far away to take over, like the ones from The O’Jays, Billy Paul and Van McCoy, but The Trammps show perhaps best the transition from the soul era to the disco days. Jimmy Ellis did the soulful, gospel influenced vocals and the uptempo music was played by Ronnie Baker (bass), Norman Harris (guitar) and Earl Young (drums), also main members of MFSB, house band of the Philadelphia International label The first recordings of the Trammps were not very successful, except for 'Hold Back The Night', which was a hit in the UK and on the Billboard R&B chart in 1973, before a re-release saw it climb the Billboard Hot 100 …

Smooth Sailing: Soulful Songs & Holiday Vibes

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Enjoy this Holiday episode of Smooth Sailing!

One of the tracks I selected is 'Reasons' by Minnie Riperton. It was the first single from her album 'Perfect angel'. The song was embraced by rock stations, but R&B radio weren’t too keen on the heavy guitars. Sales of the album started slow, and her record label was ready to move on to the next project. However, a few MOR (Middle Of the Road) radio stations were playing 'Lovin' You' (about daughter Maya) as an album track. Her record company released it as a single and it made a slow three-month climb to #1 on the American pop charts in April 1975 (#3 R&B). It went to #9 on the Dutch charts a few months later. Nowadays this classic soul song has been covered and sampled dozens of times.

Dutch-born Thomas Azier makes moody yet highly dynamic synth pop centered on his robust, often melancholic singing voice. Born in the Netherlands, Azier moved to Berlin at age 19 to pursue a music career and quickly en…

1971 Best Of 70s Soul

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In the beginning of the 1970s soul music became influenced by other genres like country (Candi Staton), rock (Sly & the Family Stone) and folk (Bill Withers). The typical Motown beat disappeared in favour of more sophisticated sounds, like Memphis soul (Al Green) and the sound of Philadelphia (The Three Degrees). One of the first songs that came out on the Philadelphia International label was ‘You’re the reason why’ by The Ebony’s. Philly soul, however, was not fully evolved yet and still on the drawing board.

Around 1971 the Three Degrees were in search of a sound that would suit them best. When they eventually aligned their recording fate with Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International label, after years of struggling, they hit immediate paydirt in 1973 with 'Dirty Ol’ Man'. Soon after came 'TSOP', which featured the ladies with the Philly house orchestra MFSB. The following year came ‘When Will I See You Again'. All tracks were on their first album for Ph…

AOR On The Radio: Soft & Easy

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The Salsoul Orchestra led by vibraphonist Vincent Montana initially consisted of many of the original members of Philadelphia International's MFSB, who had moved to Salsoul as the result of a disagreement with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff over finances. Other members began performing as The Ritchie Family and as John Davis and the Monster Orchestra. On later MFSB and Philadelphia International recordings, Gamble & Huff used a new rhythm section which resulted in a slightly different sound.
The orchestra's biggest chart singles were 1976's reworked version of the standard, "Tangerine" (pop #18, R&B #36) and "Nice 'N' Naasty" (R&B #20, pop #30) later in the same year.
When Montana left Salsoul, the orchestra recorded a final album at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia mainly with producer Bunny Sigler. The orchestra's last three albums were recorded in New York City with local session players and producers, including Patri…

Smooth Sailing: Soulful Pop & Funky Chill

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Remember those sunny days of summer? I collected a couple of songs that will give you a warm feeling... ;-)

I selected "Hurry Sundown" by Candi Staton. The career of the tiny soul singer has had some ups and downs, because of her troubled personal life and alcohol addiction. She was married to soul singer Clarence Carter (1970 - 1973) and John Sussewell (1980 – 1998), along whom she co-founded the gospel label Beracah Records. She is the mother of Cassandra Hightower and the drummer Marcus Williams. Her biggest hits are "You Got The Love" (remixed by The Source), the disco anthem "Young Hearts Run Free" and her country soul versions of "Stand By Your Man", originally sung by of Tammy Wynette, and "In The Ghetto”, the classic from Elvis Presley. Candi Staton released eleven soul and disco albums from 1970 to 1982, thirteen gospel albums, a club album ("Outside In") and in the mid-00's she made her soul comeback with two deep so…

Groovy, Sexy & Soulful Part 65 Slow Dancin' Edition

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The other day I bought the compilation album 100 Hits Ultimate Soul (100 definitive smooth sounds), which is out on Demon Music Group. The album is really good and brought quite a few surprises to my ears. The song that I like the most is the one that I would qualify as yacht rock: 'Every Night' by Phoebe Snow (written by Paul McCartney). What a wonderful voice this woman has! The singer is best known for her 1975 song 'Poetry Man'. She was once described by The New York Times as a "contralto grounded in a bluesy growl and capable of sweeping over four octaves." Phoebe Snow suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2010 and passed away on April 26, 2011, at age 60.

For an artist whose bio reads that she was “born in 1784 in the backseat of a sea-foam green space pinto,” LA-based soul singer Kadjha Bonet’s debut album 'The Visitor' sounds a bit closer to home than that. Her sound is retro-fitted, but you only have to travel to, say, the experimental jazz-meets…

#Capitol75th: Funky Disco Grooves From The Capitol Vaults

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Gary Bartz is an underrated jazz great. As a teenager Gary had played sax in his father's nightclub, sitting in with Art Blakey and George Benson. He had started on alto at age 11 and, after studying at Juilliard and the Peabody Conservatory, Bartz worked with the Max Roach-Abbey Lincoln group in 1964. He followed that up by stints with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1965-66), McCoy Tyner and Blue Mitchell. Bartz made a strong impression with Miles Davis' 1970-71 fusion group, emerging as perhaps the strongest soloist on the recording 'Live / Evil'. The altoist, who had recorded as a leader for Milestone and Prestige fairly regularly since 1967, did some of his finest work at the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival (released on Prestige as 'I've Known Rivers and Other Bodies'). By the mid-seventies his recordings became funkier and more commercial. His 1977 album 'Music Is My Sanctuary' is considered one of the finest fusion albums of its generation, wit…

Mellow Moods For Rainy Days

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Enjoy this new part of Mellow Moods by The Smooth Operators! A rainy tribute to the FM radio sound of the late seventies and early eighties. Whether sad, defiant or uplifting, these rainy tunes bring a little light through the clouds.

Carole King became successful as a singer-songwriter in the 1970s, when she recorded ‘Tapestry’, but the previous decade she was most of all a songwriter (she composed ‘Crying In The Rain’, for instance). Together with then husband Gerry Goffin she wrote songs for The Drifters, The Righteous Brothers, their babysitter Little Eva and quite a few girl groups (who would influence Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse later on). Carole King made demos of her songs, so the performing artists would know how the compositions should sound. Those 'legendary demos' came out as an album a few years ago and they sometimes sound better than the recorded versions! Carole King gives the songs a softness and a sensitive touch that makes them deeper and richer. She’s a…

Eddy's 80s Grooves Part 17: Disco & Wave

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Dance music with an edge from the 1980s and a few new ones with that same vibe. The songs by Fickle Friends (intro of 'When love breaks down') and Ice Choir (vocals) sound like eighties icons Prefab Sprout. The one by by Valida is also influenced by the sound of the 1980s:

“‘Stars’ is about letting go,” Valida says. “We’ve built too many walls to protect us from experiencing each other. Maybe it’s the L.A. way of life of constantly being in a car going through life behind a window. I know a lot of people who can use the extra push in going after their dreams, myself included. I wanted to create a world where love conquers self-doubt.” “Stars” is her first original since 2012, and for the native of Bosnia it represented a challenge. “One time I said to a friend that I could not write a happy song even if I tried,” she says, “but I remember adding ‘Well, maybe if I tried really hard …’” Mission accomplished. The ’80s-influenced pop anthem, co-produced by Timalayo and Joseph Augu…

Groovy, Sexy & Soulful Part 64 Sunny Sunday Edition

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The tracks by Greg Smaha and Charms are from French Disco Boogie Sounds volume 2. After their critically acclaimed first edition, Favorite Recordings and Charles Maurice return with a follow-up. There’s a suave-looking guy on the cover, and there's some suave-sounding songs within. They are definitely the cream of the crop of the hippest spectrum of the French club scene at the start of the 1980s, brought together in a beautiful package of grooves. The songs are quite different than some of the cheesier, clunkier Euro disco hits of the time. And, opposite to those hits, there's a lot of care and craft brought to the rhythms and lyrics. Often a lot more soul elements than you might expect, and with occasional global currents that reflect the unique sound of France in the postcolonial years.

Enjoy this 64th part of Groovy, Sexy and Soulful!

Tracklist:

Charms ‎– Givin' It Up (1983)
Princess Freesia – What’s That All About (2016)
Amy Holland ‎– Rollin’ By (1983)
Mike Oldfield – T…

Soul Covered: Chilled Out Eighties Edition

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A jazzy Latin and, most of all, a soulful and chilled out look on classics from the 1980s. Do you know the originals of them?

One of the tracks is “Skin Trade”, originally by Duran Duran. The music for the song was written long before Simon LeBon finally finished the lyrics. The title for the song was derived from the Dylan Thomas book Adventures in the Skin Trade, which Duran Duran’s John Taylor had read. It was shortened to "Skin Trade" and LeBon eventually wrote the melody and lyrics for the track while spending an evening in Taylor's Upper West Side Manhattan apartment. The lyrics reflect on how everyone is selling themselves, and "there's a little hooker in each of us". In a retrospective review of the single, Allmusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco praised the song. He wrote:

"The music lends contrast to the angry tone of the lyrics by creating a sultry, mellow melody that juxtaposes verses with a soft, hypnotic ebb and flow with an ever-ascending…

Best Of 70s Soul: The Sound Of Philadelphia

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New York may have been ground zero during the disco generation, but as most folks know, lots of the best sounds came from Philadelphia. In fact, the first disco records were made there and they kept on coming even in the years after the flames had died down at Studio 54. When the sound eventually disappeared, Marshall Jefferson ('Move your body') and others built their Chicago house sound on the foundations of Philly soul. The track by Arthur Prysock is from the album ‘The Other Philadelphia Disco Delights’. This compilation is a great tribute to the long legacy of disco sounds from Philly. It moves past the hits from bigger labels like Philadelphia International and Salsoul, to include some overlooked gems and the kinds of cuts that show that the best disco elements were always handled best in the City Of Brotherly Love.

'When will I see you again' by The Three Degrees was one of the most successful recordings of the Philly Soul era. In the US, the song reached numbe…

Funking Up The Dance Floor Part 3

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I try to catch the same vibe as in Funking Up The Dance Floor part 1, which has reached over 15,000 plays on Mixcloud.

One of the tracks is ‘Do or die’ by The Human League. Unfortunately the song is not on their new compilation album ‘A Very British Synthesizer Group’, which will be out on Friday 18th November. It is a four-disc sound and vision anthology featuring all the hits and previously unreleased demos and edits. It covers the entire history of the group from the earliest incarnation to the phenomenon that was Dare (which features ‘Do or die’) and all that happened in its wake. When attempting to describe The Human League their one-time manager, Bob Last, puts it best:

“Pop music is a kind of lightning conductor for what’s going on, when it’s at its most exciting it beats everything else; it beats film, beats books and beats TV. These magical moments when it pulls something out of the ether, out of what’s going on in everyone’s head and everyone’s lives and focuses it. That’s w…

Best Of 70s Soul: Nice & Slow

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It's time to do it nicely and slowly this time with quite a few big soul names, like Minnie Riperton and Marlena Shaw. The latter sang the title track for the movie ‘Looking for Mr. Goodbar’ with Diane Keaton. The movie inspired Allee Willis to write ‘Boogie Wonderland’:

“An amazing film. You should see it. She's this very lost woman who would go to these clubs every night and dance to completely lose herself and forget how miserable she was. But she would end up literally bringing home serial killers. And my main thing with every song I write, especially in my later years, I'm really obsessed with music being the carrier of this whole self-esteem message. So if you look at any of my hits, like ‘Neutron Dance’ that's basically: If your life isn't working, get up off your ass and change it. Because it's really up to you.”

In the mid-seventies some glam rock artists started to cross-over to more soulful music on a few occasions. For 'Hobo with a grin' Eng…

Smooth Sailing: Cool Winds & Fresh Vibes

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A new season, a new sound! This Smooth Sailing part is more or less an eclectic experiment. I selected quite a few new tracks, some fresh vibes, so to speak.

One of them is NYC-based indie dance duo Sofi Tukker, Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. They first made waves with the release of their guitar-driven dance cut 'Drinkee' last year. After earning a synch in an Apple Watch ad, and with the help of follow-up singles like 'Matadora', 'Déjà Vu Affair' and 'Hey Lion', the buzzing pair have become one of the hotly tipped new acts this year, netting over 8 million Spotify streams to date since their debut. Their song ‘Awoo’ has vibes similar to ‘Slippery people’ from the Talking Heads.

Enjoy this Cool Winds & Fresh Vibes episode of Smooth Sailing! I'm not sure yet what I'm going to upload next week.

Tracklist:
Gene Page - She's My Main Squeeze (1974)
Mayer Hawthorne – Breakfast In Bed (2016)
Seek – Some All Night Dancing (2003)
Hifi Sean…

Best of 70s Soul: Black Cream

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Originally conceived as a musical, Car Wash deals with the exploits of a close-knit, multiracial group of employees at a Los Angeles car wash. In an episodic fashion, the film covers a full day, during which all manner of strange visitors make cameo appearances, including Lorraine Gary as a hysterical wealthy woman from Beverly Hills dealing with a carsick son. Richard Pryor also appears in a cameo as a money-hungry evangelist named 'Daddy Rich' who preaches a pseudo-gospel of prosperity theology. The main character is Abdullah, formerly Duane (Bill Duke), a Black Muslim revolutionary. Among his other misadventures in the film, he must deal with a man ("Professor" Irwin Corey) who fits the profile of the notorious "pop bottle bomber" being sought that day by the police. It causes employees, customers, and the owner of the car wash, Mr. B (Sully Boyar), to fear for their lives, but the strange man's "bomb" is simply a urine sample he is taking …

Groovy, Sexy And Soulful Part 63 Funky Bounce Edition

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Just before closing time the dj spins some relaxing soul-disco tunes, while you’re on the couch with your loved one…

The track by Neville Nash is from the compilation 'Boogie breakdown', which will be out by the end of the week:

“South Africa is home to a dizzying variety of musical genres and traditions, including some that look directly to American sounds for inspiration. In the late 70s and early 80s, many of the country’s best young musicians were guided by funk. All over the world, disco was growing harder and more electronic, with new synthesizers entering the market every month. The southern tip of Africa was no exception. Global music industry geo-politics, however, aided by the country’s pariah status and a UN-sanctioned cultural boycott, prevented the vast majority of this music from ever being heard outside the country, nor ever being released.”

The Stylistics were one of the bestselling soul bands from the early to the mid-seventies (just before the disco boom), b…

Smooth Sailing: Indian Summer Songs & Seventies Soul

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In the Netherlands we're enjoying an Indian Summer lately, so that's where the inspiration came from. The track by Michael Dues is from a new compilation album, called Praise Poems 4.

The R&B version of Donny & Mary Osmond were brother and sister Mac & Katie Kissoon at the time. They had a couple of very strong pop hits in the mid-seventies, like 'Sugar candy kisses', which reached number 5 on the Dutch chart in 1975. Katie Kissoon is perhaps the most popular backup singer ever. She provided background vocals on records from Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Roger Waters, The KLF, Bros, Tanita Tikaram, Boney M, Tracey Ullman, Blancmange, Gloria Gaynor, Elton John, Millie Jackson, Randy Crawford, Eros Ramazzotti, Deborah Harry, Tom Jones, Pet Shop Boys and many, many more. You can read her name on the back of almost every album cover...

Enjoy this Indian Summer & Seventies Soul episode of Smooth Sailing!

Tracklist:

Kandace Springs – Leavin'…

And The Beat Goes On (Eddy's 80s Grooves Part 16)

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Part 16 of Eddy's Eighties Grooves starts with Roosevelt, the new ambassador of the eighties sound and ends with Princess Freesia, her album is out on September 22nd. This cloudcast also contains a nice piece of gospel disco by Enlightment from the compilation ‘Divine disco’. The origins of Gospel Disco can be traced back to the early 1970s when upbeat, dancefloor oriented tracks with secular appeal started to break into DJ sets by the likes of David Mancuso, Nicky Siano and Francis Grasso. The phenomenon had gained momentum in the middle of the decade with labels like Savoy setting a precedent by actively seeking out Gospel artists to explore this new and exciting soul sound. By the beginning of the 1980s Tony Humphries had remixed a track by Phyllis Joubert and the Celestial Choirs, “Stand on the Word”; it wasn’t long before it became an instant club classic. The legendary Larry Levan play-listed the tune as a staple in his DJ sets, redubbing the artist name as The Joubert Sin…

The Smooth Operators Present Mellow Radio Moods Vol. 2

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The Smooth Operators, Martijn Soetens and I, try to reproduce the FM radio sound of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s with our series Mellow Moods

In 1982 singer/songwriter Paul Davis signed with Arista Records and cut his most successful album, Cool Night, which peaked at number 52 on the LP charts and included three hits singles, "Cool Night," "'65 Love Affair" (which was his highest charting single, rising to number six), and "Love Me or Let Me Be Lonely." However, despite its success, Cool Night proved to be Davis' last album; he popped up on the country charts in the mid- to late '80s, singing duets with Marie Osmond (1986's "You're Still New to Me") and Tanya Tucker (1988's "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love"), but after being shot during an attempted robbery in Nashville in 1986, Davis stepped back from the spotlight and concentrated on songwriting rather than performing. In the new millennium, …

Tropical Chill Out Grooves

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The Olympic Games in Rio and the upcoming tropical weather in the Netherlands inspired me to create this cloudcast! The track by Musique is one of the tracks in the Get Down, the new series on Netflix. It's basically a story about girls loving disco and guys enjoying hip hop, but very well done. The track by Harari is on a new compilation called ‘Boogie Breakdown’ (‘South African Disco from 1980 to 1984’), out on Cultures of Soul on September 23rd:

“A period of true innovation and new possibilities – as well as isolation and political instability – the early 80s in South Africa saw the emergence of numerous talented, innovative artists, whose efforts soon gave rise to the big-selling ‘bubblegum’ sound of the mid-80s. As the decade wore on, this sound shed its American roots and took on more local influences, becoming ever more electronic and less funky, to become the kwaito of the 90s and ultimately the house music of today. It all started with the arrival of synthesizers and the …

Smooth Sailing: Soft Sounds & Summer Soul

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Probably the only song on which Scott Walker sounds funky is ‘Use me’ (composed by Bill Withers) from the lp ‘Stretch’ (never re-issued on cd, as far as I know). A handful of songs from the album, like Tom T. Hall's ‘That's How I Got to Memphis’ and Mike Newbury's ‘Sunshine’, are genuine country songs, and the remainder of the album consists of mainstream pop and folk-rock songs that are quite similar to his previous seventies albums. The difference is that Walker sounds more committed on this record from 1973, singing with a greater passion than on any record since 'Til the band comes in' three years earlier. It turned out that Walker was unhappy with his career in the 1970s and after a short period with the reunited Walker Brothers, he took a different musical direction. It is still a pity that he does not use his sublime baritone voice anymore.

I set sail for some pretty unknown musical territories this time, so I hope you will enjoy this 2-hours part of Smoot…

The Smooth Operators Present 'Mellow Disco Moods Vol. 2'

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Yvonne Elliman achieved world fame as a singer when 'If I can't have you' reached number one on Billboard in 1978. While she was in high school in Hawaii, Elliman sang in a group called We Folk. When a London club owner heard her voice on tape, he asked her to sing at the Pheasantry folk club, located on Kings Road in Chelsea. Songwriters Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice discovered her there around 1969/1970. The duo offered her the role of Mary Magdalene for their musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar', which first came out only on album. Elliman won a Golden Globe award for her character in the film version of it. The musical also gave her a hit with 'I don't know how to love him'. The single became the title of her debut album in 1972. A year later Pete Townshend (The Who) helped Elliman with  'Food of love', her next album. During this time, she appeared in the American production of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' on Broadway, where she met late…

Smooth Sailing: Lazy Waves & Laid-Back Songs

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I try to prove a point made by Kenny Loggins in a recent television interview. He says that yacht rock is a combination of (West Coast) rock, R&B and smooth jazz. “It’s that term that started on the internet,” Loggins explains. “It’s a term that embraces the period of pop music where we sort of channelled into a kind of smooth jazz kind of thing.”
The inclusion of smooth jazz into Loggins’ music began on his first two solo albums, ‘Celebrate Me Home’ and ‘Nightwatch’, on which he was helped by keyboard player Bob James, then known for hits like 'Westchester lady' and 'Nightcrawler'. He was Kenny Loggins' producer and that time at the forefront of the development of smooth jazz. James would later start one of the genre’s best-known and popular groups, Fourplay.
“The music sort of evolved… we were moving into that area,” says Loggins. “It was a fun ride. It’s kind of coming back into the window a little bit.”

International jazz-funk band Incognito join forces ag…

Disco Technic XL

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The other day I did a one-hour guest mix for Straightline on National Prison Radio, called 'Disco Technic', which was a joy to do!

This is the first unaired part of the mix. It ends with Stan Smith, who started my mix on Straightline. The track is from the fifth part of The Boogie Serie, out on Tokyo Dawn Records. The record is building bridges between classic electro, hip hop and house. The series offers neon synths, soul chords, vocoders and robot funk from Shanghai, San Francisco, Munich and beyond. Highlights from the company's latest album and remix projects are featured, including artists like Opolopo, SoulParlor, Positive Flow, Reggie B, Amalia, Pugs Atomz and Stan Smith. Guest artists include Slave mastermind Steve Arrington, previously sampled by the likes of Snoop Dogg, N.W.A. and Jay-Z.

Enjoy!

Tracklist:

Yarbrough & Peoples – Heartbeats (1983)
Southroad Connection – Something Special (1980)
Platinum Hook – What You Want (1983)
The Gap Band – I Owe It To Myself…