I love old soul 45s, I really do. And I'm sure I collect them as much... well, almost as much, as the next Mod soul DJ. But we live in an awesome time of new music right now and, yes, even new soul 45s. I find it pretty exciting to hear new soul songs being released on them little 7-inch discs.
Sometimes, it's easy (and very understandable) to get lost in the greatness of soul/funk 45s from the '60s and '70s because there's still so much out there to unearth. At the same time, however, we have new opportunities to keep up with a great contemporary soul/funk scene and get in on tomorrow's rare vintage soul 45s today. So, take a break from work and switch into dance mode as I present to you my personal current Top 10 NEW Soul/Funk 45s!*
*(And by 'new' I mean within the last several years.)
1. Paul Weller and Andy Lewis - Are You Trying to Be Lonely - I really don't know why Paul Weller never stuck with incorporating more soul into his music. I get that he's always trying to move forward, and hit or miss, you gotta respect that. But when this guy gets into a soul groove, he blows it away. Take this song, in which he collaborates with one of my favorite current producers, Andy Lewis. Now this is some 'Heavy Soul'!
2. Frank Popp Ensemble - Love Is On Our Side - For the last several years now, Frank Popp's been blowing away the DJ/remix scene by incorporating a ton of 1960s influences. I first heard of him off a cover of Dave Pike's 'Mathar,' and I was blown away by the layered instrumentation on that cover down to the use of trombone! You gotta hand it to him... he knows how to get a dance floor going.
3. Ben From Cordoroy - With A Little Help From My Friends - Okay, I'm totally cheating with this one. I don't have this on 45... it's off an LP (gasp!). But I had to include it because A) it's Ben Addison from one of my favorite '90s Acid Jazz acts, Corduroy (if the name of the band didn't give it away), B) it features vocalist Mayka Edyole from The Sweet Vandals, and C) it's one of the best Beatles covers I've heard in a while.
4. Lord Large featuring Clem Curtis - Stuck In a Wind-Up - I don't know much about Lord Large, other than that he sports some slick, quirky style and that he's put out a couple of great 45s, including a collaboration with soul legend, Dean Parrish, covering an early, unreleased Paul Weller song and infusing some soul into it. This song, though, is the one that gets my feet all twitchy... a collaboration with Clem Curtis, lead vocalist of The Foundations.
5. Myron & E with The Soul Investigators - Cold Game - Aw man, California soul in the house! Yup, I'll admit it... I live in a pretty great state. We got a lot of great musicians out here, including Myron & E, who lay down some pretty gritty but smooth soul for feet shufflin'. Of course, you can't ignore that amazing backing band, Finland's The Soul Investigators, probably most known for backing up Nicole Willis several years back.
6. The Stance Brothers - Pick'n'Roll - One of my current favorite labels of the last few years has been Ricky-Tick, which boasts a pretty great stable of jazz/soul/funk artists, including these guys, The Stance Brothers. Now, I'll be honest... I'm a little nervous posting songs like this out to you guys. I'd rather you all be fighting over rare soul 45s from the 1960s, so I can have stuff like this all to myself. But, my mama raised me right and taught me how to share. So, go ahead... click 'play' on this video and prepare to re-think your $400 Ebay bid on that rare, scratchy 45.
7. Kendra Lou and The Miracles - Everyday - I'm a fan of tight drum beats. In fact, all my favorite dancefloor 45s have some kind of funky drum break to them. This song below, by Kendra Lou and The Miracles, fits that bill for me. Now, what they may lack in creative band names (The Miracles... really?) they more than make up for in hip-shakin' goodness. Like the Sleestak says, I like it!
8. John Nemeth - Name the Day - Some more American soul brought to you by blues guy, John Nemeth. This song caught me off-guard when I first heard it. Straight-up, Memphis-cooked soul that was happening right now! One of my pet peeves is when people harp on about how much 'music sucks today.' People who rant and rave about that just aren't looking in the right places. John Nemeth proves that all you gotta do sometimes is search out the good stuff... and sometimes, it's right there in your own backyard.
9. The Third Degree - Mercy - Man, when Duffy busted out with this video for 'Mercy', I was sold! The song had a great beat that made a great pop hit. And the footwork displayed in the video helped punctuate that. But then, The Third Degree came along and blew her version away! Oh sure, they didn't light up any fires with their dance moves, but their version of 'Mercy' is blistering with Mod soul power!
10. Andy Lewis (with Lynda Laurence) - See You There - Alright, we started this list off with Paul Weller and Andy Lewis, so now I end it with another Andy Lewis collaboration, this time with ex-Supreme, Lynda Laurence. Without a doubt, this is my current favorite soul 45 to DJ at the moment. It's got that driving beat, piano and organ work, horn arrangements, and those amazing vocals. If this 45 doesn't convince you to start paying more attention to today's soul scene, I don't know what else to tell you. And that's okay... I have no problem buying this stuff up without competition!
There ya go, my current Top 10 NEW Soul/Funk 45s. There's a lot more out there, but maybe I'll save that for another day. Hopefully these songs prove that there's music being produced NOW, that's worth searching out.
On that note, if you all up in a dancing mood now and live in the Bay Area, I've got a suggestion for you. Drop on by the Make-Out Room after work tonight and spend happy hour with us! I'll be playing some 45s (old and new) along with my pal, DJ Major Sean, while you kick back and enjoy some drinks. Then, stay for one of the best rocksteady nights around right after, Festival '68. It'll be a fun time! And look... a target!