We’re happy to present our Best of 2016 list! This year marked a lot of fantastic releases, both new, and many records pulled from the vaults. Because of this we’ve pulled together a bit of both. This by far doesn’t include all that we’ve loved throughout the year, but those that standout for as our favourites from the Funk/Soul/Jazz genres. Don’t miss our Best of 2016 Episode, the 11-17th of December!
Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
Polydor | 15 July
We’ve been saying this since before its release, that it was likely our album of the year. Though this year we didn’t want to give a numbering system, this by all means takes the trophy. I was fortunate to see Michael in NYC in 2011 at the legendary Joe’s Pub before the release of his first album ‘Home Again’. He was simply touring on his single at the time for ‘Tell Me A Tale’. I knew there was something so special about him, as his sound in that track not only vocally, but atmospherically transcends you to a place, maybe even a time. Though I liked his first album, I felt it lacked that space in your head, and for me, this took you there by incorporating so much musically, and by really ringing his demons and fears in the songs’ lyrics. If you’ve yet to get this for fear that it’s too commercial, or too new, you’re missing out. Listen below, and then head to your closest record store and buy it.
Charles Bradley – Changes
Daptone | 1 April
To me, this may be the best of Charles Bradley’s catalog. This album combines so much, that its hard to not play over and over again. The diversity of this album, and the power in his delivery is hard to touch by almost any other artist this year. The icing on the cake for me is the cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes’, that dare I say, might just likely be better than the original. You can be the judge.
Hannah Williams & The Affirmations – Late Nights & Heartbreak
Record Kicks | 11 November
I can’t lie, this one took me completely off guard! I hadn’t heard much of Hannah Williams in a bit, and though thinking she has such a brilliant standout voice, I had no idea anything was coming along, let alone this. This time, she teamed up with Bristol-based, The Affirmations to make what is track after track of solid Funk, Soul and R&B. I can’t say enough good about this album, except that her range and skill as a singer paired with the creative musical windings of the Affirmations make this an Arc du Triomphe! Much like the Charles Bradley, their take on the Led Zeppelin classic ‘Dazed and Confused’ shows that they are not a band to brushed aside, because they make the song their own, and keep it epic. Give this one a listen below, and then buy it!
Durand Jones & The Indications – S/T
Colemine | 1 July
A mega first release from Durand Jones & The Indications. Hailing from Bloomington, Indiana, these guys are just about to start to sneak into your brains, with some beautifully classic and equally dirty funk and soul. One of the fantastic releases of 2016 on Ohio’s Colemine Records, you can almost assume that it will be perfect from start to finish.
The Olympians – Sirens of Jupiter
Daptone | 23 September
A beautiful instrumental soul journey brought to you by members of many of the Daptone artists. This is exactly what you need.
The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble – Out on the Coast
Colemine | 21 October
Yet another scorcher on Colemine Records! The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, hailing from San Diego, California, with their sophomore release, combine a lot of genres with this one. There’s not a boring dull moment on this release. One could even say they’re the West Coast cousin of bands like The Budos Band and Menahan Street Band.
Lee Fields – Special Night
Big Crown | 4 November
The first song I heard was ‘Make the World’, which was released as a single on Big Crown. A great politically-inspired message with classic breakbeat backdrop similar to a James Brown classic. This album is certainly a departure from the previous ‘Emma Jean’ of 2014, but equally complex in different ways. The variety will keep everyone listening from start to finish.
William Bell – This is Where I Live
Stax | 3 June
Well you’d be a fool to gloss over a 77 year old William Bell releasing his first album in 10 years. This album is a what you want from all album. It feels like a complete story, a complete thought, leaving no stone unturned. This modern masterpiece of Southern Soul and R&B, paired with his humbling personal lyrics that kick off the first track in ‘The Three of Me’ ”There was the man I was the man I am And the man I want to be”. I feel more complete as a person for having this in my life.
The Kuti Mangoes – Made In Africa
Tramp | 4 November
Denmark may be the last place you expected to get this beautiful breath of fresh air in the form of African Jazz/Funk. The KutiMangoes have their sophomore release in the form of ‘Made in Africa’. Its hard to not be uplifted by the spirit of this album. From the first track, ‘Ouagadougou’, followed by my personal favourite, ‘This Ship Will Sink’, this album takes you on a journey, influenced by the likes of Fela Kuti and Charles Mingus with absolute authenticity, that will both excite, and refrain. Dance, and chill.
Marta Ren and the Groovelvets – Stop Look Listen
Record Kicks | 12 February
Brian Auger – Back to the Beginning Again: The Brian Auger Anthology, Vol. 2
Freestyle | 30 September
Brian Auger legend and Godfather of Acid Jazz, takes us on a trip back to his jazz roots and all points in between. This 25-track excursion lasts in excess of 2 hours plus and treats us to some quite stunning vibes and grooves along the journey. ‘Work Song’ a live recording, is the pick of the early jazz numbers. The beautiful ‘Lament for Miss Baker’ a slow piano ballad, ebbs and flows stirring the emotions as it plays out. ‘M.G. Blues’ & ‘Sister Sadie’ both demonstrate the pure Hammond sound at it’s very best, close your eyes, picture London in the late 50s and 60s, kick back and enjoy! Disc One ends with ‘Straight Ahead’ which demonstrates Mr Auger’s blend of fusion at its very best. The second disc features an excellent cover version of Marvin Gaye’s haunting ‘Inner City Blues’ truly stunning. The last two tracks of the collection are more recent live recordings featuring Alex Ligertwood on vocals. ‘Whenever You’re Ready’ Weighing in at 9:13 is the pick of these with an infectious driving groove which leaves you breathless at the end. Go add this to your collection! – Kevin Cook
The Tibbs – Takin’ Over
Records Kicks | 20 May
The Frightnrs – Nothing More To Say
Daptone | 2 September
Arnold Blair – Finally Made It Home / I Won The Big Deal This Time (Alternative Version)
Super Disco Edits | November
Benjamin & The Right Direction – Light Of My Life / Dreamin’s For Free
Palmetto St. Recording Co. | 9 September
The Filthy Six – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ / Iguana Strut
Acid Jazz | January
Fulton Street – Young People / Problems & Pain
Choi Records | 29 July
James Hunter Six – (Baby) Hold On / Carina
Daptone | 13 May
From his debut album Hold On released on Brooklyn based Daptone Records this latest single offering from The James Hunter Six is so full of energy. From the minute it bursts through the speakers a powerhouse vocal backed with awesome horn solos and mixed with a compelling beat and guitar work hits you right between the ears. Quite frankly if this doesn’t get you moving around then nothing else will! Go check it out and join those who have already discovered the magic of The James Hunter Six. – Kevin Cook
King Bee – Money Gone / Money Gone (Smoove Remix)
Beeswax Records | January
Hailing from ‘Funk on Tyne’ aka Newcastle in the North East of the UK, these Geordie funk and groove-sters have delivered a killer cut in the shape of ‘Money Gone’. If the A side of this single is not enough for those funky ears, then the B side remixed by Smoove will definitely satisfy all funky desires! Any ‘money gone’ on a purchasing a copy of this fine piece of plastic should be considered money well spent! – Kevin Cook
Lack of Afro – Take You Home / Fire’s Glow
LOA Records | 28 October
This is the second single taken from the album ‘Hello Baby’ and features Joss Stone on vocals on the A side. Adam Gibbons aka ‘Lack of Afro’ has produced yet another slick album chocked full of 60s & 70s vibes. This track underpins this with its heavy sax, cool vocals and go-go influenced swing and beats is a perfect example of why an investment in this latest LOA offering would be a shrewd one. The B side which features Emma Noble on vocals is silky and smooth and exudes a warm and dreamy ambience. – Kevin Cook
Mayfield – On The Ropes / On The Ropes (Instrumental)
Choi Records | 23 August
Mr. Wigg & Co. – You’ve Got A Lot of Living (Pt 1) / You’ve Got A Lot of Living (Pt 2)
Athens of the North | 19 March
New Street Adventure – What’s So Good About Happiness?
Acid Jazz | 24 November
Lost Funk & Disco Gems, Volume Six: Ojeda Penn – Brotherson (Long Instrumental Version) / Brotherson (Album Vocal Version)
Mukatsuku | 30 September
Roy Ayers: The Funk & Soulful Side of Roy Ayers – Funk In The Hole / Liquid Love
Mukatsuku | 4 November
Soul Scratch – Pacified / Look How Far We’ve Come
Colemine | 1 July
Check out our Spotify playlist: