Detroit native Freda Payne (who began her career in her teens) was already a seasoned performer and recording artist (working with Duke Ellington and Billy Eckstine among others) by the time she became an international hitmaker thanks to her early ‘70s Invictus hits such as the classic “Band Of Gold,” “Bring The Boys Home,”“Deeper And Deeper” and “Cherish What Is Dear To You.” After a two-year stint at ABC Records, the songstress signed with Capitol Records in 1976 and released her debut album for the label Stares And Whispers (reissued as an expanded edition by SoulMusic Records in 2011, SMCR-5021). Her sophomore album for Capitol, Supernatural High was produced by (the late) Skip Scarborough renowned for his work as a songwriter (with tunes like “Can’t Hide Love” for Earth, Wind & Fire). While the focus was on dance-oriented tracks like a medley of the ‘30s tune, “Happy Days Are Here Again” coupled with Scarborough’s own “Happy Music,” “Pullin’ Back” (co-written by Freda’s then-husband Gregory Abbott) and “Living For The Beat,” standout ballads like “Just The Thought Of You And Me Together (Supernatural High)” (co-written by Philly music legend Thom Bell) and “Storybook Romance,” (written by Freda’s sister Scherrie) made the album a treasured gem among Freda’s fans globally. This expanded edition of the album (making its’ worldwide CD debut) includes notes by renowned US writer Kevin Goins with quotes from Freda herself (who cites the album as a strong personal favourite) and sister Scherrie. ~


In 1977, master musician, recording artist and performer George Duke had enjoyed his biggest sales success with “Reach For It” (from the best-selling album of the same name). With an ensemble that included percussionist Sheila E., drummer Ndugu Chancler, bassist Byron Miller, guitarist Charles ‘Icarus’ Johnson and vocalists Josie James and Napoleon Murphy Brock, the California-born Duke – whose musical resume included the likes of Frank Zappa (and his Mothers of Invention), violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and big band leader Don Ellis – masterminded Don't Let Go as a soul’n’funk set that would yield the second biggest R&B charted hit of his illustrious career. The sixth reissue by SoulMusic Records from George’s albums for Epic Records, 1978’s Don't Let Go became a U.S. Top 5 R&B and Top 10 jazz album, spurred by the timeless funk cut, “Dukey Stick” which also became the centrepiece of Duke’s exciting and dynamic live performances in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. This expanded edition – part of the classic jazz/funk series from SoulMusic Records – features three bonus tracks including the 12”extended version of “Dukey Stick.” Other key cuts on Don't Let Go include the soul ballad “The Way I Feel,” the furiously fast title track and the smooth groove winner “Morning Sun.” Extensive liner notes by renowned U.S. writer A. Scott Galloway include new quotes from Duke and the primary musicians and singers involved in the sessions for the album. ~


One of Billy Paul's greatest albums ever – or perhaps the greatest! The record is an amazing blend of soul, jazz, and a soaring sense of spiritualism that's not only rare for Billy Paul – but which makes the record sound different than any other Philly International LP from the time! Billy's way more than a soul singer here – and working in a mode that's very high-concept, reaching towards the sky to bring a new maturity to the music that pushes way past his other pop and soul recordings in the 70s – almost with a consciousness of the spiritual jazz underground, but a bit more focused as well. You can hear this best on the classic track "East", a swirling long groover that takes an extended funky soul jazz journey – and other good cuts include "Jesus Boy (You Only Look Like A Man)", "Love Buddies", "I Wish It Were Yesterday", "Magic Carpet Ride", "This Is Your Life", and a nice cover of "Compared To What". CD features single versions of "Magic Carpet Ride", "Jesus Boy", and "This Is Your Life". ~Dusty Groove