Best Soul/Funk singles of 2017

On the Soul Donuts radio program I counted down the best soul/funk singles of 2017.  Of course a list like this is very subjective but I’m confident, after listening and reviewing tons of music from last year, that I’ve given you guys the very best offerings.  So here it is the top 15 tracks hovering around the galaxy of soul/funk from last year…(w/ download links included.  You’re welcome.)

15. promoted-media_56a7ac7588ecb

Dan Auerbach-Malibu Man

from his solo album Waiting on a Song

14.  1200px-Don_Bryant_press_photo_(2017)Don Bryant-A Nickel and a Nail

from his new solo album Don’t Give Up On Love



Benjamin Booker-Motivation

from his solo album Witness



Sinkane-Favorite Song

from his solo album Life & Livin’ It



Curtis Harding-Face Your Fear

from his solo album of the same name



Benjamin Clementine-God Save the Jungle

from his solo album I Tell a Fly



Wayne Snow-Nothing Wrong

from his solo album Freedom TV



The Blind Boys of Alabama-Train Fare

from their album Almost Home



Valerie June-Long Lonely Road

from her solo album The Order of Time



Stone Foundation-Your Balloon is Rising

from their new album Street Rituals



Cameron Avery-Dance With Me

from his solo album Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams



Son Little-Blue Magic (Waikiki)

from his solo album New Magic


JLN photo 1.jpg

Jeb Loy Nichols-Never Too Much

from his solo album Country Hustle



Mavis Staples-Little Bit

from her solo album If All I Was Was Black

and without further ado…



For this album I could’ve picked any of the songs on it since they were all equally amazing in their own way, but I chose Girl…because it hit me a little bit harder than the other tracks, it spoke to me, and had that perfect vintage feel.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings-Girl (You Got To Forgive Him)

from their new album Soul of a Woman

Well that’s it, I hope you enjoy,…in fact I know you will.

On to the best albums…see you soon.

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Its a Stoned Soul Christmas Party

Here’s the link for my Christmas radio show on the one and only KWVA Radio.  It’s fun, it’s heartfelt, as in it will warm your heart, and it’s the perfect soundtrack to your funky, soulful, afro-centric holiday party.  Disclaimer: you will have to use these songs for your holiday party in the absence of songs about Kwanza.  Have a happy holiday!

Download or stream the entire 2 hour show for an instant party, shake well.

Soul Donuts Radio 12-20-17 Stoned Soul Christmas Party

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Pimps, Playas, Private Eye’s, and Beyond

Here’s a look at the colorful world of Blaxploitation soundtracks and the amazing posters that accompanied these classic film releases.  At Soul Donuts radio on KWVA FM we did three weeks of Blaxploitation exploration.  Here are highlights from those 3 shows.  Place yourself back in a time and place where extra large Cadillac’s floated down the street, driven by leather and fur clad hustlers draped in jewelry, wasn’t a thang.  Just imagine outlaw justice being carried out on the tough streets of the concrete jungle, and what luck was left to be had was only bad-luck…

…as a side note I wanted to mention the interesting tale of the film Brotherman and it’s soundtrack.  Head over to the Numero Group’s site for the lowdown on that.

The internet is awash with blogs discussing Blaxploitation films so this is in no way comprehensive or informative, just a lil fun…or should I say funk.

For more over-the-top Blaxploitation madness head over here…

Starting off our journey into this realm we start with a look at some of the most colorful pimps.



Willie Dynamite takes the whole genre over the top, even to the point of parody.  This film features a battle for territory between the cities entrepreneurial pimps, and the perils associated with the world’s second oldest profession.

JJ Johnson-Willie D


Let’s not forget about The Mack, one of the most poignant and thought provoking films about pimping ever made.  This movie features a breakout role for Max Julien, and a fantastic co-starring role for Richard Pryor, who was further solidifying his rise to stardom at this time.


The real far out thing about both of these pimp movies are the cars, so fly.



Blaxploitation might seem like a male dominated genre, but the biggest playa of all was the lovely Miss Pam Grier.  She was a playa, a tough mama, and a righteous sista all in one.  Pam starred in more movies than I can list here, most famously Foxy Brown, and Coffy, and appeared in almost all of the best films of the genre, even including Scream Blacula Scream.  She began her rise in popularity from appearing in a string of prison films  (Women in Cages, The Arena, Black Mama White Mama, Big Birdcage, etc).  Prison films is another sub-genre of exploitation, drive-in, grindhouse and B-movies, that ushered in Blaxploitation films, and were hugely influential to them.  Pam’s story is pure poetic justice if you think about it, she started out her film career as a tortured, and exploited prisoner, and rose into the reigning queen and arguably the largest superstar in the genre.  If that’s not playa, I don’t know what is…

Friday Foster Main Theme


In Black Samson a local nightclub owner tangles with the mob, the message here,…don’t mess with a playa.


Rudy Ray Moore aka Dolemite was un-matched in the genre for his comedic portrayal of a tough silver-tongued playa.  Dolemite wasn’t real he was just a slightly, and I do mean slightly exaggerated form of Mr. Ray Moore himself.

Rudy Ray Moore-Dolemite

Also be sure to check out his rated x album covers, they are far out.

Rudy Ray Moore-The Human Tornado


…and don’t forget your very own bobblehead collecitble.



Private Eye Jesse Crowder is on the case and he won’t sleep until his man is in chains. Catchphrases include “ Never trust a woman with her clothes off!” and “You pay the bill. I’ll deliver it, legal, illegal, moral or otherwise!”  This movie has a smashing title track by The Dells.

The Dells-No Way Back

Thieves go right along with Private Eyes, and were strong characters for the genre.

Cool Breeze also had an early appearance from Pam Grier

Solomon Burke-Theme From Cool Breeze

and beyond

Kung Fu

Kung Fu was hugely popular during the 70s and 80s and numerous Blaxploitation films reflected this. Here’s but a few.

Stevie Wonder-Upset Stomach

Willie Hutch and the Temptations-Inside You

The Last Dragon happens to feature one of the most memorable characters in all of the Blaxploitation film genre, Sho Nuff.


Fall of the Albatross-Revenge of Sho Nuff


What’s better than cross-pollinating pulp film genres? Nothing.  In Horror Blaxploitation films we see the already popular horror genre getting Afro-centric in these often times hilarious and perfectly low-budget classics.

Sugar Hill

Zombie themes had already been a common place to see black actors in Hollywood, typically portraying crazed Haitian voodoo priests or unwitting servants haunting other remote island locales.


The name says it all, perhaps the most perfectly coined movie title in the entire genre.

Blacula Theme

…of course the popularity of this film spawned many copycats.


High school was a common theme in the genre.  Here’s 3 films about school featuring; A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But a Sandwich, Cornbread Earl & Me, and Cooley High which all touched on the inequalities in the education system, and the difficulties of trying to go to school, even play ball, and survive the mean streets.      

Hubert Laws-School’s Out (Benji’s Theme)



Freddie Perren-2 Pigs and a Hog



The Blackbyrds-Cornbread

Street Gangs

The Education of Sonny Carson and Youngblood both featured a coming-of-age story intertwined with street gangs.


WAR-Youngblood (Livin’ in the Streets)




Politics saw it’s own take on racial segregation, discrimination, and inequality in the professonal business world…

…Putney Swope




Westerns and Exotic

..and of course Westerns, and Exotic films.  These films were some of the first films to feature prominently black actors, most famously in Bull-Dogger (1922) and Harlem on the Prairie (1937).  Although these very same films often had great wage inequalities, and were heavily derided for their portrayal of black Africans and indigenous people as savages.

Here’s the theme song to Buck and the Preacher man.  A country and western film that may or may not fit this genre, but has a great poster, the incomparable Sidney Poitier, and that great theme song.  Dig it below.

The New Birth-Buck and the Preacher



bonus———->  I-Roy-Buck and the Preacher

…here’s great analysis of the film from The Case For Global Film.

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Best albums 2016 soul/funk



Last year was an explosive year for soul and funk.  2016 posed the greatest challenge for me of any year since I’ve begun reviewing the best soul/funk records.  Typically the choices have been obvious and great records would have all made the list, not true last year.  Unfortunately I’ve chosen to include only the top 25 records here, and so a lot of fantastic albums were left on the cutting room floor and filed into the honorable mentions section below.  The level of quality and the amount of inspirational new soul and funk music coming out every year has made clear to all of us fans of the genre that a new renaissance of sorts is overtaking the globe filling our world with soulful sounds.  The future is bright my friends.

25.  Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band-55


This side project of the famously funky Mighty Mocambos features the steel drum in inventive new ways.  55 is an album full of ingenious covers and creative originals.  The band has replaced the instant gratification and immediacy of synthesizers and beat machines with a powerful ensemble of musicians that craft hard funk versions of the originals.  Featuring covers of 50 cent, Faith Evans, Dennis Coffey, and Cat Stevens you will marvel at the reinvented use of steel drum in new and surprising ways.

Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band-P.I.M.P.

24.  Marta Ren and the Groovelvets-Stop Look Listen


The lovely Marta Ren is new to us here at Soul Donuts.  This young Portuguese soul princess has surrounded herself with a tight group of musicians and landed on the world renowned Record Kicks label.  After the release of her hugely popular single, Two Kinds of Men, she has released her debut full length album to great acclaim.  Propelled by the records first hit, I’m Not a Regular Woman, this album has been steamrolling listeners around the globe.  Backed by an impressive 8-piece rhythm and soul combo this is just the first offering in what is sure to be an exciting career.

Marta Ren and the Groovelvets-Smiling Faces



23.  Shirley Davis and the Silverbacks-Black Rose


The Silverbacks are back on the countdown after last years incredible release with David Hooper, this time employing the powerful vocals of Miss Shirley Davis at the helm.  Davis  born in London and living in Australia for many years, relocated to Madrid and found the Silverbacks her new backing band.  She’s been crafting her style with the help of the late Sharon Jones, Osaka Monaurail, and Deep Street Soul among others and has found a new home in Spain, the up and coming new soul capitol of the world.  This album features an array of bold horns and solid rhythms on both instrumental and vocal arrangements.  Part funky, and soulful with a touch of spacey ethio-afrobeat, this debut release from the Silverbacks with Shirley Davis is the perfect sound track for your daily grind.

Shirley Davis and the Silverbacks-Black Rose

22.  Soul Snatchers-Where Y’at


Raw and gritty funk, just the way we like it.  This is the 3rd full length release from the Dutch soul ensemble.  On this album the band has infused the swampy sounds of New Orleans into their rich sound complete with horn section, pulsing Hammond organ, wailing vocals, smooth grooves and solid break-neck rhythms.  Highly recommended for any fan of heavy soul/funk.

The Soul Snatchers-How Ya Do It

21.  Adrian Younge-Something About April II


The young multi-instrumentalist/producer can’t be stopped.  Working with the likes of Ghostface Killah, the Delfonics, Souls of Mischief, Kendrick Lamar, members of A Tribe Called Quest, the Funk Brothers, Dennis Coffey, Calibro 35, and Cee Lo among many others, Mr.Younge is constantly hard at work.  This release is one of 3 releases dropped in 2016 by him, the other Electronique Void: Black Noise, and the Soundtrack to Luke Cage.  Here we revere the second installment of his Something About April project featuring silky soul and sexy grooves to rock the bed sheets and sweat out your worries.  Heavily indebted to the sounds of blaxploitation, Younge the man behind the Back Dynamite soundtrack, uses his love of Hip Hop and his streetwise persona to masterfully craft modern soul classics and beyond.

Adrian Younge-Sitting by the Radio

20.  Durand Jones and the Indications-S/T


New to us here at Soul Donuts, Durand Jones and the Indications are a group of University of Indiana Soul Revue musicians who transcended that collegiate group to form their own and record on the exciting Colemine Record label.  Native Louisianan Durand Jones has enlisted the help of friends Aaron Frazer and Blake Rhein to produce and play in the band that focuses on vintage sound.  Utilizing live recording and little frills, they crafted a highly listenable and exciting new record of soul, blues, and classic R&B.

Durand Jones and the Indications-Smile


19. Hannah Williams and the Affirmations-Light Nights & Heartbreak


After hitting the scene hard with her group the Tastemakers, Hannah Williams is back with a new, hand-picked group of soul impresario’s; the Affirmations.  This new record benefits from the help of the talented London producer Malcolm Catto, the mastermind behind the Heliocentrics, another Soul Donuts favorite.  This record has tight instrumentation with bold horns on each soul/funk outing.  Late Nights and Heartbreak also gives us a slight taste of latin and psychadelia accenting Hannah’s powerful vocals on floor-stompers and ballads rounding out a solid album all the way through.

Hannah Williams & the Affirmations-Fighting Your Shadow

18.  Lack of Afro-Hello Baby


Not everyone is slick enough to bring unabashed pop music to the table.  On this record producer Adam Gibbons (aka Lack of Afro) drops the needle on crackly samples and cuts up nothing but fun.  A sound that hearkens back to the 90’s even caricaturing soul music with flatness and plasticity, Hello Baby is unique and different for 2016.  Those qualities might make some folks turned off, but if you are capable of letting down your guard and just having some fun with a different take on soul, Motown and R&B you may just find yourself smiling and dancing to this one.

Lack of Afro feat. Elliot Cole-I Got the Rhythm

17. St. Paul and the Broken Bones-Sea of Noise


This 6 piece band complete with horns and all the fixin’s conjures up the gospel truth through the lens of Muscle Shoals’ famous soul producing tabernacle.  Rarely has a group of white boys revived the classic sounds of southern black people with such depth and feeling.  This, their second album,  solidifies St. Paul and crew as a true force in modern soul music.  As well the album functions as a whole with the theme of crumbling and burning running throughout.  Sea of Noise simultaneously channels the histories of Stax and San Fran funk/rock, balanced with more quiet and poignant moments of contemplation.  This is a real slice of southern communion for all soul fans.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones-Midnight on Earth

16. Aaron Neville-Apache


During a five decade long career Aaron Neville has run the gauntlet of the music industry.  From pop super-stardom, to famously working with his brothers and collaborating with the impeccable Allen Touissant this is surprisingly the first album primarily written by the legendary artist.  On Apache Mr. Neville employed the help of Erick Krasno of Lettuce and Soulive, as well as the Daptone horns to help produce a first rate soul album.  An album by a legendary artist this late in his career isn’t always a success but Neville has figured out how to touch on his long career, his life in New Orleans, and use it as inspiration for new work.

Aaron Neville-All of the Above

15. The Olympians-S/T

During a trip to Greece a prophetic vision in a dream prompted Toby Pazner to tell the story of ancient mythology through instrumental funk.  Pazner is a Daptone producer/keyboardist and one of the main players behind the success of their vast library.  Utilizing the help of his friends in the Menahan Street Band, Lee Fields, The Arcs, Charles Bradley, the Budos Band, and the  Dap-Kings, the newly formed group set out to tell a story of Olympian  magnitude.

The Olympians-Apollos Mood

images    Word…

14. William Bell-This is Where I Live

When a soul legend comes back to the court to play ball, it’s time to take out the score cards and plant yourself firmly in the bleachers and spectate.  William Bell started making soul music in his late teens/early twenties backing Rufus Thomas, and had his first hit “You don’t miss your water” in 1961.  A long and industrious career at Stax Records proceeded for decades and into the present where he got his chance to record again with the legendary label.  2016’s This is Where I Live garnered the soul-man a Grammy nomination for best Americana album.  The record includes new originals and re-vamped classics from his earliest days, and seems to have reinvigorated Bell to continue pursuing music into the future.  This album is not just a tribute to his former glory but a solid effort of new soul and R&B for any fan of the genre.

William Bell-The Three of Me

13.  Ben L’Oncle Soul-Under My Skin


Blue Note France and Ben L’Oncle Soul have delighted fans of Frank Sinatra with a great tribute album to the legendary crooner.  Not just another tribute to Sinatra, this album takes his songs into the realms of soul, reggae, blues and jazz in surprising and exciting new ways.  Since much of Sinatra’s music was penned by other musicians and composer’s anyways, it’s not strange or uncommon to hear different takes on these ubiquitous tunes, in the way standards are repeatedly reworked and made fresh again.  Sampled drum breaks and a high level of production on the tracks polish many of the songs to a fine veneer that underscores the contemporary direction Ben has been working towards, but ultimately this album is smooth, soulful, gritty, and funky.

Ben L’Oncle Soul-All the Way

12. Lady Wray-Queen Alone


Missy Elliot’s one time protégé has reinvented herself and emerged as a soulful force to be reckoned with.  After her work with the Black Key’s on their Blackroc album and subsequent backing vocal gigs with the band on their 2009 ‘Brothers’ she has reincarnated her career into a soul diva.  This is Nicole Wray’s first solo album since 1998’s ruffneck album ‘Make it Hot,’ which earned her a gold certified single.  Employing the help of Big Crown Records retro-soul veteran producer Leon Michels and Daptones session wizard Tom Brenneck, they helped to craft Lady Wray’s style and sound into timeless 60/70’s soul.

Lady Wray-Guilty

11. Myles Sanko-Just Being Me


Myles Sanko exudes a suave and stylish persona matched only by his immense talent in a multitude of different areas.  The Ghanaian born, British soul maestro, is not just an exceptional singer, he is also a songwriter, producer, designer, and cinematographer.  This album transcends labels and speaks to us with breadth and humanity with a sound that is remarkably similar to Bill Withers.  Not merely pleading for acceptance and understanding, Sanko quietly eases us into the conversation of overcoming our narrow minds and boundaries to allow for a deeper more complex way of being.  In other words, one of many humans sharing this planet together, dealing with love and loss.  It’s his message that sticks with you as much as the beautiful arrangements and harmonies.  ‘Just Being Me’ is a subtle, and poignant tribute to soul, jazz, and classical music, that speaks to the beauty all around us, and how we often take that for granted.

Myles Sanko-Promises

10. Mavis Staples-Livin’ On a High Note

After working with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco for the past few years, producing two great solo albums and one posthumous album with her late father Pops Staples, Mavis has employed the help of M. Ward to produce her newest record.  As well as working with a new producer she has gained the help of highly respected song writers Nick Cave, Neko Case, Justin Vernon, and others to help her with the record.  The results were nothing short of amazing and showed us that happiness can still be found in this world if you keep the right attitude and continue pressing on.  ‘Livin’ on a High Note’ is an album full of reminiscing, and history, but it is also a call to action to learn to love each other and dial it back to simpler times and just enjoy the gift of life.

Mavis Staples-Action

9. Nick Waterhouse-Never Twice

The third full album from rhythm and blues revivalist Nick Waterhouse is pure feet shuffling goodness.  Back with his original collaborative producer, Michael McHugh, (Black Lips, Ty Segall) Waterhouse has once again found his comfort zone.  With guest stars such as Leon Bridges and a stellar band of veterans, their dedication to the classic sounds of R&B is evident, and sure to make you groove.

Nick Waterhouse-The Old Place

8. Andre Williams-I Wanna Go Back to Detroit City


Just like the city he loves so much, Andre Williams has a rough and gritty style that only gets better with age and perseverance.  Utilizing the street wise swagger of a hardened pimp Williams doesn’t just portray such a character as much as he lives it everyday, and that attitude is evident on this album, his tribute to Detroit.  ‘Back to Detroit City’ has all of the raw and funky qualities of his classic material also touching on soul, rock, country, and blues.  This album is a testament to Williams’ constant battle to find a place in the history of music and his affirmation that he is still out there kicking around stones, much like the crumbling decay of his beloved Detroit City.

Andre Williams-Detroit I’m So Glad I Stayed

7.  Eli Paperboy Reed-My Way Home

Like much of the music that we love here at Soul Donuts this album has the qualities of a classic soul record while simultaneously being contemporary and fresh.  Paperboy Reed’s new album has been described ans lo-fi garage gospel, a fitting moniker that helps to describe his foray into spirituality in his music.  His gospel influence comes to him from his family, namely his father who played in gospel bands growing up, and seems to make sense as a back-drop for his new venture into the genre.  Not the typical slow churchey dirges, ‘My Way Home’ is more raucous and alive than anything fundamental to typical religious gatherings.

Eli Paperboy Reed-Your Sins Will Find You Out

6. Martha High-Singing for the Good Times


The one time backup singer for James Brown is still doing it after her 32 year run with the godfather of soul.  After hooking up with the band Speedometer for 2012’s Soul Overdue album, Martha High has been working tirelessly to write and record new music earning her the oft quoted title, “one of the hardest working ladies in show business.”  Discovered by Bo Diddley at a talent show, she started recording with the Jewels and caught the attention of George Clinton who went on to produce for the band.  It’s at this time that JB discovered the young singer and the rest is history.  Fast forward to the present day and we find her still working and recording showing off her gift, and a sound spanning the musical spectrum, from soul and rhythm & blues to rock and roll and gospel.  Her soulful style appeals to a wide audience, from the young to the old and she proves that with her newest album.

Martha High-I Can’t Hold On

5.  Terrace Martin-Velvet Portraits

G-funk, 90’s R&B, jazz, and future soul arrive on the scene.  Terrace Martin is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who uses the saxophone as his main instrument and tool to express his voice.  After contributions to Kendrick Lamar and many others Martin has burst onto the scene as one of the music industries emerging stars.  This album is diverse in its style with smooth g-funk grooves at its core and will seduce the listener from track to track to fall in love with the young mans new and refreshing take of 90s streetwise smoothed out grooves and lots of jazz.

Terrace Martin-Valdez Off Crenshaw

4. Michael Kiwanuka-Love and Hate


This album reminded me of Marvin Gaye’s classic ‘What’s Going On.”  Kiwanuka has delivered a soulful masterpiece that drifts in and out of the melodies seamlessly and ties together not only the flow of the songs, but also the message of love, loss, and overcoming ones status in a messed up world.  This album has pure moments of brilliance, soul rattling beauty, and a strong message of social justice and equality.  I recommend listening to the whole thing in your headphones to get the entire experience and truly soak in the entirety of the album as it was meant to be, from beginning to end.

Michael Kiwanuka-Black Man in a White World

3. Charles Bradley-Changes


The man known as ‘the screaming eagle of soul’ has been busy recording great records at  Dunham the Daptone affiliate.  He is one of the artists who has lead the way in creating and sustaining the global soul revival.  This album continues his journey and is pure soul music ripped from the 60s golden age. Very little needs to be said about Charles Bradley as a man or musician, his reputation of years of hard work has cemented itself in our hearts and made fans of us all.

Charles Bradley-Nobody But You

2. Lee Fields and the Expressions-Special Night


Special Night seems to define all of the positive things about the soul/funk revival that has taken hold.  A solid album of ballads, groovers, floor shakers, and downright hits.  Lee Fields and the expressions have been crafting their style for years and it has clearly paid off. The band works remarkably well together and highlights Lee’s infectious crooning perfectly.  The songs on this album are solid tracks that can stand alone, yet the album seems to touch on all of the right notes and moods throughout.  A true masterpiece of contemporary soul/funk for all fans.

Lee Fields and the Expressions-I’m Coming Home

1.  James Hunter Six-Hold On


The number one album of 2016 is here!  Not only was this the number one soul/funk release of 2016 it was also my favorite album of the year across all genres.  ‘Hold On’ came in handy any time it was played.  Whether shuffled upon, listening to the entirety or introducing friends of its greatness, it is always a winner.  For those not familiar with James Hunter or his band you need to be, and quick.  The British guitarist/singer/songwriter possess a certain fluidity with his style and sound that makes his music and his life such a gift.  Clearly James is having fun making music and I thank him dearly for sharing this gift with the world.  The soul world that is.  Soul Donuts !

James Hunter Six-A Truer Heart


Now that we’ve reached the end you might be wondering what next?  If you are curious and want to hear more great music from the soul and funk world in 2016 head over to Spotify to check out my Soul Donuts 2016 playlist.  It has a ton of great music that I reviewed last year including my honorable mentions and other great music.


Stay tuned for honorable mentions in the next post, stuff I missed in 2016, 15, 14, 13, and compdown 2016 coming soon…

…playlist below. Also check Soul Donuts Spotify playlists from 2013, 14, 15, and the newly formed 2017 playlist, which will grow larger all year long!  Keep on keepin’ on.

Here’s the 2016 playlist below…





…and finally the 2017 playlist in the works!


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Flamingo’s Flyin’


Bright Moments cover art

Check out new joints from the New Jersey kid Flamingosis over at his bandcamp site, and kick him a buck to download his new album Bright Moments (actually you should pay more while you’re at it, but if you can’t, a dollar is the minimum!)  Also check out his killer back catalog of hip/hop and funk craftsmanship…word.  I’ll be back soon with major changes and new posts!!!!…and back posts that never got posted, they totally kick ass though, or will! Donuts.

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Soul Donuts best of 2015

It’s 2016 and I’m exhausted with previewing soul and funk albums released in 2015.  There were so many great albums released last year it was difficult to narrow them down to only 25 of the best, more on that later.

2015 was the year that back-up singers stepped up into the the leading role.  Trap soul made it’s debut, and electro pop soul had huge contributions.  This year also saw the release of forgotten gems from the past by Doug Hream Blunt, James Mason, and Gloria Taylor among others.  Although those releases are top-notch we’re here to examine the groups that are hard at work pushing the soul scene into the future…

…now without further hesitation…Number 25.



25. Jay W. McGee-Good Feeling

Good Feeling

Mid to late 80’s disco/boogie sensation Jay W. McGee is back with a brand new album that is so authentic to it’s original 80’s sound that it will make you scratch your head in disbelief.  This album does exactly what it says, delivers good feelings, nay…great feelings.  Production by the Unbelievable Two.



0004363050_10 0004363051_10

24. Lucky Brown-Mystery Road

Recording live onto a tape machine in a local Seattle living room, Lucky Brown jams with his friends. This album drops authentic funk grooves tailor made for the annual Player’s Ball.  Dust off your alligator shoes.

Look Out There’s a Freight Train Comin’




23. The Haggis Horns-What Comes To Mind

It Ain’t What You Got feat. John Turrell

The UK’s veteran funk/soul brothers release their smoking third album with a TON of great guest stars. The first release on their own record label,  they have been hard at work building a great reputation for themselves worldwide.




22. The Soul Surfers-Soul Rock!

Coming to us from Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia, I’m not sure if thats true or not, this is the first release from these boys.  After releasing a number of 7 in. singles they found a home at Ubiquity, and acquired help from some great guests, including Didier of the Soul Investigators, and Shawn Lee.


Time Is a Gun


check out the soundcloud link.



21. Grace Love and the True Loves-S/T

The Pacific NW, USA is having somewhat of a soul/funk revival explosion!  This Seattle, WA group is one to watch closely.  Reveling in the same style as classic R&B singers, Grace’s vocals soar over the 9 piece band.  Perfect music to seduce the romance out of any lucky partner or stomp out on the dancefloor til the cows come home.  Blues, rowdy R&B and soul all over the place.

Let Me Be



0005755424_10 a3706928578_10

20.  Strange Faith-Love and Poverty

The world’s of folk/country and soul/funk merge here on an album that is pure fun.  At times you mind find it a lil cheesy, but if you let go and surrender to the happy vibes you may realize that it suits you.  This album is a collaborative work between soul-country (blue-eyed soul) phenom Jeb Loy Nichols, and the ever talented producer Benedict Lamdin known for his work with Nostalgia 77.

Hard Work In (Good Lovin’ Out)




19.  Soul Motivators-Free To Believe

Sweet female vocals ride the heavy funk grooves that make this Toronto outfit stand out in the new soul/funk revival.  This 9 piece band conjures the perfect retro sound for all classic soul fans to hit the dancefloor.

Street Level





18.  Free! Mason Jar-Operation Honeypot

Portland, OR’s multi-media art collective and funkateers have clearly listened to Curtis Mayfield, P-Funk, and Gil Scot-Heron for hours, it shows in the best way.  The collaboration between beat poet Jabulani Leffall and Ben Evans infuses funk, soul, folk, and rock into a creative ballet of contemporary craziness.






17.  Speedometer-No Turning Back

These boys are no rookies on the worldwide soul revival scene.  In fact they have been something of a staple on the vibrant UK soul scene, being one of the groups that helped form the scene and maintain its popularity.  They have added the help of James Junior on vocals for this release.

Just The Same




16.  Diane Shaw-Love, Life and Strings

It’s no secret that the UK has some of the best talent in the retro soul scene and miss Diane Shaw will melt your heart with the love and yearning in her vocals.  Vocals that could be ripped straight out of the 60s.  After touring and singing back-up vocals for 20 years with some of souls greats including Sister Sledge, The Stylistics and George Mcrae among many others, she has stepped up and become the center of her own new album.  Manchester, England is where she calls home.

I Go To Pieces




15.  Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators-Happiness in Every Style

The ever stylish Nicole Willis has taken the lead on another instant classic.  Heavy funk instrumentals, classic ballads, and soulful journeys through vintage clothes racks.  The sixth album from these Brooklyn veterans.

Together We Climb

Vulture’s Prayer




14.  The Dip-S/T

New work from the Seattle hard funk group.  Tell your friends about this one, it’s so underground you can still take credit for looking cool discovering it.  This 9 piece band exhibits 3 members of Beat Connection among other bands.  Throwback grooves at their finest.

I’m Lonely




13.  The Gene Dudley Group-Zambidoose

Tropical soulful funk I call it.  27 y.o. multi-instrumentalist shows off on his second album equipped with great guest appearances from E (Myron and E), and others.

Dynamite in the Still of the Night




12.  The Mighty Mocambos-Showdown

The independent funk maestro’s do not disappoint on this release.  Known for their unique style, unrelenting work ethic; touring worldwide, and unearthing amazing talent.  Whether playing with the Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band or other incarnations, the heavy funk keeps banging.  This album features contributions from the likes of Afrika Bambaata, Peter Thomas and others.  I could write about the merits of this group of hardworking new funk pioneers all day, but I don’t have time.

B Boy Suite in B Flat Minor

Where Do We Go From Here-Feat. Lee Fields




11.  Bilal-In Another Life

The ever enigmatic and elusive new Soul/R&B virtuoso Bilal is back again with his most introspective, creative and timely album to date.  Working with the relatively new sensation Adrian Younge at the helm of a live band, the hard funk, psych-jazz and whirling organs compliment Bilal’s dark vocal stylings.  Perhaps he’s found a kindred spirit in Mr. Younge, and that relationshop can develop and thrive.

Star Now




10.  Billy Price and Otis Clay-This Time For Real

Two musicians separated by a generation meet up in the Southern soul tradition with Duke Robillard producing their first full length collaboration.  Here they work with the catalogs of Joe Tex, Sam and Dave, and many many others.  An instant classic.

I’m Afraid of Losing You




9.  The Jack Moves-S/T

Wax Poetics Records gives us the first release from Newark NJ funk duo The Jack Moves (Zee Desmondes and Teddy Powell).  Hard at work behind the scenes for years honing their craft, Teddy and Zee have created a solid first effort with songs that stick firmly in your head.

Doublin’ Down




8.  Saun and Starr-Look Closer

The lovely back-up singers to the Dap-kings step into the spotlight and take center stage.  Strong and deeply soulful tracks mix with fun, upbeat vibes.  This is the Daptone entourage on more of a laid back weekend outing.

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Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah



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7.  Gary Clark Jr.-The Story of Sonny Boy Slim


Gary Clark Jr.’s star is ascending into the stratosphere of musical legends as we speak.  His popularity is seen in recent television commercials and beyond.  It’s clear though, why he is such a powerhouse on this new release.  His guitar skills, his vocals and song writing abilities are truly professional.  Surely meant to stand the test of time.




6.  Ephemerals-Chasin Ghosts

Gaining praise from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Craig Charles, and Groove Armada this UK soul group delivers the second album in as many years.  A great follow up to last years Nothin’ Is Easy, this album has more introspection, jazz and psych to go with their infectious deep soul.

I’m Gonna Die Someday





A great article on the little known soulsters, translated from its original French.


5.  The Silverbacks with David Hooper-It’s My Turn

Born in Houston Texas in 1955 David Hooper has traveled the world making the music he loves.  Now that he has landed in Madrid, Spain he’s part of a new soul group on the rise.  Very little is known about them so we let the music speak for itself.  The sound is reminiscent of Al Green or David Ruffin and evokes the sensibilities of love lost and found.  Heavy riffs and sentimental ballads make up part of the chemistry that works so well on this new album, the other part is David Hoopers velvety voice.

One Ticket To The Big Town

Where Is the Money?



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4.  Monophonics-Sound of Sinning

These San Francisco giants hit every right chord on this amazing soulful release.  They exhibit the tight grooves of James Brown while evoking the ghosts of the 70’s Temptations finest.  I’m sure they’re hard at work on more great material so keep your ears out for them.


Strange Love




3.  Pops Staples-Don’t Lose This

The Pops portion of this album was conceived and recorded in 1999, one year before he passed away.  With the help of Mavis his daughter and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco the rest of the album has been restored and resurrected, pieced together to perfection.

Check out the upcoming documentary Mavis! coming out soon.

The Lady’s Letter





2.  Leon Bridges-Coming Home

Ever since this young Fort Worth boy hit the scene, he has had a profound effect on the soul scene with his genuine brand of gospel inflected songs.  Dapper and stylish through and through Leon is the real thing.  Take note and get with it.  Right On.

Brown Skin Girl





  1.  Darlene Love-Introducing…Darlene Love

After the documentary 20 Ft. from Stardom achieved worldwide fame the revitalization of Darlene Love’s career has brought her into the limelight and the release of her first solo album.  This is a huge achievement on its own considering her story and the climate of the music industry, but to give us such a monster of an album is truly incredible.  The sound that Steven Van Zandt and members of the E St. Band has crafted are songs that remarkably resemble her brilliant early works.  It’s easy to hear the similarity in the Crystals versions of Christmas songs and Bruce Springsteen’s versions of Christmas songs.  Nearly identical, and that level of exactitude is applied to the creation of new material for Darlene’s album…Introducing the lovely, 73 years young Darlene Love.

Forbidden Nights

Night Closing In

Darlene Love official.

20 ft. from Stardom official page.


…phew that was a long and amazing journey.  If you want to continue your search for new soul and funk check out these links, soulfoodforthekidz blog, and the face with radio for more.  Also if you are on Spotify check out the playlist ‘2015 Soul Donuts’ with over 200 songs and numerous albums.  Over there you can get an idea of all of the content that I considered and discover some new favorites of your own.  I will be touching on that more very soon.  Stay tuned.

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Ho Ho, Ho?

Vice in Scotland Investigation...Vice in Scotland Investigation February 2004 Prostitutes and Drug Dealers on Glasgow's streets Set up shot on Wall St Glasgow PROSTITUTE

The time for joy and the time for peace…a piece of christmas tail.  I hope that everyone out there in Donut land has a great holiday season and a happ-happ-happy new year!

Pearl Bailey-Jingle Bells Cha-Cha-Cha

Joe Tex-I’ll Make Every Day Christmas (For My Woman)


Fat Daddy-Holiday Baby

Jimmy Jules and the Nuclear Soul System-Xmas Done Got Funky


Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings-Big Bulbs

Come back soon…*sultry wink, (whisp of cigarette smoke)

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