If there seems to be a funky soul-reggae revival taking place in the dance music scene, your instincts are right-on, man. Although groups like Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Breakestra, and El Michels Affair have been doing the neo-‘60s-‘70s funk thing for a while, they’ve been joined in recent years and months by the likes of Los Angeles’s The Lions, The Rebirth, and Australia’s The Bamboos. But perhaps even more under the radar are the soul-reggae revivalists emanating from the land of Daft Punk and Air: Paris, France. To get you up to speed, you’ve got ta’ see The Pusher.
The Pusher is not some hot new artist, but a Paris, France based distributor ruled by Pascal Rioux (DJ, producer, and the man behind Rotax, Big Single, and Favorite Recordings). Rioux has scoured Europe for the best new soul, funk, rare groove, afro, jazz, nu-jazz, hip hop, Latin, Jamaican, and house sounds, and now DJs on both sides of the Atlantic are rushing to chart and play their offerings.
Pusher Distribution circulates hard to find vinyl and CD releases from labels like Comet (Doctor L, Tony Allen, Art Konik), Q-Tape (Smoke, Pathworks), BMG (Gil Scott Heron, Chocolate Milk, Weldon Irvine), and Early Recordings (The Afro-Jazz Pioneers). But Pusher’s upcoming releases may blow even more wigs, as a spate of club classics get funk, Latin, and reggae reworks.
On a forthcoming 7” 45, French rocksteady-soul group The Dynamics take on Gwen McCray’s “90 Percent” and the Rolling Stones’ “Miss U,” transforming them into vintage-1970s Kingston rockers. Another Dynamics scorcher, a cover of Madonnna’s “Music,” turns the original into a reggae-disco floorfiller into something along the lines of the Third World’s “Now That We Found Love.”
But Pusher Distro artists aren’t one trick pony’s, as evidenced by house artist Patchworks and Mr. Day’s tasty Latin-jazz reword of the Al Green soul classic “Love & Happiness.” Meanwhile, Mr. President is the closest thing to hearing James Brown’s band The JB’s in their Pass The Pea era. Check Pres’s hot single “Gimme Some Time,” backed with “From South To North” on Favorite Recordings. Lastly, there’s dub master Grant Phabao’s “Fever,” featuring classic Jamaican toaster Lone Ranger and his cover of The Specials’ “(A Message To You) Rudie (Extended Version)” Once again, Paris is burning!