East Coast Love Affair are Athens Of The North founder, Euan Fryer, and Nick Moore, aka Linkwood. As a production outfit they emerged last summer with a fantastic 45 that featured a damn fine cover of soul sought-after, Skys The Limit`s Don’t Be Afraid. Where the 1976 original song has group harmonies and socially aware call-and-response set to an understated, cool, clipped funk, ECLA`s rework takes its cue from the synth-tastic instrumental, and sounds like it was touched by Mr. Fingers – sashaying on see-sawing then soaring melodic lines. The arrangement and bass both prime time Larry Heard.
This was flipped by Taken For Granted. All tribal, Afro-Cuban, Candido congas, and bottom-end rumble. Imagine Joe Claussell doing his organic, spiritual, thing with the break from Eddy Grant`s California Style.
The duo now have 2 new 12s in shops, released just a minute ago – while Bandcamp promises an album soon to follow. The first contains another cover, and a dub. This time converting Eddie Kendricks` Date With The Rain. Throwing a curveball by bringing legendary UK reggae vocalist, Peter Hunnigale, on board. While the result isn’t quite lovers rock – more lush, laid-back disco, a tropical breeze of bongos and sweet Caribbean keys – it does remind me a lot of Mystic Harmony’s recently reissued take on Nights Over Egypt. Yes, it`s that fucking good.
The second 12 runs with a remix, plus another original – which might just be the pick of the brilliant bunch. Possibly proving that the covers – as ace as they are – could be a Trojan horse. The pair begin by polishing Mary Love-Comer`s late `80s modern gospel classic, Come Out Of The Sandbox – respectfully and authentically extending the mid-tempo, slapped, groove. Its positive vibe, its call for collective consciousness-raising, perfect for both warm-up and wind-down / re-entry when Love Saves the Day. It`s the very definition of “balearic soul”.
Euan and Nick`s composition, Without You, again channels Larry Heard, with Edinburgh-based performer Lucy Ross supplying vocals, in duet with snippets of the sadly passed Avelino Pitts – former lead singer with mid-70s band Gold (the subject of a Jazzman retrospective in 2011). The musical backing is super smooth house – deep, deep, dense with layered subliminal detail. Dub in the same way that Round Two`s New Day is dub. The combination conveying introspection and heartbreak on a par with Larry`s masterful Missing You. Trust me when I tell you that this is top, top, gear for a transition from sunset to twilight, from lounging, beach-bound, in a deck chair, savouring a cocktail and the day`s last rays, to frugging with sand in your shoes.
The music of East Coast Love Affair is available directly from Athens Of The North.