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  • 0 Femi Courts Success with Sweet Water Soul part 2

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 12/30/2008

    As mentioned last time, singer Femi hails from the Bay Area of San Francisco - Oakland. She's worked with Ledisi, Black Eyed Peas, and other artists. Her 6 song EP Sweet Water Soul offers a smooth blend of musical influences. Femi's delicate voice is supported by capable arrangements touching Afro-Latin/Caribbean, salsa, rock, and R&B. This is not a hook laden collection of songs, as the tunes venture into their own style and space. Sweet Water Soul avoids the cookie-cutter approach to neo-soul, but attempts instead to discover new territory on it's maiden voyage. Femi succeeds in creating a soulful 'singer - songwriter' statement which should be a good starting point from which to build even more inventive melodies. In addition to several other players, Femi is featured on Fender Rhodes, piano, acoustic guitar, synth bass, synth organ, synth strings, cajon, percussion, kalimba, bell tree, rainstick, drum programming, and sequencing. My favorite tracks are the airy "Pages," the rhythmic "If I Knew," and her funky production of "Crush." Sweet Water Soul: "Sweet Water (Rezo)" "Imported" "Crush" "If I Knew" "I Want You" "Pages" Your browser does not support the audio element. Listen to 30 seconds of the melodic "Pages." Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Femi Courts Success with Sweet Water Soul

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 12/26/2008

    From the Oakland, California music scene comes Femi, who will remind you of Patrice Rushen, Minnie Riperton, and Sade. Femi's new 6 track EP Sweet Water Soul offers a refreshing spin on vintage R&B that many of her more popular contemporaries have all but passed on. Next week, we'll update you on the emerging Femi, a lady who brings much more to the table than just a fresh new face. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Tina Turner Time

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 10/16/2008

    As Tina Turner chugs along with her 2008 world tour, she's dropped another greatest hits collection into the music pipeline. Tina! was released on September 30th. Tours sell archives, so having some "fresh" material in the marketplace generates sales. You'll find many of these songs on other "best of Ike & Tina Turner" anthologies. A nice exception is the inclusion of 3 powerful live tracks that brighten the compilation. As for the studio recordings, "Proud Mary" is a newer somewhat sedate 1993 version without the presence of Ike. "Nutbush City Limits," updated in the 1990's with a dance floor groove, uses the classic 1973 Ike Turner guitar hero mix. The magnificent "Private Dancer" appears in a short 4 minute version, rather than the 7 minute original from 1984. Two hit movie themes add some depth: 1985's "We Don't Need Another Hero" from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Tina's 1995 James Bond theme "Goldeneye." A couple of brand new songs, "It Would Be A Crime" and "I'm Ready" round out the CD as the final two tracks. "It Would Be A Crime" is the stronger of the two. Tina! "Steamy Windows" "River Deep-Mountain High" "Better Be Good To Me" "The Acid Queen" "What You Get is What You See" "What's Love Got To Do With It" "Private Dancer" "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" "I Don't Wanna Fight" "Goldeneye" "Let's Stay Together" (Live In Amsterdam) "I Can't Stand the Rain" (Live In Amsterdam) "Addicted To Love" (Live At Camden Palace) "The Best" "Proud Mary" "Nutbush City Limits" "It Would Be a Crime" (Bonus track previously unreleased) "I'm Ready" (Bonus track previously unreleased) Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 George Clinton & his Gangsters of Love

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 10/07/2008

    In September, 2008, P-Funk fans received a new taste of "The Mothership Connection" in the guise of George Clinton and his Gangsters of Love. In full disclosure, I'm a big fan of the original Parliament-Funkadelic recordings. I have a combined mix of at least 9 of their very early individual vinyl albums. Somehow, the novelty of funkmaster George Clinton, the "One Nation Under A Groove" guy, recording a new CD of love songs seems out of character with his "Dr. Funkenstein" persona. Fear not. Clinton doesn't exactly create a Ronald Isley styled collection of standard chestnuts. Helped by a supporting cast, the tunes stay interesting. Lending their credibility are Carlos Santana, Sly Stone, El DeBarge, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and legendary Philadelphia producer/engineer Bobby Eli. Still, it's hard to take some of these covers seriously, but then, the original appeal of P-Funk mania was Clinton's zeal for fun and unpredictability. So get ready for several unconventional interpretations of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Ruby & The Romantics, The Four Tops, and others. Either George Clinton and his Gangsters of Love CD is genius, or the joke's on us. "Ain't That Peculiar"- (featuring El DeBarge/Sly Stone/The P-Funk All-Stars) "Never Gonna Give You Up" - (featuring El DeBarge) "Mathematics Of Love" - (featuring Kim Burrell) "Let The Good Times Roll" - (featuring Kim Manning/Red Hot Chili Peppers) "Pledging My Love" "Gypsy Woman" - (featuring El DeBarge/Carlos Santana) "It's All In The Game" - (featuring Belita Woods) "Heart Trouble" - (featuring Paul Hill) "Our Day Will Come" - (featuring Kendra Foster) "Sway" - (featuring Belita Woods) "A Thousand Miles Away" Hidden Track 1 Hidden Track 2 Hidden Track 3 Hidden Track 4 Those 4 hidden tracks feature collaborations with some folks who I guess didn't want their names plastered on the CD jewel case. Hidden Track 1, borrowing portions of the melody from "I'll be Good To You" by the Brothers Johnson, features a lively rap from guess who? The final 3 hidden tracks sound like outtakes to pad the CD. Your browser does not support the audio element. Listen to 1 minute & 12 seconds of Barry White's "Never Gonna Give You Up," featuring George Clinton and El DeBarge. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Janet Jackson Favors Little Discipline over Control

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 04/23/2008

    Now that the hype has settled surrounding the release of Janet Jackson's new collection Discipline, let's take a closer look at the music. Heading south on the album charts, Discipline still holds onto a top 30 spot, having peaked the first week out at #1. The biggest issue I have with Discipline is that Janet Jackson has thrown herself at the mercy of her producers. Jermaine Dupri is all over the album as the main architect, whipping up Justin Timberlake like grooves on "Feedback." With "Rollercoaster," we hear the sample machine cranked up to the max, with screams, grunts, and beats bouncing around Janet's lyrics for maximum punch. The problem is that these musical theatrics craft the opposite effect that Janet's sweet voice projects. Trying too hard to be cutting Edge, Discipline disappoints. This album is better than Janet's last one, but the real Ms. Jackson is still pressing too hard to find her authentic voice. You can tell a lot just from the CD pictures accompanying Discipline. Where's the musical beef? Here are some other thoughts about Discipline... The Los Angeles Times: "Discipline tries to service both Tyler Perry-loving moms and their gone-wild progeny, sacrificing Jackson's own vision in the process." Dot Music: "Still, if not perfect, there's plenty to like on Discipline, and while none of it is exactly vintage Janet, there's enough here to keep the Jackson name on pop's A-list for a little while longer." Boston Globe: "Jackson's decision to recycle the nympho routine one more time is just boring." Entertainment Weekly: "Despite a couple of promising tracks the music generally befits the absurd lyrics...Dupri, Ne-Yo, Rodney Jerkins, The-Dream, and StarGate often drown out Jackson's breathy vocals with soulless beats. PopMatters: "On Discipline, Janet sounds part nympho, part aging diva trying to keep up with her would be replacements. It works on some songs, but fails miserably on most." Hartford Courant: "When juxtaposed with the album's bubble-gum bounce, the creepy parts just seem creepier." Village Voice: "Discipline is the most cohesive deep-groove album from La Jackson since "Control." I'd say there is overall consensus that Discipline is pretty weak. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Charles Wright takes 'Express Yourself' to Line Dancing

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 01/09/2008

    Charles Wright, producer, singer and founder of the classic soul Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is upbeat about his new album, Finally Got It Wright. He sticks to the tradition of his early hits "Do Your Thing" and "Express Yourself," released in 1968 and 1970. The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm band exemplifies Los Angeles funk just like Chuck Brown personifies Washington, DC's go-go music. There's a free mp3 download of "Line Dance Song" from Charles Wright's new album available directly from his line dance web site. 2021 Update: Contest is sunset. Charles says: "I'm not Columbia, RCA or Capital, so I do not intend to pretend that I can compete on their level." "I am a small company and will act accordingly. Therefore, if it takes me three, four or even five years to complete the job or more, I intend to concentrate on Finally Got It Wright because I honestly and truly believe in it." Charles Wright was born near Clarksdale, Mississippi. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was 12. He started on piano and later graduated to vocals, guitar, bass and drums. As a teenager, Wright led and composed for several doo-wop groups, including the Twilighters, The Shields, and the Galahads. Charles became one of Hollywood's most sought after studio musicians while simultaneously becoming a nightclub sensation with his band Charles Wright and He Wright-Sounds. After recording renowned Los Angeles Dee Jay Magnificent Montague's theme song, "Spreading Honey," Charles founded the history-making Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - the first successful rhythm & blues act for Warner Brothers. The "Watts" band backed Bill Cosby on his first two musical albums, Silver Throat and The Salvation Army Band: Bill Cosby Sings. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Arrested Development Delivers New Music

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 11/07/2007

    Atlanta, Georgia's Arrested Development is back. Pictured is their 1992 release, 3 Years, 5 months and 2 Days in the Life Of... Bookdiva D reviews Arrested Development's new 2007 CD, Since the Last Time. 2021 Update: This review was removed by 'Bookdiva D.'  Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Chaka Khan Funks Up Her New Release

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 10/11/2007

    Chaka Khan dedicates her new CD, Funk This, to her grandma, and to her recording industry mentors Arif Mardin and Ahmet Ertegun. She digs deep into her soul to project some sonic emotion through an adventurous collection of songs, all produced by the crafty song-hook magicians Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Chaka pulls you in and commands your attention with her magnetic voice, but the subtleties of her mastery of different genres reveals the cadence of a song styling surgeon who knows what she is doing. When called for, her trademark powerful pipes still pump up the vocal volume. Overall, Funk This takes risks with material that you might not expect on a Chaka Khan record. Most of the songs are uptempo, and they don't all fit into the classic definition of "funk." The track that will sell the album, (or downloads), is "Disrespectful," a soul shoutin' hootenanny with the mesmerizing Mary J. Blige as Chaka's duet partner. This is the best cut on the collection. Guitarist Tony Maiden of Rufus & Chaka Khan fame contributes to a couple of tracks, including the opening cut "Back In The Day," and a medley: "Pack'd My Bags/You Got The Love." Do we really need a rehash of "You Got The Love?" It seems to appear out of nowhere as "Pack'd My Bags" fades. The synthesizer arrangement on this version of "You Got The Love" lacks the horn overlay of the original, but it is true in tone to the way the song was sung the first time around, and Chaka punches it out. "Back In The Day" has that 'Rufus rhythm' old school fans should enjoy. Track 2, "Foolish Fool," reminds me more of Macy Gray than Chaka Khan, despite the voice differences. In "Foolish Fool," guitars dominate and drive the track with Chaka in control. "Castles Made Of Sand," from the Jimi Hendrix songbook, parallels the original song. Chaka does not jump into uncharted "funk" on this one. You are listening to a mostly mellow mid-tempo rock classic. I never really liked Prince's "Sign of the Times" because it's much too depressing. Chaka Khan's version builds on Prince's arrangement but just can't rescue me from the morose. Michael McDonald stops by for a remake of the Carly Simon classic, "You Belong To Me." To my ear, this new duet with Chaka sounds overproduced. More successful is "Ladies Man," a Joni Mitchell song which lends itself to Chaka's careful reading of the lyric while fusing elements of jazz into the pulse of the song. "Super Life," an uptempo anthem about carrying the flag forward in the memory of those who have lost their lives (through genocide) is a great cut that features Chaka Khan radiating the energy of "I Feel For You." Funk This is a misleading title for this CD. Yes, it's a departure from the jazz of her 2004 Classikahn, but Funk This is much more of an expansion into a broader array of music. There are several hits here. Chaka expands her scope yet again. Ms. Khan has also co-written 7 of the 13 songs. Producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis show some restraint and don't get in the way. What they do is guide the project with creative resourcefulness, showcasing the unique manifestations of this daring diva: Chaka Khan. "Back In The Day" "Foolish Fool" "One For All Time" "Angel" "Will You Love Me?" "Castles Made Of Sand" "Disrespectful" featuring Mary J. Blige "Sign 'O' The Times" "Pack'd My Bags/You Got The Love" featuring Tony Maiden "Ladies' Man" "You Belong To Me" featuring Michael McDonald "Hail To The Wrong" "Super Life" Previous Post | Next Post

  • 1 Millie Jackson & Isaac Hayes Exposed

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 10/09/2007

    What are Millie Jackson & Isaac Hayes so happy about in this photo? The pair are celebrating during a photo shoot from their 1979 album Royal Rappin's, a much overlooked release featuring: "Sweet Music, Soft Lights, And You" "Feels Like The First Time" "You Never Crossed My Mind" "Love Changes" "I Changed My Mind" "Do You Wanna Make Love" "If I Had My Way" "If You Had Your Way" "You Needed Me" Although not a chart topper, the album was a unique collaboration between Jackson, and Hayes, two gritty R&B entertainers who extended their reputations as flirtatiously naughty sex symbols. As for the music, the songs are thoroughly enjoyable, rolling through some smooth and entertaining tongue and cheek adlibs between Millie and Isaac on both slow and medium tempo tracks. Favorite songs: the uptempo "Do You Wanna Make Love," and the old Anne Murray hit ballad, "You Needed Me." Royal Rappin's is a regal effort from a noble king and a majestic queen of soul: Millie Jackson & Isaac Hayes. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Joe Tex, Denise LaSalle, & Leon Haywood Deliver Southern Soul

    • Review
    • by Kingsley H. Smith
    • 08/30/2007

    Many artists never become superstars, but their talent still pushes them to big success. Turn on the radio during the golden age of classic soul, and you'd hear hundreds, if not thousands of groups, bands, and solo vocalists. Here are 3 R&B performers who put their heart and soul into their craft - and had their share of hits back-in-the-day. Joe Tex, (1933 - 1982), had several novelty hits. He doesn't get nearly enough credit for the very good straight-forward R&B in his catalogue. This image of Joe is from the cover of the original vinyl album, Joe Tex Spills the Beans. Tex, born in Rogers, Texas, has a large collection of songs, recorded primarily for Atlantic, between 1965 - 1979. The Top Joe Tex Hits: "I Gotcha" "Show Me" "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (with no Big Fat Woman)"   Another Southerner, from Mississippi, the bluesy and bombastic Denise LaSalle released more than 25 albums between 1972 - 2007. This photo is from a vinyl copy of her very first release, Trapped By A Thing Called Love. The title cut from the album was an R&B hit, dominated by the Memphis arrangements of producer Willie Mitchell, the guy responsible for crafting much of the Al Green sound. LaSalle reminds you a lot of Koko Taylor, (the Chicago blues Queen). LaSalle has an amazing voice. She should have had many more R&B hits.     Everyone tries to carve out their own niche. Leon Haywood certainly found his. He took Johnnie Taylor's direct message, ("Who's Making Love"), to the next level with blatantly sexual songs. Haywood avoided "double entendre" and got right to the point. While Marvin Gaye, Barry White, and Isaac Hayes were romancing, Haywood skipped the foreplay and dived right in for some instant satisfaction. The Houston, Texas native had a string of classic soul hits: "I Want'A Do Something Freaky To You" "Don't Push It Don't Force It" "Strokin'" This photo of Haywood is from the back of his 1976 vinyl album "Leon Haywood," which contains "Strokin'." Previous Post | Next Post

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