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Written By: frenchy on November 28, 2010 8 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Quincy Jones last fm logo|| Discogs Icon|| Wiki icon
Album Title: Q: Soul Bossa Nostra
Year: 2010

Quincy Jones - Q: Soul Bossa Nostra
I’m.. confused.. conflicted..

How I Got Into This Music
Quincy Jones. One of the most influential and inspiring musicians/producers/arrangers of all time. This man is one of the few heroes I have, which says quite a bit about me, I know.
Fifteen years ago he released Q’s Jook Joint; loved it to death. That was his second mega-collaboration album, inviting different artists to perform and co-produce on the album. Re-creating and re-producing some of Q’s classic tracks and productions. Always interesting and surprising, Q’s Jook Joint still is a reference work for producers of all styles and generations.
Now, the new album Q: Soul Bossa Nostra is released.
Woh-boy..


Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album allmusic.com Wiki icon
Videos: Youtube Logo last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo Q’s Official Site


Tracks that got my attention:
Ironside ft. Taleb Kwali
A promising start! Keeping the Old Feel with the almost Bossa (backing)vocals, mixing it up with Kwali’s rap and some wicked trumpet play to give it a really edgy and jazzy feel. Took me a coupla listens to get into, but it’s good stuff.

Strawberry Letter 23 ft. Akon
Here’s the main problem of this album. Musicians were invited to select a track and to give it a new/different interpretation. Risky stuff, but that’s Quincy Jones.
In this case: Akon doing the classic Brothers Johnson track Strawberry Letter 23.
No.
Hell No.
The bassline’s kinda been preserved in a vague and feeble way to help digest this incredible turd of a track. I obviously don’t have anything positive to say about Akon’s work in general; not my style or taste, too cheesy for words, but he’s successful, good for him.
But no one should let a generic pop musician near a track like Strawberry Letter 23. Not even mister Quincy Jones.

Soul Bossa Nostra ft Ludacris and more
Works, it’s funny and tightly produced. Even Ludacris’ rap is quite tolerable.

Gimme The Night ft Jamie Foxx
Foxx does a nice job, staying close to George Benson’s original vocal performance. Production by David Banner: it’s that Lil’ John vibe thing. Kinda works, kinda makes me wanna go and kick a bunch of cute puppies.

Tomorrow ft John Legend
Auto-skip. John Legend is in the top 5 of my list of (Irrationally Motivated) Hated Artists.
The cute kids doing backing vocals do NOT save this track.

You Put A Move On My Heart ft Jennifer Hudson
This is what I expect from Quincy Jones. Take an already classic track and change it up in a way that works on all levels.
Jennifer Hudson gives a great performance, that voice stands on its own and replaces Tamai’s original vocals quite nicely.

Get The Funk Out Of My Face ft Snoop Dogg
Don’t know the original, but this track seems tailor-made for Snoop Dogg, who elivers another solid performance. Snoop does seem to be flying on automatic pilot tho, almost becoming a bit generic.

Secret Garden ft Usher, Robin Thicke, Tyrese Gibson, LL Cool J, Tevin Campbell and Barry White
One of the classic tracks off of Q’s 1st mega-collabo album Back On The Block (1989). Again, anybody trying to recreate this track would be guilty of musical blasphemy of some sorts (yes, I’m devoted to music but it’s not my religion, chill..).
And Quincy Jones looks at it for a while and says: fuck this, let’s do this track again. Getting Jermaine Dupri to co-produce and adding a whole new set of vocalists, but keeping the late Barry White on the song (nice touch).
A lot of surprises on this track: the Kraftwerk inspired beat changes this song into an up-tempo ballad (contradictio, I know). I enjoyed LL Cool J’s rap, I never realised how well his flow could work on a track like this.
Great version.

Betcha Wouldn’t Hurt Me ft Mary J Blige
Safe remake. Mary’s vocals are still impressive. Q-Tip respects the original maybe just a bit too much.

Everything Must Change ft BeBe Winans
Again, safe remake. Bebe Winans does an excellent job. Track’s a bit tame to my taste, but I love the string arrangements.

Many Rains Ago (Oluwa) ft Wyclef Jean
Kill me now, please. Kill me now.

P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) ft T-Pain and Robin Thicke
Ok, the whole auto-tune thing is a generational gap thing. It works for the current pop music generation and I’m fine with it as long as I don’t have to hear it. See how relaxed I am about it?
But why the flying fuck does T-Pain get studio time on a Quincy Jones album?
Again, now slowly: why the flying fuck does T-Pain get studio time on a Quincy Jones album?
The original PYT is a brilliant piece of pop music production; mega-sweet, catchy, great vocals and groove. This version tries to re-use those qualities by specifically NOT using said qualities and by taking a great big auto-tune dump on the song.

T-Pain sucks goat titties and should be skull-fucked by 40-something soccer moms high on a mix of PCP, LSD and Diet Red Bull, with strap-ons.

I don’t care if you remade this track into a Country & Western ballad with a Mariachi backing track. As long as it’s done in an interesting, intelligent and professional way. You don’t have to please my tastes, but don’t fucking insult my senses with this drivel.
Taking a break, off to find me a new batch of cute puppies.. BRB.

It’s My Party ft Amy Winehouse
Ouch.. Risky.. Not sure how sober my girl Amy was when she recorded this track. Sometimes she sounds as strong as ever, making me long for the pre-drama drug skank edition of this bloody talented singer and performer.

Hikky-Burr ft Three 6 Mafia and David Banner
No. Piss off and die.

Sanford and Son ft T.I., B.o.B., Prince Charlez and Mohombi
Not sure about this one. I sometimes catch myself wanting to slit my wrists when I hear the Euro-trash chorus but the rap parts are really catchy and the Dirty South beat works quite well. So, the best solution would be a remix without the incredibly crappy chorus. Anybody?

Conclusion
Quincy Jones is one of the most important producers in music recording history, in my opinion (nothing humble about it). His previous to mega-collaboration albums Back On The Block and Q’s Jook Joint were works of genius; fearlessly recreating jazz standards and pop music classics and doing that successfully too. I didn’t always like what I heard but I could understand and appreciate the work. Most of the times I was just blown away by the Maestro’s ingeniuty.

This album? Shit, what went wrong?

Again, I don’t mind if some songs don’t work for me, that’s a personal taste issue. But to deliver an album with so much sloppy production work and so many crappy performances: that hurts. I found this positive review on Amazon; read it five times. Nope, mostly don’t agree on the author’s take. Agree on the praise of Q’s work (even on this album) but softening the bad points into oblivion and over-boosting the album’s good points don’t work for me.

Quincy Jones is credited as Executive Producer, but it doesn’t absolve him of what’s been created on this album.
I’m conflicted because Quincy Jones still is great, but the Too Big To Fail feeling is very much present on this work.
Fail, indeed.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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Written By: frenchy on October 20, 2009 No Comment

General Description
Artist/Band: Zero 7
last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: Yeah Ghost
Year: 2009


Zero 7 - Yeah Ghost
A Different Approach, Still Familiar, Right?

How I Got Into This Music
I’ve been listening to these guys since their first album, Simple Things and I was lucky enough to see them perform live at the Paradiso in Amsterdam a few years ago. They’re one of my favorite bands and I was eager to hear what they’d concocted on this album.


Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album Discogs Icon Artistdirect logo Artistdirect logo Wiki icon
Videos: Youtube Logo last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo


Tracks that got my attention:
Count Me Out
Holy..
Ehm..
Well, this could be considered as a Fair Warning Intro. The band’s kinda letting the listeners know that things might be a bit different that any previous work. It’s very cinematic, reminiscent of Seventies LCD tripped out movies.

Mr McGee
Another change in the vocal line up. Singer Sia is totally absent from this album, moved on to greener pastures, who knows?
The replacement for the role of main album vocalist: Eska Mtungwazi. Never heard of her before, but she’s got a great and versatile voice. This track’s very up-tempo and kinda groovy with a catchy beat and chorus. It’s a typical scream-along, hum-along, sing-along track. There are traces of Gnarls Barkley and Outkast here.

Swing
Ah, that’s more like it. That would be the reaction of those fans who prefer the more laidback Zero 7 they’ve come to know and love.
It’s a real Summer Walk In The Park kinda track with sweet Feist-like vocals from Martha Tilston.

Everything Up (Zizou)
This is a nice Zero 7, version 2.0 track, with core member Henry Binns on vocals, very much like stuff they recorded on their previous album. I kinda like it; it’s catchy and upbeat with a nice mix of background vocals and simple patterns. The instrumental and more orchestrated bits during the second half of the song are great.

Pop Art Blue
Not working for me. It’s funny, because this track’s really more like their earlier style, but it’s boring. I understand their need to add more variation.

Ghost Symbol
Or, as it’s officially listed: Ghost sYMbOl.
A very interesting track. I’m almost one hundred per cent sure that this one’ll keep growing on me and become one of my favorite tracks of this album.
It’s the whole mix of all their different styles. I find Zero 7 to be looking for a middle ground in the music they’re making. A choice between Pop, Laidback Lounge, Electronic, Dance, etc. And for me, this track is their most successful attempt at mixing it all up into what could be called the Definitive Sound Of Zero 7.

Sleeper
Of the three up tempo tracks they’ve produced with Eska, this one’s the best one.

Solastalgia
Yeah, they’re back with the spacey stuff and it’s quite nice after hearing it a coupla times. It’s perfect for a documentary or a short film.

The Road
Funny, the band makes three up tempo tracks with Eska and they’re kinda okay. The fourth collaboration is laidback, almost gospel and is my favorite track on the album.

Conclusion
Zero 7 is trying to mix things up, again. After Simple Things and When It Falls they changed their game with The Garden, embracing a different mix of electronics and the combo of acoustic guitar with Jose Gonzalez‘ vocals.
With this album, Yeah Ghost, they’ve continued to try and change their style. But it’s a bit Messy: it almost seems like they don’t want to throw out the Old completely or that they still haven’t found their own definition of the New.
A lot of fans might be put off by the New style or just by the fact that it’s Messy. Maybe they just want the Old sound they liked so much. Zero 7 seem to try to keep everybody happy and I’m not sure if that’s a complete success.
Personally, I like part of the New stuff: the orchestral, cinematic stuff. But I find the up tempo poppy New stuff boring. Most of all I’m just curious to see (and hear) how this group keeps working on their music.
A bit of schizophrenia takes the boredom away, so bring it on!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Written By: frenchy on January 17, 2009 4 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Jazzanova last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace || Answers logo
Album Title: Of All The Things
Year: 2008

Jazzanova - Of All The Things
Beautiful Retro mix

How I Got Into This Music
Still can’t recall how I got into Jazzanova, sorry.. Must be the alcohol abuse killing the grey matter. But a new album from these guys will always get my attention.

Reviews/Album Details: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo || Answers logo
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Look What You’re Doin’ To Me ft. Phonte
Just the intro.. Listen.. It’s Pure Jazzanova. Wow..
Phonte last fm logo is a new entity to me and a very interesting fresh voice. The whole production is tight, a nice South American percussion on the background with some Santana guitar riffs and great backing vocal samples. Very nice!

Let Me Show Ya ft. Paul Randolph
Another singer I hadn’t noticed before. Paul Randolph last fm logo is this great mix of classic vocal styles, triggering memories of Marvin Gaye. And on this track, we hear one of the main themes of this album: going back to Detroit, bringing back the Motown vibe.
And it’s done very, very well..
Also funny to hear a lot of samples and beats from the Belle et Fou album coming back to this record, like the background strings in the bridge.

I Can See ft. Ben Westbeech
Ben Westbeech last fm logo has a great voice. Just like the previous
track, we can hear Jazzanova setting up a Classic Soul production. When you hear the strings in the background, you realize it’s the same old stuff they’ve been using for years, BUT.. It also fits perfectly with the Motown thing. Great production value!

Lie ft. Thief
Wow.. Now they’re switching to the Beatles/Electric Light Orchestra sound, including a string quartet, lovely! And the voice of Thief’s Sasha Gottschalk is a thing of beauty!

Little Bird ft. José James
Yep, should’ve seen this one coming. José James’s been working in Europe for a while now and this collaboration is an obivous one. Perfect combo of styles!

So Far From Home ft. Phonte
Had to double check the credits coz I couldn’t believe that Phonte rapped on this track and sang on Look What You’re Doin’ To Me. Wow..
A bit of anger in the lyrics, but the whole thing works for me, especially the smart resampling of the Let Me Show Ya track.

What Do You Want ft. Jon Dukie
It’s almost too cheesy to listen to, but I do love me this track!!!

Gafier ft. Pedro Martins and Azymuth
Jazzanova’s love for Brazilian music is a wellknown fact, just have a listen at all the remixes they’ve done in the past. Brazilian Greats help out on this sweet track.

Dail A Cliche ft. Paul Randolph
Love the track, love the lyrics. Hate Morrissey.

Conclusion
Thight production as usual and an interesting broadening of their repertoire by adding Soul Retro in the mix. Just like homebrewing your crystal meth, recycling Retro is a dangerous excercise. But if it works, you get the same addictive results without the nasty side effects.
Excellent album.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Written By: frenchy on December 7, 2008 14 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Q-Tip last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: The Renaissance
Year: 2008

Q-Tip - The Renaissance
Don’t call it a comeback?

How I Got Into This Music
I’m still a total fan of A Tribe Called Quest. Haven’t paid any attention to any of his previous albums, but with this release I thought I’d just give it a try.

Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo || Artistdirect logo
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Johnny Is Dead
But what good’s an ear if a q-tip isn’t in it?
Heheh, nice one.. Guitar intro and the chorus are kinda not happening, love the keyboards and bass line.

Won’t Trade
Kinda catchy, enjoyed it the first coupla times, but now it’s almost a bit bland. Weird.

Gettin’ Up
Video: last fm logo
Great track, so mellow. The keyboard intro/loop is very sweet and the bass just reeks of nostalgia ;) It’s an incredibly simple setup, production-wise, but it’s very effective and catchy. The late great J Dilla in the producer’s seat.
This one of those Walk In The Park tracks, love it!

Official
Very strong scratchwork and samples. Makes me wish D’Angelo was doing the backing vocals. Damn it, the whole song triggers D’Angelo vibes. Like it very much.

You
Think this one’s my favorite track. Now let’s see if I can explain why.
The staccato rap flow. The simple and subtle yet funky bassline. The lyrics trigger some old memories. The very tight setup.

We Fight For Love feat. Raphael Saadiq
Meh.. Just the great bassline, but not really working for me.

Manwomanboogie feat. Amanda Diva
Triggering memories of his Breathe And Stuff period, which is a bit dubious to me. Don’t get me wrong: I liked the track, but like Vivrant Thing it was too much of the Hype Williams videos that turned me off.
Again a very nasty bass..

Move
Video: last fm logo
Maybe later on I’ll learn to understand and/or like this track. But for now: me no likey.

Dance On Glass
The intro of this track: 1 full minute a capella of pure excellence. And the flow when the music joins in is blissfully well produced.

Life Is Better feat. Norah Jones
Wow! Guaranteed hit, release the track as a single as soon as friggin’ possible!
But.. what I don’t get, is the way the track’s produced: you got the excellent vocals by Miss Jones and somehow the choice was made to use a (very well performed) dedication rap as main theme. It doesn’t work for me; I’d prefer a simple love theme or whatever, but this?
Still, hope they release it soon!

Believe feat. D’Angelo
Heheh.. When will D’Angelo finally represent his shit like he used to a while back? I was lucky enough to see him perform live at the North Sea Jazz in the 90s, but we need to see him in action again!
Ehm.. Back to the track: this is how Life Is Better should’ve been produced. Sweet, laidback and sexy.

Conclusion
Like blkbetty said: this album’s a creeper. It really grows on you. I wasn’t really impressed the first coupla times I listened to it, but then I found myself playing the album over and over, getting a better understanding and feeling of the vibes and stuff..
Wonder if I’ll still be listening to it in three months. Not sure, but for now, it’s a very sweet album to listen to.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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Written By: frenchy on August 30, 2008 2 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: N*E*R*D last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: Seeing Sounds
Year: 2008

N*E*R*D - Seeing Sounds
Comeback kids?

How I Got Into This Music
This band has always been on my radar since I discovered the Neptunes products. I thought they wouldn’t release anything after the Fly Or Die album and the lackluster solo CD of band member Pharrell. But to my surprise, here’s Seeing Sounds..

Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo
Videos: Youtube Logo || last fm logo
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Time For Some Action
Funny TV theme music combined with some Pharrell wackiness introes the first track, nice. The track itself? Hmmm.. Not so good, it’s a tip of the hat to different genres and to the Purple One, but that’s not enough. I like the heavy and cheesy 80s keyboards used in the bridge, but.. meh..

Everybody Nose
Heheh.. Mixing up quite some great styles, creating an unforgettable instant anthem! There’s some Miami Bass feeling from the Too Live Crew Youtube Logo brewing combined with a smidgen of drum&bass. Again, the break/bridge: a sweet work of art! Followed by a great singalong ending.
It took me some time to get used to it, but this is one of the best tracks!

Windows
Pop rock, punk-pop, some bits reminding me of Heroin Is So Passe by the Dandy WarholsYoutube Logo.

Anti Matter
B O O M ! !
A great female vocal sample, reminding me of the Real Roxanne. Real drum&bass mixed with some rough guitars. And again, the changeup’s a doozy! Closing bits are perfect singalong (or, shoutalong) material.
I don’t know where these guys get them big brass balls, but they do wear them with pride..

Spaz
Didn’t like this one, really didn’t like it at all. There’s nothing here that stands out, doesn’t work for me. Way too sloppy work on the whole track.
And then, Hieronymous Fox and me are chanting the chorus during our first day at the North Sea Festival.. Every friggin’ forty minutes.. Heheh, nuff said!

Yeah You
Best track on the album. A lot of style similarities with the Frontin’ track they produced with Jay Z. It’s got that same weird laidback feeling to it. I got some weird internal references with the chorus; its bass line keeps taking me to A Rollerskating Jam Called Saturday by De La Soul Youtube Logo, even if it actually doesn’t really match.
And the vocals and lyrics on that chorus keep reminding me of Al Green’s version of Light My Fire, yeah, I know, weird..

Sooner Or Later
No, not again.. Crap, I do get tired of these ballads: much too formulaic, leave the Beatle references alone, please?
Then again, I caught myself humming this song a few times, scary.

Love Bomb
Never hummed this one and I’m sure I never will..

Conclusion
Well.. The great tracks on this album are very, very great. But they have to carry the mediocre and crappy songs and that’s quite a heavy load to bear. I know I’ll play this record more than their previous album, but it’s getting dangerously close to Predictable Stuff.
N*E*R*D still is a great band of musicians and producers; they need Pharrell’s ego to front the whole thing, but their collective effort is what stands out.
Still wanna see them perform live some time.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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