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.
Have a listen on:
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.
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.
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?
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.