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Written By: frenchy on August 26, 2009 3 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Nuyorican Soul last fm logo || Discogs Icon
Album Title: Nuyorican Soul
Year: 1996

nuyorican soul
Truly, Masters At Work..

How I Got Into This Music
Television, drug of a nation.. ;)
Yeah, saw the video of the Runaway track. Felt good, a bit too retro, but seriously enamoured with the vocals. Kinda stuck in the back of my mind and later on I got the album. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!
The Nuyorican Soul project is the product of the fabulous DJ duo called Masters At Work: Kenny Dope and Little Louie Vega. These guys are incredible producers, musicians and music fanatics.

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:
Intro
Think about it, how many times can you remember considering a 90 second intro as a full fledged track worth mentioning?
For me, this intro always puts a smile on my face and gets all my aching bones ready for some serious moving and grooving..

I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun
Ultimate Dance Floor Diva Jocelyn Brown giving a wicked performance on this cover. Original by The Rotary Connection (feat. Minnie Ripperton) Youtube Logo
This song has become a sort of an Anthem, it’s also been remixed/reworked by Marc Mac on his Chess Cadet All Stars album.

It’s Alright, I Feel It
Taking the piano loop from the previous track, speeding it up, adding some incredible beats and, again, Jocelyn Brown on vocals. This is one of my favorite dance tracks.

Maw Latin Blues
Masters At Work (Maw), these guys are, like I said, music fanatics and with this project they mix all kinds of styles together, including this Latin track with some sweet keyboards and percussion.

Gotta New Life
Not one of my faves, but a great jazzy track with a lovely walking bass, a slightly annoying flute and some sweet vocals.

Nautilus
Spacy stuff, got to be in the right mood to listen to this one.

Habriendo el Dominante
You don’t get any better Latin grooves than this, son! Slow buildup with the percussion and the incredible bass and then we get the piano treating us to some great grooves!

Roy’s Scat
This album introduced me to mister Roy Ayers, Soul Musician Extraordinaire! Doing his scats and playing some sweet vibes.

Sweet Tears
Let’s go Disco! Great production value: vibes and vocals, again, by Roy Ayers. Some classic bass grooves and those strings.. Oh wow! Heheh..

Runaway
This singer, India, just blew my mind. This song is so tailor-made for her voice. Great track.

(thanks, Hieronymus Fox!)

Jazzy Jeff’s Theme
Now this track changed my limited opinion about DJ Jazzy Jeff. Forget the silly tracks with the Fresh Prince. This track shows the Talent and Genius: a scratch instrumental with loops, beats and samples that just leave you flabbergasted.

You Can Do It
Closing track; after disco, latin, scratching and 70s soul, we get George Benson. Wait, what?
Yes, boys and girls, the Masters at Work produced a track that revived my interest in George Benson: a very long and moody intro with soft synth soundscapes backing up mister Benson’s guitar picking skills. And man, the guy is skilled! The main song starts after a while with Benson’s powerful voice and well-known scatting.
Like I said, MAW can do it.

Conclusion
Not all of the tracks are brilliant, but man-o-man, not one song on this album is lacking in quality. People have been taking notes from these lessons in Hi-Quality Music Production from professors Dope and Vega for more than ten years now. Masters at Work, indeed!

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Written By: frenchy on May 16, 2009 5 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Prince last fm logo || Discogs Icon
Album Title: Parade
Year: 1986

Prince - Parade
Genius, before it all went wrong?

How I Got Into This Music
Ah, read some of my other reviews about ThePurpleOne on this site ;)
Back-story on the album: after the friggin’ huge success of his Purple Rain movie, it was inevitable that Prince’d make/produce/write/compose/provide catering for a second movie. That fiasco was called Under The Cherry Moon. Go ahead, live dangerously, rent it.
The soundtrack, however, was a thing of incredible beauty..

Reviews: Google Search for reviews of this album || Discogs Icon || Artistdirect logo || Artistdirect logo
Videos: [are you kidding me?]
Have a listen on: last fm logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Christopher Tracy’s Parade
A lot of times, this track’d get under my skin and not really in a positive way. But sometimes. it’d just make my whole day shine!
The tacky flute/steel band drums on the background. The high pitched background vocals. A weird chase scene track, perhaps..

New Position
Whenever I start drumming/humming the intro of this song near my friend Oomen-san, he’d join in and we’d shamelessly start singing and hollering the whole track, heheh..
Great bass line and again the steel band drum thingies. And that sweet finale fading into the next song, brilliant.
Do ya, do ya, like a good man should..

I Wonder U
Weirdness, the Prince Way. Haunting keyboards and flutes mixed with a driving yet soft bass line on the background. Filled with all kinds of weird effects and nuances. Love it!

Under The Cherry Moon
This one took more than 10 years to get on my good side. I always hated the cheesiness of the whole production. The melodrama in the pianola, yuck. But still, like the world’s slowest growing mold, it kinda attached to me and we’ve remained stuck with eachother since then. (And yes, it takes real skill to abuse metaphors, thankyouverymuch..)

Girls & Boys
Wow! Still remember when this song came out. The first single off this album? Can’t remember. But it was a great song to dance to; another track just filled with little effects and of course that crazy deep horn by Eric Leeds. That great bit with the girl singing along in French, it just sounded wickedly wicked!
Ouch, remember that weird ending in the video, with Jerome laughing his ass off for 90 seconds? Boo!

Life Can Be So Nice
Another Energizer Bunny track. Highly strung and not really easy to get into. Still find myself singing the chorus out loud sometimes.

Venus De Milo
Great track, the warmth and depth of the piano, wow!

Mountains
Still scores pretty high in that 80s Weird Clips category. With a younger Kristin Scott Thomas in the clip (and in the movie).
It’s an 80s Anthem, at least to me it really is. But Nostalgia aside, the mix of his falsetto and normal vocals really works perfectly on this song. And that beat is bloody brilliant: minimalist perfection. Perfect horns on the background and more predominant at the ending; and of course the break with Guitars And Drums On The One!

Do U Lie
A movie set in France, well of course we’ll use the theme in the soundtrack! It’s a nice and sweet song with a swinging jazzy break; a walk along the French Riviera, indeed!

Kiss
Heheh.. What can be said about this track that hasn’t been said about a gazillion times?
Pure and simple genius, using the minimalist thing to the extreme and his falsetto vocals are perfect for the total wackiness of this song.
Understand this: the whole song is straight out of the ABC of Simple Songs. But it still filled the floors back then and people still grind their possibly geriatric hips to it.
And that video..

Anotherloverholenyohead
My favorite track of the album. The story told in the song. The way his vocals go back and front with the supporting vocals. The nasty bass; that almost Arabic intro; the dramatic piano; it all just works for me. Listen to the bass, please. Listen to the bass.

Sometimes It Snows In April
Loved this song in the beginning but got sick of it pretty quickly. It’s the track I always skip.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very beautiful and sensitive song with beautiful and rich lyrics and vocals. And no, I don’t mind feeling sad after listening to it. It’s just that after a while, it just got.. corny? Maybe the fact that a lot of people I knew were totally fanatic about this song? Don’t know, but I never play it.
A few years back, Prince was back in Holland and he played it live. Wow, chills down my spine and everything! That’s the way I want to remember that track.

Conclusion
The album’s well produced, Prince combines fun, sexiness and spirituality in a brilliant package of pure and funky classic grooves. I know I’ll always play this album to feel good, wicked, nasty and everything else in the emotional spectrum. And that’s why this album’s one of my favorites.
I used to be a serious fan of this man’s music and I still believe he’s one of the geniuses of pop music. His business problems with record labels turned him in a bit of a prick when it comes to protecting his work; I understand his motivations, but.. He’s still a bit of a prick. And he’s still a mother-lovin’ genius.

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Written By: frenchy on September 2, 2008 One Comment

General Description
Artist/Band: A Tribe Called Quest last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: The Low End Theory
Year: 1991

A Tribe Called Quest - Seeing Sounds
One hundred percent intelligent black children

How I Got Into This Music
For me these guys are one of the most important rap groups of the business: A Tribe Called Quest. And this album is another one of my favorites.

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:
Excursions
Jazz? Jazzy influences in rap? In 1991? For me, that was one of the first times I paid attention to rap bands using jazz.
Opening bass line, tasty and scrumptious! Vocal samples from the Last Poets.
Beats that are hard, beats that are funky
It could get you hooked like a crackhead junkie
What you gotta do to is know that the tribe is in the sphere
The abstract poet, prominent like Shakespeare

Rap Promoter
Just a groovy track, love the guitar riff sample!

Butter
Phyfe on the solo trip, being a total bad boy, heheh.. The man is one of the best rappers with an unbelievable flow. The horn sample in the chorus is Smoothness.
Well here comes Flo, with the crazy whip appeal
And I’m all true man, like Alexander O’Neal
Is this really love, then again, how would I know
After all this time tryin’ to be a superhoe
She finally played me, but yo, I’d find another
Cause I got the crazy game and yo, I’m smooth like butter

Verses From The Abstract
Q-Tip AKA The Abstract in his best form. A soft reggae flow with mister Ron Carter on Bass, oooohhwweeeee!!
The world is kinda cold and the rhythm is my blanket
Wrap yourself up in it, if you love it, then you’ll thank it

One of my favorite lyrics ever.. You could put it on my tombstone, yes please, thankyouverymuch..

Show Business
Nice tempo, sometimes a bit boring, sometimes still interesting. If I’m not mistaken, this track’s the first time they had other rappers on their work.

Vibes And Stuff
The choppy keyboard sample has been used many a time since I heard it on this album. Love it! Great dedication track.

The Infamous Date Rape
A very serious subject, putting things in perspective, I guess.

Check The Rhime
Gotta try and remember where the horn sample’s from.
Classic anthem!!! (repeat to infinity:)
Q: you on point, Phife?
P: all the time, Tip

This is a master class in rap lyrics, boys-n-girlz, pay attention!
now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am.
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram.
I’m like an energizer ’cause, you see, I last long.
My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong.

Got this one printed on a t-shirt:
One hundred percent intelligent black child.

Another shout-along:
Industry rule number four thousand and eighty,
Record company people are shady.

Everything Is Fair
Female equality, a flipside story.

Jazz
Another mellowed out track, sweet bass work and nasty horns on the sampler.
Back and forth just like a cameo song
If you dig this joint then please come dance along

What?
Momma, this is hurting me fine!! A minimalistic setup: a basic loop and beat, mixed with Q-Tip’s vocals.
A lot of very smart questions:
What’s duke ellington without that swing?

What’s alex haley if it doesn’t have roots?

What is hip-hop if it doesn’t have violence?

Scenario
Yeah.. It took me some time to like this chant, but I love it now and it still rocks!
Here’s the video, made by Spike Lee:

Guest performances from the Leaders of the New School with a very young Busta Rhymes.

Conclusion
The importance lies in the production and choice of samples: jazz is given a serious center stage without being to preachy about it and mixing it all up into a very broad spectrum. It still is an accessible record for the rap crowd while triggering interest from the non-rap crowd.
Also the lyrics: seriously, these guys were setting new standards with the words and vocals.
This album’s a favorite, still prefer Midnight Marauders though.
Go have a listen!

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Written By: frenchy on November 18, 2007 4 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: Donny Hathaway last fm logo || Profile At MySpace || Discogs Icon
Album Title: These Songs For You, Live!
Year: 2004

Donny Hathaway - These Songs For You, Live!
This is why I love music..

How I Got Into This Music
Annoying little man, Hieronymus Fox.. The guy’s right 99% of the time and it would be a serious pain in the ass if it wasn’t for the fact that I always benefit from it.
The man brought along this CD for me to listen to from a singer called Donny Hathaway. The name rang a bell, and after some mental excercise I remembered this track from a Back To Mine compilation by Everything But The Girl called Someday We’ll Be Free. I liked but I thought it was a bit too sweet and soft.
Most of us old-timers know him from his duet with Roberta Flack last fm logo. That bone-chillingly beautiful Where Is The Love?, remember that?
These Songs For You, Live! is a compilation of live tracks performed during the 70s, the man himself died 1979.

Google Search for reviews of this album || Album details at Artistdirect.com || Answers.com ||last fm logo || Discogs Icon || Youtube Logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Flying Easy
Love this recording, the sound system isn’t working right, so the first minute or so the vocals are a bit too soft. No slickness here, boys and girls! And it doesn’t matter cause the man’s vocals bring a spring sunshine to anybody’s dark winter day..

Valdez in the Country
One of his own tracks, love the crispy keyboards on this instrumental track.

Someday We’ll All Be Free
Ohmygod.. The track I thought to be a bit too soft and sweet: this live version just breaks my heart in a gazillion pieces. Fuckmethisisbeautifulnuffsaid..
Listen to this man’s voice.

You Got A Friend
Now we get a coupla covers of Classic tracks. First one, Carole King’s masterpiece. It’s an easy sing-along track, and the crowd eats it all up. But listen to Hathaway’s subtle vocal changes, brilliant!

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
This is the slowest version of this track ever and it’s friggin’ incredible!! His mix of whispery soft and booming gospel vocals, it’s.. Can’t find the words, just go have a listen..

What’s Going On
You gotta have some very large balls to cover a Marvin Gaye classic; and perform it in a way that makes you accept the fact that someone else is singing it. Shit, this is a very close to a perfect alternative version!

Yesterday
I swear when the Beatles heard this version, they must’ve realised that not only did they make one of the greatest songs of all time, but that there’s someone else who can perform the track better than themselves. Think the Beatles went like: Right, we’re done here, nothing left to do, guys. Off to the pub, cause this bastard’s put us to shame.. Who the hell is this guy?!?

Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)
See previous track. I’ve posted it before: this version of Superwoman is one of the most breath-taking things I’ve ever heard.

A Song For You
When the man’s vocals go all gospel on you, it just makes you stop whatever you were doing and pay attention. However the crowd isn’t behaving at its best, mucking about during such a delicate song, but hey, it comes with the territory.

Sack Full Of Dreams
Wow, such slow sweetness. I can not be grumpy when I hear this one.

Little Ghetto Boy
First heard this as a sample on Dr.Dre’s Chronic and he knew what to use from his Elders. Beautiful vocals singing harsh lyrics with an upbeat ending.

I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
Damn, the opening vocals on this track! Soul & Blues mixed up in one heart-wrenching song.

The Ghetto
The keyboard buildup is nice and mellow, followed by a lovely up-tempo groove. Great crowd participation and again, when Hathaway puts out that voice out there, I get goose bumps.

Interview
An interesting addition to the album: bits and piece from an interview with Hathaway. You get to see what he was doing, thinking and planning. His life plans, what he wants to do musically, it goes in all directions.

Conclusion
I haven’t heard a contemporary performer put so much heart and talent into the music like Donny Hathaway. It’s possible that I wouldn’t like the studio albums as much as this live compilation, who cares?
It’s very regrettable that we don’t have Donny Hathaway in our midst any more, it is a sad thing that we don’t have a performer of his stature in our midst at the moment.
Enough with the praise, I love this album!

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Written By: frenchy on October 31, 2007 5 Comments

General Description
Artist/Band: David Holmes last fm logo || Profile At MySpace
Album Title: Come Get It, I Got It
Year: 2002

David Holmes - Come Get It, I Got It
Producer’s Master Class

How I Got Into This Music
The second source of interesting music, my man ArAm, it’s all his fault again ;)
He let me listen to another album from David Holmes called Let’s Get Killed a coupla years ago, but… The album didn’t really work for me back then and I didn’t pay much attention to the artists for quite a while. Until..
Sitting in the movie theater with another friend of mine (Hello, SleighRide!) watching.. gulp.. Out Of Site with Mr. Clooney and Miss Lopez’ JellyBuns. I didn’t expect a lot from the movie and was surprised when I realized that the movie was great entertainment. What really got me excited (no, not her nice butt) was the film score/soundtrack, wow!!! I got the CD the next day and it took me some days to connect the soundtrack to Let’s Get Killed, silly me..
So I went scouting for more and encountered this little album called Come Get It, I Got It..

Google Search for reviews of this album || Album details at Artistdirect.com || last fm logo || Answers.com || Discogs Icon || Youtube Logo

Tracks that got my attention:
Intro
Heheh.. Heard this one also being used by rap legend Grandmaster Flash!

Sixto Rodriguez - Sugarman
This song? Wow… couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this the first time. Still can’t believe them, this track has this incredible grip on my emotional triggers: I can get happy and sad at the same time when I hear this song.
Never heard of Sixto (Diaz) Rodriguez before but I sure am glad mister Holmes introduced me to him!

The Free Association – Effectin
Ohh.. The first entry from The Free Association project of mister Holmes and others. Love the whole thought behind the lyrics!

Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford – Nobody
Man-o-man-o-man-o-man!
When I play this one in the car, other drivers get to see me shouting my lungs across the galaxy.

Muddy Waters – Tom Cat
The late great Muddy Waters doing his dirty deeds, nice!

The Johnny Otis Show – Country Girl
You can take foxes out of the country, but
You can’t take the country out of foxes

O-so-nasty! Straight down and dirty blues mucking up those spit-shined shoes..

Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers – Strange Happenings
Whoa.. Heavy stuff, not always my cup of tea. Subtle production work by Holmes with the extra heavy background hisses and disturbances.

Harold Alexander – Mama Soul
Damn, I’ve never heard shit like this before! Don’t especially like or dislike the song, but it’s definitely a bizarre track..

Ray Bryant – Up Above The Rock
Sometimes this track’s a bit annoying, but there’s also this great vibe coming off the whole thing, making me wanna clap my hands and stomp my feet.
Also sounds like a great intro track for some 70’s TV show.

Cyril Neville – Gossip
Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers, doing some funky bluesy stuff.

A Fascinating Musical Experience – The Monster
There’s a 99% chance that if you wake me from my hard earned sleep around four in the morning, just to play me this song, that you’ll probably live to tell the story.. Just probably not with all your body parts intact, but hey.. ;)
I just LOVE this track: that mellowed-out bass on the background, the solo guitar that just makes the devil cry and those nasty keyboards chopping away at your sanity. Love it!!

Jujus – Sweet Songs
Love this one too, the band gets to do some old school introductions: instruments, horoscope, name and a little solo. Sweet songs, indeed!

Betty Adams – Make It Real (Ride On)
Somebody told me lightning don’t strike the same place twice.
Uh-huh, that could be true, but somehow it don’t somehow seem right.
Alright, I saw you last night and I saw you today.
Uh-huh, every time, baby, you make me feel the same way.

Damn, you know I like me some metaphores and gross exaggerations, but with this song it’s simple: you need to be totally dead and buried/cremated (or working for the Civil Service for more than six months) to NOT feel anything when you hear this song.
Listen, to me it’s a sort of natural selection, making the distinction between those who love music and those who don’t. If you’re in the second category, go work for the Civil Service, you’ll like it there.
Do you follow?

The Staple Singers – Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)
Classy bass, the incredibly talented vocals, sweeeeet..

The Free Association – La Dolce Vita
Wacky electronics, takes the right mood to listen to this one, and when the mood matches the track: pure extacy! When it doesn’t match: a lot of valium helps a bit.

Johnny Jones And The King Casuals – Purple Haze
Have a read here about their relation with Jimi Hendrix.

The Free Association – Don’t Believe A Word
Incredible mix of electronics, great vocals and great closing lyrics.
Don’t shoot that stuff in your arms.
The only thing [we] should have in our arms, is eachother

Conclusion
I think I’ve succeeded in bringing across these subtle hints about my serious love for this album. If not, lemme try again.. Ehm..
This album could be viewed as just a collection of diverse tracks used in such a way that a certain coherence is being proposed that comes across as suggestively eclectic mix of music. (getting drowsy..)
Or, read this excellent review by the interestingly name Pimps Of Gore
Or, you could simply acccept that this mix of weird, soulful, blues-infected, electronics-injected songs is something you’ve never expected to hear in such a way and that it’s impossible not be awestruck by this album. It’s just one of my Favorite albums, have a listen and after that you can come back and agree with me ;)
Nuff said..

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