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Written By: frenchy on April 13, 2011 No Comment


A mix of some of my favorite samples and their sources:

Black Is Black – Jungle Brothers The Bottle – Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson check at whosampled.com
Electric Relaxation – A Tribe Called Quest Ronnie Foster – Mystic Brew check at whosampled.com
Passing me by – The Pharcyde Summer In The City – Quincy Jones check at whosampled.com
Desabafo – Marcelo D2 Deixa eu dizer – Claudia check at whosampled.com

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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 January 2, 2010 No Comment

(thanks to Milov for the last.fm screengrab idea! have a look at his artist list for 2008)

Tracks Most Played In 2009 (Last.fm):
lastfm-tracks2009

2009 for me was about rediscovering Q-Tip. Still gotta review his Kamaal The Abstract album, give me a coupla days ;)
And I finally got into the Visioneers remix album; I didn’t expect it to be soooooo addictive!!

Artists Most Played In 2009 (Last.fm):
lastfm-artists2009

Meshell’s dropped a few places; still can’t get emotionally invested in her laterst album, ohwell.. My year has been very jazz-influenced with music from Robert Glasper, Freddie Hubbard and Brad Mehldau. Honorable mention: The Foreign Exchange, a great Dutch-American collaboration.
I kept trying to like Mayer Hawthorne, but his work, at least to me, is on the wrong side of retro-recycle pop. And The Chess Cadet Allstars are still in the top 15 of 2009!

Albums Most Played In 2009 (Last.fm):
lastfm-albums2009

Honorable mentions: the 4Hero collections, Life:Styles and The Remix Album.

2009 Discoveries (or Re-discoveries)

Q-Tip
Freddie Hubbard
Brad Mehldau
Robert Glasper
Jazz In General

Just go and have a listen..

That’s it, now on to a new year of listening to great and exciting music!

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Written By: frenchy on October 27, 2009 2 Comments

When I look at my tastes and interests in music, I can trace back a lot of their origins to my parents. Both are born in the 1940s on the island of Curacao, so what was their musical influence on me?

First of all, I have to explain that I started listening to my parents music collection at the age of six or seven. My first memory of musical enjoyment was of Melanie, the 70s folk singer. I even remember having a poster of her hanging in my room.
The first album I remember actually putting on the turntable myself was the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. I played that sucker endlessly and I even went to see the movie twice; possibly not a movie for a seven year old but it was fun!

Jesus Christ Superstar



Another conscious musical discovery: the Beatles. My dad had the Red Best of Album (1962-1966); I remember playing those songs and learning the lyrics without sometimes understanding what they meant: what’s a Paperback Writer and what’s with the Norwegian Wood? Uhm.. What’s Paperback? Somehow I’ve always related with the Nowhere Man lyrics, funny..

beatles-red-large



The old man also had some 70s rock in his collection: ELO, Boston, Chicago (yuck!) and.. Alice Cooper.
Again, I didn’t get all the lyrics, but my parents were getting worried about their nine year old, singing You Can Go To Hell, word by word with a nasty growl in my throat..

Less than an hour from Venezuela, there also was a South American influence in my dad’s collection: can’t remember most of the artists, but he had some tapes of Latin Crooner Nelson Ned aka El Pequeno Gigante (The Little Giant and yes, he’s tiny or more PC: vertically challenged). Didn’t really work for me. I didn’t get into the whole Latin thing.

Classical music, yes! Well, kinda. We had this cassette tape by Waldo de los Rios, with modern interpretations of Classical music Classics. Have a look/listen on Youtube, I’m too ashamed to embed the man’s music. I think many serious fans of Classical music will have a tough time appreciating these (re)arrangements ;)
I knew a limited number of Classical songs by heart without knowing their title or their importance, let alone how they originally should have sounded.

Let’s not forget my mom: from her I got my dose of Mahalia Jackson and some more gospel music. And both her and my dad liked the Abba thing, which I now find a bit embarrassing ;)
Another possible influence my mom had on my musical taste was West-Indian music: calypso, soca, etc. I’m not sure if we had any albums but we did listen to that stuff on the radio, like Salt Fish by The Mighty Sparrow.






One special moment in my early musical life was the discovery of Jazz. Well, not the whole collection of genres and styles, just this one single track. My dad had the 45 of this song, I didn’t know what it was when I first put it on, but when it started with that weird rhythm on piano I was totally blown away. Then, that lazy, laid-back [brass] began to play and I was mesmerized. I still boast of being able to ‘recite’ the whole track by heart which of course is pure bullshit. The track? Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.








There was quite a lot of my parents’ music that I didn’t like: The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel come to mind, although later on I learned to appreciate Paul Simon’s work a bit. That’s the other thing, my dad sometimes tried to share good music with me when I was in my teens and being a teenager I just didn’t/couldn’t agree with his opinion/advice. He’s the one who told me to listen to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Paul Simon’s Graceland. At first I just didn’t listen to those albums, but after a while I really enjoyed them a lot. I mean, Thriller introduced me to the genius of Quincy Jones.

So, yes, it’s fun to look back at what I took from my parents’ music collection and what I learned very quickly was that, like them, I liked different kinds and genres of music. It helped me keep a healthy appitite for music in all its variations. Still can’t get over the Abba thing tho..

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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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