Sunday, 4 December 2011

Tower Of Power - Monster On A Leash (1991)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Funk, Soul
Release Date: 1991
Label: Epic

Review by Alex Henderson
In contrast to the many soul veterans who who have turned to urban contemporary sounds in the hope of staying on the staying on the charts, Tower of Power has stuck with the type of horn-driven, live-sounding funk and soul that put the Bay Area band on the map. Tower was long past its prime by the time Monster on a Leash was released in 1991, and had experienced its share of personnel changes. Lead singer Tom Bowes, although a passionate and competent belter, is hardly on a par with Lenny Williams. Even so, this is a respectable and decent effort from a band that remained artistically viable by staying true to itself. Unapologetically '70s-sounding, the album falls short of the unmitigated excellence of Back to Oakland and Urban Renewal, but isn't significantly different in its approach, content or attitude. While novices would do better to start with either those gems, this is an album that diehard Tower enthusiasts shouldn't pass up.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Luther Vandross - Dance With My Father 2003

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: R&B
Release Date: 2003
Label: J-Records

Given Luther Vandross's precarious state of health at the time of its release, Dance With My Father’s title track--a tale of yearning for a lost loved one--takes on added poignancy. It’s something of a centerpiece on an album that moves in several directions, reaching for varied constituencies, while ultimately staying focused on Vandross’s trademark buttery vocals. In addition to "Dance," there’s more adult-contemporary balladry ("Buy Me a Rose"), lightly sassy soul ("If I Didn’t Know Better"), and a number of collaborations with hip-hoppers that often work surprisingly well. While suspending disbelief is hard when considering Luther and Foxy Brown as a couple ("If It Ain’t One Thing"), remakes of soft-R&B classics with Beyonce Knowles and Busta Rhymes prove to be highlights. With the Destiny’s Child singer, Vandross actually improves on the familiar Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway take of "The Closer I Get to You," turning in a cut that recalls his slow-burning signature reworking of "A House is Not a Home." A languid turn at "Lovely Day," with a purring Busta, works almost as well. (The "Part II" remix is superfluous, however.) Otherwise, Dance is in the vein of post-‘80s Vandross discs, and guaranteed to please fans. --Rickey Wright

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Sade - X2 (2005)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Funk / Soul, Jazz, Pop
Release Date: 2005
Label: BMG

Sade - Diamond Life 1984

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Funk / Soul, Jazz, Pop
Release Date: 1984
Label: Epic

BBC Review
Daryl Easlea 2010-09-08

When you hear the bangs, crashes and whirrs that most music made in 1984, it is amazing to hear how pure and unaffected the debut album by Sade, Diamond Life, still sounds. Emerging from St Martin’s Art School in London, the band was formed from London funk favourites Pride. Adored by publications such as The Face, the group’s lead singer Sade Adu looked stunning and had a voice to match.
Produced by Robin Millar, Diamond Life succeeded in making the Soho in-crowd of the early 80s an in-crowd for the world. With well-honed originals and a cover of Timmy Thomas’ rare groove swamp ballad Why Can't We Live Together?, Sade made explicit both the musical elitism and joy of discovery of that era.
Smooth Operator is a perfect capture of this heady, glossy time. Adu's voice curls round the recording like smoke. Your Love Is King – surprisingly, their only ever UK top 10 single – is sweetness writ large. There’s the dispassionate funk of Hang on to Your Love and the penniless optimism of When Am I Going to Make a living?, which provided a mellow critique of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain ("Haven’t I told you before that we’re hungry for a life we can’t afford?"). The funk of Cherry Pie is reminiscent of later period Roxy Music, a huge, effortless wash of sound.
However, dissenters were rather sniffy about Sade. The album chimed perfectly with the loadsamoney era, and was used by its myriad listeners as a shortcut for Sade’s huge library of musical references. Why hear Roberta Flack, or Donny Hathaway, when you had this? Tracks such as Frankie’s First Affair are rather mired in their day, as is Sally with Stuart Matthewman’s sax draped all over it like some bad detective soundtrack.
Diamond Life became a statistician’s dream; it spent 99 weeks on the UK chart, racked up awards, launched a hugely successful career in the US and put Sade on the bill at Live Aid, and still no-one really had any clue who Adu and her band were. For them, there was no celebrity, no pouring out of clubs at 4am. It started them as a cottage industry at the centre of the music business, and that continues to this day.

Sade - Promise 1985

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Funk / Soul, Jazz, Pop
Release Date: 1984
Label: Epic

PROMISE, Sade's 1985 follow-up to her phenomenally successful debut, has the same breezy, sophisticated R&B approach as DIAMOND LIFE, sounding like a cross between light jazz and a low-key nightclub set of torch songs. Sade's detached, understated vocals are the epitome of cool, and while her technical range is limited--her performances are never about pyrotechnics--her elegant style creates a seductive mood. PROMISE heightens these effects with crisp production, gently interlocking keyboard and guitar lines, and washes of percolating rhythm, creating a textured landscape for Sade's vocals to soar over.

PROMISE contains the gently grooving "The Sweetest Taboo," one of Sade's most instantly recognizable songs, and "Never As Good as the First Time," another pop and R&B chart hit. There is rarely a misstep on the album, as it alternates between subdued grooves and chilly ballads (most notably the melancholic, minor-key "Jezebel"), keeping the musical vibe varied but quiet, and the overall atmosphere low-lit and intimate. Even more successful than its predecessor, PROMISE went triple platinum, and secured Sade's place as a pop sensation.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Zucchero - Miserere 1992

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Blues, Funk / Soul, Pop-Rock
Release Date: 1992
Label: London Records

Zucchero's sixth studio album, Miserere was his first to reach the American audience. Released internationally in 1992, it features 12 original tracks written in Kenya, London, Dublin, Liverpool, New Orleans, and Camargue, France. A close listen to the album even today will astonish the most unfaithful and skeptical listener with Zucchero's maturity and down-to-earth raw feeling, and with its simple messages and an amazing degree of grooviness. Miserere gave Zucchero the opportunity to test himself in the American market and the confidence to support his fiery live shows. The title track, a duet with Maestro Luciano Pavarotti, is a compassionate, if slightly weird and cool, tribute to the end of 19th-century Italian opera tradition. --Ernesto De Pascale

He has never heard of misery?!
If this is so, well done to open this review. The legendary "farmer blues guitar again and grabs his hat and begins to sow scores in Kenya, Louisiana, United Kingdom. The mood of Sugar is broken down; a period of great depression is fought and decided overwhelmingly happy notes ("Gimme The Sun" and "The Brothers"). There is unleashed to the rhythm of "The Scream" as the word itself and with "orgy of Lost Souls", "nit" and "poor Christ" energetic songs with lyrics and colorful coloritissimi! You're listening to a Sugar still strong, arrogant as a doctrine of funky-soul recommended. Do not miss the beautiful ballads like "It's All Right", "Miss Mary" sweet style that will accompany the British bluesman also in the album to follow.
By Anna Solatia "(song" instrumental "accompanied by verses of poetry recited) it is pushed over the fence of a fantastic landscape in which we hear a musical attention to detail, poetic, profoundly limited in the emotions that only an Italian landscape can transmit . Its opposite is the ambiguous and hard "Penis" Zu tell us what he wanted 'with this text remains a mystery but it is not listening very hard over the lines: "Lick my penis ..." ... I'll let you no more!
I would end by citing the same name "Miserere" orchestrated by Michael Kamen (composer of movie soundtracks such as "Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves" with Kevin Costner and "Beyond the Dream" with Robin Williams). A true classic work, polluted (in a good way) by the soulful voice of sugar which is accompanied by the great tenor Pavarotti.
Miserere album is a sunny and magical. Try the surreal and is amplified to 100% joy and sadness. It will be impossible for anyone to be insensitive to this work.

(De Baser)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Vaya Con Dios - The Promise 2004

Format: ape + cue + log
Year Of Release: 2004
Genre: Pop, Rock
Label: Pias

1. No one can make you stay
2. Ain't no love in the heart of the city
3. Don't deny
4. La Llorona
5. Take heed
6. Je l'aime je l'aime
7. The promise
8. Ilia Vaya Con Dios & Bonga
9. La vida es como una rosa
10. Es wird schon wieder gehen
11. How we lose (how we win)
12. Je te veux Vaya Con Dios & Grim

After a ten year hiatus from the spotlight, Vaya Con Dios and it's driving force, singer Dani Klein are back with a new album, The Promise. Originally formed in 1986 by Klein and then partner, bass player Dirk Schoufs with guitarist Willy Lambregt, the band achieved international success by breaking down genre barriers within popular music. By effortlessly combining a rich variety of Mediterranean rhythms, along side melancholy gypsy music, Indian, and Arab sounds, it all showcased the trademark voice of Dani Klein. Vaya Con Dios went on to sell over 7 million albums and had such hit singles as 'Just A Friend Of Mine' and 'Puerto Rico' from their debut album 'Vaya Con Dios' in 1988 'What's AWoman' and 'Nah Neh Nah' from the album Night Owls in 1990. PIAS. 2004.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Gregorian - Christmas Chants (2006)

Date of Realise: 2006
Genre: pop, Christmas
Label: Edel
Format: ape + cue + test

Holiday release from the Gregorian Chants series that has sold millions of copies worldwide. The Gregorian Masters of Chant are the only worldwide touring Gregorian Choir, having played venues ranging from theaters to arenas to landmark churches. Features yuletide favorites like 'Silent Night', 'The First Noel', 'O Come All Ye Faithful', 'Amazing Grace' and more.

1. Ave Maria
2. Silent Night
3. When a Child Is Born
4. Amazing Grace
5. First Noel
6. In the Bleak Midwinter
7. Pie Jesus
8. Spaceman Came Travelling
9. O Come All Ye Faithful
10. Gloria in Excelsis
11. Footsteps in the Snow
12. Peace on Earth-Little Drummer Boy
13. Sweeter the Bells
14. Child in a Manger
15. Happy Xmas War Is Over
16. Auld Lang Syne

Friday, 17 September 2010

Gregorian - Masters Of Chant 1999

Genre: Pop Rock, Downtempo, Ambient
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1999
Edel Media

1. "Brothers in Arms" (Mark Knopfler) 5:09 (original by Dire Straits)
2. "Scarborough Fair" (traditional) 4:06
3. "Tears in Heaven" (Eric Clapton, Will Jennings) 4:43 (original by Eric Clapton)
4. "Still I'm Sad" (Jim McCarty, Paul Samwell-Smith) 4:02 (original by The Yardbirds)
5. "When a Man Loves a Woman" (Calvin Lewis, Andrew Wright) 4:08 (original by Percy Sledge)
6. "Nothing Else Matters" (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich) 5:30 (original by Metallica)
7. "Fade to Grey" (Billy Currie, Christopher Payne, Midge Ure) 3:38 (original by Visage)
8. "Losing My Religion" (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe) 5:01 (original by
9. "Vienna" (Midge Ure, Chris Cross, Warren Cann, Billy Currie) 4:22 (original by Ultravox)
10. "The Sound of Silence" (Paul Simon) 3:35 (original by Simon and Garfunkel)
11. "Sebastian" (Steve Harley) 3:05 (original by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel)
12. "Don't Give Up" (with Sarah Brightman) (Peter Gabriel) 5:22 (original by Peter Gabriel with
Kate Bush)
13. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (radio edit) (U2) 4:14 (original by U2)
14. "Save a Prayer" (Simon Le Bon, Roger Taylor, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes) 4:54
(original by Duran Duran)

Gregorian is a German band, headed by Frank Peterson, performing
Gregorian chant-inspired versions of modern pop and rock songs.
Because it features both vocal harmony and instrumental accompaniment,
the music cannot be considered true Gregorian chant.

In 1998, Peterson and his team re-invented the project to perform
popular songs in the Gregorian style. The criteria for song selection
were strict; in order to be considered, a song needed to be
translatable into the 7-tone scale. After the songs were chosen,
twelve vocalists - previously acclaimed session and choir singers -
were hired.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Barry White - All Time Greatest Hits (1994)

Genre: R&B/Soul
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1994
Label: Mercury

1. Love's Theme
2. I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby
3. I've Got So Much To Give
4. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up
5. Honey Please, Can't Ya See
6. Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe
7. You're The First, The Last, My Everything
8. What Am I Gonna Do With You
9. I'll Do For You Anything You Want Me To
10. Let The Music Play
11. You See The Trouble With Me
12. Baby, We Better Try To Get It Together
13. Don't Make Me Wait Too Long
14. I'm Qualified To Satisfy You
15. It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me
16. Playing Your Game, Baby
17. Oh, What A Night For Dancing
18. Your Sweetness Is My Weakness
19. Just The Way You Are
20. Satin Soul

If you ever feel romantic and decide to fill half your CD changer with recordings that set in the mood, there are three specific recommendations I have: Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On, Al Green's Greatest Hits, and Barry White's All-Time Greatest Hits. I would suggest three other CD's to fill up the changer and thus make a perfect 6-CD collection, but I'm afraid that nothing else immediately comes to mind.
What makes Barry White's Greatest Hits so great is that the theme of each song is consistent. And that theme is hot romance to the max. Barry White has been able to deliver the message of love as only a true gentleman can. He commands it in a deep baritone voice that can drive the women wild as opposed to those squealing falsetto attempts that never really made it to first base.

Essentially a very thorough compilation of his 20 biggest singles that runs over 75 minutes, Barry White's All-Time Greatest Hits is missing very little. There may be slightly different arrangements in the original LP versions that some listeners might prefer otherwise, but for those who want a definitive collection of Barry White's works, this is about as good as you will ever get.

And some might say that unlike David Lee Roth's A Little Ain't Enough, you definitely can't get enough from this one particular disc. But let's be thankful that we do have this assortment, anyway.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

VA - Stockfisch Records - Closer To The Music Vol. 2 (2007){Superb SACD Audiophile}

Genre: Acoustic, Pop
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 2007
Label: Stockfisch Records

01. Sara K - Stars Hell or High Water
02. Sara K - Set You Free Hell or High Water
03. Steve Strauss - Just Like Love Just Like Love
04. Steve Strauss - Old Crow Just Like Love
05. Eugene Ruffolo - The Same Kind Words The Same Kind Words
06. Ewen Carruthers - When Time Turns Around
07. Ewen Carruthers - Paris When Time Turns Around
08. David Roth - Streets of London More Pearls
09. David Roth - Song For You Far Away More Pearls
10. Christian Willisohn - Caruso Hold On
11. David Munyon - Four Wild Horses More Songs For Planet Earth
12. David Munyon - Lookin' At The Rain More Songs For Planet Earth
13. Mike Silver - Heaven Heaven In Mind
14. Mike Silver - Maybe It's Just Love Heaven In Mind
15. Louis Capart - Au Large du Gueveur Voyage - D'une ?le Ё¤ L'autre

Tom Gibbs, Audiophile Audition

Since the release of Stockfisch's first SACD sampler, the audiophile label has recorded and published many new Stockfisch productions – well known artists of the singer/songwriter scene as well as so called “insider tips”. Listen to 15 new tracks, 70 minutes on this Hybrid-SACD!

Just like Vol. 1, this second Stockfisch collection closer to the music Vol.2 offers on its 15 individual tracks a wide musical variety. Different as they may be, they are bound by an invisible
thread, a common ground for all of them, the guitar based arrangements. This special sound, the
“trade mark” of nearly all Stockfisch productions, is where they all meet. Always energetic, but
at the same time gentle and never lacking transparency, that’s how the artists and their fellow
musicians skillfully present their music. These recordings, as any listener will experience, exemplify once again the Stockfisch philosophy: closer to the music!

"From the opening notes of Sara K.’s “Stars,” you’re greeted with an almost preternaturally wide
and deep soundstage that just defies description. And the ambience of the captured acoustic of the recording venue seems to wrap around the listener... And the astonishingly good performances and equally great recordings continue to flow like good wine..."

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Zucchero - Zu & Co 2004

Genre: Pop/Rock
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 2004
Label: Universal Int'l

01. Dune Mosse - Zucchero & Miles Davis
02. Muoio Per Te - Zucchero & Sting
03. Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime - Zucchero & Vanessa Carlton/Haylie Ecker
04. Mama Get Real - Zucchero & Mousse T
05. Like The Sun - Zucchero & Macy Gray/Jeff Beck
06. Baila Morena - Zucchero & Mana
07. I Lay Down - Zucchero & John Lee Hooker
08. Blue - Zucchero & Sheryl Crow
09. Pure Love - Zucchero & Dolores O'Riordan
10. Wonderful World - Zucchero & Eric Clapton
11. Pippo - Zucchero & Tom Jones
12. Hey Man (Sing A Song) - Zucchero & B.B. King
13. Flight - Zucchero & Ronan Keating
14. Cosi' Celeste - Zucchero & Cheb Mami
15. Diavolo In Me - Zucchero & Solomon Burke
16. Senza Una Donna - Zucchero & Paul Young
17. Il Mare Impetuoso Al Tramonto Sali' Sulla Luna E Dietro Una - Zucchero & Brian May
18. Miserere - Zucchero & Luciano Pavarotti/Andrea Bocelli

Album Review iTunes

Italian star Zucchero has coaxed a wide variety of fellow artists into the studio over the years, and those vocal duets and other collaborations are gathered together on this collection, covering a period of over 15 years. This is one of those albums on which, intentionally, the selling point is the laundry list of co-stars, which is formidable: Jeff Beck, Andrea Bocelli, Bono (as a songwriter), Solomon Burke, Vanessa Carlton (on piano), Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Miles Davis, Haylie Ecker of Bond, Macy Gray, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Cheb Mami, Mexican group Mana, Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries, Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, and Paul Young. These luminaries join Zucchero to sing and play a batch of his songs (and sometimes co-write them), with many of the lyrics in English. Zucchero has one of those familiar gruff rock baritones, most reminiscent of Peter Gabriel, though it sounds at times like Joe Cocker and even ascends into a Sting-like tenor. The music is mostly also familiar, bearing the trappings of Euro-American classic rock balladeering in a manner that ruled adult contemporary radio for much of the 1980s and '90s. It's no wonder that the album is a co-production of the Concord label, known for its classy jazz catalog but lately branching out into pop, and Hear Music, the recording arm of the Starbucks Coffee company. It's easy to imagine this music playing at a low volume in the nearest Starbucks coffee shop and intriguing patrons who recognize the voice of Sheryl Crow or a guitar lick by Eric Clapton and wonder where it comes from. And that's appropriate, since this album is as much a marketing concept as it is a musical one.