Contact: tdharvey@hotmail.co.uk Or Follow On Twitter @TimDavidHarvey

Monday, 28 August 2017

FOR THE RECORD: WILL SMITH & DJ JAZZY JEFF Live @ Blackpool Livewire Festival

5/5

Getting Jazzy Wit It.

Blackpool? BLACKPOOL?! Yep, underneath the Blackpool Tower (L'Eiffel has got nothing on this!) on a summertime's night in the "Las Vegas" of the United Kingdom of all places, movie megastar Will Smith and his Fresh Prince rapping partner DJ Jazzy Jeff reunited on stage after seven years and one night in Croatia (in the shortest...and strangest world tour), to thousands of promenade shutting down fans whose eyes were peeled with as much awe as disbelief. Can the worlds most recognisable face of entertainment that has the ears to play President Barack Obama really forgo London, Manchester and even the Beatles home of Liverpool (let alone the rest of the whole world) for a town more known for it's sticks of rock and rollercoasters than fans screaming after rock stars? Well...yes he can! Just days after Michael' men, The Jacksons took to the same stage of ultimate musical and cultural icons just across the road from pound arcades and shops, this rhyming and scratching brotherhood finished one hell of a Bank Holiday weekend with a special show that was everything and anything but a cash grab for the multi-million 'Men In Black', 'Independence Day' and 'Suicide Squad' Deadshot actor and one of the greatest deejay's of all-time in hip-hop and music history. "You have no idea how amped I am" Big Willie, Will Smith said taking the stage after the outstanding opening of his bombastic classic 'Boom! Shake The Room'. Pyrotechnically puncuated by fireballs and fireworks that neon illuminated the night like the Blackpool lights and tower front at Christmas or the name of Smith's next movie coming this December. With the smell of firecrackers in the air and the man himself live in the "Fresh" the amazing atmosphere was set. But even without that the excitement would have still been as palpable from the met awe-inspiring anticipation of the powerhouse energy enthuser whose catchphrases include "WOO" and an even louder "HA HAAA"! Were he or we about to let this once in a lifetime night in a small town by the seaside go to waste? "Oh HELL nah"!

Code Red! This was it! After the 'Simon Says' call and response of epic, ultimate hypeman Fatman Scoop got the crowd going like it's "how the hell is THIS happening HERE" feeling didn't even need to. Or his 'Be Faithful' Crooklyn Clan remix with Notorious B.I.G. wife and R&B queen Faith Evans did in every club since the early 2000's. The man who supported Scoop on the 'Put Your Hands Up' remix like Faith went from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to literally the most famous person you'll ever see live now the late, great Jacksons M.J. (not to mention the freshest Prince of them all) is no longer with us for the biggest selling yet most underrated discography you've ever heard or known word for word. Remember "first rap Grammy! Let's talk about the only reason your a## went to Miami". Sure when it comes to Will, you know his way. He is legend and you know the movies from 'Hitch' and 'The Pursuit Of Happyness', to 'Collateral Beauty' and 'Wild Wild West'. Just like you know Jeff, whether you're a hip-hop purist or a famous face fan who knows Jazzy as the dude that always get thrown out of the late, great James Avery Uncle Phil's Bel-Air mansion everytime he made a "you're uncle's so fat" joke or wore that gold and black and white polka dot shirt. But these two are more than one of the 80's 'Cosby Show' and 'Cheers' rivalling most successful sitcoms of all-time 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' that their Magic and Kareem, bars and decks, one-two punch dynamic duo actually chicken before egg birthed. When it comes to true jewel, genuine hip-hop history and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Will Smith and Jeff Townes are first and foremost like Charlie Mack out of the limo. As iconic and legendary in rap circles and ciphers as fellow 80's pionners Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and N.W.A. Don't let the nice, clean raps confuse you. Or the family movies like LL Cool J or Ice Cube guy. Will Smith, you know he's fresh. But the kid who thought he could beat Mike Tyson has skills to. Capital Z.

Get Jiggy with it all you like, but the legendary legacy of Fresh and Jeff is not just about "Here come the Men In Black" as you nod your head. Because for every trademark Will, heartfelt and hilariously introduced stool-sitting  'Just The Two Of Us' (with his first born sitting in V.I.P. with what looked like either Blackpool's mayor or an old white dude who loves Slick Rick jewellery) and welcome to 'Miami' (as the man who played the late, great 'Ali' said and show proved he was the greatest) there was a 'I Wanna Rock' and 'Brand New Funk'. As we were tour taken with our guide through the 30 odd years and back catalogues from 'Big Willie Style' to 'He's The D.J. I'm The Rapper' and 'Rock The House' to 'Willeniuum' in Blackpool's homebase. Just how actually legendary are these big names? Well if you didn't know that these 'Girls Aint Nothing Trouble' and 'Parent's Just Don't Understand' hitmakers won the first rap Grammy when musics Oscars wouldn't even televise the category. And that the cultural bringing together ground and barrier breakers were even sued by the claws of Freddy Kruger in a real waking horror for their Halloween hit 'Nightmare On My Street' then now you do, as one of the greatest and most fun storytellers told you. As he rocked and rolled, just cruising through the hits at a relentless pace, not looking as middle aged as this 50 plus all Hollywood action hero actually is. With his wheels of steel partner Jazzy Jeff on the ones and twos, perfecting the most impossible crowd fuse igniting scratches and transforms on vivid vinyl like the return of the magnificent he really is. And before you wonder like sampling 'I Wish' by Stevie, of course they did the ultimate greatest hit of the season for this festival in 'Summertime', just like a spark of nostalgia. As there it was a groove slightly transformed like their encore mash-up of the still relevant post-Willeniuum hit 'Switch' and the alternating, cult recited legendary 'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' theme. But as school was out like a sort of a buzz the nights called for "drums please", as the world premiere of a new empowering song came out to a 808 roll. And the new single material, bright shining 'Get Lit' was exactly that for the new, next gen, Netflix smartphone littered crowd this 80's hit making baby still related to like Banks residents this Bank Holiday. Even with the likes of 'Ring My Bell', 'Lovely Daze', 'Will 2K', or Alfonso Ribeiro doing "The Carlton" to 'It's Not Unusual' by Tom Jones on a fridge carton, this glee grinning great still milked the gig in concert with D.J. J.J spilling the crates for all it was worth before the night gave way to glass bottles on the sidewalk. And after the Times Square, gunpowder Fawkes explosive fireworks finale fans were left rubbing their eyes like lamps in the same shock and disbelief awe, as the man whose about to play the genie in Disney's live-action 'Aladdin' remake, live and in living colour strolled off stage as casually as he came. Leaving everyone in attendance with their one wish his command in something we'll never take for granted. And whether on your way back you caught a cab that was rare or yelled "I'm home, smell you later", that was story of how Blackpool became the home of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 19 June 2017

REVIEW: THE BEATLES STORY (Liverpool)

4/5

Magical Mystery Tour...With The Beatles.

Hans Zimmer was in the capital of culture, Liverpool this weekend with his full band and orchestra as part of the German's U.K. leg of his world tour. And the composer who has scored what seems like almost every film in the modern movie industry, from 'Gladiator' to 'The Lion King' and 'The Dark Knight' to Christopher Nolan's forthcoming 'Dunkirk' war story had to give it up for the town that were "all the best songs come from." And across the road from the Liverpool Echo Arena showcase of the man behind all the soundtracks is another exhibit at the iconic, infamous Albert Dock landmark. That being the history of the Fab Four themselves, and The Beatles Story. Descend down the classic brick steps of these docklands to this museum of music legend and legacy and you will soon learn all that is to be known about the four horsemen of rock and roll. John, Paul, George and Ringo. Starr, Harrison and of course Lennon and McCartney. From The Quarryman beginnings to the rooftop end that saw them go their solo ways and beyond.

There's so much more to the exhibits of this museum that doesn't just tell The Beatles tale, but the story of the rock and roll they helped invent too alongside the likes of the late, great, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. This is the genuine article, with real artifacts too. From The King's belt, that Elvis Presley rocked in his casino slot in Las Vegas, to David Bowie's guitar (for those who like me didn't know that John Lennon wrote the fantastic 'Fame'). Start with a drink at the replica of the still standing next to a statue of John in the city, Cavern Club and you'll be able to see all the landmarks. From the steps of Abbey Road (although here it's more of a street corner than a pedestrian crossing photo oppurtunity (lets face it a longer and more winding road would reduce traffic stops at the real thing across the road from the studios)), to the stage of the Ed Sullivan show taking you back to the U.S.A. like U.S.S.R and all the studio sets for the record inbetween all the album pressing. Then after paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' and respect to the grave of Eleanor Rigby it's time to all go on a 'Yellow Submarine' and the trippiest era in the Fab Four's 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' day-tripping history. Before from those depths you go to the heights of where they let it be, speaking words of wisdom.

And then it's time to go it alone, riding on the solo tip. From the Wings Paul McCartney took as he lived and let die like 007 (Rest Peacefully forever more Roger) to the photograph exhibitions of Ringo's Thomas The Tank stardom. But for this kid from a local seaside town just a train ride away it was crazy to see just how far these four lads and the genre of music and style they inspired-from the hair to the strings of guitar-that still lasts to this day has come. And yet remains standing the test of time as you see all the world over tourists walk around this musical theatre with head-sets in any language, locked down like this was Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. But even Californian surfer dudes know Beach Boys and every new kid trying to knock the latest and greatest off the block would be nothing without a handful of Scousers. This three decade old man who stupidly only got into what The Beatles were really about at 25 beamed when he saw all the accolades of solo Travelling Willbury and passionate garderner George Harrison like I just met my sweet lord, or the late, great himself. And then was moved to shedding genuine tears upon seeing the final, best saved for last, Lennon exhibition after all his artwork and the New York, black and white ballad of John and Yoko, which I won't spoil. You'll just have to come together and imagine. Now don't let it be, or wait for yesterday. All you need is a ticket to ride. As the history of The Beatles is for sale...eight days a week. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

FOR THE RECORD: HANS ZIMMER Live @ Liverpool Echo Arena (17/06/17)

5/5

Zimception

'Batman Begins', 'The Dark Knight', 'The Dark Knight Rises', 'Man Of Steel', 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice', 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2', 'Inception', 'Interstellar', '12 Years A Slave', 'Gladiator', 'The Lion King', 'Pirates Of The Caribbean', 'The Last Samurai', 'The Da Vinci Code', 'Rain Man', 'Thelma & Louise',  'Driving Miss Daisy', 'The Thin Red Line'...'Spanglish'. Classic cinematic composer Hans Zimmer has scored so many massive movies in the Hollywood mainstream. So much so that is literally looks like he's the only man behind the music in every film you watch not called 'Star Wars' (wands up for John Williams). And the legendary cinematic conductor was back with his full band and orchestra last night in Liverpool. The town that the great German behind every other movie soundtrack described as being "where all the best songs were wrote". And echoing more soundscape sentiments in the Liverpool Echo Arena, just across the road from The Beatles Story museum in the awe-inspiring landmark Albert Dock, Zimmer brought us another exhibition as we took a tour through modern movie history with one of the greats of screen and sound.

Opening the proceedings with his fun ditty from 'The Holiday' as his band came into play, you almost expected Tenacious D's Jack Black on his one-man instrument-less Saxophone to join this maestro with all his epic players. And after the full string and horn section were spoiler-alert revealed, Zimmer shined as he showed he could play every instrument including the banjo in a set of epics so epic in itself it needed an interval like theatre. A soaring sonic soundscape with vivid visuals and timeless, 'you almost forgot' classics. From the siren choir singing of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman's submarine submerged drama 'Crimson Tide', to the 'True Romance' of Quentin Tarantino's Xylophone number which has been used and reused again in adverts today. The late, comic great Garry Shandling lookalike whose bank must be even bigger than his studio had not the cocky confidence of a legend rolling in royalties, but the honest humility of a man who knows it takes every instrument and every musician to make the music behind movie magic happen. From the panflute of 'Gladiator', taking us back to the fields of gold and stirring singing. To the opening call of 'The Lion King' (sung by the actual man himself as Hans tells us, "you don't get with the Broadway show") which had everyone out for a beer or bathroom break rushing back to their seats with nostalgic youthful glee as if they were about to see a young Simba being raised to the rooftops of the arena bathed in the light of the yellow sun.

But after Zimmering between his 'Da Vinci Code' signatures and those iconic 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' themes, Hans told us it was time to do the "superhero stuff". Or should he say the Nolan era. As after getting electro electric with his 'Amazing Spider-Man' Times Square neon splitting scoring and mixing his strong 'Man Of Steel' mix complete with timely 'Wonder Woman' theme interlopation, he delved into 'The Dark Knight' of all that cut-throat, razor-wire violin violence. From the beginnings of Batman to the last rise of this Dark Knight. Also paying beautiful tribute to the testament of the late, great Heath Ledger's iconic Joker and character of man and thoss who lost their lives in the cinema shootings with the moving 'Aurora' musical tribute. Dedicated to those today too who lose their loves to terroism that even tragically happens in concert venues of late. All from a the ever audience engaging band leader full of Ridley Scott stogie stories, who dedicated his show and proceeds in London to the victims and families of those who lost their lives and livelihoods in Grenfell tower. This magnificent man closed his concert with maybe his more stirring sound yet with the space odyssey organs of the out of this world inspired 'Interstellar' starring Matthew McConaughey. Before coming back with the most epic of encores with the 'Inception' influenced 'BAWS' that left us hanging on for more like Leonardo DiCaprio's spinning thimble that refuses to topple (or does it?). It sounds like Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is about to be IMAX epic from the speakers. After this we don't know what's next for the hardest working, composed conducter, but after Hans took us through the hands of modern movie time last night we know it's going to be iconic, timeless, legendary and just classic Zimmer. Filmmakers Beethoven in a symphony of sound. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 9 June 2017

FOR THE RECORD: SUGARHILL GANG & FURIOUS 5 Live @ Hangar 34, Liverpool (8/6/17)

4/5

The Real Get Down.

This is not a test! Delight was in full effect for rap fans in The Beatle, Rock-N-Roll Hall Of Fame town of Liverpool last night. Like colour T.V.'s on the wall. Or the Knicks playing basketball. As the first real, rap group and fellow R&R H.O.F. inductees in the same year as Miles Davis, U2 and of course George Harrison, the Sugarhill Gang brought the 70's pioneering golden age, true old school, hip-hop era back like a Baz Lurhman Netflix show.

Hotel? Motel? Holiday Inn? It didn't matter how the gang got down last night as after sugaring Liverpool with their biggest hits, Wonder Mike, Master Gee and the Flava Flav dressed and Sceptre staff, cane-wielding hype Henry 'Henn Dogg' Williams brought their friends, all whilst honouring the late, great Big Hank. As two fifths of the Furious 5 showed the kid Cudi's and Kendrick's of today that their name had nothing to do with a Vin Diesel car franchise vehicle sequel. As Scorpio stung like a Scorpion with his signature syllable soundbites and the "RAH" of great Grandmaster Melle Mel brought a melee of beats and rhymes.

Exploding on stage like a fire hydrant on a Bed-Stuy Summer. All whilst flexing like he could bench press fellow pioneering legendary icon LL Cool J, whilst pushing 60 and a grey goatee. Skipping and shuffling across stage like Ali on the canvas as the pair furiously tore through classic gems like 'White Lines' and of course 'The Message'. One of the greatest was easily the most entertaining thing about this energy-redefining evening that was something like a phenomenon and only missing Grandmaster Flash on the turntables.

Hanging on to these legends every word in Liverpool's hip new Hangar 34 venue (whose exterior is littered with great graffiti featuring A Tribe Called Quest's classic 'Low End Theory' cover), Sugarhill had everyone joining their gang last night. Proving that even approaching the age of the decade they made rap relevant they were still a knockout to these young pretenders like Sugar Ray. Leonard or Robinson.

A perfect precursor to the first rap Grammy, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith's Fresh Prince Summer festival with The Jackson's in the U.K.'s Vegas of Blackpool. Sugar's Master and Wonder had everyone doing the Will and Carlton stank face, Bel-Air shake and spin to 'Apache'. Bringing the classics back like that fan favourite 'Fresh Prince' scene, "awooga" akin to being hooked on a 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' volume feeling. But this packed out crowd really hit the high notes after the legendary coming of golden era age 'Rappers Delight' rhymes went bar for bar like more credit cards than a sucka could ever spend.

As both groups united to roll through other hip-hop greats and rock with the hometown Beatles motto of 'All You Need Is Love'. In a truly beautiful moment of musical and cultural solidarity, standing and singing in the face of everything that has gone on in the world, this country and in concert venues recently. It was truly something special as all these untouchable greats fist-bumped, shook hands and pointed at individual members of the crowd telling them that they loved them. Refreshing in a stand-offish genre and industry today too concerned with looking too "hard" or full of hate. Last night when it came to raps realest you needed nothing more. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

#TapeDeckShuffle GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY-AWESOME MIX Special

Plug in your amps and Walkman headphone jacks and get your tape deck's and Zune shuffles ready, as after 5 years our #TapeDeckShuffle series is back. And this week it's a special dedicated to the cosmic-book, space-age Marvel franchise 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' and it's new sequel, 'Vol. 2'. With our playlist picks selecting the best from each 'Awesome Mix' soundtracks volumes to get your Groot scootin' on to. Showtime A-Holes!

Side A-Vol 1.

Blue Swede-Hooked On A Feeling: "Ooh-ga chaka. Ooh-ga, ooh-ga". I can't stop this feeling. Deep inside of me. Just like G.O.T.G's themes song. The Guardians just don't know what they do to me. Ahh-ahh, ahh! You know the rest.

Norman Greenbaum-Spirit In The Sky: Last used on the 'Alien' like 'Life' spaceship with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal. This decades gone, timeless classic set off the first full trailer for the first 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' film perfectly. If anyone teased that Marvel's movie about a talking tree and racoon was going to be a scud missile than they had no bark or bite after this laid everything to rest as they took us to the place that's the best.

Elvin Bishop-Fooled Around & Fell In Love: Getting 'Footloose' like his great hero Kevin Bacon. What better a song for Chris Pratt's Star-Lord to roll with than the one in which he and stick-up-the-butt, barge-pole love interest and green beauty Gamora shared their first dance to?

10CC-I'm Not In Love: You want an absolute 80's classic that fits the tone and texture of this throwback film? Than how about this then futuristic, atmospheric gem that hadn't been used this well since New York's finest the Fun Lovin' Criminals covered it so smoothly?

The Runaways-Cherry Bomb: No Jackson 5? Not Marvin's mountain (technically that was 'Awesome Mix Vol. 2'...just sayin')? Not even the 'Ooh Child' dance-off with the Five Stairsteps bro? Not one this 'Cherry Bomb' explodes the pre-finale fights, locked and loaded suit-up montage. Hello daddy! Hello mum!

Side B-Vol 2.

Electric Light Orchestra-Mr. Blue Sky: Annoyingly catchy. If you hate this song. You won't be able to help but loving it after you watch 'Vol. 2's' opening sequence as Baby Groot plugs this tune and dances around whilst his fellow Guardians protect the galaxy from what looks like the love child of Krang from the Turtles and the Kraken. This is not your average space Octopus or chip off the old Groot. But an oblivious baby Groot still cuts a rug...unless Drax is watching.

Fleetwood Mac-The Chain: Nothing speaks to the theme of this movie more than this absolute belter from the Mac that links all these sisterly and fatherly family ties together. The now signature Formula One theme sets off this sequels second trailer like Greenbaum with even more spirit in the sky.

Sam Cooke-Bring It On Home: Shall we dance again? The 'will they won't they' Fitz/Simmons of the Galaxy, Star-Lord and Gamora waltz to this love gospel that the live opening of Will Smith's 'Ali' used to knockout effect like Ego's living planet was a ballroom.

George Harrison-My Sweet Lord: A long haired, bearded Beatle over Ravi Shankar sitar is as trippy as it gets to continue this out of this universe experience so electric and eclectically.

Cat Stevens-Father & Son: There's no better way to conclude an epic, emotional end to a superhero film all about family than with 'Father and Son'. As the now Yusuf Islam sings "I know, I have to go" to the end credits if there's a dry eye in the house than I am Groot. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 6 March 2017

#ForTheRecord FUN LOVIN' CRIMINALS Live & The Albert Hall, Manchester (4/3/17)

4/5

Criminal Minded.

New York's finest were in the Manchester city of Northern Soul this weekend as Huey and the boys gave the town of an Oasis of Brit-Pop a study of criminology like Raekwon the Chef of the Wu-Tang Clan, Shaolin NYC. Blending real raps and rocking blues of a hip-hop edge, these smooth criminals kept it exactly like that, leaning as far back as Michael Jackson did forward in said songs video. As these dapper dons draped in the frank pinstripes of Sinatra suit stylings, Clyde fedoras and sneakers the Knickerbockers would be proud of brought all the apples from Manhattan to the United Kingdom across the pond they now call home. Kicking off the set strong like they always do with their signature, self-titled breakthrough smash, the Fun Lovin' Criminals rolled through all their rocking hits as Huey Morgan, Fast and Frank on drums redefined cool on a Saturday night in the city where everyone is trying to be exactly that but failing...don't they know it's effortless?

The Crims brought out the big guns like Tommy. 'The Grave and The Constant' and the king of the four page sentences. 'The King Of New York' tribute to John Gotti. The 'Love Unlimited' ode to Barry White and the Louis Armstrong classic cover 'We Have All The Time In The World'. Not to mention, or forget all the timeless classics that sent the crowd 'Loco" like the 'Scooby Snacks', 'Pulp Fiction' referencing fix. These guys "running round, robbin' banks all wacked" bombed the L and almost brought the Albert Hall down. No not the royal one, but Manchesters own mesmerizing converted church, which the Criminals almost crumbled. All the way from the beautiful landmarks circling pews to the stirring stained glass on evening reflection. Save something for the pulpit though as the band started tossing out "Gym Hats" to the Fun Lovin' faithful before their "supermodel on my D" 'Big Night Out' finale that made way for their D.J. after party. If you don't see the irony at least see the gesture. As the maverick Morgan with his unmistakable Brooklyn drawl could be responsible for a few babies when he slows it down with his smooth as scotch, bruised beautiful ballads over the rocks.

The same cadence that provided compelling backstory introductions to all his numbers like 'Smoke 'Em' (if you got 'em). The same vocals that has introduced all the classic songs that the youth had never previously heard of or added to their playlists on his BBC radio show that's as sought after for it's soundbites as its songs. The same D.J. that eloquently wrote about all the artists you should have grown up with in his 'Rebel Hearts' bible testament of a good book for music. The same singer that lets the future of what you should be listening to play too like the band Milk, who in support didn't let the mood spoil with their fresh sound and style. A band who Huey's 6 Music show gave 'Record Of The Year' too. But two decades and a year since their anniversary tour of their classic debut album 'Come Find Yourself', the Fun Lovin' Criminals sound just as original and innovative as they did 21 years ago as they played the title track with true love and legacy making legend. The message still ringing true in a time where being 'Passive/Aggressive' is more the societal norm. And you best believe Huey knew this as he opened one of F.L.C.'s 'C.F.Y.'s classic cuts with his own raw and real remarks. And at the risk of sounding aggressive here-but never passive-after this saturday night that was anything but just another one, how can the U.S. and the city of New York doze on a fun band that's as synomonous with the five bouroughs as the Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island Ferry or the Queens Expressway combined? This is supposed to be the city that never sleeps. And these are the the realest New Yorkers. How you can't love this? Criminal! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

REVIEW: TANK-A CLASSIC CHRISTMAS NIGHT E.P.

4/5

Hark The R&B King Sings.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the industry. Not a musician was working. Not even a Kanye. Except for Tank. The soul soldier who keeps rolling out the hits. A champion like the Cavaliers. The LeBron James of smooth, grown up R&B. Or at least one third the King, with royal TGT subjects, innovator Ginuwine and Hollywood actor Tyrese Gibson sharing the throne and holding it like an 'Empire' Lyon king dynasty. They released a Christmas track ('Be My Holiday') two seasons back that Tank owned hook, verse line and production kitchen sink after their supergroup project. And now after a monster year, giving us the sequel to his Grammy nominated 'Sex, Love & Pain' classic with the R&B album of the year 'SLP2' (that was released right in January no less), following his album each year artillery of 'Now Or Never', 'This Is How I Feel' and 'Stronger', the 'Maybe I Deserve' singer has something else for us to unwrap. And we thought you couldn't fit a Tank under a tree.

And yes this one man really is a force of nature. Because after devoting a valentines E.P. of Adele and soundalike Sam Smith covers ('If You Were Mine'), not to mention countless crate digging mixtapes and singles (remember the 'Shots Fired' with Chris Brown), Tanks' good tidings have given us another extended play for Christmas. And in following in the studio steps of Destinys Child and Luther Vandross it really is beginning to look like the season of giving now as the singer loads up 'A Classic Christmas' and all the greats for this time of year. And no we're not talking about 'Snow Cold' or no 'Bishop Cognac and Mince Pies'. But 'Him, Her, Them'? They're all getting presents this Christmas like Oprah. Leave the milk and cookies out for this guy, because his trademark piano keys and high note vocals that were stripped down to their bare essentials on his last holiday E.P. are back as he begins with a wish of 'Have Yourself A Merry Christmas'. Perfect for wrapping presents by the fireplace with the Christmas lights shining like the stars this singer used to croon about on his black and white Motown inspired 'Stronger' lead single. 'Silent Night' continues this warm Winter feeling well into the evening as Tank flips this timeless tale his own way but still makes it all well and all bright. Just like with the 'Chestnuts' roasting by the open fire as one of the 'Three Kings' channels the great Nat King Cole with his own legacy for the legend.

Durrell Babbs makes sure it really is a 'White Christmas' like New York City right now as he keeps this dozen-track record strictly with the best of December 25th, no stocking filler. Especially when he gifts us with 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing' showcasing his showstopping vocal range which extends from chimney to chimney from the street. This should be played in every household this week to get you in the mood. If it doesn't feel like Christmas yet for you, it's about to you when you drop the needle on this record. Tank even has some thanksgiving leftovers for us, in the form of an original song for your fill. And 'Thankful For You' and all its production trimmings shows just like his beat boards how good this man is when he goes it alone, as well as covering the best. As he sings "Thankful for you, for all my family and friends/Thankful for you, for all the time we get to spend", it's really us who are grateful to this genuine talent. Tis the joint for your Christmas dinner playlist. Merry Christmas to you and yours from the one who will always be faithfully so. Glory to the R&B King. TIM DAVID HARVEY.