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

Saturday, 17 December 2011

REVIEW: COMMON-THE DREAMER, THE BELIEVER


5/5

More uncommon sense.

It's been a great decade for Lonnie Lyn AKA 'Common', the artist formerly known as 'Common Sense'...hell it's been a great career. From telling one of hip-hop's greatest stories in 'I Used To Love H.E.R.', to going from the underground to the mainstream with the release of 'Like Water For Chocolate' this rapper has become even more common, going from being one hip-hop's cult icons to becoming one of it's biggest stars. The later 2000's saw two back-to-back Kanye West produced classics in the form of one of raps greatest albums 'Be', and further timeless greats on 'Finding Forever'. Now off the pages of an awesome autobiography 'One Day It'll All Make Sense' Com' releases more 'Forever Music' with 'The Dreamer, The Believer'.

This is Common's first album in three years. Some critics gave Common's last experimental album ('Universal Mind Control') the 'Electric Circus' treatment. In reality however, both these envelope pushing albums were great. Still, Common's inspirational, feel-good, spiritual rap is what fans like the best and believe that it's back in another classic album beyond your wildest dreams. Spurred by the scorching, hot, old-school to the artwork (look up the young Nas and Common single cover) Summer single 'Ghetto Dreams' this highly, hotly-anticipated, long-awaited album is big and is the legendary makings of this rap icons lasting legacy.

"Pretty with her eyes low, bunny buy a Bible/This the type of b$%#* that BIG said he would die for/It's type that I'd ride or stay alive for/Tatts on her back, looking all tribal/She know shoes like she know survival/Well put together, she weathers the storm/Seen her brother die so forever she strong/Hear Beyonce’s song and she gotta perform/Whether f$%&#*^ or fighting: we getting it on!" Common raps with a new honed style, swagger and confidence. Nas counters with some classic rhymes of his own, spitting like his 'Nasty' days; "But I’m still single, looking for Cleopatra/African Queen, yo look at me, I’m a bachelor/Y’all n#$%@ in trouble, keep your girls behind closed doors/Cross your fingers, be happy I haven’t chose yours/She loves glamour bought her Vera Wang sandals/Valentino bags is my etiquette/My man is half hood, half class/Photographers, cameras caught us out there/The spotlight, I hope she can handle". This long awaited collaboration is set with chemistry and charisma. It's no wonder the two will be collaborating for a big album ('Nas.Com') that we can't wait for next year.

Still back to the now and this classic album Common begins things with 'The Dreamer' featuring the perfect prose of prolific poet Maya Angelou. It's clear to hear that Common's writing and rapping has got even better from it's already legendary status as Common get's creative rhyming; "Ferrari testers, Armani dressers/Exquisite thick b$%#&*$ that body bless us/Rest assured, we getting festive in Miami now/Told my n$%# ‘Ye I’m about to win the Grammys now/Getting Johnny Cash old white folks know me now/Standing close to the mic like I’m Kobe now". Common's confidence swaggers further on the clear, inspiring single 'Blue Sky', as he get's even more creative "Aston Martin king, Luther with dreams/The young Denzel the way I move through scenes/I’m like a preacher that once was a fiend/A story of change that came with wings/Pretty as the skyline, the sky is my eye line/Son of the most so from up high I shine/Suited in Prada, stay mellow like LaLa"

More Common Sense and his wonderful wordplay take his competition to school on the perfect insult 'Sweet'. then with more sickly rhymes Common strikes 'Gold', before the lyrical lament of 'Lovin' I Lost'. With iconic producer No I.D., collaborating throughout this classic, Common channels raps greats like Rakim and KRS-One. He spits fresh on 'Raw (How You Like It)', before hitting us with a big three of the opposition cloaking 'Cloth', the victorious 'Celebrate' and the opening 'Window'.

Still this album really hits it's highest note with its last one. As Common pitches for a collaboration with fellow G.O.O.D. Music great John Legend. 'The Believer', book-ends the 'The Dreamer, The Believer' album as well as 'The Dreamer' opener does. As Legend sings "They will talk about us/Like they talked about the kings before us", rap and souls best further their legacy. Of course no Common album would be complete without some of 'Pop's Belief' and of course no recent Common album wouldn't be complete without a platinum plaque and classic accreditation, which this C.D. is certain to garner along with the awards. The best hip-hop has to offer is back with one of his greatest yet. You can believe in 'H.E.R.' once again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: YOUNG JEEZY-TM103: HUSTLERZ AMBITION


3/5

More ambitious motivation.

The Snowman is back just in time for Christmas. One of Atlanta and modern-day rap's greatest is back with his first studio album in three years since his hard-hitting 'The Recession'. Young Jeezy returns to conclude his 'Thug Motivation' trilogy with 'TM103: Hustlerz Ambition', another great album to add to the epic set that includes his breakthrough classic 'Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101' and 2006's influential 'The Inspiration'. Although Jeezy's still being popping with various mixtapes like his 'Trap Or Die' series, it's great to have his energetic, motivating, power-bar, protein shake, trap music back for our fulfilment in this hard, harsh Winter.

Hi third dose of 'Thug Motivation' begins with 'Waiting', and this slow, flow burner is worth the much anticipated, long-awaited release. While 'What I Do (Just Like That)' and 'OJ' featuring hip-hop's juice in Jadakiss and Fabolous give the fans even more music worthwhile of their wait. 'Nothing', 'Way Too Gone', 'Supafreak' and 'All We Do (Smoke & F%#$)' are buzz tracks worthy of their selection, but it's halfway through this disc that the C.D. shows it's really worthy of being an album over just another mixtape.

R&B leading man Ne-Yo gives the platinum rapper another diamond hit with 'Leave You Alone'. The singer who can song-write from the underground (Ghostface Killah's 'Back Like That') to the mainstream (almost every other song on the radio), shows he can cater his style towards any artist for any song. 'Everythang' continues Jeezy's cool street slang, before Neo-Soul artist Jill Scott gives the ATL trapper another sure-fire hit with the release 'Trapped'.

Young Jeezy and fellow Atlanta, trap rapper T.I. superstar celebrate on 'F.A.M.E', as they rap their rags to riches tale with chemistry and charisma seen on the strength of their previous collaborations. Then the big feature record comes as Young stands next to Jay-Z and Andre 3000's legend on 'I Do', with the confidence and lyrics to be put in the same sentence as the pair. "Promise if I get locked, you’ll come and pay my bond/If you hear some n$%#*& plotting on me, you’ll remain loyal/And errytime you give it to me it’s gon be the bomb/And in these unlucky streets you’re gon’ be my lucky charm" Jeezy spits. While Jay rhymes in matrimony; "Lets tie the knot, lets grab us a pot, lets make a baby/Looking back, I don’t know who threw this bouquet to me/But I walk down this aisle faithfully, cut that cake for me" and Andre three-stacks finishes this collaboration marriage rapping it up with a perfect toast saying; "Crazy I tell you all of this in the middle of a club/Where words tend to get thrown around lightly like like like love/And friend and rockstar and so and so’s a genius/So him vow to never utter him do unless he mean it".

The big records don't end there as our favourite motivator goes for some 'Higher Learning' with Snoop Dogg and Devin The Dude. Some Trick Daddy ('This One's For You') and Lil' Wayne ('Ballin'') songs keep the guest feature heavy album finale strong. Then things get real deluxe with 'Never Be The Same', '.38' and the Grammy nominated, bass boosting, Plies collaboration 'Lose My Mind'. This headstrong classic helps this album become a strong set to add to a discography of work that's bound to sell on the streets for years to come. Hip-Hop's motivational speaker still knows how to move a crowd. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: A SEARCHING FOR DANDELIONS CHRISTMAS-VARIOUS ARTISTS


5/5

Andrew Jones and company have Christmas all wrapped up.

If the endless cold or toil for presents isn't leaving you festive this year then never fear, a C.D. has arrived to put you right in the Christmas spirit. Andrew Jones 'Searching For Dandelions' record label has come out with a spirited release just in time for the holidays. Sure, not much beats Rat Pack record this season, but 'A Searching For Dandelions Christmas' is a compilation of the label's artist roster that is both original and a perfect homage piece to great Christmas tunes. From covers to new tracks this is the ideal accompaniment to a warm fireplace and egg nog.

Andy and Liz's Just By Chance open things up with the warm 'Winter Wonderland'. This great cover is opened brilliantly by Liz's beautiful vocals and the prolific Andy Jones is on fire yet again. He keeps the fire burning on 'My Christmas Card To You', a beautiful devotion laid-out delightfully by the artists solo side.

Then we are treated to a Just By Chance original in the form of the outstanding 'Walking Tall' which takes the group further. Over lulling and beautiful acoustics the pair sing in perfect harmony "walking tall/without falling down on me". This two minute track is short, but ever so sweet. Orchids of Borneo tread more ground on the atmospheric, instrumental 'Winter Walk'. Before we are treated to a 'White Christmas' American Country style, as The Ben McCraven Band team up with Andre Auguste for a whiskey smooth, traditional cut. Someone break out the Jack Daniels.

'Homily' is another original Jones great, as Andrew pays homage to those we should remember this festive period. As this great stocking, album filler comes to a close the reigns are handed over to one of dandelions youngest and best artists as Krystina wishes us good tidings with 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. This merry message is sung beautifully by a singer who sounds and feels more mature thn her years. With artists and releases like this done when other people are putting their feet up this Christmas it's clear the future of 'Searching For Dandelions' is one that's going to blossom. Its going to be a happy new year. TIM DAVID HARVEY

SONG FOR THE MOMENT (DECEMBER): THE GLASS CHILD-WINTER


5/5

The Glacier Child.

If you thought we were done blogging about Charlotte Eriksson AKA 'The Glass Child' then you were wrong. If she keeps releasing incredible music like this, we'll keep writing too. Now after a great follow-up E.P. ('This Is How Ghosts Are Made') Charlotte has given her fans an extra gift just before Christmas in the form of the hauntingly beautiful, gracious, free download of 'Winter'. This cover of an Ingrid Michaelson record is honed and owned to a beautifully harmonic version by the ever epic Glass Child. She shatters any notion that her youth is anything to hold her back with a mature and incredibly perfect vocal. As she repeatedly sings "Is love alive"? She brings the feeling back to life with no question. You can't doubt a singer like this. One that is grown up and a throwback to the greats. This will become a rare, collectible gem for fans to dig out once Charlotte becomes the star she's destined to be. Taking you to the moon and back, this song's atmospheric feel and beauty is out this world...like this singer. Just try to stop listening to a Winter warmer like this on a cold December's night. Truly epic and seasonally evoking. Charlotte Eriksson is a creature on another level. Merry Christmas...for it's her New year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See Also

Review: THE GLASS CHILD: SONGS OF AN INSOMNIAC-EP

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/12/review-glass-child-songs-of-insomniac.html

Review: THE GLASS CHILD-THIS IS HOW GHOSTS ARE MADE

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/12/review-glass-child-this-is-how-ghosts.html

ONE TO RECORD-CHARLOTTE ERIKSSON

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/11/for-record-charlotte-eriksson.html

SONG FOR THE MOMENT (NOVEMBER): CHARLOTTE ERIKSSON-I WILL LEAD YOU HOME

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/11/song-for-moment-november-charlotte.html

Friday, 16 December 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: COMMON-BE


Common is our 'Artist of the Week' with his latest album 'The Dreamer/The Believer' set to be another great, so let's take it back to another classic. One of hip-hop's greatest albums of modern and all-time comes from one of the greatest and most underrated artists in the genre. This is the perfect sound of the Summer and now it's officially here it's time to get your tape decks ready for this one. This Kanye West executive produced classic is Grammy certified G.O.O.D. music. Right from the uplifting 'Be (Intro)' this Windy City rapper breezes through with effortless cool, blowing down any past or present competition with this seriously soulful hip-hop album. With the sensational single 'The Corner', the ready-fire collaboration with John Mayer ('Go!') and the most beautiful, heartfelt, soulful hip-hop track 'Love Is' (that samples the greatest artist Marvin Gaye) this album has and is everything. John Legend adds his legacy to 'Ye and Com's classic on 'Faithful' and 'They Say' while the pair awake a live version of 'The Food' from 'Chappelle Show' which is as legendary as the show itself. If that wasn't enough Common tells a crime story that paints a better picture then most television dramas with 'Testify', and also drops an anthem for his hometown Chicago with 'Chi-City'. Every track on this timeless album is incredible. One of the realest people in music made it his world in 2005 with a groundbreaking album that was just pure and simple art, from the covers artwork to the artists inspired, shining delivery. Thank God we received the sense this uncommon rapper sent our way. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE-COMMON V.S. NAS SPECIAL


Common and Nas took it back to the mid-90's with the sound and even the artwork on Common's sensational single 'Ghetto Dreams' this year. Now with a new Nas album out in the New Year and Common's latest 'The Dreamer, The Believer' coming out next week. If that wasn't enough then 2012 should see the release of the pairs collabo album 'Nas.Com'. So let's celebrate this weeks 'Shuffle' with their classics songs going head-to-head.

SIDE A-COMMON

I USED TO LOVE H.E.R.- Common's classic dedication to the game resurrected his life and gave him a career in hip-hop.

THE LIGHT Feat ERYKAH BADU- With his former beau Badu, Common turned on audiences and enlightened a genre.

RETROSPECT FOR LIFE Feat LAURYN HILL- Com's collabo with the Fugees legend is a hard-hitting education on abortion. A necessary listen.

LOVE IS- One of raps, most beautifully deep tracks. This is life. This is love.

FOREVER BEGINS- Epic, inspiring and influential, complete with Pops this is the real feel-good anthem.

SIDE B-NAS

IT AINT HARD TO TELL- It's easy to see that this Michael Jackson sampler is the king of hip-hop classics.

IF I RULED THE WORLD (IMAGINE THAT) Feat LAURYN HILL- Ms. Hill joins the G.O.D. this time for a heavenly partnership.

ONE MIC- Huge, ground-breaking, epic and thought-provoking. On his own and against the world with his microphone Nas didn't need anything else.

MADE YOU LOOK- The only underground anthem worthy of gun-shots ringing over it. Number one with a bullet, without a doubt. Check the remix.

HIP-HOP IS DEAD- In declaring the death of his genre with this classic, Nas actually brought 'H.E.R.' back to life. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

REVIEW: THE GLASS CHILD-SONGS OF AN INSOMNIAC (E.P.)


4.5/5

The Glass Child is still awake with talent.

Christmas has really come early with all that Swedish singer/songwriter Charlotte Eriksson is offering us. Our new artist of the year has just released her second, stellar E.P. 'This Is How Ghosts Are Made' to rave reviews. Not bad for a young girl who moved from her native Sweden to London in an effort to get herself out there when she was just 19. Not bad at all. Now those fans who have purchased the 'Deluxe Box' edition of the Glass Child's smashing new release can unwrap an extra special gift, four bonus tracks under the E.P. name 'Songs For An Insomniac'.

If you think tracks like 'Tell The World' and 'The Devil's Sin' off 'This Is How Ghosts Are Made' are great then you haven't heard anything yet. These 'Insomniac' tales begin with 'Insomnia', an awakening, evocative track were Charlotte hums lulling harmonies over sweet strums. "Too slow/will this night ever end/I'm avoiding/your side of the bed/and the wind is/screaming your name" she sings with mid-night hour beauty.

Then on 'Blood On The Concrete' The Glass Child tells us a tragic, moving tale which reaches new depths. Painting the picture of a family, singing; "Then there's Sarah a little quiet/only wants one thing/to get to know her Dad he left when she was young/he even took her mother's wedding ring" anyone with real heart will be hard pressed not to shed tears with every strum and stroke of this artists brush.

On 'Shades' Eriksson laments lost contact with a friend, but from the beautiful way she writes and the way she sings it's clear the devotion of true friendship is still bonded. "You always used to say/life will find a way", she repeats, remembering it all. As she sings "there's something in the way/people look at me these days/like they know I've lost my fire/like they know I've lost my way", however it's clear to hear this notion isn't true. This hot talent's shine is still burning bright. Charlotte Eriksson has found her life's own way.

"I packed my life in a bag" Eriksson sings to start the final, fitting track 'Leaving and Never Coming Back'. The courageous, honest singer reveals yet another real personal side of her as she tells us the story behind her leaving home. It doesn't get much deeper, realer or more poignantly beautiful then this. "This town has taken too much from me/oh I think I failed my youth". As The Glass Child stares right at success, she isn't afraid to reflect on the troubles of her past to make her stronger. Now how many young women in their twenties are that brave? This emotion of hers is as strong as her beautiful voice or her genuinely heartfelt lyrics. With a "one way ticket in her hand" Charlotte Eriksson AKA The Glass Child is on the path to success and there's no looking back. It's only up from here. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 12 December 2011

REVIEW: THE ROOTS-UNDUN


4/5

The Roots of hip-hop could never be done.

The Roots are hip-hops greatest band, hey they may be hip-hop's only band. The Legendary Roots crew are eight members, eleven albums and two E.P.'s strong. From guys named ?uestlove to 'Tuba Gooding Jnr' and iconic albums like 'Things Fall Apart' and their wonderful 'Wake Up' collaboration with soul icon John Legend there really are no acts like this band. The collective have even spawned Incubus members and Rahzel, one of the best beat-boxers of all time. If that wasn't enough they also act as the house band for the 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' show which is getting even better by the day. There musical accompaniment has brought the best out of guest artists from all genres, ranging from soul icon R. Kelly to the legendary boss himself Bruce Springsteen and his E Street band. If you didn't think greats like that could sound better than look up their performances with this group.

As if that wasn't enough The Roots are now back with their third album since their late night gig...and people said they're output would wane with their new job. 'undun' may be one of their best sets yet. This live act really come through the speakers from the 'Dun' intro to the 'Possibility', 'Will To Power', 'Movement' interludes and the 'Finality' outro. In all it's movements this concept album feels like a classic. 'Sleep' is a track that gets up where 'Wake Up' left off, if you can't open up your eyes and ears to this number than you probably don't like music.

Lead M.C. Black Thought's lyrical skills are kept in the forefront of his mind as he stands next to Big K.R.I.T. & Dice Raw perfectly on 'Make My', before having his day on 'One Time' with Phonte & Dice Raw. Greg Porn and Truck North join the group on the classy 'Kool On', while Greg Porn gets down again with the beautiful voice of neo-soul leading man Bilal on 'The OtherSide' an album standout. Featuring great lyrics like "Yo, we obviously need to tone it down a bit/Running round town spending time like", Black Thought's rhymes on Roots classic 'The Seed (2.0)', 'You Got Me' and 'Boom' may have met their battle worthy match.

Porn's good enough for a third look on the Just Blaze assisted 'Stomp' which is ready for the conscious clubs, this big number is followed by another look-out from Dice Raw on 'Lighthouse', a far-reaching effort that shines brightly with beautiful, introspective lyrics like "I'll leave the memories here, I won't need them/ If I stop thinking and lie, now that's freedom". Dice Raw becomes a collaborating heavyweight on 'Tip the Scale' which is 'Tipping Point' (look up that back catalogue classic if you haven't already) good. Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens handles the writing on 'Redford' a beautiful dedication attributed to Yia-Yia and Pappou in the credits which begins with some awesome orchestration, only from a band like this.

This is a fitting finale to this aforementioned concept album about the death of Redford Stevens in reverse. This story rap is socially conscious, thought-provoking and influential. This fictional character is reportedly based on a few real people, so there is something here everyone can relate to. From the struggle to the closure this narrative not only makes for great music, it makes for great storytelling. After all isn't that what rap is all about? Not many paint a picture through hip-hop scriptures better than The Roots of rap. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: ANTHONY HAMILTON-BACK TO LOVE


4/5

Back to the great basics.

Anthony Hamilton is a rare breed, ever since So, So Def's Jermaine Dupri introduced him to the world with the complete classic 'Comin' From Where I'm From' mainstream music finally began to hear what real soul music sounded like. With a distinct, unique voice that only Otis Redding could rival and a sound that would make Marvin Gaye or grassroots blues proud of, Hamilton truly became a throwback. If he lived in decades gone he'd probably be one of the worlds biggest stars, but instead today he shows a modern audience just how good music used to...and can still sound. After more releases, Hamilton has been off the scene since his great 'The Point Of It All' release and his work on the Denzel Washington movie 'American Gangster's' soundtrack, still now he's back with 'Back To Love'.

This album begins with this feel-good, up-tempo album-titled track and from there we are immersed in the soul satisfying world of Anthony Hamilton. Let his gravelly voice take you down a road of real music built from a mix of hard-times blended with high-spirits. Close your eyes and you'll have no idea where you are. It could be middle America or the mid-seventies. 'Writing On The Wall' further inscribes this notion, while 'Woo', will have you whooping and hollering in harmony all night long. 'Pray For Me' and 'Best Of Me' stir the soul further as this singer bares all of his. Even with five tracks in, we already have a real good album...early.

Hamilton keeps it going on the freeway, with a musical accompaniment for car journeys fitting any mood. On 'Never Let Go' (featuring the star power of young R&B princess Keri Hilson) he never lets up, so just sit back and take in all the great music. Hamilton's crazy talent gets stronger on 'Mad', before he breaks it down on the dedicated devotion of 'I'll Wait (To Fall In Love)'. On 'Sucka For You' and 'Baby Girl' Anthony keeps the heart beating on his love songs, before getting real personal and at his most perfect on the bluesy questions of 'Who's Loving You'.

To end this album Anthony Hamilton inspires with all his rags to riches influence on 'Life Has A Way'. This is the kind of 'What's Going On', 'A Change Is Gonna Come' type record that's been passed down from the generations of legends like Marvin and Sam Cooke, as Anthony Hamilton proves he could go down next to the best of the past it's important not to ignore or cast him aside now. Whether you're a hardcore fan or just heard his distinct drawl on the radio for the first time, thinking; "when was this record made"? It's important to recognise real music that's still very much alive today like the memory of the real soul artists whose sound has been borrowed and stole by some modern artist who aren't worth their salt or status. This original, soul man is worth his however. It's time to be re-introduced to real music of depth and devotion again. Music that can make you feel good, sad, but more importantly make you think. It's time to be re-introduced to realness. His name is Anthony Hamilton. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: CARL THOMAS-CONQUER


4/5

Still conquering.

Carl Thomas really is one of Chi-town's finest. Even in the shadow of the king of R&B R. Kelly, fellow Chicago native Thomas has proved to be one of grown-up souls leading men. Back in the day of Puff Daddy's Bad Boy records Carl was more than just a chorus man for guys like Biggie or Black Rob. Following his smash, break-up single 'I Wish', Carl got real 'Emotional', with a classic debut that sampled Sting and helped Mario Winans budding career. Carl's sophomore success, 'Let's Talk About It' introduced a happier side of the singer, (with tracks like 'She Is', 'Anything' and 'My First Love') and it was truly a heart-warming, feel-good, follow up. After Bad Boy Carl became 'So Much Better', with his third album that mixed and blended together the elements of the first two albums perfectly. Now the stirring soul singer finally returns with 'Conquer' his fourth album. A formidable piece that proves he's still up-top of the grown R&B game that he helped pioneer to the mainstream.

'The Night Is Yours' begins this perfect piece that sounds tailor made for the after hours. Then on 'Long Distance Love Affair', Thomas gets even more personal as the lights get low. The album lead track really stands out, while 'Round 2' proves this man can go on and on. More songwriting skills are honed on the emotional 'It's Not The Same'. Then on 'Don't Kiss Me' (which has a nice remix to end the album) Carl opens this love letter with a lament Marvin would be proud of singing; "Why it take so long/Can't wait to have you, dear/Cause your love is so strong/I need you with me here". He's barely begged this bad ever, and he sounds all the better for it.

This is real soul music, bore by a modern-day great. Carl Thomas further reaffirms his status as one of musics most genuine talents. Even with almost a half-decade of absence the singer shows he can still produce the kind of timeless music that really stand the test of the years. Proving he can stand next to his peers with his quality and creative control Carl's style remains untarnished and honed to the highest levels of satisfying soul.

'It Is What It Is' is soul in all its greatness, while 'It Aint Fair' is a fitting love and war story. Carl sings "I can’t believe that I’m so anxious/Infatuated so far gone/I couldn’t take my eyes of that girl/...she looks like love", as he goes through the motions and emotions of falling in love. Then on 'Sweet Love' Thomas gives us a tremendous track that could find itself between classic tracks like 'Cold, Cold, World' and 'Come To Me' off his iconic 'Emotional'. Thomas hits the ground 'Running' to end this L.P. and what we are left with in the wake of his trail is another strong, solid, stellar set that will keep playing as long as this great soul man's career keeps running...which with timeless music like this, should be decades to come. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: THE BLACK KEYS-EL CAMINO


4/5

'El Camino' is on the right path.

The Black Keys are hitting all the right notes right about now. The American rock duo have mixed all sorts of sounds and music styles to sell millions of records and garner some pretty big cult status. 'El Camino' is the seventh release since 2002 from prolific duo vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney. Most recently they released the classic 'Brothers' was a commercial breakthrough and now the pair bring their creative, collaborative partnership together once more as they look to travel further on this 'El Camino'. This coupe utility vehicle makes for one hell of an album.

Mixing classic, decades back rock styling with some soulful grooves the Keys keep it going on the sublime single 'Lonely Boy', a huge track that should garner them even more fan company. 'El Camino' and The Black Keys would be nothing without cult, iconic producer Dangermouse joining them on the ride, and once gain he hitches the musical boards with a great sound scape for these artists to travel on. His co-writes keep this great road album alive on tracks like 'Dead and Gone' and the all singing, all shining 'Gold on the Ceiling'.

Going under and taking things higher this group push the envelope end reach new depths on 'Little Black Submarines', while 'Money Maker' is bound to shake things up bring them even more dollars and sense, even in this mixed up mainstream. 'Run Right Back' furthers the pace of taking music back to the good, ole days of decades and genre's gone, while 'Sister' will become another familiar favourite for the 'Brothers' boys. 'Hell of a Season' and 'Stop, Stop' keep the heaven sent music rolling.

This road tested album boldly goes where no bands have been before, trekking through blues, hip-hop, rock, jazz and more with fearless and effortless brilliance. The concise piece plays like one of you mom's and pop's favourite records from back in the day. This C.D. is deserving of more than just vinyl, this jukebox classic is worthy of another platinum plaque.

The super 'Nova Baby' and the unforgettable closer 'Mind Eraser' finish off this journey perfectly. It's going to be hard to not remember or listen to anything else after another great record for The Black Keys. As the tandem and Dangermouse go through the genres, decades, instruments and inspirations what we are left with is one fantastic album to add to a formidable collection. It's clear to hear from the back catalogues to the new records set that The Black Keys are going to keep playing for a long time. The road continues with 'El Camino'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

REVIEW: AMY WINEHOUSE-LIONESS: HIDDEN TREASURES


3.5/5

Amy's legacy lives on.

Just months after great British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse's tragic death comes her posthumous album. Still, fans needn't worry. This isn't another case of people cashing in like with the case of Michael Jackson post-death merchandising. Instead this is more like rapper Tupac's post-death releases. With her producer partners manning the boards, 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' continues this sublime singers lasting legacy that still has so much to give after a short life, much like the late, great Shakur. Mark Ronson, Salaam Remi and Amy's family have done great work in producing a cohesive, concise collection for this album.

Like 'Body and Soul', the classic collaboration with iconic crooner Tony Bennett that was her last work but also her greatest. Standing and singing proudly next to a real legend she bares her all and it's worthy of the Grammy award that should in all rightness come with the nomination. She struck a chord and touched Bennett's heart and soul and it's clear to hear on this beautiful, traditional record. This delightful duet was meant to happen.

The second and third singles ('Our Day Will Come' and 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow') are further examples of Amy's greatness. They prove that not only did she sing like a throwback of blues singers from decades back, but that she wrote like them too. This is further evident on the creative and tongue-in-cheek titled 'Between The Cheats' or the haunting 'Like Smoke'. This collaboration with Remi's frequent collaborator and friend Nas has the legendary makings of the iconic rapper and our singers status. As Winehouse's spirit lingers on the track, she hums; "Like smoke, I hung around in the unbalance/Whoa, ohhhh", while Nas exhales rhyme totes that take this track higher, rapping; "Y’all know the story, y’all know the commentary/I kick the narrative, this is legendary/The good Samaritan, hood thespian/Like a polygamist, with a twist." Another duet leads to another classic.

Just like when Amy beautifully covers the classic 'The Girl from Ipanema' but with a cool, modern twist. Or Leon Russell's 'A Song For You', which Amy owns and wears with pride, before ending with a nice tribute to soul legend Donny Hathaway. This is the perfect closer to a fitting album that opens up new favourites like the perfect blues number 'Wake Up Alone', the love tormented lament 'Best Friends, Right?', or the Remi produced 'Half Time'. Still the 'Hidden Treasures' really hit gold on the movingly, blues beautiful 'Tears Dry On Their Own', which evokes all the purity and pain of Winehouse's songwriting art. The 'Lioness' also reveals more of her pride on the perfect ''68 Version' of Mark Ronson's 'Valerie', which is stripped down to it's bare, beautiful essentials and in some way is better than the original.

Sure after the classic 'Back To Black' and Winehouse's incredible career this album has a tough act to follow. Still this album shows it has the strength. Who knows how Amy would have wrote this chapter of her career if she was still here. Still with her friends and family handling creative control it probably would have sounded a lot like this and this is what it's important. It's not just Amy's legacy that is kept on record here, it's her dignity too. You couldn't imagine a tribute more beautiful. Even with her passing she says it best herself. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Friday, 9 December 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: ALICIA KEYS-AS I AM


This year saw the release of the '10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition' of this woman's worthwhile, classic debut and from 'Songs in A Minor' to 'Element Of Freedom' and other diary entries Miss Keys really has had the talents to help her become one of the best singer/songwriters of current and all time. Still 'As I Am' was the album that the R&B star was at her most seriously, sincere soulful self. The hot, lead single 'No One' was a sublime, classy chart smash, and you could tell from the black and white, personal portrait on the front cover that 'As I Am' was going to be an in-depth classic. Marvin would be proud from the powerful, heart-breakingly appreciative reflection points of 'Like You'll Never See Me Again' (which had a terrific second take on a Ludacris remix) to John Mayer's simply awesome, 'It's Alright' vocals on 'Lessons Learned' along with the heroic, female rally-cry of 'Superwoman' and it's world-wide inspiration to the love lament of 'Where Do We Go From Here'. Every track on this album was perfect from the upbeat drumbeat of 'I Need You' to the angelic, 'Saviour' off the albums 'Super Deluxe Edition'. This record is timeless like Smokey and Stevie vinyl's. All in all this take of Alicia as she is was more then just the real thing, it was the truth. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE-RAT PACK SPECIAL


Here's a warm, Winter's Christmas treat. This weeks playlist in our 'Tape Deck Shuffle' takes it back to the cool of The Rat Pack. 'Side A' has to be Frank, 'Side B', Dino and how about some 'Bonus' Sammy for good measure?

SIDE A-FRANK SINATRA

I'VE GOT THE WORLD ON A STRING: Inspiring, 'the world is yours' number.

ONE FOR MY BABY & ONE FOR THE ROAD: One of great depth to drown your sorrows too.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: The ultimate dedication to Broadway, so good you'll have to play it twice.

COME FLY WITH ME: Truly epic, this is movie making big. Catch me if you can.

MY WAY: THE classic.

SIDE B-DEAN MARTIN

THAT'S AMORE: That's love.

MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS: Moment evoking, nostalgic bliss.

RIO BRAVO: From the same-titled movie that showed he was a real actor and a real star.

HOW D'YA LIKE YOUR EGGS IN THE MORNING?: For those new and in love, time to start your day right.

NIGHT TRAIN TO MEMPHIS: Bold and beautiful, another reason why-'to be Frank'-this guy was better than Sinatra.

BONUS-SAMMY DAVIS JNR

NEW YORK'S MY HOME: Play it again Sam! Another great dedication to the worlds best city.

EEE-O ELEVEN: This classic made both the movie 'Oceans Eleven' and Sammy himself huge.

SMILE DARN YA, SMILE: Why not with this uplifting jam?

SAM'S SONG Feat DEAN MARTIN: Sammy and Dean jokingly argue over who's tune this is in another delightful duet.

YOURS IS MY HEART ALONE: A true devoted love song to end this playlists dedication. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 5 December 2011

REVIEW: ROBIN THICKE-LOVE AFTER WAR


4/5

After all the love & war, Thicke still evolves.

Robin Thicke has come a long way, from the long hair/don't care days of his decedent debut 'A Beautiful World'. Evolving from his last name moniker 'Thicke' to giving us his full-title and exposure, his sensational sophomore release; 'The Evolution Of Robin Thicke' became an instant classic thanks to an awesome new sound that sounded something like a young Elton John meeting the world of R&B and hits like 'Got 2 Be Down', 'Wanna Love You Girl' and 'Shooter', featuring Faith Evans, Pharrell and Lil' Wayne respectively to go along with the beautiful introspection's of '2 The Sky', 'Angels' and 'Lonely World'. Since then Thicke has worked with all sorts of people from Lil' Wayne to Will Smith and Usher to Mary J. Blige.

He's also released more great albums like the sublime 'Something Else' and the creative concept album 'Sex Therapy' that really was something else. Soon this megastar will be joining his beautiful actress wife Paula Patton on Hollywood's biggest screens, but now he joins fellow actor/singer Tyrese, Carl Thomas and Anthony Hamilton by releasing an album ('Love After War') to close out the fall, joining these mature R&B stars with his own significant status seated next to the greats of the modern, soul music day.

After his experience with the 'Sex Therapy' sessions, Robin goes back to his traditional, hallmark piano perfect, poetic songs with 'Love After War'. The albums lead single of the same name shows just how great this man's own unique style is. As he bares his soul over Marvin Gaye influences and beats of his own heart he singles out one of the best records of his career. His second single 'Pretty Lil' Heart' is no small number either. It's a real good look to the start of this album. A track that once again shows the chemistry between frequent collaborators Thicke and Lil' Wayne, who last collaborated on the New Orleans rappers introspective look on Hurricane Katrina ('Tie My Hands') off 'Tha Carter III'.

'Love After War' begins with the beautiful, spiritual ballad 'An Angel on Each Arm', before unleashing 'I'm an Animal', 'Never Give Up' and the powerful 'The New Generation' from this young pop prince. Robin then writes with Mary J. Blige as they wrap together seamlessly on the track 'All Tied Up'. The husband of 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol' star Paula Patton cruises on the cool 'Mission' before he sheds more introspective suited ballads on 'Tears on My Tuxedo'. As Robin harmonises "Don’t make me close my heart on all your bad news./You got me breaking all my rules," he moves as well as soothes his audience and muse with his music and lyrics.

The track 'Boring' is anything but, while 'Lovely Lady', 'Dangerous' and 'Full Time Believer' evoke more energy and emotion from the solo, soul man. 'I Don't Know How It Feels To Be U' takes a closer look at the singers love for women, while 'Cloud 9' takes 'Love After War' even higher. 'The Lil' Things' and 'What Would I Be?' close out this C.D. perfectly without question before this album goes deluxe. It really is the little things. 'Stupid Things', the direct 'Compass or Map' and the close closer 'We a Family' bring everything together perfectly. The war is over for Thicke to end this album and it's clear it's all about love. How can anyone hate that? It's clear this man's heart will be in soul for a long time to come. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: THE GLASS CHILD-THIS IS HOW GHOSTS ARE MADE


5/5

The Glass Child's style and spirit will not be broken.

Charlotte Eriksson is 'The Glass Child'. If you don't know anything about this smashing, sensational singer/songwriter by now then you either aren't familiar with this little blog, or you aren't familiar with incredible rising talent. To say that this Glass Child is the next big thing is not an overstatement. It's evident in her music. To say this young 20 year old is mature beyond her years however is an understatement. It's clear to hear she's so much more than that from her lyrics to the scoring, soaring sound of a talent that moved from her home in Sweden to London and started her own record label, putting out her own music when she was still a teenager.

That's not the only amazing thing about this young lady. Take her last EP-the moniker self-titled 'The Glass Child'-for example. From songs like the crazy, good 'Insanity' to the secret, solitary, solo number 'I'll Never Tell' this was a breakthrough success from the Glass Child that broke more new ground then a girl moving from country to country. Or how about her song for her nation in the inspiring support of 'I Will Lead You Home'? A song that raised money for her home-country Sweden's cancer-organization Ung Cancer in support of young victims. This was good enough to make the number 2 spot on the Swedish iTunes chart and is great enough for us all to lend a helping hand and download in support.

Now after giving so much Eriksson is looking to take centre stage. This breakthrough indie artist of the year has just released her second EP titled 'This Is How Ghost's Are Made' and its is one spirited, heaven sent release. Taking inspiration from everyone from Björk to Paramore and the Counting Crows to Ben Harper, this incredible writer mixes Gothic stylings with lyrics from a songbook of beautiful language like no other. Take the atmospheric 'Tell The World'. The opening lines "A journey on a a broken piece of glass/On my own in a town that has no soul/Learned how, to breathe alone," draw you in like no other as you really get a feel and spirited sense of just how fragile but at the same time strong this young singers heart really is. As the song ends on the note "Like a soldier I resolve/I found a way on my own", it's evident that this strong-minded pioneer and innovator is ready to show us all just what she's made of.

The great 'Best Part Of Me' and the angelic harmonies of 'The Devil's Sin' show us exactly what she's made of. Creative contrasts that are classically considered and not confused or conflicted. Charlotte blends the dark and the decedent, the light and the shadow and the good and the bad all seamlessly into her lyrics and music and it all sounds so great. It all sounds so natural, not worked or hashed out, just her, honest, pure, genuine and spirited most highly. The real best this EP has to offer though is 'Hypnic Jerk', a beautiful ballad that shows just how good this artists brushes of songwriting and strokes of singing can be. As she laments "I'm too numb to feel you/I'm to numb to see you". We feel and see someone who really is a talent of great depth and devotion.

The Glass Child is not another transparent young artist with a guitar, she's someone baring her soul over acoustics for all those willing to see. Take a look now at someone that's taken a different route to get to the mainstream and someone that's going to shatter the notion that success is all about 'industry' or watered down throwaway music. The Glass Child has broken through with some music of real depth for her fans to keep. This is how music is going to sound good again. 'Ghost's' shows the makings of an icon. I believe. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See Also

ONE TO RECORD-CHARLOTTE ERIKSSON

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/11/for-record-charlotte-eriksson.html

SONG FOR THE MOMENT (NOVEMBER): CHARLOTTE ERIKSSON-I WILL LEAD YOU HOME

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/11/song-for-moment-november-charlotte.html

Saturday, 3 December 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: NORAH JONES-THE FALL


This year Miss Jones has helped Danger Mouse, Daniele Luppi and Jack White craft a classic in 'Rome', aswell as expanding ehr range of 'Duets' by working with Tony Bennett, so for this weeks 'Album Select Of The Week' let's take a look at one of Norah Jones finest records. Now every one of her platinum plaque albums are perfect and obviously the best is her classic, diamond debut 'Come Away With Me' but let's pop her latest work 'The Fall' in the player. Partly a break-up record and all a change of heart in Norah's style (she even cut her hair into a beautiful bob) this different stroke from Jones was a master craft. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, all the legends went electric in their time so it's only right that this eclectic, best of our generation singer followed suit and put the lid on her beautiful piano for a few tracks. From the quirky, lead, lead strong single 'Chasing Pirates' to the hilarious, cute, 'all men aren't as good as dogs', 'Man Of The Hour' closer this record tracks the opening up of Norah. With new classics like the vibrant, red 'Young Blood', the decedent 'December', the single story 'Stuck', and the ode to home 'Back To Manhattan' this album had it all. The gorgeous gems; 'Even Though', 'Missing', 'Waiting', 'I Wouldn't Need You' and 'It's Gonna Be' rounded out this real classic timelessly. Make sure you pick up the deluxe edition for some 'Live From The Living Room' takes on some of these best album tracks and some cool covers from this welcome household name. From a heartfelt homage to Johnny Cash's 'Cry, Cry, Cry' to her familiarly fantastic cover of The Kinks 'Strangers'. A beautiful take and an unheralded new Norah classic. On 'The Fall' Miss Jones truly rose. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE-The Top 10 Workout Songs For December


By Chris Lawhorn

The Top 10 Workout Songs For December

Fort Wayne, IN – Dec 2, 2011 – Given that they've both passed on now, it's been a surprise to see both The King and his son-in-law (The King Of Pop) drop club hits this month.Elvis turns up in a remixed version of “Suspicious Minds.”It's the latest in a series of re-worked Elvis tracks that began appearing after Junkie XL had a crossover hit with “A Little Less Conversation” from Ocean's Eleven.And, Michael Jackson's “Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'” also gets the remix treatment—though the changes are subtle—as part of the new MJ-themed Cirque du Soleil production Immortal.

Other highlights from the top 10 include Katy Perry's latest single, two tracks featuring Lil Jon, and a curious collaboration between Will.I.Am, J-Lo, and Mick Jagger.

Here's the full list, according to votes placed at Run Hundred--the web's most popular workout music blog.

Calvin Harris - Feel So Close (Benny Benassi Remix) - 131 BPM

Katy Perry - The One That Got Away - 135 BPM

Elvis Presley - Suspicious Minds (Can't Walk Out Remix) - 121 BPM

Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (Immortal Version) - 123 BPM

LMFAO & Lil Jon - Shots (Dummejungs Remix) - 128 BPM

Rihanna & Jay-Z - Talk That Talk - 84 BPM

Will.I.Am, Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez - T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever) - 106 BPM

Alexandra Stan - Mr. Saxobeat (Maan Studio Remix) - 126 BPM

Laidback Luke, Steve Aoki & Lil Jon - Turbulence - 129 BPM

Dev - In The Dark (DJ Kue Remix) - 126 BPM

To find more workout songs--and hear next month's contenders—folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era—to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

REVIEW: TANK-DIARY OF A MAD MAN (MIXTAPE)


4/5

Tank keeps rolling.

AMP's & 808's favourite Tank has had a great year. This time last year Tank went one better than his Grammy nominated classic 'Sex, Love & Pain' by releasing the seriously successful and sublime 'Now Or Never' featuring top tunes like 'Emergency', 'Scream', 'Sex Music' and 'Celebration' featuring Drake. Then in 2011 came great albums his fellow TGT members Ginuwine ('Elgin') and Tyrese ('Open Invitation'). To top off this off Tank has even released a brand new hit single ('Compliments') off a forthcoming album ('Saviour'). So with compliments and via Twitter Christmas has come early with the teaser, free download release of the gifted singers new mixtape; 'Diary Of A Mad Man'.

10 top, original tracks are reeled out on this tape that features Kevin McCall, Ace Hood, and Slim Thug. When it comes to fresh, new music these brand new songs show that this writing and producing fiend is still on fire like his 'Emergency' video. Side A starts with the mixtape's title track and what a way to start and get your tape decks ready? 'Underrated' really highlights just how much this man really is what the song says, while the star talent shines even brighter for the ladies on 'Stars Girl'.

Tank throws his 'Money On The Floor' with Kevin McCall, Slim Thug, and Ace Hood for a monster collaboration, reuniting Durrell Babbs and the H-town rapper Thug for the first time since TGT remixed Slim's 'Let Me Grind' and the results are just as big. Tank charges forward even more, killing his R&B competition even more with 'Dead Man Walking'. Then he brings an artillery of new artists with J-Doe on 'Take You Outta Here' and Bayley on the pleasing 'Don’t Be Mad at Me'.

The 'Compliments' singer toasts his fans once more with the refreshing 'Tip Yo Cup' which is bound to raise spirits as well as glasses of mixers. Young artist Luke James also drinks to the party starting 'I Be On One'. Tank finishes this tape with the diary entry 'Get Back' a perfect end to a record you will want to go back to the start and spin again and again. This music mad man gives us one 'diary' we'll all want to read into. Call this singer/songwriters work output crazy but this guy is the kind of Jon Hamm 'Mad Men'. Grown, sexy, and suited and booted for success. After realising it was 'Now Or Never' Tank's time is now and he really has made the most of it. He's a 'made man' now and now we can't wait for the new album. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See Also

REVIEW: TANK-NOW OR NEVER

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2010/12/review-tank-now-or-never.html

TGT (Tank, Ginuwine & Tyrese)-THE GIANT THREE

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2010/12/review-tank-now-or-never.html

Monday, 28 November 2011

SONG FOR THE MOMENT (DECEMBER): COMMON SENSE-I USED TO LOVE H.E.R. (J-Emcee's Old School Remix)


"I met this girl, when I was 10 years old. And what I loved most, she had so much soul." If you know this lyric, then you know real hip-hop. You know Common Sense and this 'I Used To Love H.E.R.' song by Common the artist formerly known as Sense, the classic of all classics, serving as both an open letter of devotion and the history of hip-hop. Common's classic is one of raps most well written scribes and his story is one that is only right to be celebrated in the coming December release of his new album 'The Dreamer, The Believer'. 'I Used To Love H.E.R.' already has a pretty nice beat but what better way to pay homage to this track and genre by way of a reminiscent remix?

Well that's what J-Emcee (James Mark Currie) has done with his 'Old School Remix' of this 1994 iconic track. Sampling beats from everyone from Biz Markie to Dr. Dre (the full incredible list of samples for you hip-hop heads follows this piece) J-Emcee really paint the portrait and picture of this classic and genre like it should be. Drawing many of Common's inspirations for this record all on one track. The samples tell the story of 'h.e.r.' just like Common's rhymes do and thanks to J-Emcee's visionary style it also doesn't use any beat after 1994 (when this track was released) so therefore it's true to both the originality and inspiration of the timeless track. The vision also extends to the remix being played over the original video, where many beats fit like Kangol's on Cool J's, some adding to the sound effects of tape decks and breaks. It all seems so seamless, it all seems so meant. J-Emcee has reinvented the Remix going beyond the usual. It's clear he loves 'h.e.r.' too, and who we're talking about is hip-hop. TIM DAVID HARVEY.



Audio Two – Top Billin’
Boogie Down Productions – The Bridge Is Over
Biz Markie – Make The Music With Your Mouth, Biz
MC Shan – The BridgeFunkdoobiest – Shittin’ On ‘Em
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Ill Street Blues
Lord Finesse – Track The Movement
Schoolly D – P.S.K.
Marley Marl – The Symphony
X Clan – Verbs Of Power
Boogie Down Productions – Stop The Violence
Eazy E – Still Talkin’ S***
De La Soul – Fanatic Of The B-Word
Dr Dre – Deep Cover
A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum
The Pharcyde – Passing Me By
Naughty By Nature – Guard Your Grill
Stetsasonic – Talkin’ All That Jazz
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Skinz
Gang Starr – Manifest
Eric B & Rakim – Microphone Fiend
Just Ice – That Girl Is A Slut
Diamond D – Red Light, Green Light
Ed OG & Da Bulldogs – Bug-A-Boo
Apache – Gangsta Bitch
Cypress Hill – Stoned Is The Way Of The Walk
EPMD – Let The Funk Flow
Whodini - Friends
Showbiz & AG – Runaway Slave
Onyx – Slam
Das EFX – Straight Out The Sewer
Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh – La Di Da Di
Wu-Tang Clan – Shame On A N****

Friday, 25 November 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK: GINUWINE-THE BACHELOR


Ginuwine released his most personal and genuine album this year with 'Elgin'. So let's look at his dominating debut for our classic selection for the week. 'The Bachelor' made himself open to everyone with a CD full of hits and a new sound for the mainstream R&B world. Collaborating with superproducer Timbaland throughout, these superfriends teamed up for a supreme, concise, classic collection. The groundbreaking, beat-making 'Pony' was so revolutionary it still sounds fresh today, while his take on Prince's, 'When Doves Cry' was so well done that even the artist known for hating his covers loved it. Still from every prelude to interlude this album was sublimely seamless, whether it be from Magoo raps to peculiar English soundbites. This album was club heavy ('550 What') but also bedroom ready ('Tell Me Do You Wanna') and with deep tracks such as 'Only When Your Lonely' and 'World Is So Cold' the G man proved he could think a well as dance. 'The Bachelor' proved he was here to stay and 15 years later this game changers music is still playing. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

TAPE DECK SHUFFLE


The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.

SIDE A

MARY J. BLIGE & DRAKE-MR. WRONG: This just could be the duet of the year, like Rihanna and Drizzy's 'What's My Name' last year. You know what it is.

WALE Feat BIG SEAN-SLIGHT WORK: Last years best rap newcomer and this years one get to work over some cool police sirens.

TYRESE-STAY: Number one album, number one single. Number one guy.

PUSHA T-ALONE IN VEGAS: Glossy and gritty, like the video, like the city.

DRAKE-LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE: Sampling the late, great Static Major of Playa Drake shows love and respect with a deep hit from the heart.

SIDE B

PLAYA-CHEERS TO YOU: Speaking of Static and Playa this is a classic.

GRANDMASTER FLASH-WHITE LINES (DON'T, DON'T DO IT): This Grandmaster was a Flash in Liverpool last week with this classic and more.

QUEEN-ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Flash played this too and even though Freddie Mercury has been gone 20 years this song, him and more still reign supreme.

INXS-NEW SENSATION: Michael Hutchence has also been gone 14 years but his legacy is still alive. "Live baby live".

MICHAEL HUTCHENCE-LET ME SHOW YOU: The man himself. Rest in peace. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

REVIEW: MARY J. BLIGE-MY LIFE II: THE JOURNEY CONTINUES (ACT 1)


4/5

More sublime J. Blige.

Beyoncé? Rhianna? Sure they're incredible but the queen of R&B and urban soul Mary J. Blige still wears the crown. She's even watching her throne by boldly releasing an album in the same week as the unstoppable Rhianna. Mary, Mary has been here for years since she asked 'What's The 411' through when she sang about 'No More Drama' to recently showing that crossing over to the dance floors and charts was 'Just Fine'. Mary J has obliged with more hits and classics that anyone can count that's why with 'My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1)' the singer can release a sequel to a classic album in two parts.

It wouldn't be a November fall without some Mary. The buzz for the sequel to her 1994album ('My Life') was hyped with two smash singles. '25/8' is so well worked and good it could be played 24/7, while 'Mr. Wrong' with M.C. of the moment Drake could just be the late rap/R&B duet of the year just like his Rhianna record last year ('What's My Name'). It's a monster collaboration like 'Feel Inside' with hip-hop heavyweight Nas. The New York rapper is as legendary as Mary and is on too form like Drake. What results is another hit for Miss J.

Speaking of legends friend and collaborator Busta Rhymes takes it to the next level with a real, rugged raw track right after Mary takes it to yet another level duetting with her brilliant alter ego rap self (Brook-Lyn) on the cool, atmospheric 'Midnight Drive'. Long-time producing partner Darkchild samples a classic while Mary beautifully covers 'Aint Nobody' with a refreshing taste of an otherwise overdone and redone hit record. 'Don't Mind' and 'No Condition' show this solo singer going it alone with perfect poise and decedent dignity. These are the album tracks that make this disc.

Every rappers favourite feature rapper right now, Rick Ross gives 'Why' an unquestionable appeal from the streets to the charts. Still the duet of this album is 'Love a Woman', featuring Beyoncé (originally meant for B's '4') as these two independent women come together to show just how much they really mean. The heaven sent 'Empty Prayers' gives more answers to Mary's unquestionable range before this sequel comes to an end with the terrific tandem of 'Need Someone' and 'The Living Proof'.

'Irreversible' and 'Miss Me with That' gives the extended album more deluxe qualities while the Diddy and Lil' Wayne assisted smash 'Someone to Love Me (Naked)' is a real, revealing bonus. As Mary gives us more of her 'life' the sequel lives up to the original and then some. After some great recent releases Mary goes back to the beyond with an album as big a her greats like '411', 'No More Drama', 'Love & Life' and 'The Breakthrough'. As Mary's incredible life goes on thank God that the journey continues. We can't wait for 'Act II'. Now how long is the intermission? TIM DAVID HARVEY.

REVIEW: PUSHA T-FEAR OF GOD II: LET US PRAY


3/5

More spirited rap from one that should be feared.

Pusha T has come a long way in this rap game. From 'Grindin' hits out with super producer Pharrell, The Neptunes and his double act group the Clipse to 'Re-Upping' with his crew. Even without his twin Pusha T still has clips worth of lyrical ammunition and plenty of one-liner malice (on the track 'Blow' Pusha explains his brother Malice "found the Lord"). This time last year this rap pusher was signed by Kanye West's 'G.O.O.D. Music' imprint along with Mos Def and others and what resulted was some great album features ('Runaway', 'So Appalled') and some gracious free 'G.O.O.D. Friday' gift downloads ('Looking For Trouble', 'Christian Dior Denim Flow' and 'Christmas In Harlem').

Kanye brought out the best of Pusha, or at least showed the whole world just how good he is. West and T rhymed so much and well together that they could be the ones 'watching the throne' and releasing a collabo album together. Still now Pusha is pushing a sequel EP ('Fear of God II: Let Us Pray') to his independent album as his first release on Kanye's label. A release of hardcore hip-hop heaven that should put the fear in the rap competition, leaving them on their knees.

What better way to start off an album but with a Diddy assisted big record. 'Changing of the Guards' boasts a game changing sound and artist. While the amazing collaboration with Young Jeezy and Yeezy, Kanye West gives us everything rap fans have prayed for in 'Amen'. The Neptunes produced single 'Trouble on My Mind' featuring Tyler, the Creator is a great blend of new artist/underground artist coming up big, while this song also serves as a great reunion between Pusha and Pharrell.

'What Dreams are Made Of' is the solo track this new solo artist has been waiting for. With no guest appearances he shows he's one of the best lyricists with a crowning outcome. Then the collaborations re-up with Juicy J, Meek Mill & French Montana adding some 'Body Work' to this album. The new artist French Montana translates on to 'Everything that Glitters' as well adding some gold to the track. 'So Obvious' and 'Feeling Myself' keep the mid-section of the album tight with even tighter rhymes.

Things get louder and prouder with the 50 Cent featured 'Raid' with Pharrell. 'My God' sends this album even higher before crew member Ab-Liva and Maybach Man Rick Ross keep it lyrically rocking on 'I Still Wanna'. Pusha saves one of his best for last with the bright lyrics of 'Alone In Vegas'. A track that's a mix of grit and flash like the songs video in sin city. All in all going solo was a gamble for Pusha but he's showed it's paid off to a tee. Thank the rap God's for this one. Amen. TIM DAVID HARVEY .

BOOK REVIEW: TYRESE GIBSON-HOW TO GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY


4.5/5

Tyrese show's us the way.

This writer has put down the pen of late and picked up three inspiring books from three influential individuals in the urban music industry. The first was rapper/actor Common's spiritual journey 'One Day It'll All Make Sense', the second was business and music mogul Steve Stoute's cultural exchange 'The Tanning Of America', and now the latest is R&B and movie star Tyrese Gibson's 'How To Get Out Of Your Own Way'.

This isn't an autobiography, this isn't a self-help book...it's something in-between. Making for a powerful, motivating piece of prose Tyrese's success story is one of struggle, survival and self-strategy. Part religious and part spiritual, with God and self together it all blends into the perfect recipe of success and self-fulfilment.

This book really should garner your self worth's attention after a humbling, tragic foreword this book begins with Tyrese detailing his humbling beginnings in Watts California. Talking about how he had to ignore the financial and instantly gratifying temptations of the world of drug dealers in the 'hood. This millionaire actor and singer used to find it incredibly hard to string a couple of quarters together to get the bus to school and get his education.

We all remember his infamous Coca Cola commercial at age 16 and Ty' inspires us with how this 30 second spot resulted into a 15 year and counting career. His journey really is incredible he used to not be allowed on the bus, but following an advert where he sang on one about a soft drink he now never has to take the bus again. If your that doesn't serve as encouragement and inspiration then what will?

If this fact sends shivers down your spine then this book is for you from the spine to the acknowledgments. From Tyrese breaking down the relationship between men and women and that of positivity and success he really lets you into his mind and guides you down the right mental path without sounding too preachy or like he's trying to be the next Dr. Phil. Tyrese keeps it real with his talk and genuine accounts of his life's experience. He doesn't act all high or might or talk down to us, he acts like our friend sitting next to us through these pages. He tells us it's fine to be labelled 'weird' if we are just different (citing Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and himself) but that if we are feeling down we shouldn't label ourselves 'depressed', as the shoe will fit. It all makes perfect sense. It's not cheesy or corny, it's devoted and meant.

Tyrese shares the complacent life changing advice he received from mentor and megastar Will Smith and along with the Fresh Prince's five people theory puts it into words for our own benefit and reflection. To conclude this great, game-changing read the movie star-who this year starred in two top franchise sequels ('Fast Five' and 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon')-talks about his break into acting (with John Singleton's 'Baby Boy') and how no matter how successful or happy we should all strive to always better ourselves.

Millions of Tyrese's social networking Twitter followers will know how much this man's character inspires on a daily basis. It's this constant motivation and feeling of self-worth that has just this week given this multi-platinum, Grammy winner a new number one album. Counting and sharing his blessings Tyrese offers us an 'Open Invitation' to his way of life and thinking and it's a real positive step forward. Like the man himself says "don't leave this on the bookshelf". This is a real page-turner with depth that reads more into life. So open up and don't let anything stand in its way. It's really out there. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See Also.

REVIEW: TYRESE-OPEN INVITATION

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/10/review-tyrese-open-invitation.html

TGT (TANK, GINUWINE & TYRESE)-THE GIANT THREE

http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/11/tgt-tank-ginuwine-tyrese-giant-three.html

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

LIVE BABY LIVE-In Memory Of Michael Hutchence



(Also Published On 'MUSIC FEEDS' http://musicfeeds.com.au/features/live-baby-live-in-memory-of-michael-hutchence/ )

Remembering One of the Last True Rock Stars.

“Put the pieces back together/every moment back together/In your quiet moments/Looking back in tears/Can I count the nights you’ve lived/That you’d live again”. Michael Hutchence: Put The Pieces Back Together.

Icons don't come around everyday, believe that. Don't be fooled by the who's who of today. Some stars today are merely 'role models' and their not doing a very good job at that either. Sure there are icons still around, but sometimes the phrase 'iconic' is thrown around all too much. Michael Hutchence, however was iconic. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 14 years since he was found hanging in a Sydney hotel room on November 22ND, 1997. This coming weekend, (Saturday, January 22ND) he would have turned 51, so let’s look back and celebrate the man.

Celebrate and not speculate because when Hutchence burst on to the scene with his band INXS back in 1979 it was this mans personality and not his personal life or troubles that people were attracted to. His energetic, magnetic and sensual persona is what gave him a presence on the world’s biggest stages. A presence that extended from the small pubs and hotels INXS played coming up in 1977 to the sold out stadiums they made it to when they truly broke out. His enigmatic personality, coupled with his good looks and his confidence, matched with the blueprint of a true rock star persona made sure all eyes where on him. Then the lyrics he wrote, cultivated with the way he sang and the ways he moved about the stage did the rest. A true star that sang some of the best songs and made some of musics most memorable moments became an icon. A guy that just like AC/DC before him and Heath Ledger after him was iconic not just in his native Australia but all around the world.

INXS first commercially hit in the 80's with their self-titled debut. 'Just Keep Walking' was their first hit. Their success came from their own hard work. They played sold out shows almost every day of the week. As attention grew people wanted a piece of this band even before the press got wind. The bands hard work was rewarded with a gold plaque for their debut and more importantly their name on everyone’s lips. INXS were playing 300 shows across Australia during the release of their sophomore album 'Underneath the Colours'. When their third album 'Shabooh, Shoobah' hit they broke America, making the billboard charts behind great music and the dynamic, provocative personality of Hutchence.

INXS first number 1 in Australia was 'Original Sin'. 'Sin' had lots of rhythm with fast paced drum rolls, quirky saxophone and even stranger ad-libs from Michael. The great lyrics from Hutchence completed the song perfectly and the hometown heroes took seven Australian Countdown awards and a double platinum plaque for the songs album 'The Swing’. The first three albums established the band, but with this swinging success Michael, Garry, Andrew, Jon, Tim & Kirk truly planted their feet.

With their feet firmly in place it was time for INXS to break new ground. They did this in the mid-80's with the release of two albums, one definite and one definitive. By 1985 INXS were in the mid-90's of degrees of hotness. The bands first million seller in the States came with 'Listen Like Thieves'. The albums title also spawned a hit single and more radio play was garnered with the funky hit 'What You Need'. A song so funky that the artist always known as funk, Prince covered it back in 2007, during his legendary, 21 dates in London.

The album 'Listen Like Thieves' featured memorable hooks and intriguing lyrics. Like many rock greats before him, Michael was a master at writing love songs. Michael indulged a lot in his life but it seemed like love was really his biggest motivator. INXS songs were the type of catchy tunes that only after a few listens on the radio listeners would know word for word. Michael's passion for writing about love was fuelled with his lyrics. Even if the songs were about loss they still had an element of positivity to them. Songs like 'This Time' >("We are hoping/yes we are praying/this time will be the last time/that we will fight like this") and 'Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)' ("Playing in the dirt/we find the seeds of doubt/don't water them with your tears/don't think about all the years/you'd rather be without") epitomize the beauty in the hope and belief of love. Michael was able to translate this into song seemingly effortlessly with the help of writing partner Andrew Farriss.

INXS biggest selling album propelled them even higher. 'Kick' in 1987 expanded their already wide and diverse fan base even further. Millions of copies were sold and 5 MTV Awards and a Grammy nomination came. Some of the bands biggest singles, 'Mystify', 'Need You Tonight', 'Never Tear Us Apart' and 'New Sensation' helped make this album a rock and roll classic. From the success of this album came a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement and even more touring around the world.

The singles themselves became classics around the world. 'Never Tear Us Apart' showcased Michael's ever improving writing ability. At his worst Hutchence was honest, at his best he was poetic. INXS may have recorded their best love song with lines like, 'We could live for a thousand years/but if I hurt you I'd make wine from your tears". Lines that are so soulful, just check out modern day legend, Ben Harper's take on them. The jam 'New Sensation' seems to be a motivating, mainstay at sporting events and 'Need You Tonight' was another provocative hit that helped Hutchence become a hit with the housewives. The video for this song furthered this. Striking black and white images and Michael’s colourful personality helped this become yet another classic visual for a band that was becoming known for their unique music videos. The camera loved Michael and Michael loved the camera-sometimes maybe a little bit too much- not that the housewives minded.

The video of 'Need You Tonight' also blended in seamlessly to the track 'Mediate' which furthered the display of Hutchence's lyrical ability. Michael effortlessly rapped cohesive words and sentences that rhymed with the word 'Mediate'. Not many rock singers had done this before him and again this was an example of Hutchence’s self-assured swagger, which is why he appealed to so many people. Confidence is one of the most attractive features and whether on the microphone, the screen or the stage Michael had it by the bucket load. Even performing for Jools Holland, sprawled across a piano, with shaggy hair, workman jeans and baggy clothing he was still the perfect man for those housewives tuning in on a Friday night.

This hot streaked continued for Hutchence and INXS as their follow up 'X' was no slouch. The album spawning hits such as 'Suicide Blonde', 'Bitter Tears' & 'Disappear', which helped INXS leave their successful decade on the 80's on a high note coming into the 90's. Although the last decade saw fewer releases and tragedy for the band and its lead singer, the 90's still had high notes for INXS. In 1991 the band headlined Wembley Stadium in London with Michael's magnetic on stage persona attracting a crowd of 74,000 excited fans, more than half of them probably female.

With the release of 'Welcome To Wherever You Are' INXS pushed the envelope further both musically and visually with their second, definitive album. The band included an orchestra on the hit 'Baby Don't Cry' offering appreciation to other forms of music. They also however received heat again for the video of the hit 'Taste It', with Michael again raising the temperatures of female fans and music television networks alike, albeit in very different ways. 'Beautiful Girl' was yet another classic love song from the band with genuine and endearing lyrics from their front man. A song, like all love classics still relevant today (just check the trailer for hit movie, 'Love & Other Drugs'). The positivity in Michael's writing again shined through. Too many songs these days about love or lost love focus on all the negative, back then however Michael begged to differ. He even described the complications in relationships perfectly on the classic, album take 'Men and Women'.

Approaching the mid-90's INXS cooled off a little bit but they still remained relevant and true to their style with the release of 'Full Moon, Dirty Hearts' in 1993. One of the bands most aggressive songs 'The Gift' was full of heavy guitar and fire, especially in their award winning, ground-burning video. Now it was getting even harder to cool off Hutchence or his fan base. The album also featured a couple of guest appearances but Michael more than held his own alongside strong personalities like Ray Charles ('Please (You Got That...)') and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders ('Full Moon, Dirty Hearts').

A couple of complimation albums came and then years later there wasn’t much noise from INXS and their outgoing singer. This was apart from his often time written about private life and problems. Hutchence’s drug and relationship problems with celebrities was something the tabloids couldn't’t resist prying into, the music heads however wanted to hear something new, something true, something public, not private.

In 1997 came the last album from INXS with Hutchence, 'Elegantly Wasted'. The album may have not been a commercial success but it showed that the band had moved with the times. Musically and lyrically they remained relevant and true to themselves despite a harder, more mainstream, American sound. They showed in that respect they could stand next to other rock acts from Dave Matthews Band to Pearl Jam.

The albums title track was a hit and songs like 'Shine' showed that they could even move with the times with their speciality of rock and roll tracks infused with funk. Songs like 'Searching' (“Have we lost direction/washed our hands of blood/I’m in need of sensation/is there more to this love”) and 'I'm Just A Man' (“I’m just a man/my will is so strong/When I’ve got plans/I close my eyes to the pain”) showed Michael Hutchence’s introspective style of writing in a much stronger and more poignant light. Bold but beautiful, dark but decedent.

This writing ability was then seen even more with the release of the last studio album from Hutchence, his self-titled solo LP. Cuts like 'Possibilities', 'Fear', 'Put The Pieces Back Together' and 'All I'm Saying' stirred the soul, But he also had fun to. Songs like 'Get On The Inside' and 'Let Me Show You' gave fans the fun loving, sexy Michael they were used to. It was clear however, that this was a very personal album, especially as it was a solo piece. The haunting 'Flesh & Blood' (“All of the days we thought would come/all of the words we thought had gone/all of the pain & pleasure gone without you”) and 'Slide Away' (with Bono) showed a much deeper side of Hutchence's thinking. This resulted in beautiful, yet saddening tracks to hear straight from the mans heart.

Since his death his legacy has lived on to the full in his music. A wealth of timeless classic songs, entertaining, loving and at times reflective have been the legacy of one man and his band. He was an icon in his life and his death marked yet another tragic case of an icon gone before their time. The rest of INXS have soldiered on and kept Michael's name and music alive. They have also tried to go on as a band. Terrence Trent D'Arby did a very good job filling in at the opening of the ‘Stadium Australia’ in Sydney but he rightfully made it clear that his performance was out of respect, as a guest and nothing else. Replacing this man has been a much harder task for the group. It always will be when some little known names follow in the footsteps of such a huge talent. Even the modern day staple of reality television produced a new singer and album, but even that was no good as J.D. Fortune ended up without a band- and as it seems a home -living in his car. Even as nice as tribute albums featuring the talents of INXS, French singer Loane and John Mayer are, nothing bests the original, real thing.

The reality is that the talent, charisma and confidence that burst out of Michael was all natural. It cannot be taught, trained or cultivated over a television series. Michael was nothing short of iconic, a phrase which when properly given is an exclusive one and not a doled out saying. Michael Hutchence epitomized both a true rock star and entertainer. He was born to do what he did and what he did in turn lives on a decade plus after his death. Plain and simple Michael Hutchence can not be replaced and he will always live on in his music and he will always be INXS.

“Live baby live/Now that the day is over/I gotta New Sensation/In perfect moments/Impossible To Refuse”. INXS: New Sensation

BY TIM DAVID HARVEY.

SONG FOR THE MOMENT (NOVEMBER): CHARLOTTE ERIKSSON-I WILL LEAD YOU HOME


They say charity begins at home and it really does with Swedish singing/songwriting sensation Charlotte Eriksson. Her beautiful song 'I Will Lead You Home' raised money for Swedish cancer-organization Ung Cancer which supports young victims, all whilst rising to number 2 on the Swedish itunes chart. Now that's what raising awareness and funds is all about. Eriksson goes beyond the financial however with a strong show of solidarity that is as beautifully lyrically as it is in harmony. As she sings "When you’re out of breath/With nothing left to give/When you’re left behind/Laying on the ground/When all I see is sadness in your eyes/When all you want is reasons you can’t find/This town is getting smaller ever day/I’ll leave with you, we’ll find another way/When you’re left alone/Just hold on/I will lead you home again" you can really feel how connected and devoted she is to her cause. This is something we can all sing along to. This goes beyond buying into the single, this is recognising a real talent and a real charity that needs awareness and doing something about it. This donation to a cause is one that should really effect us. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 21 November 2011

ALBUM SELECT OF THE WEEK (CD CHANGER): R.E.M.-COLLAPSE INTO NOW



4/5

The rapid eyes have it in motion.

With their 15th studio album after 31 years in the industry, R.E.M. may look even older, but their sound has remained young, fresh never tired. Every one of this acts albums have been great and there are just too many classic long players to choose from. All the way from their 'New Adventures In Hi-Fi' to L.P.'s that are 'Automatic For The People'. Classic songs including 'Everybody Hurts' and 'Losing My Religion' have defined not only the band but the incredible 90's decade of popular music. This band is so popular and familiar that although it doesn't seem like three years since their last release they are always sorely missed during hiatus and warmly welcomed on their return between fans and industry critics alike.

Following 2008's 'Accelerate' and a great tour the band re-unite with the albums producer Jacknife Lee, fast-forwarding their sound even further for old tape-decks and new iPods alike with this weeks release 'Collapse Into Now'. This alternative act had a lot of choices for this set's inspiration. Recording in Berlin, Germany, Nashville, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana to expand their already wide world sound. This new sound kicks off, live in stereo with the upbeat, uplifting 'Discover', where the band find the help of Patti Smith for some additional vocals.

Then the group give more of their effort to the great rock and roll number, 'All The Best'. As he band step into second-gear it's clear their going to stay right on track. Now how about the singles? The cheekily sweet 'Mine Smell Like Honey' is traditional, 'Monster' era R.E.M. with great lyrics like "I would dare you, but I know I don’t need to/You’re going to do just what you want to/You’re going to take the leavings here at the fairground/You’re going to sing the praises of your fruit". While the great, German inspired third single 'Überlin' is a typical, timeless slow, sublime, beautiful ballad.

Still it's the second single co-wrote by Scott McCaughey, 'Oh My Heart' that stands first and foremost amongst the rest. Bursting through with it's trumpet and sousaphone marching band feel with some real March Madness to begin this month. Then the legendary act further their legacy with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder for the stellar, stunning collaboration 'It Happened Today'. Vedder's haunting vocals make this a shining jam worth it's weight in pearls. It's little wonder the band have made 12 video clips to go with these 12 songs because they are all huge with a cinematic edge to them. The motivating 'Everyday is Yours To Win' could see itself in some movies or writers work playlists for years to come. Truly inspiring.

As the album heads to it's fall, this first quarter release ignites the start of the year even more with the piano fuelled led potency of 'Walk it Back'. This track that harks back to other R.E.M. slow burners steps in the direction of greatness. As Stipe classically croons "something needs to change", one things for certain, he and his band needn't. Then on the alliteration rocker 'Alligator, Aviator, Autopilot, Antimatter' the group show despite age, their amazing, appealing attitude is still apparent after 'Automatic', 'Adventures' all the way to their recent 'Around The Sun' and 'Accelerate'. On 'That Someone is You' Stipe gets to his point quicker then he did on 'The End of the World' verses but on a precision, point track it all feels fine.

Referencing 'Scarface' and Al Pacino the group then get theatrical on 'Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I'. A track enigmatic and interesting like the great actor was. Still, however as Patti Smith rejoins the three-piece for the closer and a 'Discover' reprise, R.E.M. save their best for last with 'Blue'. As classic as the Joni Mitchell album of the same name this deep, dark spoken word number really harks back to the early days of the band when the hair was on Michael Stipe's head, not his chin. Stipe may aswell have his 'Orange Crush' megaphone, as this rally cry refuses to yield with lyrics like, "I don't mark my times with dates, holidays, fate, wisdom, luck" as the group inspire and refuse to be moved or changed all at the same time. This is a notion that has kept this 'best band in the world' so relevant and so alive in the industry for all these decades and albums. As R.E.M. refuse to fall in line they still remain accepted even to this modern-day. 'Collapse Into Now' is a truly great disc to add to an incredible discography. TIM DAVID HARVEY.