Saturday, 26 February 2011
Dust through your parents old vinyl's and between the dodgy choices and eras your bound to find some classics. Classics like sensational soul legend Anita Baker's ravishing, 'Rapture'. This album really draws you in with it's sweet, sensual warmth. Right from the beautiful artwork to the eight concise tracks, perfect for a romantic night in or a relaxed, laid back night-time drive. From the sugary smash single, 'Sweet Love' to the evoking 'Caught Up In The Rapture' this timeless album has a legacy of lasting tracks. The magnificent 'Mystery' sounds before it's time and the delightful 'No One Else In The World' is devotion at it's deepest. From 'Been So Long' to 'You Bring Me Joy', Anita's strong but subtle voice shines with golden soul. An album full of heart whose beats have influenced generations gone and generations to come. We've all been caught up in Baker's sweet rapture. It's all the 'Same Ole Love'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
The playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.
R.E.M-IT HAPPENED TODAY: One of the world's best bands are back. Expect a new album and it's review, but what better way to start things then with this signature, sublime rocker?
MOS DEF-CASA BAY: Mos' classic album 'The Ecstatic' may be over a year old but it's still rolling, like this perfect rap/sung track. With creative lyrics that roll off the 'deffest' of tongues. Just like the video.
DIDDY DIRTY MONEY-I HATE THAT YOU LOVE ME: Every song on this 'Last Train To Paris' album is a banger but nothing gets you ready more then this dance/rap number. From the first key of the piano, you won't start tapping your feet, till the last chord.
TIMBALAND Feat BRANDY-808: Timbaland keeps rolling out great joints with his Thursday's but this one with Brandy is one of the best re-capturing the magic and the singers incredible beat writing voice that made her album 'Afrodisiac' a classic.
DRAKE-THE RESISTANCE: Speaking or riding a beat, renowned for his singing as well as his rapping, Drake smooths it out with this laid back, chilled introspective number. Your mind will be working as much as your feet.
AL GREEN Feat ANTHONY HAMILTON-LAY IT DOWN: Proving he could still drop soul classics as good as his timeless, decades gone by past. Rev Green teams up with today's best in soul for something one of a kind.
INXS-BEAUTIFUL GIRL: This song took the 'Love & Other Drug' trailer even higher, giving it more heart. Known for penning beautiful pop-esque songs about love but with a rock edge the late, legendary Michael Hutchence gets lyrical and sincere on this devotion. From the first line "Vicky's in the corner", your drawn in like you knew the girl.
TONI BRAXTON-UNBREAK MY HEART: If your feeling a little for the 90's or slower, sadder numbers this smash of a classic is undeniable, untouched and still under appreciated today. Could Beyonce undercut this? Truly unbreakable.
SEMISONIC-ACT NATURALLY: The band had a lot of big, BIG hits in the 90's, but there is just something about this album track, from the opening beat that makes it feel so good. Great piano, lyrics and sentiment, this naturally just works.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND-FUNNY THE WAY IT IS: From jamming instruments to out there lyrics, there really is just something about this one man and his band. Still on this deep, introspective take the group take it even higher with great social and spiritual commentary in a song that gains our understanding but still uplifts all at the same time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Ginuwine released his most personal and genuine album last week with 'Elgin'. So to start our new 'Album Select' feature we go with 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.
In our new feature 'Tape Deck Shuffle' we give you the playlist of our favourite songs this week. 'Side A' features some latest cuts, while the classics make the 'B Side'.
CEE-LO GREEN-F*** YOU: It may be 'old' as hell in this new year but we aint forgetting this one quick. From award shows to All-Star performances Cee-Lo is keeping his middle finger up to the haters with this gamble of a track that's paid off...BIG!
KANYE WEST-CHRISTMAS IN HARLEM: How does a Christmas song still sound hot even when the Winter months are warming up? When Kanye West is on it with an All-Star cast featuring nearly ever Dipset member for a diplomatic, feel-good heater.
NE*YO-ONE IN A MILLION: Valentines may now be a distant, week-a-go memory, but that doesn't mean you still can't step it up for the one you love and sentiment like this is how you do it.
BRUNO MARS-MARRY YOU: Speaking of devotion, this engaging track from the singer married to the lyrics is the perfect bell ringer for anybodies big day.
TANK-SCREAM: An even more prolific writer then Mars this underrated talent is finally getting his dues with an emotionally loud ballad that is speaking volumes for Tank's new album.
GINUWINE-SO ANXIOUS: Our man of the moment changed the game again, with a slow burner that ignited up the charts.
MUSE-EXOGENESIS SYMPHONY PART 3 (REDEMPTION): Currently giving the 'Never Let Me Go' trailer heart, this fans favourite might be the most beautiful piece of music you've ever heard from a rock band.
MARVIN GAYE-GOT TO GIVE IT UP: This is got to be one of the best party records of all time, and I mean a real party, a soulful one. This soul classic is funky and catchy from beginning to end, and I'm talking about the 11 minute version.
JOHNNY CASH-GOD'S GONNA CUT YOU DOWN: If the new Cohen Brothers Western remake didn't look epic enough, adding this song to the trailer made it a straight shooter for the box office. A classic American recording. True Grit indeed.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS-STRIP MY MIND: Similar to Cash, this song was banked on by the movie 'The Fighter' for a pivotal scene. Boy did it pay off, this album classic is a knockout.
TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 13 February 2011
On his seventh piece of heaven, Mr. Lumpkin gets real, genuine and personal.
Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, AKA Ginuwine is one of R&B and musics most underrated talents. He had been the six-pack model of consistency ever since he and Timbaland changed the game in 1996 with 'Ginuwine...The Bachelor'. Now 15 years later the man is still dancing and making fresh music. After '100% Ginuwine', the Timbaland and sales production tailed off a little bit, but ever since 'The Senior', Ginuwine's sound has matured for the grown and sexy R&B crowd. With 'Back II The Basics' and 'A Man's Thoughts', G sound has matured even more, as all his releases have stayed consistent over his 15 year-plus career.
Still, the artist remains under-appreciated by the masses. He was the man that brought the dance to R&B after Michael Jackson and way before Chris Brown, Ne-Yo or even Usher. Ginuwine also produced signature sounds with Timbaland and their 'Superfriend' clique of Missy Elliott and the late, legendary talents of Aaliyah and Static Major (Rest in peace). G has also formed a formidable group with incredible talents Tyrese and Tank, calling themselves TGT (http://ampsand808s.blogspot.com/2011/01/tgt-giant-three.html) but label pains are yet to birth a release. Still, despite all this Ginuwine keeps going with his own record label, sound, style and resilience. With his latest release 'Elgin', things get personal for Ginuwine, who has honored his late mothers wish with the album title. Just in time for Valentines Day, the G-Man delivers the perfect present for lovers worldwide.
The set opens up with 'Elgin's' promotional single and the two singles that the singer let his fans choose between on Twitter. 'Heaven' is trademark rhythm and blues, sent by G's TGT partner Tank. With an artillery of song-writing and production, Tank furthers his recent hot streak, with a perfect track for his friend. G takes Tank's production and writing and scores big with a further scrawl of his signature sound. 'Break' is another Ginuwine classic, as he breaks through and settles into his new album like a pair of new shoes. G steps in the name of love with a song that shows he's really with the one he loves this February 14Th. With loving lyrics like, "I’ll do what it takes/To put the pieces back in place/If you break/Never feel ashamed/Never feel it’s weak if you should reach for me/When you’re chained by the pain/I’ll be there to set you free", Ginuwine laments his loyalty to a lover feeling lost.
The promotional single, 'What Could Have Been' is another gem, with great production from Saint Nick, who has assisted many Jagged Edge hits. On a cornerstone of modern-day soul, G cuts deep and recalls and looks to what might have happened in an otherwise failed relationship. Refereeing to what could have been his 'first lady', G gets presidential on a track that shows just how good R&B sounds if you make a change from the usual, watered-down mainstream sound. Then hit-maker, Bryan-Michael Cox brings round the perfect production for 'Drink of Choice', where Ginuwine chooses to get creative, pouring out streams of soul on a concept song with every sip.
Ginuwine goes with the concepts further on 'Kidnapped', a song set to steal the clubs with it's fast-stepped beat and G's catching hook. Ginuwine recharges the sound of his album with 'Batteries' featuring the tantalising Trina and the songs remix. The singer proves his versatility and mainstream appeal is ever-ready as producer Timbaland returns his protegees favour, manning the boards. Then Ginuwine gets deep into the analysis of broken relationships with the ballads, 'Why We're Fighting' and 'How Does Your Heart Forget'. The two songs are traditional R&B and trademark G. Two songs proving that this unforgettable talent can roll with the punches and competition with every beat.
It doesn't stop there as Ginuwine's hard-worked and honed style bodies more tracks. The Bachelor gets laid back and smooth on 'Body' and then gives 100% on 'First Time', where he offers a real, special dedication to the one he loves. Thing's get as epic as G's old record-label as he collaborates with Michael Cox again for the best track of the album, 'Frozen'. The coldest song on the album is deep and introspective but also has the perfect soothing sound to relax and chill out to. With a chilling chorus and icy lyrics like "The Winter aint ever felt quite this cold/how many tears there before you could move on/I'll bring the sun/Baby I'll keep you so warm", this man's passion and devotion leads to another hot track for the legends classic catalogue.
Even when this album gets to the bonus round it still tracks success. Ginuwine gets 'Busy' on a upbeat but slow number that works to ensure this CD doesn't tali off, then the 'Batteries (Remix)' and the alternative 'First Time', act like Duracell for the last part of over an hours worth of great material on this decedent disc. Overall Ginuwine's latest is among his greatest. Continuing the mature but mainstream, maintaining status of his last three projects, the seniors seventh seal further cements his high regard in the music industry. On 'Elgin' Mr. Baylor Lumpkin shows us the truth of his talent, delivering one of the realest soul albums you'll hear all year. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 12 February 2011
Even with album delays, The Game is still playing.
The long-awaited, eagerly anticipated 'The R.E.D. Album' and the Game's official Aftermath Records return may still be waiting on a certified release, but in the meantime the 'Doctor's Advocate' continues to release high quality material in a vast volume. After three stellar mixtapes last year,('The R.E.D. Tape', 'The Red Room' and 'Brake Lights') Chuck Taylor laces up his rap skills once again for 'Purp & Patron'. A 26 strong tape, consisting of mostly original production and some prescriptions from the good Dr. Dre. If that wasn't enough DJ Skee and The Game also have brought out, 'Purp & Patron: The Hangover'. A collection of B-sides that are good enough to make most rappers studio albums and careers. Game and Skee, show they are on no downward skid, despite album push backs. With the 'Purp & Patron' series the Game proves it's no headache making album worthy material for free.
PURP & PATRON
On a classic cocktail and potent mix of tracks on this tape, Jayceon Taylor once again rules the game with a high-standard release. He brings round shot after shot of hip-hop talents, from the fresh and new (Lil' Wayne and Rick Ross) to the fine wine, old-school (KRS One and Doug E. Fresh). Resulting in a selection of tracks that age well in the beginning of a release date starved 2011.
The Game starts the show and stops the press with 'L.A. Times', a broad and bold track that's as accessible for the streets as newspaper vendors. Then he joins fellow Los Angeles king, Snoop Dogg and his regular collaborator, Pharrell for 'In My 64', a laid-back, low-riding scorcher for those hot, California rides. After great collaborations like 'Red Magic', The Game once again gets gangster with Lil' Wayne before 'The R.E.D. Album' for the whistle along, catchy, classic 'Soo Woo'. It gets even harder on the mixtapes title track and 'R.I.P. Story' where the Compton rhymer gets even tougher going it alone.
The Game has that unique ability of sounding fresh even when working with raw materials and subject matter. He whips up more flash with long-time collaborator, Fabolous on the slick 'Ferrari Lifestyle' and then drives round the block again to show off with the punchline rapper for 'Whip It'. He also sends another nod of homage to the old school with his own 'Children's Story', which also takes it back to the 'Lodi Dodi' days.
The Game gets with one-time G-Unit nemesis, Ashanti for 'Soft Rhodes', a single worthy cut that they murder with their respective trademark inks. If that wasn't enough, Game tattoo's his signature sound on many Dre beats and piano lines, also unleashing his own 'Bad Intentions' for good vibrations. The California beach boy even reaches out to the rock world once again with friend Travis Barker for 'Can The Drummer Get Some' which also features Swizz Beatz on the production and ab-libs. Still Game shows most of this hard work and on the track 'Wonderful World' we see how all of Game's work has paid off. All in all, even with 25 plus tracks The Game brings a concise effort of classic sounding material for the over 21 audience. As this hood Hollywood star gets cinematic, it's time he received a round of applause for all his hard work and more notable dedication to his game of hip-hop.
PURP & PATRON: THE HANGOVER
This collection of B-sides flips out with the title track, opener. Over fluid production, The Game flows perfectly for another high point on an alcohol induced, headache of big,. diverse sounds. This tape may be full of tracks that made the cutting room floor, but nothing is throw-away or hazy about 'Purp & Patron: The Hangover'. In fact in some ways the tape is even better than the original. It is cooler and more concise, even if the main tape is bordering on classic status.
'The Hangover' awakens the best track off the two sets and one of The Game's career best. The smooth, flowful, 'California' is a West-Coast classic where The Game rides the beat with a laid back but determined flow. As the track changes up half-way through it also steps it up, becoming more complete. On 'Young Stunna' Taylor exhibits electricity with the number one stunner, Birdman. Then on 'Violin', The Game gets his Vannessa Mae on, proving he can spit classic lines and styles over any instrument.
The Aftermath rapper gets introspective on the deep 'Lost' and then finds some common, chart-worthy ground with producer Timbaland on 'Get Familiar'. Showing more love for the old-school, The Game also brings more classic sounds up to date for his own original records. Searching for the right sound, the rapper samples some A Tribe Called Quest breaks for the standout, 'This Way'.
The music doesn't stop there however, The Game gets in your face with David Banner for '3D' and then brings yet another 'Mega Mix' of rap talent for Young Chris' siren sounding, bell-ringing 'Philly'. With The Game on the line, finishing up he is joined by raps most outstanding, energetic personalities ad-libs and hypes him, as Busta Rhymes provides The Game with the perfect assist on, 'Undefeated'. A winning track at the buzzer, as time is called on this mixtape. The West-Coast king proves he's still a champion, like the Los Angeles Lakers. As his collection of unused tracks are so good, most rappers would love to have them at their disposal for their own official albums.
That's the thing about these two mixtapes, these songs are so good they are worthy of being full-length, official releases. There is still quality control here as their are no duds or tracks worthy of dodging here from the L.A. king who rides on dubs. These two, original, literal long-players show two things. One being that with their free release, this artists generosity is matched by none. While the second being that if these strokes of the brush are just sketches, how great will this artists work be when he finally paints 'The R.E.D. Album'? Still, until then we have a lot of great music from The Game to enjoy as he shows these two collections really are more than just an album. In more ways then one, The Game has won. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
It's in black and white, that's it.
By Tim David Harvey
This can't be it. The hiatus was just meant be a break, Jack White's side projects exactly that, Meg's troubles behind her. We where supposed to be expecting a brand new album around now. Still, this week one of rock and rolls greatest bands, The White Stripes, called it quits. After an incredible 13 years, we the fans have been nothing but lucky.
Right from the start, Jack and Meg, where original, innovative and ahead of the pack. A two-piece able to rock crowds just as much as a full, heavy ensemble. A group before their time, all whilst sounding like a classic act. These two played music by their own rules, and the hallmarks of the rock industry was changed because of this. Pure rock and roll, these White Stripes, saw red and wore what they wanted on stage. From colour schemes, to 'Are they sister and brother, or lovers', Jack and Meg compromised for no one. They revitalisied modern day music, all whilst showing new MTV generations what mum and dads old records used to sound like, without risking their reputation or status from the charts to the ipods.
Back in the early 2000's The Stripes, along with The Hives and The Strokes where responsible for bringing the old sound of rock and roll to the modern day mainstream. This had repercussions, from the way kids dressed to the records they brought and dug up. It wasn't about having to be new anymore, vintage was back in and a new fashion and culture was in effect. Sure The Hives brought the self assurity and The Strokes brought the style, but The White Stripes brought the substance. There was just something about them, Jack and Meg where on a different level and they weren't stopping there. From their self-titled debut to 'De Stili' and 'White Blood Cells' the pair, doubled up on their success with a trio of terrific discs. From 'One More Cup Of Coffee' to 'Death Letter', with incredible album tracks, the band got up and delivered a rich quantity of quality right to the end. It was the single 'Fell In Love With A Girl', however that really took the duo places. Sure the track was barely a minute and a half long, but it was so catchy it felt like more in an enjoyable way. Then with fans falling in love with the pair the Stripes where bordering on greatness. That's when the 'Elephant' came into the room.
This animal was a monster two, their biggest an arguably best record, The White Stripes stripped it all down and bared true rock and roll in all it's glory. Who needs computers when you have a guitar, a drum kit and a 'Seven Nation Army' behind you? With an incredibly inventive song and video to boot it was clear this boy and girl from Detroit where about to become more of an influence. You can still see today from car adverts to young bands with scraggly hair and attitude that these carbon copies are as readily available as credit card storage facilities. Still no matter the numbers, there hasn't been an army as strong as Jack and Meg. They gave the Motor City of North America it's first real sound since Motown.
The 'Elephant' didn't stop stomping there however. With hits like the bluesy 'I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself' and the catchy, instrumental growing, 'The Hardest Button To Button', the Stripes made a home on the mainstream. They showcased their ability to write simple, but thought provoking songs that where catchy enough to hold the ear of the charts. Their ability to do this mirrored rock and roll's forefathers like The Beatles and The Stones and this will be reflected further over the coming generations.
The bands fourth album also featured a set of memorable, diverse album tracks that will be favourites among fans memory banks for years. 'Little Acorns' was the perfect pick me up and who would of thought you could feel better about yourself by 'being like the squirrel'? If you thought Jack's voice was distinct then 'Elephant' prepared you for what else the group had in the trunk. Meg's beautiful, vocal ability was displayed in the seductively, sincere 'In The Cold, Cold, Night' and the playful 'It's True That We Love One Another', where Jack and Meg had fun with the family, friends or more debate.
After a devilishly good release, the Stripes followed up with the heavenly, 'Get Behind Me Satan'. After such a big album previously, fans and critics where asking if the guys could do it again. The couple answered the call with the ring of the infectious 'Doorbell', which showed that they didn't just have their foot in the door, they had kicked it down. The critics, fans, chart and industry as a whole wanted to hear from them. The Stripes responded loud and clear, planting 'Blue Orchid' and 'The Denial Twist' into the conscious of the mainstream. Plus with great tracks across the board like the haunting, 'Little Ghost', the illuminating 'White Moon' and 'Take, Take, Take', the pairs success was a given.
Then came a brief break and some things on the side, but in 2006 Jack and Meg got back together for 'Icky Thump', their last album (excusing the lavish live CD/DVD set 'Under Great White Northern Lights'). The title track off the album was a fantastic, few guitar solo, formidable, return to form. The 'out there' act pushed the envelope further with the classic, 'Conquest' and evoked an epic sound on 'Catch Hell'. Even after all this time The White Stripes where still red hot and on top.
The group have always had an ear for timeless music, as well as other peoples classics. Their incredible take on Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' can attest to that. They also had a knack of writing and singing catchy songs that instantly captured the audience. Those kind of sweet and innocent songs that sound like they've been around for years and could perfectly fit in jukebox's of decades past. The nostalgic 'We're Going To Be Friends' is a gentle favourite that Jack Johnson and others have covered. It's such a timeless classic, that you have to look twice at the credits and realise it's a Stripes original, that's just how good they are. The group on the flip side of the coin could still go mettle to metal with the heavier tracks, like 'Little Cream Soda'. Even on short, interlude like tracks such as, 'Passive Manipulation' the band made the most. Their concentrated style was the perfect mix.
Even on their B-sides the band brought a collection of classics for the discography. Just check out 'Shelter Of Your Arms' off 'The Denial Twist' single. It's good to know that the bands record company plan to release B-side material over the years, but still it just won't be the same. With great videos from bull fights to Kate Moss, the Stripes did whatever they wanted, all whilst staying in fashion. The fashion they helped create. Jack and Meg even branched out. As Meg got married Jack found solace, 'A Quantum Of Solace' that is with Alicia Keys. White crossed styles and genres for the stellar Bond theme 'Die Another Day'. Jack also built more houses with two great bands. First he went 'Steady As She Goes' with the incredible Raconteurs. Then he joined a fellow Raconteur, with a Queen Of The Stone Age and a female front that 'kills' for the dark, heavy group, The Dead Weather. Both side projects, where and are great bands in their own right and two great albums each can prove that. This writer was lucky enough to attend a Dead Weather show in 2009 and as White headed from the skins (oh yeah, he drums two) to the stage to sing 'You Just Can't Win' (another great B-side) the crowd went wild. They went wild, yes for a legend of rock that has made the most out of everything he's done, but one who also was birthed by a little group, with his very good friend Meg. All in all there's no Jack without Meg and no Meg without Jack.
You see there is just nothing quite like The White Stripes. If this is truly it, no Hives, Strokes or new acts work will replace Jack and Meg, no matter how good they are. Sure, the classics will always exist as long as we play them, but after 'Icky Thump' and White's recent run, the new album that was supposed to come out was and really will be more sought after now. Maybe they'll change their mind and head back to the studio for one more for the fans, besides it's hard to stop Jack from working. Plus groups get back together all the time, even pop acts that swore they would never rekindle get back in the studio, even if no one wants them to. Still as of right now, The White Stripes are done and without them lining our hi-fi's, C.D. racks and playlists anymore, the state of music today just got a little less brighter...again.
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Some real love for February's best.
This track has been doing the rounds for months now within 'The Community' of a mixtape by Talib Kweli's 'Blacksmith' label. Still if the mainstream could maintain some quality they would do good by picking up on this record. 'The Bridge' covers the gap between Jean Grae's, real underground talent and the viability of it's commercial appeal. From it's sweetly, soulful chorus, to Grae's shades of colorful lyrics. With a funky full ear-catching beat and vocal sample, Jean feels the flow with full force. Her sharp, hard lyrics are matched by a cool demeanour, which makes her airtight delivery feel so easy and open. In reality with complex, concept lyrics like, "See I can be the bridge that takes you home/Or I can be he wind that makes you moan/Depending how you treat me baby/See I can be the beacon, brings you light/Or I can be blacker, colder than midnight",it's no straightforward feat, still this superhero talent takes other rappers, male or female to task. Time to marvel at the best female rapper out today because this isn't just a mixtape cut, it's a hit. So get your tape decks ready because the radio needs to play this. They made a mistake when they didn't pick up the accessible, 9th Wonder helmed 'Love Thirst', but this artist can't remain hungry forever. Time to build bridges. This track is burning. TIM DAVID HARVEY.