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Friday, 26 December 2014


A Tale Of Two M.J's.


"I perform like Mike/Any one, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson"-Notorious B.I.G. (Puff Daddy-Victory)

1990. When the clock struck 0.00 on January the 1st, leaving the eighties behind like mullets and Miami Vice rolled up suit sleeves, we where in for one hell of a heaven sent 10 years. The decade was dominated by a golden era in all things entertainment. From movies to music and sport to everything in between it even inspired and holds influence on what we see and hear today, a few days away from hitting 0.00 on a decade and a half of 15 unbelievable years into the new millennium. Sure whatever age and era you belong to you'll claim there was no time like your time, but even 70's and 80's babies know there was nothing like the nostalgic 90's. A time dinosaurs ruled the Hollywood world and Buzz Lightyear was the biggest selling, hottest off the shelf toy to find under your tree at Christmas. Now this year what's on T.V. this December 25th? 'Toy Story'! And what is one of the biggest and most anticipated movies of next year? The new 'Jurassic Park'! Go figure! Now through all the major moves and big blockbusters of a decade that illuminated more than Times Square, there where two men who defined this age, theirs and everything else around them and the years that came before and after them. One silhouette spun and worked his feet like the greatest dancer you've ever seen. The other left everyone around him falling at his feet as he hit the deck. One hit the high notes as the other soared and scored. The first one jumping into the silhouette of a man holding a basketball like the torch of the Statue of Liberty. The second leaving everyone stunned as he took one small step for man and a giant leap for music-kind as he moonwalked away from them.

The King of Pop. The King of the Rock. Michael and M.J. M.J. and Mike. Two of the greatest of all-time. Especially in entertainment. As for their loves of basketball and music. They didn't just change the game...they transcended it. Cultural phenomenon's. Global icons. If Mars really attacked like 'Independence Day' then we would have had to take them to two of our leaders. Two who we'll never see anyone quite like. Never duplicated. The original, genuine articles. Every newspaper read their name, front and back. Radios and television sets you couldn't escape them if you where tuned in. Imagine if the internet was as much an influence then as it is now. Social media may be the age now, but back then it was their time. Dominant isn't even the word for this decade they the most dominant way. One with a number 23. The other with a silver glove. They both moved like nothing you've seen before. One across the floor like he was walking on the same air the other flew through. They where both so big in music and sport they had to come together and collaborate. For themselves they even made movies. From 'Space Jam' to 'Moonwalker'. They both had famous friends that they could count on, from Chris Tucker to Spike Lee's Mars Blackmon. Even R. Kelly bridged their mainstream gap between the city of Chicago and music. Showing Jackson that he wasn't alone and proving the belief that Jordan could fly. Still nobody took it higher than these guys. As all the people, still to this day trying to imitate from the streetball to the corner can almost authentically attest. These perfect pairs best moments still play today like retirement and death was just the end of a movie. Their golden eras still shine. Even their records break records. Others may come. From Prince to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Bruno Mars. But none are chosen quite like this.

Before their time came the wonder years. When Michael Jordan was a boy he was swinging baseball bats with his father as well as hanging from rims (eventually Jordan would retire from basketball for a year to pursue his late fathers dream of him playing baseball to honour him after his death). Meanwhile a young Michael Jackson was singing with his brothers in Jackson 5 to the tune of 'Rocky Robin' and their own animated, television show. Becoming a megastar already behind tracks like 'I Want You Back' and his youthful matured and poignantly haunting rendition of 'Aint No Sunshine' that still resonates today. As little Mike, Tito and co grew into the maturing Jackson's they blamed it on the boogie as everybody could feel it from the Four Tops to the Commodores. As these guys graduated so did the other Michael after years of the Baby Blue in North Carolina. Years that saw him earn the tar on the heels of his sneakers by hitting game winners and the buzz of the hype that came from high school and would continue after the NBA draft where this new school guy began educating everybody starting with Sam Bowie. The eighties where this pairs coming out party. Where they'd show the whole world exactly what they had more in store of. In fact this was their decade too...especially for one of the Michael's. Jordan was busy winning dunk contests, whether during All-Star weekend or not. All whilst showing the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson and the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird that there was a new kid in town. Even hitting an incredible 63 youthful points in the legendary Boston Garden against one of the storied Celtics most successful and dominant teams of all time. No wonder the legend of Larry called number 23, "God disguised as Michael Jordan". Meanwhile music where treating the other M.J. like the second coming. After his 1979 breakout this guy was truly 'Off The Wall', not stopping 'till he got enough. Michael and Quincy Jones helped score the best and most successful pop album of all time in 'Thriller', while Jordan was making those on court. Only nine tracks, but with classic songs like 'Wanna Be Startin' Something', 'Beat It', 'Billie Jean', 'Human Nature' and that title track and THAT video who needs more with some of the biggest songs of all time. Even the crazy controversy surrounding his black to white skin colour change couldn't stop this megastar on 'Bad', as 'The Way You Make Me Feel', 'Liberian Girl', 'Another Part Of Me', 'Man In The Mirror', 'I Just Cant Stop Loving You', 'Smooth Criminal' and 'Leave Me Alone' added more greatest hits to the vault with another classic album for the record. As Jacko was leaning forward, Jordan was making everyone else lean back.

Then came the 1990's. This was their time. With sneakers and C.D.'s selling out of stores worldwide. Michael Jackson may have only released two albums this decade...but boy where they two albums. Besides 'Thriller' and 'Bad' where still selling like they came out yesterday. Still 'Dangerous' was the 'Jam'. Songs like 'Give In To Me', 'Who Is It', 'Why You Want To Trip On Me' and the socially conscious 'Heal The World' (a trait this singer is underrated for) where gravitating and groundbreaking. But it was his Statue Of Liberty moment to the Slash riff of that song where Michael proved he and we shouldn't care if you're 'Black and White' in the transitional video for the game changing, MTV age legend. Plus with Laker legend Magic Johnson in the video of 'Remember The Time' along with comedian Eddie Murphy dressed as phaeroes Michael showed he knew hoops like any other M.J. fan. Meanwhile Michael Jordan was taking the torch from Magic and his Showtime Lakers and switching the ball mid -air to score. Running through points totals and titles with a shrug as he stampeded the Chicago Bulls to their first championship and then three-peat. Ball in hand, victory cigar in the other. Smiling with legendary Zen coach Phil Jackson who was the Quincy Jones to his own thriller production. But then, following the tragic murder of his father, the greatest player to ever play basketball stepped away from the game at the peak of his powers. But then this is where 'History' would be made...'Past, Present and Future'. Screaming into a budget and record breaking video with Janet Jackson out of space one minute and walking around the streets of Rio with Spike Lee the next for 'We Don't Care About Us' Michael was back. Making records with everyone from the Notorious B.I.G. ('This Time Around') and even basketball player Shaquille O'Neal ('2 Bad'), who was probably just thankful another M.J. wasn't torturing him on court. Covering the Beatles ('Come Together') and signing R. Kelly songs ('You Are Not Alone) this historic feat had it all. Even a beautiful 'Stranger In Moscow' and a Christmas number one, record breaking, call to climate change 'Earth Song' (he told you). This album was bigger than the statue of him taken down London's River Thames in Tower Bridge separating promotion. Meanwhile in Chicago, just when they where thinking about erecting a classic statue in M.J.'s honour, Michael came back too, to the tune of three more championships shared with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and all capped off by one more last shot that was a true history, storybook ending.

Still their collective stories weren't without some dark chapters. From gambling addiction to allegations of sexual abuse that still hang like the worst cloud. Also it seemed like when the 90's came to a new millennium close so did the windows of their prime. Still in 2001, Michael Jordan came out of retirement again, this time for the Washington Wizards, donating his entire playing salary valiantly to the 9/11 relief fund. Around the same time Michael Jackson came back with the album 'Invincible', his worst selling one at that time proved not to live up to its name but had strong standouts like 'You Rock My World', 'Break Of Dawn' and 'Cry', just like the 'Blood On The Dancefloor' remix album had with the likes of 'Ghost' and 'Morphine'. Jordan wasn't so invincible either, showing the coming to 40 age and legs of a man heading towards one last retirement. But believe us for both of them the magic was still there in more than just a few spells of their trucks of the trade. Just like their inspiration is today to the new school of Kevin Durant's and Ne-Yo's. Its a legend and legacy that always lasts. Michael Jordan is still making basketball moves as the majority owner of the buzzing Charlotte Hornets ballclub and he's doing a Spalding job while even years after his tragic death Michael Jackson is proving that this isn't it. Another new album ('XSCAPE') came q this year and brought with it one of his newest and biggest hits from the demo floor with the dance floor fond 'Love Never Felt So Good' featuring another prodigy of his legacy, Justin Timberlake. All the inspiration and influence that still lasts beyond this day all cumulated in a classic collaboration of Aerosmith and Run-DMC, rock and rap, wall and barrier breaking standards to begin their 90's. As a basketball flew through a glass window into a factory where M.J. was dancing he threw it back, buildings across to a nearby gym for a no-look swish. Michael Jordan couldn't believe it, like the no-look back heel. Then as the two came together for some one-on-one, Jordan schooled and tricked Jackson on court for some fun and games before Michael showed the other how it was done on his wood deck, teaching him how to really 'Jam' and dance in this video. It's not too hard. Just look. As the two dance into the faded out shadows of this lights out number its a poignant moment for the two power players of a generation and game changing time. M.J. and Michael, the last names are of little consequence to the initials they engraved on their games. As these two silhouettes strut and slide across the floor, many will remember their master moves for many moons to come. Now that's the jam.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014



Voodoo's Child.

The messiah has returned this Christmas. O.K. so that statement is more than a little sacrilegious, especially this season and for that I am sorry for I have sinned. But listening to true soul music and that of its proudest and most profoundly powerful performer is the closest you'll get these days to a Marvin Gaye like, religious experience. 14 years later and he returns. Out of nowhere and for good reason too. Barely any promotion in this digital age swiped through social media and internet. Just a little announcement, a few hours of trending and hash-tag debate and BANG! It was out there on iTunes and on physical shelves the next morning. Neo-soul is back. And we aren't talking about the commercial, cuddly cool of Ne-Yo either. We're talking about a man that stands above even his classic contemporaries Raphael Saadiq, Maxwell (even the long awaited, monumental return of 'BLACKsummers'night' hasn't moved mountains like this), Bilal (this is the spiritual, soul sister of 'Airtights Revenge'), Musiq Soulchild, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. We're talking about D'Angelo people. Mr. 'Brown Sugar'. The man who's decadent debut brought 'Jonz In My Bones', 'Me And Those Dreaming Eyes Of Mine', 'S###, Damn, Mother######", 'Crusin'', 'When We Get By', 'Lady' (I damn near just mentioned the whole album and should have) and more classics when his equally timeless follow-up 'Voodoo' came a half decade with 'One Mo Gin', 'Devils Pie', 'Chicken Grease' and of course 'Untitled (How Does It Feel)'. The infamous song whose video inspired (men around the globe to really go hard at the gym) and landslided women worldwide. I mean this guy was REALLY the man! Prince meets Marvin and has a quick jam with Sly & The Family Stone cool! I mean come on!

Even this guys duets where events. See 'Be Here' (with Saadiq), 'Break Ups To Make Ups' (Method Man), 'Ghetto Heaven' (Common) and of course 'Nothing Else Matters' (Lauryn how about one more long overdue, comeback classic out of nowhere?). So to the man whose emphatic passion, and untamed lovejoy could be felt in the strongest dap he gave Chris Rock after he and Ray Ray brought the house down on his show; what happened? Time happened? Almost a decade and a half of it. Some in solitary, others marked in the public eye of scrutiny by troubles with substance and the law. But now that's all past with the promise of new material. Full-length recordings that looked like between collaborations on J Dilla and Q-Tip albums where never going to materialize even in the hope of 2012. Like his record with West coast legends Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre almost a decade ago in 2006 we where just going to 'Imagine' or pray for like another detox. Still now before 2014 and yet another year comes to a close, D'Angelo returns this Christmas like a true gift, bringing the power of the holy ghost with him. This is big right now! Bigger than the epic conclusion of 'The Hobbit' trilogy. Bigger than Kobe Bryant passing Michael Jordan in a milestone of all-time, NBA basketball points. Springsteen released an album in this maverick 12 months of music, but like the boss started it, the master finishes it. Ben Harper recorded a disc with his own mother. Hell the icon that is Prince even brought out two on the same damn day. Still, nothing comes close to this complete classic. Common put the city of Chicago on his back and conscious with his latest classic 'Nobody's Smiling' this year and now in what even after all this time seems like a rushed release in wake of the protests across America, D'Angelo does the same for culture and country. This 'Black Messiah' soul survivor is truly our saviour or at the very least the grace of our saving. Three albums, three perfect plays. Just hit that sideways triangle.

Hype?! What damn hype?! This inspired album is as incredible as all that train of search engine thought is influencing you to get on board with right now! Forget a sabbatical this music bakers new dozen is mathematics genius. An instrumental art form. Defying genres and stereotypes. Remember when John Lennon said "bring me a tuba and I'll get you something out of it"? Well this Beatle, rocking like a Rolling Stone tunes every instrument into his soundscape. Alinging with lead, military formation of the versatile, structured Vanguard this D'Angelo album is beyond angelic. And after all the criticism, trouble and infamous mug shot this 40 year old doesn't look or sound like he's aged a day. But this seasoned sound holds more time than fine wine. Lost in music's purple haze this Hendrix of 'Voodoo's' child brings the psycho, psychedelic funk. And you thought Bruno Mars had it down 'Uptown'. This guy is going all 'Back To The Future' parts 1 and 2. This sounds as classic as it does ahead of its time. Doc gave D the keys to the Delorean and the likes of Q-Tip and Questlove are riding production shotgun. From 'Aint That Easy' to 'Another Life' this is something else. Hard worked to what seems seamless. Woven in woodwind and jazz from 'Really Love' to 'Betray My Heart' there are love songs here that are as raw and real truthful as they are boldly and brutally beautiful. Add a dash of something that really needs to be said and seen on '1000 Deaths' ("I can't believe I can't get over my fear/they're gonna send me over the hill/ah the moment of truth is near") and 'The Charade'("All we wanted was a chance to talk/'Stead, we only got outlined in chalk") then you have an intoxicating tonic that needs the sweet and sour of lime to chase it. How about some 'Sugah Daddy', 'Till Its Gone' before we show you 'The Door'? Because here every deep and dynamic track is as unanimously unique as it is magically mesmerizing. There's even a perfect and poignant 'Prayer' for everyone to put their hands together to for. Soul music hasn't meant this much since acclaimed actor Idris Elba made an album about Mandela that even had more deeper meaning then his Madiba movie. Here too, D'Angelo does something for the people that even speaks louder volumes than the highest note of his trademark tone. After all this time we've waited for anxiously in anticipation like the one lost love that got away, its all good. Its a new day. Even if we wait in vain for the rest of our lives for more music from this man it'll all be worth it. Now how does THAT feel? Like Gods gift?! Amen! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 13 December 2014



Pumpkin Spice.

Zeroes no need to be Mellon collie. This Smashing Pumpkins album may not be the 'Infinite Sadness' or a 'Siamese Dream', but its not meant to be...and that's the point. Now you cant help but adore that. Especially since when these zealots tried to recapture that zeal with their new millennium album 'Zeitgeist' and big new songs like 'That's The Way (My Love Is)', fans turned sour despite a sweet album. They wanted more spice from these Pumpkins and boy has Billy given it to them. Releasing an epic 44 track album 'Teargarden By Kaleidyscope' since 2009 in a spectrum of musical colour. On Corgan's run how can you possibly hate on a band that's been releasing gems of classic tracks like 'Widow Wake My Mind' and 'A Song For A Sun' for years, for free? It then all came to a charging head with the outstanding 'Oceania' album of bold beauty. Now with another album set in the new year sights of 2015 these Pumpkins along with drumming, rock star legend Tommy Lee end 2014 with a new, nine track album that truly is smashing.

One more than the Foo Fighters eight track latest, this fellow nostalgic band refuses to live in the past like their Halloween decoration namesake, still sitting out on peoples front porches this holiday season rotting. In the year of albums from fellow 90's rock stars, Weezer and the Counting Crows that fans grew up with the Smashing Pumpkins release something truly monumental before next years 'Day For Night'. Billy, Tommy and this motley crew really get it together on this 'Elegy' and despite its mournful name, again this is no 'Mellon Collie' although it is still something akin to a religious experience during the glad tidings of this festive season. Deep, dark and decadent this delves to places these Pumpkins have never smashed through. It sounds as up to date with the times as it does the Pumpkins traditional tone of refusing to sell out for the masses. This time its added with the extra spice of refusing to cheapen themselves and become a product of their past too for fans that ignore the fact that bands and music has to grow and develop for it to really make noise. Besides Billy has been through all that adult-youth battlefield of angst and depression. Its time to share some happiness and make peace with the past. No matter how beautiful or brutal it has been.

From the colour of the stunning single 'Being Beige' to 'Tiberius' this album is captain to the James T. Even if Corgan had to trek amongst the stars of The Killers and Rage Against The Machine to rock with this album on tour. The rocking 'Anaise!' is truly an exclamation point like the all encompassing 'One and All' it only takes a few songs to unite fans, new and old alike that these new Pumpkins are back...or have well and truly just arrived. 'Run2me' is a deep devotion that even Prince would be proud of (and not just for its lack of spacing typography), as king of metal Corgan shows he can gravitate genres due to simple but stellar songwriting. 'Drum & Fife' also plays to the strengths of their Lee addition who plays the skins with Tommy gun ferocity behind the suited pin-stripes of blending into these throwback legends of Chicago. With the titled 'Monuments' the Windy City is storming back with one of their proudest sons rip roaring through on guitar. Stampeding like the hometown ballplaying Bulls. The 90's and Michael Jordan may be gone but one of the greatest rock bands of all-time are still rolling, despite the 'Anti-Hero' status, finishing up with this and the portrait of 'Dorian'. Still the picture of youth, but not afraid to age gracefully and wisely, Corgan and his clan remain relevant looking for better days and not just the best ones behind them. As day turns to night, next year the same 'Siamese' fans will be dreaming that the next release sounds this monumental. But in this kaleidyscope you can expect something else reflecting off this prism. TIM DAVID HARVEY.