As someone who was raised on classical music and not in the age group who follows rap I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover EMINEM. I first heard him on MTV with the video 'The Real Slim Shady'. I was intrigued and bought a CD.
In The Marshal Mathers LP, I find that he says everything, and I mean everything that the rest of us would just love to say but don't have the nerve. I also found that the music was excellent, the beat easy to move to, and most of all I found his lyrics to be very intelligent and truthful. He has a tremendous sense of humor and if you take the time to listen and ignore the profanity you will not only be moving your 'thang' to the beat you will also be laughing on the floor holding your gut. He says it like it is and you must have a sense of humor to listen to his messages. Warning: Only people with a sense of humor and the ability to really look at themselves need to listen to Mr. Slim Shady. Save the rest of us your complaints and sarcasm. We do not care what you think if you do not like EMINEM. (Uni/Interscope B00004T9UF)
Dido is a refreshing change of music. With her top hit "Thank You" the rest of her CD, Dido No Angel, is a must hear. She has a melodious voice and the songs on the CD are original. I like her style and the songs are easy on the ear. Though there are the usual songs of love and love lost there are also songs of woman overcoming and standing up to the world on her own two feet. I definitely recommend Dido for anyone, but especially young women as Dido makes a good image for any young female. A definite must add to the collection.
My turn now! So far this year's music scene is pretty bleak from where I sit and listen. I, too, was raised on classical and way-back-when top 40 (they called it "hit parade" music back then, today they are known as "standards") then I became a musician (bass, guitar and keyboards) had several bands and engineered for many years. I learned my craft by listening to music (probably a little too closely)!
|The current new Vertical Horizon song is all right, not nearly as good as last year's title track smash hit, Everything You Want, but good enough to indicate this might be one of the better albums around right now (my motto is any album that gets two songs on the radio must be ok, three songs and it's worth buying). (BMG/RCA B00000J6BR)|
|Macy Gray, On How Sweet Life Is.This is still the hottest new thing I've heard. Very unique style. I love her phrasing. Slick production. (Sony/Epic B00000JQFG)|
|That's all I have to say about anything reasonably new!. So far this year there are no mega hits. No Genies, in or out of bottles, no one who wants to Kiss Me or anyone else, no Sonny Came Home playing on six stations every 30 minutes for weeks on end, no Semi-Charmed life or even Quarter-Charmed life, so obviously the music world is not "Living la Vida Loca" -- it's more like living the siesta loca. With luck, this may change as the summer progresses.
So the only other "plugs" I have consist of somewhat recent albums that you should consider if they are not already in your collection!
|Astro Lounge - The second effort from Smash Mouth. Outstanding album from start to finish. Spawned three heavy rotation hits and contains many other great gems starting off with the fast-paced "Who's There" going through the Latin beat of "Satellite" which has a dandy acoustic guitar solo, a very driving "Radio," then into a Reggae feel with "Road Man" (which sounds like it came off a previously released vinyl, as I can hear the groove noise at the very end). If you liked what you heard on the radio ("Then The Morning Comes," "Can't Get Enough of You Baby" and their super hit "All Star") the rest will not let you down. The band covers a wide range of music genres flavored with their very distinctive chip on the shoulder style. Totally good album start to finish. (Interscope Records 90316)|
|Fan Mail Outstanding performances from the trio known as TLC! After the title track they go into an oriental flavored ditty called "Silly Ho" followed by a dandy man woman vocal "club pickup" prelude ("hey baby...!") setting up the mega hit "Scrubs" (a classic and one of my favorite all-time songs), followed immediately by what sounds like a dreamy love ballad, which quickly turns into a very edgy beat as they stick their tongues through their cheeks with "I'm Good At Being Bad" ("...what are you going to do with a bitch like me?"), then a very staccato "If They Knew" follows. From there they go into the real dreamy ballad that could have easily come off a Janet Jackson or Savage Garden album ("I Miss You So Much" - plus there's another ballad with a similar flavor called "Dear Lie"), moving us into their second hit single "Unpretty" with its Rockman fuzz guitar riffs and some really deep lyrics on the concept of the superficial versus the internal. Some really great songs that move from fringes of pop, hip-hop and rap. Some people may find some of the lyrics shocking or even a little offensive, so if you have PC sensibilities preview the album before you buy! Excellent production from collaborator Dallas Austin. Plays well from start to finish. Credible Grammy winner! (LaFace Records 73008-26055-2)|
|Sixpence None the Richer, their self-titled effort and something like their third or fourth record (guitarist Matt Slocum, who wrote most of the songs, started the band about a dozen years ago with singer Leigh Nash, back when they were both teenagers). They are a home-grown Christian band from Texas that came up through the ranks on their own efforts and terms with a little help from Lillith Fair, among other industry sharp-eyed talent seeking eagles. Don't necessarily let the religious part scare you off, as while there are a few "message" songs, they don't hit you over the head with it. Since it's home-grown (self-produced), every once in a while the vocals get a little lost in the mix. It's also a little on the droll side (anyone remember the Sneaker Pimps? -- ok not exactly "heroin" but a little Lithium oriented at the very least), personally the angst works for me. One country flavored gem I really liked was "You Can't Catch me." The pop-rock "Sister Brother" was another great song. Of course there are the two infamous radio hits: "Kiss Me" and "There She Goes" which got played to death. This album is not for everyone. You have to like pop with a little country twang and be in need of a running Prozac prescription, but if you like her voice as much as I did you'll find this album very pleasant to listen to while going about your daily chores. (Squint Entertainment 7017032616)|
|Globe Sessions, the third album from Sheryl Crow and best of the lot. Not perfect, I find myself skipping over a few songs here and there when I really want to get to a cut I like the best. She's a really good pop poet, one of the best I've heard since Carley Simon or Carole King. "You Don't Bring Me Anything But Down" and the main cut "Favorite Mistake" are two examples that show off her ability to stick her tongue through her cheek while still being quite serious about life. Not deep or heavy, but a light, poppy, good old-fashioned hot poker! Sheryl Crow also produced this album and she has a crazy way of mixing. The lower register Hammond organ glissandos are so intense that they make my CD skip! She also likes leaving guitar pulls and noise at the start of cuts (most producers tend to cut these dry to the first note of music) which I don't object to (in fact it makes it more like you're there in the session), but it's an unusual way to present a cut. This is another "enhanced" CD (E-CD) and it's a programmed sing-a-long. If you run it on a computer and select "songs" from the menu it plays the album and shows you the words as they are sung! (A & M Records 06949 0404-2)|
|Californication, which is the most recent Red Hot Chili Peppers effort. Forget the outrageousness of the title, if you can get behind the Grateful Dead you can probably get behind this album. It's crude, sometimes out of tune, timing losses here and there. Hey, if you can listen to Sublime you can listen to this CD! It is very poppy alternative neo grungy punk. Not sure how to classify this CD, except that it goes into the Grateful Dead category. It's like Working Man's Dead without the country twang. Songs are more cohesive and poppy than Anthem of the Sun, but it reminds me of the "San Francisco free concert on the green type feeling" of 1969. Besides, you gotta be musical geniuses to get a song about "Scar Tissue" played in top 40 rotation on the same stations that play Cher and Mariah Carey! Spawned three hits on the radio, which for me is always a good indication ("Scar Tissue" plus "Otherside" and the title track). There are two versions, the traditional U.S. release at popular prices (around $14-15) WEA/Warner Brothers B00000J7JO and the import which includes the bonus track "Gong Li" at an outrageous twice the price (Warner B00000JG3X around $31 - $34), but the fans say it's worth the price. Personally I don't know about that... It's your money, you decide!|
|Speaking of the Dead, Jerry Garcia has a new album due to be released! Wow, that's music from the dead! I may buy it, even if it isn't the greatest. I love his playing. I love his approach to music. I had his previous solo albums on vinyl. "Sugaree," "The Wheel" and "They Love Each Other" were some of my favorite solo Garcia pieces. It's called Shining Star and it's a 2 - CD set which means it's expensive. Dead heads take note!|
|Supernatural. The multi-award winning over production of Carlos Santana presented by Clive Davis who did so well in the past for Whitney Houston, churned out this over hyped, watered down, cliche ridden (golly, I hear another white boy making another Hispanic euphemism I'll scream) album that only did two things for me. It gave Santana several Grammy awards (and he richly deserves it, being one of the 10 best guitar players of all time, in a league with Tal Farlow, Django Rhienhardt, B.B King, Andres Segovia and others) and it also cheated Ricky Martin out of one Grammy he should have received for having the best session recorded ("Living la Vida Loca"). My former band mate and studio partner Alan likes this album a lot, so you probably won't go wrong by getting it. (BMG/Arista B00000J7J4.)|
|For me, if you want a good Rob Thomas album buy the one he did previously (Yourself or Someone Like You. ) with his band, Matchbox 20. (WEA/Atlantic B000002JWU) .|
|If you want a great Santana album, get Abraxis. As for Supernatural, I foresee all sorts of commercial potentials from Jello Pudding to Cadillac El Dorado: "Oh, You're so smooth....!" Can it be a Santana album without a Gabor Szabo song?! (Sony/Columbia B00005A8GY)|
|Gabor Szabo, The Sourcerer. Recorded live at the Jazz Workshop in the 1960s with Jimmy Stewart (who wrote the haunting song "Lou - ise" which showcases some great Szabo lead lines) on second guitar. Very good record, recently re-released. Carlos Santana's favorite guitarist! If you don't like acoustic jazz, stay away from this! Szabo's rendition of "The Beat Goes On" - which comes from this album -- defined the term "acid - jazz." ( Uni/Impulse B000003N90)|
|J. Lo. Jennifer Lopez is a good actor. I liked her in "Selena." She also picks great dresses for events like the Grammy awards! But, she's only a fair singer (all right girls, click on the link at the bottom of this page marked 'Say Your Piece' and yell at me!). Personally she should stick with movies, she does that real well, and leave the singing up to the girls like Madonna who do it on a regular, professional basis.... (Sony/Epic B000056VIY)|
|Oasis Of Love. Nadine Renee. "Caribe Sangre," one of the lead songs off this CD, has a very catchy dance groove, is well produced and well performed. The song starts off with a great acoustical guitar riff against a background of drums, bass and synths. The next thing you notice is her voice. The voice and the music conjure up images of Gloria Estefan, but Nadine Renee has different textures and nuances. But, if you like Estefan you'll probably like Nadine... She also does a variety of Spanish language songs. (MCA B00004TT4I available at Amazon.com)|
|Elan: Follow Me. For me, this particular track is better than most of what is being played on hit radio today. Maybe it's that I'm a sucker for emotional songs. Maybe it's because this sister act from Brooklyn, NY, sound a little like Robyn (and if you like what Robyn did on her debut album, you'll like this cut, even though it's not a heavy dance track). I rank this song right up there with Thank You by Dido and I Love The Way You Love Me by Faith Hill. It's not on the radio, but you can hear it for free at MP3s.com and see what you (mostly for girls out there) think of this particular cut, which starts off on a nice organ flute line, takes a break, goes into a low-keyed verse, then comes up with a heavier beat. It has a bridge (where the guitar gets noticed) and a chorus I find myself wanting to sing. Over all, a well written song with thoughtful lyrics and the pair singing together in double-tracked vocal style. I played it six times in a row! With the backing of major management and a label, this song would easily fit in to the top 40 radio market. (http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/188/elan2.html)
|Jay-Z. The Dynasty. There were several songs that had personal meaning for Jay-Z on The Dynasty, his latest album. One of these songs spoke of his absent father, and another detailed his struggles to gain the success he enjoys today. Jay-Z has been criticized by other artists, yet he has made many strides for hip-hop culture, such as refusing to change his true to life style and personality for fame. This has paved the way for other artists to do the same. The Dynasty was planned to be a compilation CD featuring the whole Rocafella Family, but eventually became Jay-Z's CD, featuring label mates Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, Amil, and Freeway. This is one of Jay-Z's best albums. (Uni/Def Jam B000050HS9)|
|Memphis Bleek. The Understanding. Memphis Bleek is distiguished in hip-hop by his energetic delivery, which he has demonstrated once again in The Understanding. Some people claim Bleek's style is monotonous, however in interviews he argues that he is still growing as an artist. This album has shown a lot of improvement over the first, and Bleek intends to outdo himself in the same fashion on his next album. Though this album started off slow, it has definitely caught on. (Uni/Def Jam B00004YWGB)|
|R. Kelly. TP2.com. R. Kelly is still at the top of the R&B game. He continues to make quality music, including his latest singles 'I Wish', 'Fiesta', 'The Greatest Sex', and 'I Don't Mean It'. But that is not all. 'A Woman's Threat', and 'R&B Thug' are a couple of the other good songs on the album that haven't made it to the radio yet, but will. R. Kelly was the first to marry a street element with R&B, and has been imitated by many new artists such as Jaheim. R. Kelly's style has demonstrated the kind of longevity that most artists never see. If you don't have it yet, get it. (Bmg/Jive/Novus/Silvertone B00004WIZA)
|Minnie Ripperton. The Best of Minnie Ripperton. This album has a few old favorites like 'Loving You (Is Easy Cuz You're Beautiful)' and 'Back Down Memory Lane'. It also has more unknown yet outstanding songs like 'Come Inside', which was recently sampled by...who was it sampled by? It was recently sampled in a semi-popular rap song. If you know which one, email us! Another tight song on this album is 'Can You Feel What I'm Saying'. All the songs on this album are characterized by strong lyrics, skillful vocals(including Minnie's famous high notes), and even better, multilayered, involved instrumentals. This album is packed with slow jams that will put recent R&B to shame. A must have in your collection. (Emd/Capitol B000002UQN)
|Petals: The Minnie Riperton Collection. If you can't find the album listed above (or if you just want double...er, actually triple, your Minnie), this one is recently released and readily available -- check it out! A two CD set, at a decent price. Contains similar cuts and then some! One of her demos is included ('Seeing You This Way') as is a version of 'Light My Fire' with Jose Feliciano and a reprise cut of 'Loving You' featuring George Benson's band. (Emd/Right Stuff B00004ZDJR)