Friday, 25 February 2011

Mary J. Blige- Be Happy (1994)

In 1994, Blige's second album, My Life was released which was again overseen by Combs who also produced more than 50% of the album along with Washington DC native Carl "Chucky" Thompson (despite his having recently left the label), who with Thompson co-produced all but one of the album's tracks, and took over as Blige's manager. Unlike What's the 411?, Blige co-wrote a large body of the material, basing it on her personal life.
One of Mary J's best vocals ever, in my opinion. Curtis Mayfield sets the mood via the sample from You're So Good to Me. Is it me, but does her backing vocal at 2:44 - 2:47 sound like a homage to Marvin Gayes' backing vocals to I Want You? Haunting vocal.

From the album My Life.

It's a Mary J. Blige Friday

An Rn'B vocalist who's songs deserve a lot more love. Enjoy.

Mary J. Blige - You Remind Me (1992)

Mary J Blige's debut album What's The 411? was so successful, fans invented a genre to describe its sound: Hip-Hop Soul. Now known as 'the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul', Blige has sold over 40 million records and inspired countless stars of contemporary R&B.
One of the first records produced by a young Sean Combs, What's The 411? went on to sell over two million copies after several singles became R&B hits, including this, which had been released previously to raise awareness of the upcoming album.

Mary J. Blige Share My World (1997)

Share My World marked several personal and professional changes in her life and career. Following the departure of Andre Harrell the year before, Blige defected from Uptown Records in favour of its parent label MCA and severed professional ties with long-time producer and mentor Sean “Puffy” Combs shortly before the production of Share My World began. His absence was filled with a bevy of high profile producers, such as: Rodney Jerkins, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Babyface, Bryce Wilson, and R. Kelly. The end result produced an album that was less entrenched in the Hip Hop Soul of her first two albums, and replaced with a style that was more aligned with Contemporary R&B.
You could tell by all of this that Mary was polishing her sound; it was most evident on this, the title track. 

Monday, 21 February 2011

Kool & The Gang - Summer Madness (1974)

Light of  Worlds was by far Kool & the Gang's most spiritual and sophisticated work, produced in the wake of the success of their previous album, Wild and Peaceful
Summer Madness is considered to be the album's highlight, incorporating smooth melodies and a mesmerizing synthesizer. It was later released as a single, with a follow up titled "Winter Sadness" to the Gang's Spirit of the Boogie a year later. A remake of Summer Madness was released on the Gang's 1993 album Unite titled WKOOL/Summer.

Three Songs to Remind Us Summer's Coming

Yeah yeah, we know; the weather's still cold, it's damp & miserable outside, so let's close our eyes, imagine we're on the beach at St Tropez or Rio (OK maybe Tenerife if you're watching the pennies), the rays on your face, sipping a cocktail of your choice and chilling out. Enjoy.

Roy Ayers Ubiquity - Everybody Loves The Sunshine (1976)

Fusion became R&B during the mid Seventies for Roy, after signing for the Polydor label, with albums such as his 1976 album 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine', featuring 'Hey, Uh, Whatcha Say Come On' and the title song, becoming hugely popular on the Soul circuit. One of his biggest albums ever.

Roy was under contract to Polydor for several future album releases, which saw him releasing up to two albums a year during this period.

Miles Davis - Summertime (1958)

The second in a series of Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations, Porgy and Bess was well-received upon its release. Davis and Evans’ recasting of the George Gershwin opera was their follow up to the magnificent Miles Ahead and featured a version of the jazz standard Summertime. A different take on a classic song. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Adventures Of Stevie V - Dirty Cash (Dime & Dollar Mix) (1990)

Assembled by producer Stevie Vincent, the group also included singers Melody Washington and Mick Walsh. Their most successful single was Dirty Cash (Money Talks), a no.1 dance chart hit that crossed over to pop radio and hit no. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. A follow-up single, Jealousy, hit no.2 on the US dance chart in early 1991. Vincent currently teaches music tech at Bedford College.
On a personal level, this track reminds me of Tenerife 1991; sun, sea and the rest...

Alyson Williams - Sleep Talk (12" Version)

Her first album release and the first R&B female singer signed to Def Jam, she released the album Raw in 1989. The album produced the singles My Love is So Raw, featuring female rapper Nikki D,and Sleep Talk, arguably her most famous song and yet another outing for the Funky Drummer sample. that's not to detract away from the track; it was a tune them and it's still a tune now.
In addition, the single Just Call My Name was a hit on the Billboard R&B charts reaching number No.4. The song, picked up by many Quiet storm formats, is now considered a cult classic and is still played. The album included a duet with the Blue Magic vocalist Ted Mills on We're Gonna Make It. Her single I Need Your Lovin' was also a No.8 success in the UK, as well as another R&B hit for her.

Mantronix - Got To Have Your Love (Club With Bonus Beats) - 1989

The little-known Bryce Wilson-remixed 12" version of the iconic original. That Funky Drummer sample sure got around, but always sounded crisp.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Vanity 6 - Nasty Girl

Vanity 6 was a female vocal trio (Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity, Brenda Bennett &
Susan Moonsie) assembled by Prince in the early 1980s. They released one eponymous album, which blended the sounds of pop, new waveR&B, and funkNasty Girl appeared on the trio's only album Vanity 6 and was released as a single in 1982. The backing music was performed by The Time.

The Time - Jerk Out

The Time is a funk group formed in 1981. They are close Prince associates and arguably the most successful artists who have worked with him. Consisting of Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Jellybean Johnson ,Monte Moir, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jesse Johnson, Ricky "Freeze" Smith and Torrell "Tori" Ruffin.
The band was assembled under a clause in Prince's contract with Warner Bros. that allowed him to recruit and produce other artists for the label. Inspired by the 1980 film The Idolmaker, Prince decided to put together a pop-funk group that would serve as an outlet for material in the vein of his own early albums, while he explored other genres and styles in his own career.

Jerk Out is from the 1990 album Pandmonium.

Sheila E. - The Belle of St. Mark

Sheila Escovedo known by her stage name Sheila E., is an American drummer and percussionist, perhaps best known for her work with Prince.
Though taken under Prince's wing, she proved to be a successful artist in her own right. In 1984 she scored hits with The Glamorous Life, and The Belle Of St. Mark. She opened for The Purple One on the Purple Rain tour.

From the 1984 album, The Glamorous Life.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Three Michael Jackson Tracks - Just Not The Obvious Ones

There was a time that Michael Jackson was just known for the music, but then of course as his fame grew, the juggernaut of everything else that attached itself to his image grew and people didn't really take notice of the music.
Strip away the plastic surgery, the chimps, the kids and all that other b.s. and early MJ is still fantastic to the ear.

We're Almost There was released in 1975 and which was the first release off his final Motown album, Forever, Michael. The single showcased Jackson's tenor more prominently than in previous releases the past year. The song is a soul-type of ballad that sparked a departure from the singer's previous material and really showed the first sign of Michael's maturing vocals.

It's the Falling in Love (1979) (a duet with Patti Austin) is a ballad from the Off The Wall album, written & produced by the dynamic duo of Quincy Jones & Rod Temperton.

The Lady In My Life (1982) is an-oft overlooked track from the Thriller album, again a product of Messrs Jones & Temperton. While you have the bells-and-whistles of Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller catching the public's attention, tracks like this bubble gently in the background and remind you that behind the moonwalk (which probably originated from Cab Calloway in the 1930's, who himself was probably inspired by the stationary walk a mime artist does), MJ's soulful side was still in evidence.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

RIP John Barry

As you've no doubt heard, John Barry, famous for his work on Born Free, Out of Africa and the James Bond films, died in New York yesterday of a heart attack aged 77. I know everyone remembers him for his Bond work, but he did a ton of memorable stuff. Let's have some famous and not so famous examples of his work.

It wouldn't do to not have one John Barry Bond theme, so here's my favourite. Arguably the best Bond theme, with arguably the best Bond.