Friday, 15 July 2011

Portishead - Glorybox (1995)

Portishead, for the uninitiated, is a group from Bristol, England named after the nearby town of the same name. Consisting of Geoff Barrow, Adrian Utley and the fantastic Beth Gibbons, they first shot to fame with the timeless album Dummy. Made at the same time as a short film noir called To Kill a Dead Man, and the same approach - gloomy, tormented, and wildly melodramatic- permeates the album, and while they first had success with the tracks Numb and Sour Times (two of the lynchpin songs of the album), they are probably best known to the masses for the absolutely gorgeous Glorybox, Taking a sample from Issac Hayes Ike's Rap II from 1971,Glorybox has dark flashes of old soul and film music, and a bassbeat pulse (courtesy in large part to Mr Hayes) derived from the slow bump and grind of the Bristol scene that spawned Barrow's old collaborators, Massive Attack.
It's got a beautiful sultry feeling to it which makes you feel like Gibbons emoting like she's consumed by shame while trying to seduce you through your stereo. That gorgeous orchestral back-drop works with a passionate chorus that makes you want to smile, cry and drag the nearest person into bed.
Another song on perpetual rotation on the FVS Zen player, this was the tune that got me into Porstihead and trip hop in a big way.


Spiller - Cry Baby (Röyksopp's Malselves Memorabilia Mix) (2001)

Cristiano Spiller is an Italian DJ and had a no.1 hit in the UK, Italy, Australia and other countries with the hit single, Groovejet (If This Ain't Love), featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor, released in 2000. Groovejet sold over 2 milion copies and was the first song to be played on an iPod according to technology journalist Steven Levy and sold over 2,000,000 copies worldwide.
In 2002, he released Cry Baby in the UK; while the original isn't a particularly memorable song (in my opinion), Röyksopp's remix of it most definitely is. Not so much a remix, more a complete reconstruction that owes little, if anything to the original.
Röyksopp, for the uninitiated, is an electronic music duo from Tromsø, Norway, formed in 1998. Since their inception, the band's line-up has included Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland.
From a young age, the two experimented with various forms of electronica music during the Tromsø techno scene before going their separate ways. Several years later, the two met up again and formed Röyksopp during the Bergen Wave. After experimenting with different genres of electronic music, the band solidified their place in the electronica scene with their brilliant debut album, Melody A.M.
Anyway, the sum result is a song that once heard, is never forgotten.

Handsome Boy Modeling School - The Truth (1999)

Handsome Boy Modeling School was a teaming of quirky super-producers; Prince Paul (best-known for his work with De la Soul and Stetsasonic) and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura (GorillazDeltron 3030 and Kool Keith's The Return Of Dr. Octagon album). Taking their name from an episode of the cult Chris Elliott sitcom Get a Life (which was sampled several times on their album), Paul and Dan adopted the über-stylish alter egos of Chest Rockwell and Nathaniel Merriweather, respectively.
Their debut album, So...How's Your Girl?, was a loose concept record packed with guest stars: rappers Del tha Funkee Homosapien, J-Live, and El-P; members of Cibo Matto, Brand Nubian, and the Beastie Boys; star turntablists like DJ Shadow, DJ Quest, and Kid Koala; electronica artists like Moloko's Roisin Murphy and Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire; and even Saturday Night Live's Father Guido Sarducci. So...How's Your Girl? was released on Tommy Boy in the fall of 1999 to mostly favorable reviews, and the opening track, "Rock n' Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)," was licensed for a TV ad campaign. Nakamura subsequently moved on to a host of other highly conceptual projects, including Deltron 3030, Gorillaz, and Lovage. The duo returned to record-store shelves in 2004 with White People, their first album for Elektra.
In their universe, hip-hop encompasses popular music, not the other way around. The songs constantly shift between styles and moods. The sinister and atmospheric hip-hop of "Once Again" leads into "The Truth" , a lovely trip-hop torch song with seductively smoky vocals from the aforementioned Roison Murphy; voice purring over that bass heavy, plodding beat never, ever runs out of steam. J-Live has a great verse on there too, but that's a bonus to what makes this song great - and that, for me, is Murphy singing. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Sue Ann Carwell - 7 Days 7 Nights (1992)

Sue Ann Carwell’s voice has captured and enthralled audiences and seasoned performers since she started winning local talent shows in Minneapolis at the age of 15. As an experienced artist, writer, producer and vocal arranger with over 30 years in the business, Ms. Carwell has arranged and sung with such icons as James Brown, Patti LaBelle, Rod Stewart,and Prince, just to name a few

In 1981 Carwell auditioned for The Time, at that time being formed by Prince. It was composed of 4 members from an earlier funk group called Flyte Tyme, but the lead singer had not been chosen. As an aside, Alexander O'Neal nearly became The Time's lead singer, but dropped out due to payment negotiations; Morris day was chosen.
She then embarked on a solo career, with albums such as Sue Ann released in 1981 and Blue Velvet in 1988 (produced by The Time alimni Jesse Johnson and reknowned musician Robert Brookins), then released a third album, Painkiller, under her full name in 1992. Her songs on her first two albums reflected the Minneapolis Funk and R&B Sound of the 80s, whereas Painkiller
She's also established a career as a background singer, for various artists from the 1980s through today in the 2000s. Recently she has been on tour with Rufus and Sly Stone as a featured performer, and her current band contains members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She's also featured on the new blues album of her longtime friend Zac Harmon with a duet called The Price Of Loving You and all throughout Jesse’s new album Verbal Penetration
Carwell is currently signed to Verve records and working on a new album.

Atlantic Starr - Love Crazy (1991)

When you say Atlantic Starr to most people, chances are the first songs that will roll off their tongues will be their best known hits Secret Lovers and that MOR radio standard, Always.

However, throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Atlantic Starr scored several hits on the R&B charts. However, significant crossover success (onto the pop charts) did not come until halfway into the 80s, with the release of their As The Band Turns album, including Secret Lovers. By this time, the band had pared itself down to a quintet, consisting of the core of any A.S. line-up: the three Lewis brothers, David, Wayne and Jonathan, along with Joe Phillips, and the fantastic vocalist Barbara Weathers. In 1987, the band solidified their pop success by scoring a no.1 hit with Always, off their album All In The Name Of Love. Following this success, Weathers left for a solo career, and she was replaced by Porscha Martin for the band's next album, 1988's We're Movin' Up. Although this album was not quite as successful as its predecessor, it did produce another no.1 R&B hit with My First Love.
The band would continue to score hits on both the R&B and Pop charts into the early 90s. 1991 saw the introduction of yet another new female lead singer, when Martin was replaced by Rachel Oliver for the album, Love Crazy. This album featured the band's biggest hit of the 90s, with Masterpiece reaching no.3 on both the pop and R&B charts in early 1992. The Group toured to Japan in 1992 with yet another lead vocalist at the helm; Crystal Blake (session vocalist for Stevie Wonder, and lead on " Bust A Move" w/ Youmg M.C.)
The song Love Crazy was a nice surprise for many, including me; a group who at the time seemed so set in the way of the love ballad, released an album out of nowhere that had tunes I was listening to for years to come.
And in the case of Love Crazy, one that never went away.

Marva Hicks - I Got You Where I Want (1991)

Cutting her teeth as a gospel singer in Petersburg, Virginia, Marva Hicks later worked in theatre as an actress in Washington, D.C. From there she joined the group, the Eighties Ladies in 1981. She recorded several demos, after the band split, like Looking Over My Shoulder  for Infinity records. Marva wound up singing in Lena Horne's Broadway show which was how she met Stevie Wonder in London, as the show toured there. She toured with Stevie and sang background vocals on his Characters album.
She signed with Polydor in the late '80's and released her debut album Marva Hicks in 1991, with the killer tracks I got you where I want and Never been in love before and the track below, I Got You Where I Want, also the first single from the album. A lovely shuffling, SIIS style beat over strings, with the Extended Club Mix sporting a nice acappella intro and a funky drummer breakdown. A beautiful slice of early nineties street soul.