Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tatjana-New Look (1997)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 25, 2016

It's a new look indeed! Even though I continue to hear the exotic voice of Miss Kristine W filling my heart with gladness with repeated replays of "Happiness" and "Meet Again", I wanted to turn my attention elsewhere in the dance genre, getting my first fill-up on a Dutch singer who calls herself Tatjana. This lady just looked like she was gonna be a real sweet listen—judging from the cover artwork pictured above, anyway—before I even played the first track; lo and behold, she turned out to be exactly that, the delicious dance diva in her delighting me the instant I got formally introduced with my latest new addiction that is "Calendar Girl". ' Can't you see, it's only you and me, I'll be there for you ': the lyrics about staying with her lover every month of the year may be senselessly bubblegummy, but her distinctively sugary vocals and the thumping bass of the ethnic rhythm make this song is oh so yummy! Couldn't help but to skip down to the 'Disco Mix' located at the end of this album, which I give a slight edge of favoritism to due to its faster tempo and sparkly electronic groove. Both are awesome jams, and both have already made themselves home on my 'Energy Mix' playlist! Did some more skipping around right after that when my eyes scanned a familiar song title: "Let's Go Round Again". Absolutely had to hear this lady's dance remake of the AVERAGE WHITE BAND classic that's been molded and transformed into so many excellent Eurodance jams by so many artists over the years (the versions by the pop group YELL! and by Louise Redknapp of the British girl group ETERNAL come to mind)! This Tatjana remake is simply super-ultra disco-groovy! That enough adjectives for ya? Of course, I'll be going plenty of rounds with this one in the coming hours and days (and even weeks, I suspect), if not just to immerse myself in the dance groove and the familiar words of ' let's go round again one more time '. That's why this too has ended up on my 'Energy Mix' playlist! "Santa Maria": satisfaction guaranteed! The only dance jam on the album where a guest male MC pumps you up with his slick way with words in the classic 90's Eurodance style is the simplest of songs where Tatjana's repetitive delivery of the song title against the warming melody and the super high-energy rhythm make for a collectively catchy combination. And you guessed it—went straight down to the 'Wah-Hey Mix' right afterwards for even more mind-melting music marvelousness! After that, it's the Dutch dance diva celebrating love on a series of happy feel-gooders: "Your Love Is Magic", "The First Time" (a guilty pleasure about never having been in love before), "Searching For You" (I like the way her voice soars up whenever she sings 'searching for you'—so lofty and angelic) and the bouncy reggae-flavored "Sweet Sweet Smile", which is her extending that calendar presented on the opening track as she looks forward to seeing the sunshine on her lover's face every day of her life. If there is even an ounce of negativity here, it's heard on the pair of cuts called "Nothing To Me" (that wild, angst-driven scream made at the end of every pass of the main chorus pretty much says what's on her mind on this one) and "Ain't Gonna Cry", where she promises to kiss his love goodbye. But that negativity is shot-lived and almost forgotten altogether when you listen to the song of bold love determination that is "Boy I Know", the dreamy, twinkly offering 'Loving On My Mind" (this one's got a throwback disco feel; I wonder if this is another cover of a song I may've forgotten all about?) and the glittery glitz of a jam that is "Show Me" (had predicted it might've been a remake of THE COVER GIRLS' Freestyle classic from the 80's, but turns out to be a totally different lyrical arrangement, even though the message of wanting her man to prove his love to her remaining virtually the same). Looking for something seriously sweet to jam to? Look no further than this tantalizing Tatjana treat that'll make you feel all brand new:

1. Calendar Girl (Brazil Version)
2. Santa Maria
3. Your Love Is Magic
4. The First Time
5. Searching For You
6. Sweet Sweet Smile
7. Let's Go Round Again
8. Nothing To Me
9. Boy I Know
10. Loving On My Mind
11. Ain't Gonna Cry
12. Show Me
13. Santa Maria (Wah-Hey Mix)
14. Calendar Girl (Disco Version)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Kristine W-The Power Of Music (2009)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 23, 2016

The power of music indeed—long and lasting power! I have somehow found myself on an extended, unprecedented Kristine W kick for the better part of the last couple of months, which started with her Year 2000 album, "Stronger", continued with repeated replays of 2003's "Fly Again", and is currently ongoing with this super-addicting 2009 effort that I cannot seem to get out of my system for the life of me! Every one of the songs that this delicious diva performs here is a delectable treat, but it's the exact same batch of four highly-tantalizing dance jams that I keep going back to for second helpings, third helpings, fourth helpings, fifth get the idea! My endless music feast started with Kristine's mega-thriller of a cover of the Diana Ross disco classic, "The Boss". Seems that just about all of the hits by the legendary lead singer of THE SUPREMES has been remixed or remade into a revitalizing modern-day dance format, and none of them have disappointed, especially not this powerful Kristine W version of "The Boss", which will indeed take total control of your music senses when her big and bold words of 'but love taught me who was, who was, who was the boss' from the familiar chorus explode into your ears! Then following that big bad boss of a bombastic jam is one that all dance music lovers will crave: "Love Is The Look"; it currently stands as my #3 favorite on this album, largely due to its energetic house rhythm and Kristine's sultry, exotic vocals leading the way and delivering the highly fashionable lyrics to this highly fashionable song! If you like dance songs that simply make you happy, you'll find instant adoration for the warming, breezy offering that is Track #15's simply-titled "Happiness". I recall during my first go-round, I had liked this one, but it didn't quite captivate me as much as "Love Is The Look", "The Boss" and some of the other dance jams previously heard. It had to have been my third or fourth time through this album, during some evening joyride in my car (where I had the entire playlist of "The Power Of Music" blasting through my stereo speakers), where "Happiness" finally got my undivided attention and completely absorbed into my music senses. Besides the thumping beat and the breeziness of the melody, which in itself has some long-lasting addiction power, there's just something so completely satisfying and uplifting about the way Kristine's exotic voice coats the words of 'you are my happiness', which is the one line that has eternally stuck inside of my mental jukebox for the past week! But as happy as "Happiness" makes me, it's got absolutely nothing on this album's funky final track, "Meet Again", which makes me even happier—in more ways than just one! Ironically, "Meet Again" has the slowest tempo of this four-pack batch of favorites, but it's the exquisite, uneven dance/pop beat, which features a distinctively hard, pounding keyboard accompaniment mixed in with her background voicing of 'ooh, ooh, ooh' in perfect step with that beat, that puts the spice on this particularly sweet sensation! The excellent production surely makes me happy the most, but the song's overall theme of her someday getting another chance to be with the man she once loved adds a delightful touch of hope and joyful expectation that contributes to that happiness. "Meet Again" (I totally and utterly CANNOT stop playing this one song!) currently stands as my #1 favorite with "Happiness" as a close #2, but it's quite possible that I'll have to rearrange the rankings in the future, considering I plan to keep "The Power Of Music" spinning and other exhilarating jams like the super disco-groovy "Never" (that one just might be my #5 favorite), potentially exercising their complete control over me as well:

1. Be Alright
2. The Power Of Music
3. Into U
4. Never
5. Not So Merry Go Round
6. Fade
7. Walk Away
8. Feel What You Want
9. The Boss
10. Love is The Look
11. Window To Your World
12. Strings
13. Do You Really Want Me?
14. The Groove's Inside
15. Happiness
16. Meet Again

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SUGABABES-Catfights And Spotlights (2008)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 21, 2016

I enjoyed some sugar with the spice a couple of days ago with the British sweeties that the pop music world knows and loves as THE SPICE GIRLS, and then I get some extra sugar and spice tonight with the fellow British girl group that calls itself THE SUGABABES. My very first time ever treating myself to a full-length listening of tunes by the latter bunch is represented by their 2008 effort, :Catfights And Sugababes" that "Catfights and Spotlights". Could've gone with any one of their albums, considering the girl group mood that I've found myself in as of late, but something about the alluring cover artwork—whether seen in the music sections of retail stores or in the virtual online music world—has always drawn me to this one in particular. As usual, a good selection on my part, and I quickly found out just how good upon taking in the BABES' opening anthem simply entitled "Girls". I like when these modern-day pop artists have the retro-pop thing going on with their songs, and I would see that the retro theme is a recurring one all throughout, resurfacing as soon as the three follow-ups of "You On A Good Day", "No Can Do" (an insta-favorite with so much coolness happening in the rhythm!) ad the spunky "Hanging On A Star" (the way they deliver the verses reminds me of THE BEATLES' classic, "Twist And Shout", while their playful chanting of 'tell me baby, baby, tell me what you want' is as infectious as the surprise upstep in the disco dance tempo). Was looking forward to the one called "Side Chick". Ooh, sounds like there's some trouble brewing one this one, I thought to myself. Except I thought it would be the SUBAGABES bunch singing about another girl who's the chick on the side and not one of them being the side chick herself! All sorts of spice on this simmering cut, highlighted by their sweet harmony in the chorus and the honey-sweet flow of the song altogether. 'Boy, you better get your head checked'—my favorite line on the whole song! Felt an emotional storm brewing on "Unbreakable Heart", which turns out to be quite the meaningful piece, once I really paid close attention to what they're asking: what good is a heart that doesn't break? Never experiencing the real thing and never knowing what the ups and downs of love feels like.....there's a danger in that, as the girls point out. I love the odd arrangement to the music most of all, particularly with the somber sound of the shrill keyboard tones accompanying the chords. "Sunday Rain": I predicted one more beautiful 'rain' song on the horizon, but I didn't predict how majestically dynamite it would be! The girls and the production crew team up to do it up big and bold on what's not your usual slow jam and a definite highlight of this album! 'You break my heart, I'll break yours, that's how it goes': that's my favorite line here. The brokenhearted theme resurfaces again on one that I had a lot of fun with: "Every Heart Broken". Love the analogy of breaking someone's heart like committing the ultimate murder, proven by their words of 'murder one' and 'looking down the barrel of a smoking gun'; the intensity of the music, which starts off innocently enough with a delicate piano piece before spice heats things up, serving as the perfect setting for this scene of the crime. Just as bold and intense is the mid-tempo, bluesy jam called "Beware", where again I would find a line in the chorus that stuck to me: ' you don't wanna mess with me '. Nuff said there. Back to the bouncy retro-inspired pop on the delightfully catchy "Nothing's As Good As You" before the emotions turn back sour on "Sound Of Goodbye" and one that I've nominated as the next 'Slow Jam Of The Night': "Can We Call A Truce?". The latter is definitely one that will grab hold of your soul and weigh on it heavily as the sad tonality of the orchestral chords and the seriousness of the words melt into your blood. 'I would rather fight than lose you'—it doesn't get any more serious than that. A gem of a performance for sure, but thankfully, the mood brightens up before the album comes to a close with the warming acoustic piano piece, "About You Now" (don't these acoustic piano pieces always bring out the best in an artist's vocals?; no deviation from the norm here) , and the club-spunky jam that is "She's Like A Star", where the girls collaborate with British phenom Taio Cruz. So in the midst of all this catfighting and the spotlighting, there's some sweet music here that these SUGABABES ensure you will find delectably tantalizing:

1. Girls
2. You On A Good Day
3. No Can Do
4. Hanging On A Star
5. Side Chick
6. U breakable Heart
7. Sunday Rain
8. Every Heart Broken
9. Beware
10. Nothing's As Good As You
11. Sound Of Goodbye
12. Can We Call A Truce?
13. About You Now [Acoustic] [Bonus Track]
14. She's Like A Star [Feat. Taio Cruz]

Monday, September 19, 2016

AFRO Z-Ain't It Funny (2003)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 19, 2016

Yeah, it's funny alright—that is, how I keep digging up these albums from the past and turning them into brand new music addictions! I've somehow found myself regularly spending a lot of time—both online and offline—exploring the various sounds and talents out of the southernmost country on the African continent. The latest artist from there to grace my ears is the mixed male/female pop group that calls itself AFRO Z. A request for their only known album to date was made quite a long time ago, but I never forgot, capitalizing on the chance to finally hear it for my own entertainment purposes when the golden opportunity recently presented itself! I knew absolutely zero about AFRO Z prior to my very first listen to them today, but thankfully, they avoided becoming another 'mystery artist' to add to my ever-expanding case files by having a Facebook page dedicated to them available at Meanwhile, I found "Ain't It Funny" to be absolutely no laughing matter at all; this crew is the real deal, and I determined that right away with their souliciously ethnic performance delivered on the opening cut, "Playing With My Mind". I couldn't help but to get attached to the tribal beats and the full-on thumping house rhythm while their words about people who create love drama pour over the music. The rap flow midway through is especially nice, and that same wise way with words adding some hip flavor to the beats would become a signature characteristic theme as my listening progressed. In particular, the rap being thrown down is amazing during the funky music explosion that is "Phenomenal", a terrific upbeat jam about how this one word 'phenomenal' basically says it all about how one feels about the other. My favorite parts are how the backup crew collectively chant 'phenomenal', 'unbelievable' and 'impossible' in a stylistic monotone throughout the main chorus, plus that spicy 'baby don't stop, baby don't stop it' hook! The ladies and the guys alternating with the lead vocal duties offers the listener a colorful palette of music diversity. When one of the guys isn't showing off while telling his story about love coming full circle on title track or demonstrating what he has to offer on the beautifully warming slow number, "I Got Love For You", it's one of the ladies persuading her man not to think too much and just let chemistry happen on the groovy dance jam, "Lay A Little Love On Me", reminding him not to underestimate her love on the touching and impressive solo piece, "Condition Of My Heart", demanding that truth be told about their relationship on "Don't Lie" (this one's got a really cool, syncopated beat that instantly awakens the pop lover's senses!) or declaring it big and bold that she's done with all the games and fooling around on "Been There, Done That". But no matter who was taking lead on any given cut or if they're alternating lead vocals within the same cut, my ears were always being treated to something good. It's pure sweet pleasure, for instance, listening to them joining in together on the chilled groove, "Coldest War" (well, chilled up to a point, before the surprise dance beat pops in and transforms it into quite the high-energy thriller!). Then as for the other cuts, I give props to the production crew for crafting the bombastically fun beats that made me get attached to "All I Wanna Do" ( make sweet love, to complete that thought, and I like the line in the lyrics about closing the door and giving her some more), "Blowing My Cool" (now this one's got some serious get-down-and-get-high-on-a-Friday-night appeal!) and, the one that sounds nearly exactly like "Blowing My Cool" in every way and even similar thematically, "Lately". Some may laugh at the fact that you're listening to something that's thirteen years old, but by the time your joyride with AFRO Z's "Ain't It Funny" is complete, it'll be you who gets the last laugh:

1. Playing With My Mind
2. Ain't It Funny
3. Coldest War
4. Phenomenal
5. Lay A Little Love On Me
6. Condition Of My Heart
7. All I Wanna Do
8. Lately
9. Blowing My Cool
10. Don't Lie
11. I Got Love For You
12. Been There, Done That
13. Roll With Me

Sunday, September 18, 2016

SPICE GIRLS-SpiceWorld (1997)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 18, 2016

I felt like spicing up my Sunday night to reward myself for a successful day working in the outdoors—figuratively and literally. And for that, I acquainted myself with the hugely successful British girl group, THE SPICE GIRLS, and the second of their albums that I somehow never managed to listen to in its full entirety (yeah, I got a long list of albums to put in that category). Only a couple of songs, as it turned out, had any kind of real familiarity. "Move Over": This was the group's other definitive mega-hit in companion to "Wannabee" and the one I vividly recalled from those Pepsi commercials on TV. 'Next phase, next stage, next grade, next wave, generation next......'—oh, the nostalgia! Then there's the one right afterwards on this "SpiceWorld" album: "Do It". The familiarity came rushing back to me once the girls started chanting 'come on and do it' to the rhythm of the beat. I particularly found a new liking for how their sweet, sugary voices sing low then high and mighty in the verses before their collectively smooth harmonizing in the following movement. ' It's time to free what's in your soul.freak out, lose control '—sounds like a 90's SPICE GIRLS anthem to me! Thinking more about anthems and such, the festive opener, "Spice Up Your Life", serves as a great way to kick off the pop party. Takes a patient and receptive ear to take in all of the extra electronic noise and hoopla encircling the subtle Latin rhythm and their cheerful words of motivation. If the girls had been tagged as Eurodisco group, then "Never Give Up On The Good Times" surely would've been a trademark dance anthem for them! Either way, it's a terrific thrill designed to spin your wheels and create plenty of disco floor spills as the girls take you out for a fun-filled night into their spiced-up world! Kinda surprised that "Saturday Night Divas" wasn't the full-out dance thriller that I'd expected it to be. Instead, there's a semi-upbeat r&b swing and sensual groove that carries this one along, but it's a lovely accompaniment to their chilled, soothing delivery of their words of wanting to get down and get down deeper. Here's one that soothes in all the right places" "Viva Forever". Definitely the sweetest listen within this "SpiceWorld", as a calming Latin guitar melody and breezy ambiance paint the perfectly dreamy romantic backdrop for a song that speaks about living the ultimate love fantasy for all eternity. But this one's sweet, too—in more ways than one: "Too Much". Even though the song deals with the negative side of love and becomes emotionally taxing once the lyrics hit home, the bluesy swing and sway and the elegant, jazzy touch (particularly that trumpet solo at the midway break) make the music and the song altogehter totally worth the time! Then it was just the SPICE GIRLS simply being so much fun and so full of spice on the spunky-funky jam,"Denying" (that bold and brash delivery of ' you ain't foolin' nobody but yourself ' is sure to hook you!), plus the 60's pop girl group-tinged "Stop" (I noted the delivery of the very first verse even reminds me to the way Diana Ross and THE SUPREMES performed the memorable chorus to their timeless classic, "Stop! In The Name Of Love"; I love when artists do this kind of thing!) and the totally unexpected made-for-Broadway piece, "The Lady Is A Vamp", which offers a ton of entertainment value between the various shifts in tempo between the slow bluesy rhythm and the skippy jazz rhythm to their colorful lyrics, highlighted by the laughing and the girls' cheeky Elvis-impersonated 'thank you very much' when the song finally to a close. So why not add some spice to your life tonight and get re-seasoned with this sizzling SPICE GIRLS sound?

1. Spice Up Your Life
2. Stop
3. Too Much
4. Saturday Night Divas
5. Never Give Up On The Good Times
6. Move Over
7. Do It
8. Denying
9. Viva Forever
10. The Lady Is A Vamp

Friday, September 16, 2016

AI-Ai (1999)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 16, 2016

There was no artificial intelligence at work in serving up this next delectable treat; the pleasure is all mine! And it takes no intelligence of any kind for my followers to know that I gotta show my love for the Swedish pop! The obscure all-female five-piece troupe that curiously called itself AI is, perhaps, the biggest pop mystery I've encountered so far this year. While they do have an entry in the database at, there's very little information about them, their origins and their music background to investigate. But like so many mystery artists in my ever-expanding case file, AI proved to me to be another case of a great talent with great musical output who somehow faded into oblivion as quickly as they emerged into the spotlight. They make an excellent opening statement for themselves when they throw down with the Euro-house party that is "When The Rain Is Falling Down". That's when I gathered that this Swedish bunch liked to sing together in sweet, happy unison, their carefree words of moving to the rhythm and being happy even when the skies are gray making it so easy to get attached to them. You know it's the 90's all over again when you hear good ole girl group dance-pop jams like the follow-up cut, "I Can't Wait" and the pop-perfect concluding cut, "Everytime I Close My Eyes". You'll be suckered (just as I was) by the deliciously sweet tunes that are "I Want You" and "Shy" and "Baby Don't You Know"; it's their dainty voices and their easy words on all of these that I found so alluring. When the girls slow it down a few notches, they become even more attractive. Qualifying as tonight's second candidate for 'Slow Jam Of The Night' is "the delightful You Are The One". Closing their eyes and he appears in their dreams—simple words, backed by a dreamy melody and a groove that's chilled to the bone. "Love You" has a way of growing and growing on you, once the groove and its bit of r&b bounce in the beat, plus their lofty voices going 'hey-ah, hey-ah, hey-ah' in the catchy chorus, get rooted into you. While they want to spend every day of every night with that dream boy, you could lose all track of time staying tuned to this one for a few sleepless spells. The message is right down to the point with their whispering words delivered at the beginning of the album's third slowed down number, "Stay". But for those of you who want to stay on the dance floor instead, the girls kick it in high gear again when they comeback with the Euro-disco party on "Real Thing" (I love the smooth, deep bass line here, just as I loved it on "When The Rain Is Falling Down") and "If You Want Me", and dance and rejoice in the pouring rain again on the super-spunky "In Rain An Sunshine", where they promise to love through all good times and bad times. Nothing artificial about the music here at all; it's a real thrill and it really is here for the taking:

1. When The Rain Is Falling Down
2. I Can't Wait
3. You Are The One
4. I Want You
5. Shy
6. Real Thing
7. Love You
8. Baby Don't You Know
9. If You Want Me
10. In Rain And Sunshine
11. Stay
12. Everytime I Close My Eyes

B5-Don't Talk, Just Listen (2007)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 16, 2016

Prepare to B dazzled again! I had every intention of continuing my joyride with this B5 bunch following the first 40+ minutes I spent with them yesterday.....and had every reason to believe that the second leg of the joyride would be just as thrilling! "Don't Talk, Just Listen": the title pretty much takes any words one could say about this thirteen-track package out of my mouth, but both the writer and the music lover in me are gonna offer up some detailed feedback anyhow. The opening made-just-right-for-the-club cut, "Hydrolics" (note their stylized misspelling of 'hydraulics'), already attracts attention with guest rapper Bow Wow showing off his talents. The big-time urban beats keep on rolling afterwards with "How You Not Gonna" (a marching drum beat here, to be exact, in combo with the slight techno glitz makes for a bombastic sound; the boys talking about how they love every part of the girl's body makes for some sizzling sexiness), "Erika Kane" (I noted how the title shares its name with the popular long-time character from the "All My Children" soap played by Susan Lucci; in a way, the boys are actually singing about a girl who they want to be their model soap star) and the musically-delicious "Right To Left", whose bombastic drum beat and sparkly synthesized waves are just as exciting as their steamy words about liking how the girl moves her body (I like the part where they sing ' you're making me stutter ', then follow up with the literal stuttering of 'I-I-I-I-I' in the very next movement). A noticeable shift in their signature tight, in-your-face r&b style, however, occurs on "I Must Love Drama"; it has a very 80's synthpop feel to it which, of course, the 80's music lover in me welcomed very much. Besides the sound, I was drawn to the title—the boys must really like it when there's a lot of conflict going on in the relationship. Further evidence of that statement can be found on "All Over Again", where they admit to wanting that repeated feeling of getting jealous, losing the girl, and getting her back in his arms. It's a real gem that's well-written, well-performed and flows extremely well. Yet the most precious jewel in my eyes has to be the one which I have personally nominated for your next 'Slow Jam Of The Night': "She Got It Like That". It's here where the words to this album's title originates, spoken so tenderly at the very beginning before the slow groove, dreamy melody and the lush harmonizing come storming in and getting you into that after-midnight romantic mood. The mood is totally different on the follow-up slow number, "Tear Drops". Despite the warming glow of the music itself, the song is riddled with words of grave sadness as a direct result of the girl's indecision; it''s another gem I highlight because of its songwriting and singing excellence all around. Just as the boys showed off their vocal talents with the acapella opener, "Let It Be", on their self-titled debut, they charm and impress again on the smooth acapella piece found here entitled "No One Else"—a simple case of no other girl even coming close to being the amazing girl he has now. "Things I Would Do" is one more fine specimen of songwriting and singing excellence on the slow jam front before your senses get shocked when the intense rock guitar leads into the fun hidden track shortly afterwards presumably called "Rockstar". This one would've made a great club anthem to lead-off the album, as the boys proclaim themselves to rock the girl's world and being a star in their own show. One of the coolest lines on the song is when they're saying how a body like hers would get her backstage with no ID, no matter what her age is. But enough talk from me; just listen to this album to experience the bonafide rockstar in this B5 crew for yourself:

1. Hydrolics (Feat. Bow Wow)
2. How You Not Gonna
3. Right To Left
4. Erika Kane
5. She Got It Like That
6. Tear Drops
7. In My Bedroom
8. All Over Again
9. What It Do
10. No One Else
11. I Must Love Drama
12. So Incredible
13. Things I Would Do

Thursday, September 15, 2016

B5-B5 (2005)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 15, 2016

Prepare to B dazzled! There was the New York City-based boyband that called itself B3, and then there was this other boyband hailing from the other end of the Atlantic called B5. Can't recall exactly, but I'd surely heard this all-brother bunch before, sometime during my past excursions with the whole "Radio Disney" phenomenon, which is part of the group's earliest origins. Beyond that, my memory of them was rather vague. I had the chance to get acquainted with them about six years ago when a fellow boyband lover requested their albums which, at the time, were not in my possession Well let's say that I'm now finally making up for lost time with this indulgent, thorough listening party that I decided to throw for myself, starting with B5's self-titled debut. 'Let it be as it shall be'—a favorite personal quotation of mine (to explain how anything and everything happens for a good reason) almost is delivered word for word on the opening acapella piece, which serves as a terrific introduction and gives them a place to show off their smooth harmonizing talents and prove that they're the real deal. But the real music fun begins after those introductory seconds are done and the cool, funky bounce of "U Got Me" steps in. Here, they show off another talent in their musical arsenal: their knack for laying down the fresh rap, which is skillfully demonstrated a second time on "Nothin 'Bout Me". The two songs are like night a day: on the former, it's the girl who's got him all wrapped up in love; on the latter, it's all about jealousy, rumors and the whole game of being hated on without the girl getting to know the real him. More games are being played on "Heartbreak", a skippy tune with a delightful hum-along melody that belies the painful mood expressed in their story about the girl being the first to hurt him emotionally. I particularly like all of the rhyming and the back-and forth echoing of 'no' and 'oh' in the main chorus. B careful with with one; the music will get stuck to you B-for long! Then they're just tired of being played altogether on "No More Games", where the B5 brother with the highest voice takes lead. It's a fun jam that I can really get into, despite their declaration of girl, I'm sick and tired of you, so step now baby ' and their other words of frustration setting a sour mood for the song. The boys are in brighter spirits everywhere else. Let them "Dance For You" on this album's instantly ear-pleasing second track. Or hear how much they appreciate a girl's beauty and her making their whole world full and complete on "So Pretty". And a message for all the girls who've been mistreated by the guys they're with: just "Let Me Know" and I'll treat you even better than he did. This one's so musically delicious if you ask me—from the big-time bounce of the beat to the whole suspenseful vibe created by the chords to the B5 brothers opting to sing in unison, switching it up from their collective harmony heard plentifully elsewhere on the album. 'Slow Jam Of The Night' alert: "All I Do". An excellent finger-snapper of a groove that you can really sink into here as the boys flash their charm and reveal the only thing they can think about at school each day is the girl that they sing about. Keeping things slowed down on "Teacher's Pet", it's a cute love story about a girl who believes she's too old for him, highlighted by the humorous dialogue midway through where she says so explicitly while he's singing his pleas to her. The B5 brother with the highest voice takes lead once more on the sweet offering that is "Back In Your Arms". That, combined with the distinctively classy old-school flavor to it immediately brought to mind THE JACKSON FIVE or the earliest days of NEW EDITION. And as I make that remark now, I had actually formulated a comparison to the latter group right from the beginning. Perhaps these B5 boys were the newer edition of NEW EDITION, frozen somewhere back in time and reemerging from that time capsule after the ice thawed out just in time to make new waves and reinvent themselves with a renewed contemporary r&b sound in the New Millennium:

1. Let It Be
2. U Got Me
3. Dance For You
4. So Pretty
5. All I Do
6. Teacher's Pet
7. Let Me Know
8. Nothin 'Bout Me
9. Heartbreak
10. Back In Your Arms
11. No More Games
12. You Don't Know What You Do To Me