Thursday, March 23, 2017

SHALAMAR-Wake Up (1990)


Here's an album chock full of jams that will surely 'wake up' your music senses! As I continue to pour through the first portion of the 'S' artists in my collection, I keep coming across some familiar names whose music I haven't treated myself to in ages. It was Seal and Sarah McLachaln the past couple of days (I've still got a lot more listening of them to do yet), and today, it's the classic supergroup who rose to fame with their memorable disco hits "The Second Time Around" and "A Night To Remember". Much of the popular music world fondly recalls the SHALAMAR's heydays when the trio consisted of Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley and Howard Hewitt. Yet what became of them once Jody and Howard embarked on solo careers? I've enjoyed many of that pair's respective solo accomplishments following their departure from the group in the mid-80's, but I didn't recall very well is the achievements of the revamped SHALAMAR lineup, particularly into the 90's. Listening to the group's final studio album, "Wake Up", therefore, was me wanting to 'wake up' my own music senses and demystify that part of SHALAMAR that I missed out on. The joyride kicks off with words of caution: "This Love Is Hot". This sizzling new jack swing-oriented jam is one of many that take me back to the good ole old-school music days of my middle school years when the beats were easy and the raps of the MC's were a fun affair. I can tell the production crew had a ball playing around with the different hip-hop elements on both the unmixed version and the extended version (which I slid down to shortly afterwards), particularly the mechanical, stuttering delivery of the guy announcing 'caution!' every few seconds or so. One of the two ladies of the revamped lineup takes lead on that one; it's the lone man of the group who leads the way on "For Sure". Beneath the groovin' and the beats is a real serious message where he asks if the lady is ready for the married life. But it's not all serious; the segment midway through is almost cartoonish in nature before the unified voices laying down the truth on just how serious the decision should be snaps everything back to reality. Some other goodies where cranking up the volume and letting the bass pound the speakers is in order: "Groove Talk", "I Want U", the title track (the street jazz element and the early 90's house era flavor attracts me) "Pink Box" (the funky arrangement is quite reminiscent of that featured in Janet Jackson's 80's hit, "Control") and my personal favorite, "Come Together". The latter is also the source of my latest 'Music Surprise Of The Day", because when I heard the familiar words of 'come together, right now...' in the last line of the chorus, I recognized it from the classic BEATLES hit of the same title (I'm more familiar with the harder-rockin' AEROSMITH version recorded some years later). Except it's not a direct cover, per se; the SHALAMAR crew sings 'come together, right now, in unity', while the rest of the song evolves into another one of those important messages for the people where they talk about bringing the world together and living in harmony, despite our differences and social issues. I sorely miss these kinds of songs—they're often overlooked yet totally still valid in this day in age—and what makes it even more of a keeper for me is the lively jazz/funk explosion that erupts, plus the inclusion of the children singing with the backup vocalists and the motivational speech delivered in both English and Spanish. Every good r&b album sets aside a few minutes for those special slow jams, and SHALAMAR shines brightly on all three of the ones presented here: "Why Lead Me On?" ('how can you love the material things and not love the man?' is just some of the words to highlight here), "All I Wanna Do" (' make sweet love with you'—the gentlest of words makes for one of the nicest soul groove I've heard in recent days) and my #1 favorite of the whole album, "I'll Give U Love" (this starry, soft rock radio perfect piece has just been nominated for your next 'Slow Jam Of The Night' because of the sublime tenderness and loftiness of the vocals of the frontman taking lead here). I've totally waken up and heard what I've been missing out on; have I waken you up yet?

1. Caution: This Love Is Hot
2. Wake Up
3. Why Lead Me On?
4. Groove Talk
5. All I Wanna Do
6. Come Together
7. For Sure
8. I'll Give U Love
9. I Want U
10. Pink Box
11. Caution: This Love Is Hot (Extended Version)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sarah McLachlan-Mirrorball (1999)


Mirror mirror on the ball, who's the most enchanting of them all? The answer to that riddle could be any number of unique individuals, but if it was the Canadian alternative rock singer gazing into the magical orb, her own reflection would reply that it is her who is so. Well I myself sure was enchanted by her more than a decade ago when I first heard her magical live performance of her Grammy Award-winning hit, "I Will Remember You", on the soft rock radio airwaves. There was like no other folk song in the universe quite like it, being captured by her alluring, silky voice and its distinctive yodel whenever her voice rose to sing a higher note, the melancholy chords coupled with her touching words of ' I'm so tired, but I can't sleep, standing on the edge of something much too deep ' (that continues to be my favorite line from the verses) and 'I will remember you; will you remember me?' from the chorus gripping me as the slow, lonely rhythm of the guitar filled my ears. I would always get so happy whenever I heard the familiar cheers of the live crowd at the beginning, knowing that this beauty of a song was about to start. Interesting thing is, I had believed, for the longest time, that it was only this live version that she recorded—and the sole reason why "Mirrorball" ended up in my music collection—until I realized that Sarah recorded her original version for the soundtrack to a movie I'd never seen nor heard of before: "The Brothers McMullen". Now I have a vested interest in that said soundtrack, and perhaps even the movie itself. Not only in those, but also in a couple of other Sarah McLachlan albums I've never owned—"Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" and "Surfacing", which this "Mirrorball" live compilation has much of its recordings derived from. On one of the pair is another beauty of a song I'd heard via the soft rock radio airwaves numerous times as well: "Adia". I've always loved the sweet, graceful flow to this one, particularly during the chorus when the memorable words of 'we are born innocent' float over the music and her lofty voice rises until its almost barely audible. It's that angelic loftiness that I really love about Sarah, and why I'm further captivated by "The Path Of Thorns (Terms)", plus the piano ballads "Do What You Have To Do" (her second-to-last delivery of ' don't know how ' is a truly almighty moment!) and "Angel" (yes, we have one more 'Angel' song that is elegant and heavenly on the ears) and one that I've become totally entranced by: "Fear". The latter one of that list had already gripped me because of the suspenseful, moody ambiance from the very beginning, but it was when those hauntingly high-soaring words of ' but I feel ' suddenly broke through that suspenseful ambiance and that upbeat rock rhythm swept in that I found myself completely electrified! Then there's something equally haunting by the way she sings 'nothing to gain so much to lose' before the final beat drop at the end. The one right after is almost just as haunting, but in a fun kind of way—"Possession"; aside from the upbeat alternative rock edge, though, the only real suspense lies with Sarah and her determination to get the man and all of the sexy things she's gonna do to him once she gets him. Then there's a trio that I simply adore simply because of the caressing glow that they cast upon me: "Hold On" (I like her lasting breathless ' it's gonna hurt like hell ' at the end), "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" (her constant ' I won't fear love ' amidst the breezy music grows and grows on me) and "I Love You" (there's those three magic words again; how coincidental that three of last four full albums I've featured have had this exact title for a song). Indeed, the "Mirrorballl" doesn't tell a lie; Sarah McLachlan is the most enchanting of them all:

1. Building A Mystery
2. Hold On
3. Good Enough
4. I Will Remember You
5. Adia
6. I Love You
7. Do What You Have To Do
8. The Path Of Thorns (Terms)
9. Fear
10. Possession
11. Sweet Surrender
12. Ice Cream
13. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
14. Angel

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

15. Mary
16. Into The Fire
17. Wait

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Seal-Seal (1991)


This next share of mine gets the official gold seal of groove approved! While returning to my current mission of getting the 'S' artists in my music library organized and in order, I decided to reacquaint my ears with the soulful British phenom who sparked my interest on the popular soft rock radio airwaves with the mainstay hits "Love's Divine" and "Kiss From A Rose". That spark wasn't ignited, however, until well into the early 2000's. Little did I know that a man I had absolutely no knowledge or familiarity with had already been an iconic artist way back in the early 90's.....while I was still in middle school! For the longest time, I had ever hear a complete Seal album from start to finish, and so far, this 1991 self-titled debut is the only one where I've accomplished that feat. Neither of the two aforementioned hits are on this particular album, but there at least a couple of other selections that made the charts and received rave reviews. Just one of those chart-makers stays retained in my mental jukebox: "Killer". I recall fist hearing this one in an electrifying techno remix format, but the original too is instantly likable with its thumping upbeat rhythm and the slightly-synthesized electric rock guitar riffs, with the ambient drones during the long instrumental break partway through adding an extra layer of appeal above that thumping beat. I'd always remembered how his voice soared over the words in the verses, particularly when he sings the 'will we die' part. His words, in fact, often take me a few listens to digest and extrapolate the meaning of (here on "Killer", the lines of 'solitary brother, is there a part of you that wants to live?' and 'solitary sister, is there a part of you that wants to give?' are the ones I found the most intriguing), which is why I tend to put him on the same songwriting wavelength as such similar alternative artists as Terence Trent D'Arby, Tracy Chapman and Lenny Kravitz. "Crazy" would be the other widely-recognized hit here, but I want to say that all memory of this one had since faded before I listened to it again last night. I was drawn, of course, by the sound first—the breezy rhythm and the glitzy electronic spark in the opening movements—before I paid closer attention to the words, silently applauding the ' we won't survive unless we get a little crazy ' message because it really makes a whole lot of sense, especially in this day in age. One song that requires some very deep thought: "Deep Water". There's a cool two-part arrangement about this one that I like; it starts off as an acoustic guitar-driven piece before evolving into a groovy ambient tune with lots of soul and the curious analogy of jade being a shade of pain. I feel like I need to listen in again to capture he entire meaning. And that's my sentiments about "Future Love Paradise" as well. Digging the lively and easy-listening, funky rock rhythm on this one, yet the words about kings and queens, plus the portion o the chorus about the only drug the riders finding is paradise, still has me thinking and thinking. Didn't know it the first time, but Track #7's "Wild" is actually a love song about a woman who makes him smile and fills him up inside; besides that small revelation, the music just sounds good here. Then speaking further of music sounding good, that would be what allures me about the warming slow number, "Show Me" (this one has now emerged as my favorite; the combination of the warmth and Seal's touching words of pleading to receive directions on how he can make the lady's life better touches me), the concluding ambient piece, "Violet" (it's no nice getting to bask in the extended instrumental goodness for the latter two-and-a-half minutes of the song) and the dancey house-inspired opening cut, "The Beginning", where his words of 'music takes you round and round an round and round' in the chorus quickly becomes something to get hooked on to before long:

1. The Beginning
2. Deep Water
3. Crazy
4. Killer
5. Whirlpool
6. Future Love Paradise
7. Wild
8. Show Me
9. Violet

Monday, March 20, 2017

Debelah Morgan-It's Not Over (1998)


That's right—the good music is never over here at "The Music Spectrum", and I'm sure serving up some good tunes with this next share of mine! It's forever seemed to me that, somewhere within the sea of mainstream female r&b singers of the 90's, the lovely Debelah Morgan (I have always liked her unique naming of' Debelah' as opposed to the more common 'Deborah') is one from the not-often-talked-about camp who's sailed at the aft end of the ship. So here is me bringing her back into the spotlight for a spell after setting sail on my latest personal music voyage. It was pure and refreshing delight the moment I took in her sweet, lofty voice on the opening title track; it was nothing short of amazing to hear this earliest showcase of her versatile vocal range into the upper stratosphere. That vocal phenomenon, in fact, would be something that I'd get treated to over and over again, the most brilliant moments exhibited on the dreamy, nicely-chilled slow groove, "Fly Away" (and now this has reinforced my notion that these romantic 'Fly Away' songs are just as heavenly as songs with 'Angel' as the theme); the equally fluid, soul-melting slow groove, "Here Waiting" (the tenderly comforting theme of her being whatever her man wants or whatever he needs driving the song here); then the stunningly powerful "Still In Love", "No One Compares" and "Tonight" (the first being a bittersweet duet performed alongside an uncredited soulful male vocalist, the second being astounding monumental while she boldly proclaims that she doesn't want anybody else if she can't have that one certain man, the third being an excellent piano piece where she confidently declares that she's saying goodbye to bad old memories and looking forward to a positive brand new life). There's a couple of shining moments where I thought the music was simply beautiful all around: "Don't Hurry Back" (this is one of those wining-down-for-the-night songs where only the accompanying ambient chords and the vocals entertain the ears) and "I Love You" (there's those three simple words again, and they make for a lovely three-and-a-half-minute guitar-driven pop selection that melts me all over). Debelah jams it up much bigger on such delicious beat-driven beauties as the seductive "Stay", "Whatever" (something about the accompanying synthesized riffs throughout gives this one a distinctive character and an attractive allure) and "Our Sweet Love". Then I got my latest 'Music Surprise Of The Day" when I took in the totally unexpected fast-tempo dance remake of the Motown classic, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", on Track #7. I'd already been excited with the preceding "Radio Skit" serving as the [review intro, snippets of the version by DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMES heard playing in the background, so you can imagine that my excitement level skyrocketed when I began playing Debelah's full-on version! It's not over 'til it's over, as the old adage goes, and immersing my ears and I with the voice of Debelah Morgan is far from over:

1. It's Not Over
2. Yesterday
3. Who Do You Love?
4. Stay
5. I Love You
6. Radio Skit
7. Ain't No Mountain
8. Fly Away
9. Our Sweet Love
10. Whatever
11. Still In Love
12. No One Compares
13. Here Waiting
14. Don't Hurry Back
15. Tonight

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Danny De Munk-Danny (1995)


With all of this good ear candy that's dropping into "The Music Spectrum", you'll need a good workout to stay in good shape! Danny De Munk is Dutch singer and actor who first came to my attention a few months ago at the request of a follower who's attention had been focused on rediscovering rarities from the 90's. To my knowledge, his 1995 album is the only collection of English recordings he's made to date.....and it's quite possibly the only one I'll ever need! Eleven tracks of music bliss—that sums up my thoughts about it in five short words, but stopping at just five wouldn't be nearly enough to show how much I thoroughly enjoyed this 42-minute joyride! Taking in the opening ballad, "Never So High", I got formally introduced to Danny and his distinctively stunning voice.....a voice that I would say is very characteristic of a trademark balladeer, though with the spirit of a pure pop singer (my beloved Belgian phenom Gerard Joling comes to mind when thinking about similar accomplished singers). I took "Never So High", whose simple message is that of two lovers having finally achieved the highest love, to be something of a tease to draw in the easy-listening, adult-contemporary audience of listeners. Because following that, he switches gears big time with the unexpected dance jam, "Save A Little Love"; it's a celebration song with a cheerful kick to it that jump starts the senses! The celebratory vibes are very much alive on a couple of other fun tracks: "Gear Up", a song to a fellow man who's hit the jackpot with getting the lady and telling him to get ready for love in the fast lane, and "Everything Is Gonna Be Alright", which is a feel-gooder that ends much too quickly for my taste (I'm loving the jazzy spurts and the Spanish guitar break here). The latter song is involved of my latest 'Music Surprise Of The Day', as when I'd glanced at some notes tagged to the track listing, I discovered that "Everything Is Gonna Be Alright" was written by fellow Dutch singer Ellert Driessen, another great voice whose pair of solo albums I've previously given the "Music Spectrum" spotlight to. I further saw that Ellert penned Track #5's "Feel So Strong Tonight", which I could put into that celebratory feel-good category as well, thanks to its bouncy pop rhythm and the song's theme of feeling good and carefree and going out for a night on the town. But then there are the ones that make me feel real good: "How Deep Is Your Love?" (not a direct cover of the BEE GEES classic, but an excellent dance/pop jam with its own unique lyrics and an excellent sing-along chorus to boot!); "Wonderful World Beautiful People" (Danny's announcement of 'this is serious music right here' in the beginning is so true!—the funky beat and slight reggae rhythm equates to some serious jammin' while the secondary message of telling how we could all make it to where we live in a paradise where there's no cheating, no scandalizing and no hating is something that seriously needs application in everyone's life); "Don't Say It's Over" (I'm always drawn to these sad and mellow songs about relationships on the verge of breaking up; the completeness of this one in particular—the chords, the words and the backing vocalists adding an extra layer of glimmer and charm—fills me up) and my second 'Music Surprise Of The Day', a respectful cover of "Does Your Heart Still Break?" (first heard this golden song performed by Simon Climie—of CLIMIE FISHER fame—on his golden solo album, "Soul Inspiration"). It's no surprise, however, that Danny conquers the graceful ballad whose title is as simple as a song title can be: "I Love You"; this a perfect one for a soulful balladeer to perform elegantly. Yet perhaps even more elegant is the magical duet Danny performs with a Vera Mann entitled "So Slowly". Instantly captivating are the starry chords, followed by Danny's straining voice and Vera's own alluring chords (I get this theatrical/stage feel from hearing the two of them in unified harmony). Somewhere and some time, I believe, this four-minute gem was and still is a timeless classic:

1. Never So High
2. Save A Little Love
3. So Slowly
4. How Deep Is Your Love?
5. Feel So Strong Tonight
6. I Love You
7. Wonderful World Beautiful People
8. Does Your Heart Still Break?
9. Don't Say It's Over
10. Gear Up
11. Everything's Gonna Be Alright

Brent Filip-Still In Good Shape [Fan Edition] (2017)


.....And that makes sense on so many accounts! This latest self-made compilation album of mine comes courtesy of the fulfilled requests for all of the solo singles recorded by Belgian pop singer, Brent Filip, after parting with the dance groups called GOOD SHAPE (who were previously featured right here at this site) and the lesser-known spin-off group called IMPACT (whose music I've yet to collect). So seeing as pop music from the mid and late 90's as a whole is still good on the ears—even now, two decades later—plus the fact that earlier photography of Brent showed him to be in at least decent shape from a health standpoint, plus the fact that Brent's solo recordings retain that GOOD SHAPE Europop spirit, it only seemed appropriate that this compilation should be given the title "Still In Good Shape". As such, I felt that custom-made album artwork consisting of various geometric shapes (triangles, circles, hexagons and diamonds for the front cover; a tessellation of hexagons for the back cover) was in order, with further attribution and consideration on my part going into the italicized Impact-style font for all of the text (as IMPACT was the second group he was once a member of). Colorfully captivating on the outside; colorfully captivating on the inside as well. The Brent Filip fitness session kicks of with the four-minute warm-up, "If You Go". There have been many great songs with this exact title (Jon Secada's 1994 hit readily comes to mind) and different lyrics, but the reigning theme is always the songwriter dealing with the potential fallout once there's a hole in the heart and nobody to replace it. Brent's interpretation stays within those same lines; despite the otherwise warmth and breeziness of the music, his breaking down of all the things he'll do that won't ever be the same during the chorus (' my race is won, I'm done if you go '—one memorable line from the song I really like) reinforces those sad overtones that are projected from his three tender words of ' if you go'. And I love the way his voice reaches the lofty high notes as it goes up and down the vocal scale like a roller coaster when he's singing about all of those things. The 'Slow Version' is good all by itself, but the 'Funky Version' totally gives the music a spunky boost with its dance-pop beat, highlighted by the glitzy, high-pitched synthesized riffs that play alongside the rhythm. Definitely a new goodie to add to my playlist of favorites! In fact, all five of Brent's solo singles is worthy to be added to a favorite playlist. "It Must Be Love" instantly attracts because of its reggae-style bounce and just having a beautiful groove altogether, an alluring background for his striking words of 'nothing more, nothing less, love is the best' and all the rest; its accompanying instrumental piece extends the romantic allure further. "Look In My Eyes" is one of the lushest ballads I've heard within recent days; it's the double voice effect in Brent's delivery of the chorus that strikes me here, and even more striking is the much-deserved piano-led instrumental made from it. It's on "Never Alone" where his voice stands out the most, the high loftiness making like BRONSKI BEAT's Jimmy Somerville and the PWL-produced group BIG FUN. That, plus the sweet melody and the overall breezy arrangement (which is very similar to that featured on "If You Go") and the reflective lyrics about him still carrying a picture of the lady deep inside his heart all equates to something really special. But that is just the 'Slow Version'; the 'Dance Version' and its spunky dance-pop kick takes the song to an electrifying level! Then once again, I get that unexpected surprise treat with yet another magnificent cover of "Only For You". Months after hearing the hearty, majestic remake by the Belgian boyband, DREAMLOVERS, the song is still playing inside of my mental jukebox, at times. And now comes this Brent Filip version, which is equally majestic and reinforcing how much I love the way this song skips along merrily like an Olympic march. While listening, I wondered if "Only For You" was a household go-to cover song for a lot of the Belgian pop artists back in the mid-90's..... 'My heart, my hands, I give to the sands, but only for you': it's those same words that continue to comprise my favorite line from the beautiful chorus. And as with the other instrumentals, this one's a sweet treat, too—the twinkly chords and its accompaning cinematic ochestrals, sharp violin accompaniment and the added piano. This was quite the 35-minute workout, one that's sure to leave both you and your ears in good shape:

1. If You Go (Slow Version)
2. It Must Be Love
3. Look In My Eyes (Single Version)
4. Never Alone (Slow Version)
5. Only For You
6. If You Go (Funky Version)
7. It Must Be Love (Instrumental)
8. Look In My Eyes (Piano Instrumental Version)
9. Never Alone (Dance Version)
10. Only For You (Instrumental)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

D'SOUND-Spice Of Life (1996)


Fulfilling a recent promise I made to myself, I've finally gotten around to a complete album listen of this Norwegian jazz/pop group. Music truly is the 'spice of life', and that was reinforced to me during this 49-minute joyride with Simone Larsen and company that saw me getting relaxed, comfortable and sinking in to a calm Saturday evening. They seemed to make a statement about their smooth jazz style right off the bat with the ragged rhythm and swing of the opener, "Goodman, Good Girl"; no question whatsoever that their spicy sound is anything but simply ordinary. Here's that song again that totally sums up what D'SOUND is all about: "Smooth Escape". Once again, I got all locked up in the chilled groove and the dreamy feel—a perfect arrangement for creating that getaway carefree ambiance that the words—highlighted by her repeated offerings of 'we think life is great, don't care if it's fake'—to this song project. I had realized, as I kept listening, how much Simone reminds me of the British soul phenom Sade, noting further how this song even has similarities to Sade's 80's hit, "Never As Good As The First Time". Well, this "Smooth Escape" song is good every time I hear it, and it gets even better with the spiced-up bonus 1997 version called "Smoother Escape". where an energetic downtempo Eurodisco-inspired dance kick takes the music to a whole new level—a must-have that totally completes this album! Yet there's even more 'smooth escapes' to indulge in beyond that one, like the sublimely smooth and sunny "Love Is On My Way", a colorful song of inner confidence where she believes her day is coming and won't let her red turn into blue. Not so sunny, however, is "Saturdaynightlies" (I like the stylized bunching together of the words to create the single-word title). Despite the nice slowed-down groove, the very presence of the word 'lies' in the title belies the true feelings of singer and songwriter, as you'll quickly get a sense that she's not singing about your typical romantic cool down of a Saturday night at all. In contrast, the mood is perky and upbeat on "All I Wanna Do" (which is really infectious due to the way she and her backup singers chime together with the ad-libbed 'skippy-doo-bop, skippy-doo-bop' during both the introductory movement and throughout the chorus; gives the song a lot of spunk and personality) and the spicy title track itself (that ragged drum rhythm is so reminiscent of that featured in the opener, "Goodman, Good Girl"), as she boldly demands that the spice of life is what she really wants. Found a new favorite that qualifies as THE ultimate 'Chill-Out Groove Of The Night': "Slow Dancing, French Kissing". The title sounds spicy all in itself, doesn't it? But don't let it fool you too much; the mood from the lyrics is slightly unpleasant, as Simone reminds her lover that he played the game to claim her—surely, it was all the slow dancing and French kissing that was the magic formula that worked—but now wonders if he even wants her after all. My favorite lines in the chorus sums it up best: ' here's the hand you shook, the flesh you took, come with me, or let me off the hook '. There's a frequent theme on this album about lovers being fake and just pretending to be, and it's served up again on "It Isn't All That Easy", a breezy upbeat tune that has some spice itself with Simone's emphasis of the words 'fire' and 'desire' in the chorus. Likewise, the frequent theme of looking forward to better days—as first served up on "Love Is On My Way"—returns on "I Know It Will Be". As far as break-up songs go, this has to be the most delightful one I've ever heard in terms of ear-pleasing sound, and her words about regaining control, laughing the no-good man out of her mind, and finding some other man to keep her warm once the old photos of him are torn and soul equally add an extra layer of warmth that I found very touching:

1. Goodman, Good Girl
2. Smooth Escape
3. Love Is On My Way
4. All I Wanna Do
5. Saturdaynightlies
6. Real Name
7. It Isn't All That Easy
8. Sunshine Philosophy
9. Spice Of Life
10. Slow Dancing, French Kissing
11. I Know It Will Be
12. Missing You
13. Smoother Escape (1997 Version)

Monday, March 13, 2017

D'SOUND-Acoustic Live Session (2006)


Now the musical chameleon in me has taken another detour in order to present a little gift for the smooth jazz lovers out there! The Norwegian acid jazz/pop group that stylistically calls itself D'SOUND is one of those artists who I keep neglecting to treat myself to a full uninterrupted listen to, despite my total awareness of their existence since the latter part of the 90's. Reinforcing my unresolved personal quest is this fulfilled request, a mini-compilation of the group's greatest hits performed before a live audience. If this is your first time ever getting acquainted with D'SOUND's sound, then this five-track teaser it is a perfect way to get formally introduced to the exotic, soulful voice of lead singer Simone Larsen. Taken from D'SOUND's debut album, "Spice Of Life", are two of my favorite cuts: "Love Is On" and "Smooth Escape". The former's funky jazz swing will entice you right off the bat, followed by the chilled, soft groove and Simone's hypnotic words telling how love comes in bits and pieces. As for the latter, it's a pretty neat coincidence that they recorded a song with this title, considering the silky smooth nature of this particular song and the notion that every one of their albums might be seen as a 'smooth escape' from reality because of their easy-listening, smooth jazz sound. Though there's some irony in that last statement&mash;both figuratively and literally, in fact&mash;with their 1999 single, "Disco Ironic". Here, the music has a very groovy, upbeat rhythm that screams old-school disco, yet still manages to possess a contemporary, modern music feel. Then there's the pair that were recorded on the group's sophomore album, "Beauty Is A Blessing", consisting of the opener, "Ain't Giving Up On You" and the easy-flowing, day-dreamy delight that is "Tattooed On My Mind" (which might just stay tattooed on your mind as the warmth of the song and its accompanying music fill your ears). As I said, this mini-compilation is just a tease, so checking out their albums from the very beginning—which I have every intention of doing at last—is highly recommended:

1. Ain't Giving Up On You (Acoustic Live Session)
2. Smooth Escape (Acoustic Live Session)
3. Disco Ironic (Acoustic Live Session)
4. Love Is On (Acoustic Live Session)
5. Tattooed On My Mind (Acoustic Live Session)