Tuesday, February 12, 2019

VOGGUE-Voggue (1981)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 12, 2019

Since I am on a bit of an 80's streak, I figured why not enjoy my first ever listen to the Canadian pop duo of Chantal Condor and Angela Songui? Together, they were known as VOGGUE (which I assume is pronounced the same if there was only a single 'G'), and one could say that they were indeed in vogue on this self-titled album of theirs, which also bears the alternative title "Angela & Chantal". If you like to indulge in these 80's guilty pleasures, then this one will be nothing but a sweet satisfaction for you! The sugar rush gets flowing with the so-perfectly-80's sunshiny bounce-along that is "Love Buzz". The musical warmth, the ladies' light voices and the jazzing up midway through are a tantalizing combination, making you and your ears happy for a solid 7+ minutes! Oh, and you'll get about 10 more minutes of that sunshiny sweetness with the additional 'Richie Rivera Mix' and the 'Radio Edit' versions. But before that, you'll want double helpings of the much-too-short-and-sweet but wonderfully starry ballad, "Here We Are", which is a specialty because it serves as this album's only such slow jam moment. Everywhere else, it's either another delightful sunshiny bounce-along or a disco dance dance party. In the case of the former, you get "Movin' Up" (a song about the ladies having found a new man to satisfy their every need) and the duo's popularly-advertised hit, "Dancin' The Night Away", where they totally have the vintage girl pop group thing going on here (me likes that cheery 'oooh-oo-oo-oooh' they do at the end of the chorus, plus the extended instrumental portions). Then as for the latter case? There's first "Go For It", which is more of a seductive instrumental groove with only them chiming in with the occasional provocative 'go for it, baby' and no other words to the song. "Without Your Love" is the second, and I am completely in a state of bliss with the dreamy sound on this one, thanks to some lovely orchestrals. Then the third one, "Back Again", maintains the dreaminess as they sing about a magical return of love being hopefully fulfilled:

1. Love Buzz
2. Here We Are
3. Movin' Up
4. Go For It
5. Dancin' The Night Away
6. Without Your Love
7. Back Again
8. Love Buzz [Richie Revera Mix]
9. Dancin' The Night Away [Radio Edit]
10. Love Buzz [Radio Edit]

Stevie Nicks-The Wild Heart (1983)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 12, 2019

I couldn't resist sharing one more goodie from the 'S' entries in my music library.....and it so happens to be something by yet another singer named 'Stevie'. And just like the reigning pioneer of Latin Freestyle music and the harmonica-playing Motown icon—a.k.a. Stevie B. and Stevie Wonder—whom I featured before her, the lovely vocal enchantress Stevie Nicks is a legend herself, well-recognized for being one of the lead singers of the classic rock super group, FLEETWOOD MAC. I hadn't heard Stevie Nicks solo in a long time, so it was an opportune time to revisit the lady who made "Gypsy" and "Landslide" famous hits. The reigning favorite here on 1983's "The Wild Heart" has to be "Stand Back", which I fell in love with first because if its delightful synthpop beat and the soft, dreamy ambience beneath it, followed by Stevie's chanted words of 'stand back, stand back' and ' it's alright, alright ' that make up the catchy hook that is the chorus. As usual, there are always further delightful moments to be had on these old 80's albums beyond that #1 hit, and I'm gonna highlight them all! "If Anyone Falls"—falls in love, that is—has a delightful pop spark about its production, too; in fact, the glitzy electronic arrangement, in a way, sounds like a slower version of VAN HALEN's "Jump". Sure feels like some vintage FLEETWOOD MAC, thanks to the lively piano/guitar rhythm on the dancey good time that is "Enchanted". Actually, the 'FLEETWOOD MAC groove', as I am calling it, is felt as soon as on the opening title track, then on the soft rock glow that is "Gate And Garden" plus "Sable On Blond", which even sounds remarkably similar in style to "Gypsy". There's a real treat served up on "I Will Run To You", as it is a beautiful, romantic duet that Stevie performs with another rock legend—the late Tom Petty. One final pop treat to be had is "Nothing Ever Changes". And it's super-catchy just like "Stand Back", too, except instead of chanting 'stand back, stand back', she's singing 'come back, come back' to the little boy. Then as for the final show overall, there's the classy, theatrical performance "Beauty And The Beast", where she solemnly confesses she can't have one without the other:

1. Wild Heart
2. If Anyone Falls
3. Gate And Garden
4. Enchanted
5. Nightbird
6. Stand Back
7. I Will Run To You
8. Nothing Ever Changes
9. Sable On Blond
10. Beauty And The Beast

Sunday, February 10, 2019

CHI-LITES - Just Say You Love Me (1990)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 10, 2019

The musical chameleon in me decided I should resume my side-project of listening to modern-day incarnations of legendary soul groups. That's when I looked to the gentlemen whose voices are renowned for that timeless 70's hit, "Oh Girl". Timeless and a little before my time, of course, and I made up for some of that lost time fast-forwarding a couple of decades and checking out this "Just Say You Love Me" album I'd never heard before. The opening track called "Happy Music" pretty much states my sentiments about this eight-track CHI-LITES effort in those exact words: it's happy music! Well, anything resembling the sounds of the 80's makes me happy :-) And the "Happy Music" song—which serves as a fun anthem to the CHI-LITES vocal harmony, purpose and soul/funk sound—is precisely that. Immediately following those near four minutes of musical happiness, they cool things down to present quite the starry, romantic ballad that is "Solid Love Affair". I was impressed with the scintillating, lofty lead vocals and the light harmonica that complements both it and the chilled groove nicely; it's like the vintage CHI-LITES! And it's that same lofty vocal scintillation that melts me on the album's title track, which is delivered so brilliantly as well. One tha dazzles my ears and makes my heart glow in particular is "There's A Change", which I was already in love with the instant the fluttery light woodwind and those same lofty vocals of the same lead man—this time, confessing that the woman has showed him what true love really is—melted into my ears. And on top of that, the music on "There's A Change" is sweetly jazzed up, as it is on "Eternity", where the trio employs the vocal contributions of a sultry guest female singer to turn a dedication of forever love into a powerful duet! I was once again all smiles when I got to hear another fine offering whose theme is the social issues of this world: "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)". The suspenseful groove makes for the ideal soundtrack to their crying out about crime, heartaches and setbacks while the much-welcomed infusion of the rap segments pushing their points across even further. Then closing out the show on a high note is the entertaining pop pleasure that is "Only You". If there had to be a song about one individual who could turn you inside out and cause you to do things that you wouldn't normally do late-80's style, this is how it should be done:

1. Happy Music
2. Solid Love Affair
3. Just You And I Tonite
4. Just Say You Love Me
5. Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)
6. There's A Change
7. Eternity
8. Only You

Friday, February 8, 2019

Daniel Hall-System Overload (2004)


Experiencing a bit of déjà vu? Possibly, if you saw the post I made exactly one week ago where I featured Mic Murphy and company on THE SYSTEM's most recent and highly-entertaining "System Overload" title. But there's at least one other artist who released an album by the exact same title long before that, and he is the German singer, Daniel Hallgrimson, who is part of the Hallgrimson Entertainment Group phenomenon as advertised on his official website at https://www.the-heg.com/. So with me having fulfilled yet another one of my own long-standing music wishes—and that of others, I'd imagine—I can go ahead and wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas once again! I found Daniel's brand of "System Overload" collectively having more so to do with the things on his mind that are needing to be released than his actual preferred musical style, which is a crisp, modern-day pop/rock style with elements of funk and soul and everything else you might expect from a talented, eclectic performer. Though I did get immediately turned on by the sound upon taking in the opener, "To Be With You", where I'd get to know his versatile voice—light, soulful and lofty one moment; strong, passionate and gritty the next. His message here is right to the point: all the other women ain't doing a thing for him and just wants the one who does. Got instantly turned out by the sound of "Out Of Order", too—upbeat and pop-perfectly crisp with a mellow overtone that already clued me in that this would be a sad song of sorts before the lyrics confirmed its about two people who are a mismatch, incompatible and not meant to be. It's nearly a complete 180 on the beautiful follow-up, "Survive", whose cinematic ambient instrumental intro combined with the soft guitar sound and Daniel's hushed voice made me melt so easily into the music here. Seeing if love is destined and designed to last—that's the survival he's talking about here. "Everybody's Darling" is a great jam from a sound standpoint, but it becomes even greater when you listen closely to his tragic story about the woman who sleeps around but isn't ever in love. Indeed, it's that final line in the chorus that is this song's real hook; the album artwork even highlights it with a hand pointing down, almost as if to emphasis her never being in love is her major downfall. On a few songs, I just sat back and let the sound of the music entertain my ears: "As Hard As It Gets", "Drive" (this one's like a cool funk/rock session of sorts) and the delightfully catchy "I Don't Know Enough" (the line that goes ' I don't enough but sometimes it's too much ' is the hook that keeps me here). And I was surely all ears the second I realized that "Get It On" was Daniel's modern-day remake of the classic that Robert Palmer and company thrilled me with back in the 80's! Starting off nice and chilled, I didn't know it was in fact a cover until the 'bang a gong' gave it away! But when the nicely chilled, low-key delivery becomes the energetic and lively spectacle with the rising voices, loud guitars and blaring organs, it totally resembles that rockin' 80's POWER STATION version that I remember and still know very well! The most colorful spectacle, however, may be the title track itself near the end of this album, where he confesses all of the things that are threatening to make his head explore. He has a lot of fun on this one, basically spits out whatever he feels like talking about, all put to a soulful, almost bluesy groove and not at all the harder-rocking jam that I had expected it to be. Then for the final show, he confesses to even more brain-racking with the unlisted track (according to the CD's back cover) called "I Gotta Let Addiction Win". No systems crashing or failures to be reported; just a massive overload of high quality music:

1. To Be With You
2. As Hard As You Take It
3. Out Of Order
4. Survive
5. Drive
6. Get It On
7. I Don't Know Enough
8. Forbidden Woman
9. I Wish
10. Everybody's Darling
11. U Got Me
12. System Overload
13. I Gotta Let Addiction Win

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Stevie Wonder-Characters (1987)


Tonight's special feature presentation is about one of my all-time favorite singers who was active in the 80's.....as well as one the most colorful characters in popular music history. I was introduced to the easily-recognizable soulful voice of Motown legend Stevie Wonder early on when I was in elementary school, being captivated by memorable hits like "Part-Time Lover", "Happy Birthday" and the Dionne Warwick-Gladys Knight-Elton John collaboration, "That's What Friends Are For". It would be some years later, however, when the songs he crafted for this 1987 album would get my ears' attention and become a part of my collection. Seemed like it had been that same period of time since I even played these songs, so I thought it would be fun to make up for the silence when I began treating myself to another listen to them last night. Turns out this little Stevie Wonder rediscovery session of mine turned into quite a wonderful one indeed! Starts off with the touching piece about every life having reason—""You Will Know"—with the follow-up funky dance piece relaying an important message about people of color beneath the beat and the third track, "In Your Corner", providing some happy pop catch. Then after things slow down again and get nice and charming on "With Every Beat Of Your Heart", all of my personal favorites start to stack up! "One Of A Kind" is a perfect example of a fun and instantly-ear-pleasing 80's pop pleasure where the lively beat and the sweet words—in Stevie's case, about two hearts that intertwine—make it an easy one to love. The next one's even more fun: "Skeletons". The suspense is immediately felt in the chords and funk arrangement before he even serves up the whole message about lies and how they lead to nothing but trouble. And then an especially delightful treat awaits on "Get It", as the Motown legend invites the late King Of Pop himself for an exciting musical affair—a collaboration between these two big-ticket stars that I'd all but forgotten about! Stevie is singing about stars—of the intergalactic variety, that is—on "Galaxy Paradise", which charms with its romantic alien metaphors (the woman flying in on a saucer and coming from extraterrestrial planets and such). He turns in an excellent vocal performance on "Cryin' Through The Night", whose ordinary theme about a woman who left him for another man becomes extraordinary with the jazz/funk touch. It's the jazz again in combination with the skip and perk to the beat that draws me in on "Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down". Then my #1 favorite of all happens to be the concluding track, "My Eyes Don't Cry". I felt it was a total jam the first time I heard it.....and it still is! Jazzy, infectiously dancey and in every way positive (I love that part ' I don't cry, I don't cry no more ' chimed by the backup singers.), this song of love liberation is a joyous way to end this colorful album:

1. You Will Know
2. Dark 'N' Lovely
3. In Your Corner
4. With Each Beat Of My Heart
5. One Of A Kind
6. Skeletons
7. Get It (Duet With Michael Jackson)
8. Galaxy Paradise
9. Cryin' Through The Night
10. Free
11. Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down
12. My Eyes Don't Cry

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

STATUS QUO-Ain't Complaining (1988)


They've got that right—no complaints out of me whatsoever when it comes to 80's hair band rock! I had thoughts of listening to this British band for some days now—since I started pouring through all of these wonderful 'S' artists in my music collection—and finally decided today would be the day that, after eleven whopping years, I would reacquaint myself with them by taking this 1988 effort of theirs out for a nice joyride. Actually, thrill ride is more precise, and not just on the energetic, high-speed jams "Cream Of The Crop" and "The Loving Game" (I can almost feel the aching desperation in their powerfully proclaimed 'I gotta see you tonight' in every delivery of the chorus); when you're an 80's hair band lover, every song is a thrill! It was such a pleasure to hear the two from this album I'd favorited those long eleven years ago once again: "Everytime I See You" (great catchy classics like these make me love and miss the 80's all over again) and "Who Gets The Love?" (I get touched by the words to this one, talking about the person who fills the void left by the departed lover). But now those top two picks have some new competition! I found myself getting equally hooked to the fun, rockabilly-spirited opening title track, their story of how life can be all messed up and sour can suddenly become bright as soon as the lady is lying next to him in bed being quite humorous. Love those piano rolls! "Another Shipwreck" is your totally-80's slick, synthesized pop/rock guilty pleasure. Shipwrecked and not ever seeing home again—a clever metaphor of heartbreak and the chance of never finding that love anymore. "Don't Mind If I Do" is just super catchy from start to finish, especially because of the way nearly every word of the lyrics is delivered in sync with the rockin' beat. Probably explains why I felt like dancing.....and did! The STATUS QUO crew then mellows things down a bit on "I Know You're Leaving", though what begins as a ballad piece with a soft, ambient glow soon picks up tempo until it evolves into a power rock jam where they passionately confess still being in love. Then it's the sing-along charm and the slight country flavor that attracts me to "Cross That Bridge", and if that one is a deliciously-80's delicacy, then the bouncy, children's nursery rhyme sorta hop to "Burning Bridges", which is primarily an instrumental show by the band's skilled musicians, takes the whole cake:

1. Ain't Complaining
2. Everytime I Think Of You
3. One For The Money
4. Another Shipwreck
5. Don't Mind If I Do
6. I Know You're Leaving
7. Cross That Bridge
8. Cream Of The Crop
9. The Loving Game
10. Who Gets The Love?
11. Burning Bridges
12. Magic

SUGAR RAY-14:59 (1999)


My continued updating of the 'S' artists in my music collection not only revealed to me that I hadn't listened to Mark McGrath and company in ages, but also that I hadn't indulged in anything along the alternative rock either. I then further realized that, although I did have a compilation of the band's greatest hits, I hadn't ever owned any of this band's full-length studio albums. So I took care of all of that with the 40+ minutes I spent with this "14:59" effort. Thanks to all of the years I had tuned in to St. Louis's local but now defunct soft rock 102.5 KEZK radio station, I'd gotten introduced to a pair of SUGAR RAY's biggest hits from the 90's: "Every Morning" and "Someday". I heard the former first, and recall how I immediately embraced the trippy funk/rock sound and McGrath's distinctive voice delivering the memorable chorus that begins with ' every morning there's a halo hangin' from the corner of my girlfriend's four-cross bed ' (and how he'd like to use it for the weekend or a one-night stand). Still sounds as great today as it did nearly two decades ago! And the funny thing is, I don't think I've ever really known what the song was exactly about! Well I could probably say the same about "Someday", whose dreamy and sunny acoustic hip-hop style arrangement was what had attracted me to that one. And then there are the two high-speed, super-energetic head bangin' jams that I'd never heard before—"Aim For Me" and "Burning The Dog"—where I totally had no idea what was going on and just enjoyed the charge I got out of the monotonic, angst-driven chants and whatever colorful words were shouted above the awesome drum playing! In fact, I didn't even expect this kind of angst-driven sound from this band—this coming from a guy who had only heard "Every Morning" and "Someday" on the radio all the time—until I was blown away by the hardcore madness that is the "New Direction" intro. Though I would get to re-embrace the soft rock side of the band again on the mellowed and chilled "Ode To The Lonely Hearted" and one I really liked, "Even Though", which has this very summery, BEACH BOYS psychedelic classic rock vibe about it (well, the band is from California after all!) and a down-to-earth ' there's always something ' story we can all pretty much relate to. I may not have yet completely gotten what's being talked about on "Personal Space Invader", but the title sure got my attention (me being the premiere 80's video game lover, of course) and just the overall flow of the song itself (the monotonic ' I don't know about the things you do ' part part before the chorus and the swirly video game effects midway are catchy indeed). And I had to save my latest 'Music Surprise Of The Day' for last: "Abracadabra". The forever 80's boy in me was all smiles from ear to ear while marveling at this band's remake of the STEVE MILLER BAND golden oldie! Everything I know and love from the original is all here—from the chords to the memorable lyrics ('I wanna reach out and grab ya' and ' I heat up like a burning flame ' are a couple of favorite lines) to even those bizarre sound effects tossed up during the long instrumental break:

1. New Direction [Intro]
2. Every Morning
3. Falls Apart
4. Personal Space Invader
5. Live & Direct [Featuring KRS-ONE]
6. Someday
7. Aim For Me
8. Ode To The Lonely Hearted
9. Burning Dog
10. Even Though
11. Abracadabra
12. Glory
13. New Direction [Outro]

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Stevie B.-It's So Good (2000)


It certainly is so good—so good to have reacquainted myself with one of the premiere and legendary voices in Freestyle music! As I am still finding myself on that old-and-familiar/new-and-unexplored kick while I continuing pouring through the 'S' entries in my music library, I was surprised that one of the few Stevie B. albums I hadn't listened to yet was this one released right before the start of the New Millennium. I had nearly forgotten he'd started adding the Eurodance-style element into his music upon tuning in to the opening thriller that is "Since You've Been Gone Away", a total jam that you wouldn't even know is about his aching heart if you got too lost in energetic beat! Well, perhaps the title might've clued you in anyway. But the title for the next one isn't as obvious: "Young Girl". You'll be instantly snatched up in the awesome Freestyle arrangement (just like I was!) and the infectious melody of the chords, the latter which somewhat reminds me of Paul Hardcastle's memorable 80's hit, "Rain Forest". And once the beat's got you hooked, then you can enjoy his serious message embedded in the music about not wanting to get it on with a girl who may not yet be mature enough. As cool as the 'Freestyle Mix' version of this song is, I love the 'Urban Mix' just as much (my eager self couldn't help but to skip down to it!), which employs a heavy syncopated beat and digitally-disguised voice effects to give it more of a street-wise zing. Had assumed there'd be a luscious Latin flavor to the lively "Rio Party Nights", but would get that instead on the one he entitles "Baila (Dance With Me)", which makes excellent usage of the vibrant Spanish guitar as well as Stevie's soulicious vocals! Speaking of Spanish, the track called "Mira Mira" (translated as "Look Look") is sung entirely in my favorite foreign language with that same vibrant guitar providing music of the smooth and groovy rhythm as Stevie's voice melts over every wonderful word. And 'melting' just may be the best word to describe what he does to my audio senses on the more chilled, mellow offerings—"I Lost My Love Today" and especiall "Give Me A Little More Time", which is a beautiful one about him recovering from a broken heart. But me likes Stevie B. best when he's busting out with the bangin' Freestyle beats. Besides the 'Freestyle Mix' of the aforementioned "Young Girl" jams, it's pure vintage Stevie B. on "Can You Hear Me Now?" and the celebration of being back in love that is this album's spectacular title track where his stylistic phrasing of ' it's so G-double-O-D good ' pretty much sums up this whole twelve-track joyride:

1. Since You've Been Gone Away
2. Young Girl [Freestyle Mix]
3. Rio Party Nights
4. Baila (Dance With Me)
5. I Lost My Love Today
6. Mira Mira
7. Can You Hear Me Now?
8. You Are The One
9. My Mother's Eyes
10. Give Me Just A Little More Time
11. It's So Good
12. Young Girl [Urban Mix]