Sunday, October 21, 2018

Gina G-Get Up & Dance (2005)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 21, 2018

Well I'd say that title speaks for itself when it comes to tonight's sweet treat! Still not missing a single beat and staying on this Eurodance kick that I've suddenly gotten on, I decided to share the second album by Australian pop princess Gina G. You'll need more than an hour to fully indulge yourself in all fifteen of the goodies your ears will hear.....two hours, even, should you get hooked onto any of these and decide to replay them twice or thrice. The latter just may end up being the case for me, as I see a hefty hunk of new favorites here being added to my playlists soon! My 'Energy Mix' will surely get "Shock To My System" (I'm drawn in my the odd melody of the chords and the groovy Eurodisco beat on this one), the feel-good party club anthem, "Into The Night" (just the kind of glitzy Eurodance jams I crave; love that 'whoo-ooh-ooh-hoo' Gina does at the end of the chorus) and the disco-groovy and equal feel-gooder of a dance anthem that is the title track. Your 'Energy Mix' might instead consist of the fun and summery "Stuck On You", the fun and steamy one called "Kinky" (the bizarre sirens and disco-groovy rhythm totally fit the theme here) and one I remember rather well from years and years ago, "Ooh Ahh...Just A Little Bit" (you can't help but to get caught up in the sunny melody and the skippy, energetic Eurodance glitz, which sounds better in this remixed format than I remember from the original). As for my 'Pop Mix', the new additions there will definitely be the sultry and seductive "Tease" (I'm digging the slightly funky, r&b swing and those bizarre orchestral riffs, plus Gina's breathy 'ahhhs' all throughout to set the mood for this guilty pleasure), "Sticks & Stones" (a cute and clever way to take that old childhood adage and turn it into something poptastic) and my #1 of the bunch, "Little Black Book" (so much I love on this one: the terrific old-school 80's punch that sparks the music; every time the girls chant 'so many men and so little time' before the chorus); then the breakdown midway through when the guys go ' who's that making that nasty noise? ' and the girls respond with 'me and the boys, me and the boys', which reminds me of the Janet Jackson hit, "Nasty" where, towards the end of the song, she asks ' who's that eating that nasty food? ' with the guys responding with 'nasty boys'). There's even a nice representative from the slow jam category: "Girl In Trouble", a song about forgetting what it's like to belong to someone and reaching out in hopes of being loved again. So you'll end up doing much more than just getting up to dance here, and I'm sure you'll enjoy every little lit of bit:

1. Heaven
2. Shock To My System
3. Where Would You Be Now?
4. Tease
5. Into The Night
6. Stuck On You
7. Walking In The Rain
8. Girl In Trouble
9. Little Black Book
10. Kinky
11. Get Up
12. Sticks & Stones
13. Sun Goes Round The Moon
14. Supernatural Love
15. Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit 2004 (Europa Xl Radio Edit)

Friday, October 19, 2018

SETUS-Brand New Romantic (2014)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 19, 2018

Well I sure didn't miss a beat with this next music treat! On the heels of last night's dance thriller "Manipulator", I come right back 24 hours later with another dance thriller that had been on my own personal wishlist. So amazing as of late how my casual explorations into a specific genre lead me to get newly acquainted with artists I never knew existed! That was the case sometime last year, as my continued interest in the New Millennium electronic/synthpop artists who are bringing back the sounds of the 80's led me to a Polish group that calls itself SETUS. I totally lucked out with them when I found out they'd released one and only one English album, then read in their brief profile on their Bandcamp page (https://setus.bandcamp.com/) that their sound was even inspired by the 80's! So 2014's "Brand New Romantic", then, was a must-have for me, and I soooooooooooo recommend it for the rest of you 80's synthpop lovers as well as those of you who also enjoy that trancey Eurodance glitz! Yet there's more than just the production and the 80's sound and the Eurodance glitz that's to be excited about; there's also SETUS's brilliant front man, whose lofty, majestic vocals that soar into the stratosphere turn every song on this album into nothing short of a marvelous music affair! I would applaud him as soon as I heard him singing on the short tease that is the thumping dance opener, "I Love You So", then applaud him again on the infectiously-80's follow-up, "Say Goodbye", which features one of his greatest vocal moments: his voice sailing and echoing in his delivery of the words 'far away'. But it's when I got to Track #3's "Heaven" where I became completely enamored by his voice. The airy, ambient intro here sets the mood for what becomes a delightful, mid-tempo breeze of a beautiful tribute to the one who makes him feel he's above the clouds. And that same heavenly glow is felt all throughout the pleasant dream of a song that is "Trees So Nice" and the 'techno ballad', "Rain Of Paris". In fact, on these slower-tempo selections, those majestic soaring vocals are highlighted to the max! And thinking more about beautiful tributes, there's another that pleases the ears: "You Are My Lady". There were many times where all I could do was just sit back and enjoy the wonderful music, giving little care to the actual words being sung. Track #4's Lost" was the first such place; I think I was so caught up in the moody, haunting ambiance, and even more so on the 'Ameros Dance Remix' with its chilled, progressive trance sound. "I Can Shine" was the second—an energetic, sunny song with plenty of soaring vocals that my ears just stay hooked to because of the chorus—followed by "Crazy Night" (it too is a sunny song with its catchy, sing-along hook to it as he keeps singing 'let your heart be free'), "Dancing In My Live" (thought the title should read 'life' instead of 'live'; think there's a misprint on the album artwork :-); love the unusual chord arrangement in the melody nonetheless; playback time is much too short!) and "Love Is Divine". My #1 favorite of all? That would be "Midnight"—THE best new electro-synthpop song I've enjoyed all year! Everything about this one is awesome—from the hard and funky synthesized mid-tempo beat to the way the lead guy's voice soars upwards on that yodeled 'you' in every delivery of 'I feel you' in the chorus! Only makes perfect sense that it got the remix treatment in the form of the 'Ameros 80's Remix'. Cool robotic vocal effects, lots of playing around with the various synthesized riffs, an even funkier beat—all delectable ear candy that is well deserved:

1. I Love You So
2. Say Goodbye
3. Heaven
4. Lost
5. Midnight
6. Trees So Nice
7. I Can Shine
8. You Are My Lady
9. Crazy Night
10. Dancing In My Live
11. Rain Of Paris
12. Love Is Divine
13. Can You Feel?
14. Midnight (Ameros 80's Remix)
15. Lost (Ameros Dance Remix)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ricky Rebel-Manipulator (2011)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 18, 2018

With boybands being the theme of my last two treats, I thought now would be a perfect time to unwrap a third one that too is related to boybands.....in a way. Followers of the California-based quartet that called itself NO AUTHORITY may know that one of the former vocalists of the foursome ended up embarking on a solo career. His name is Ricky Rebel—among other stage aliases he adopted since NO AUTHORITY's dissolution—and tonight I proudly present his much-requested and I must say EXTREMELY entertaining debut album! "Manipulator" is hands down one of THE most exhilarating dance jams I've heard all year! And it's one that I'd go further in saying is a true Ricky Rebel club anthem! While the energetic electro/techno and the thumping bass line are giving you a charge, Ricky proclaims that he won't be controlled or influenced or man-handled in any way, shape or form. So then, the title definitely fits, especially considering that you the listener yourself will be 'manipulated' by the music once its addictive club beats are pounded into your ears! I put off listening to the remix until the very end, though you may wanna skip ahead; the revised version has a more smoother sound stripped of much of the pounding bass, which actually makes Ricky's vocals a little more clearer. Well he's certainly heard loud and clear on the dynamite follow-up, "Get It On", where I feel some sort of seductive S&M sex play going on with the way he keeps saying 'whatcha gonna do with me now?' and that distinctive sound of chains and locks beneath the banging dance beat. If "Get It On" is the actual sex, then Track #5's "Try This" is the temptation leading into the foreplay. 'If you love to do it, then why not try it?', Ricky teases throughout as this highly-catchy electro/pop jam transforms into an all-out dance jam, complete with bits of reggae-inspired vocals to add some cool zing! "Lights Out" also does that alternating dance-then-slowdown-then-dance-again production play; I just dig the beats here, plus hearing him sing 'turn the lights out' with his lofty voice in the chorus part. "You Need A Woman": The title sure had me very intrigued and guessing. From his spoken, monotonic lyrics in the opening verse and the ensuing statements he boldly makes afterwards, I can sum up the theme of this ultra-catchy song as Ricky's half-humorous, half-serious way in saying that he needs a real man in his life. Ultra-catchy doesn't even begin to describe the one that's standing as my #1 favorite at the present moment: "Geisha Dance". I instantly feel that good ole 80's synthpop spark jolting me here on this rather senseless, bounce-along bubblegum song where he talks about some lady holding a Katana sword and getting ready to fight (and that alone generated images of "Mortal Kombat" and other fighting games in my mind). Then perhaps this album's true #1, from a conceptual standpoint, is another whose title had intrigued me: "Straight Jacket". Just when I predicted the song would be about somebody being the other's insane, maniacal loverboy, my ears would instead receive a series of important messages advocating equality and acceptance when it comes to love. Clever how Ricky holds off on actually mentioning the title itself until the very end. But no less enjoyable than these #1's are the mellow, ear-pleasing piece, "Independent Lover"; the album's lone ballad, "Missing You" (terrific production with the chilling orchestral accompaniment helping to create the dark and gloomy mood); and the wild musical extravaganza that is "Perfect Kiss", as what begins as a very peaceful, theatrical piece unexpectedly breaks out into a super-trancey techno frenzy.....and only gets wilder beyond that:

1. Manipulator
2. Get It On
3. Lights Out
4. You Need A Woman
5. Try This
6. Geisha Dance
7. Perfect Kiss
8. Independent Lover
9. Straight Jacket
10. Missing You
11. Manipulator (Remix)

3 BELOW-Falling (2000)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 18, 2018

Here comes another sweet Halloween treat for your boyband music goodie bags! This small package comes in the form of a two-track single released by yet another obscure bunch that called itself 3 BELOW. And yes, I gotta use the word 'obscure' once more, because I knew nothing about 3 BELOW's existence back in the late 90's/early 2000's and have zero knowledge about them here and now almost two decades later. So unless there's a boyband pop music cyber-sleuth out there who can come produce any bits of info relating to the origins and/or the eventual whereabouts of these guys, then it looks like this will be another unsolved case for the pop music mystery catalog. But in the meanwhile, my short analysis of this two-track single that entertained me for about 10 minutes is that this 3 BELOW trio could've turned out to be something big, judging from what I heard on the opening title track. It's a simply sweet I-am-falling-back-in-love-with-you kinda song in that classic 90's boyband dance-pop style with the smooth, soothing vocals and the charming things that young boys say, all put to an equally-charming melody courtesy of the cinematic orchestrals. I surely would've taken a few remixes of it, as the producers had done for 4MANDU's "Baby Don't Go" single, but the song works well enough as it is. Than as for this single's second track, "Straight Up", it is not a remake of the Paula Abdul hit from the 80's, yet the themes to both songs are quite similar. Whereas Paula was wanting the guy to be straight up and real with her about being in love forever, the 3 BELOW guys are telling the girl that they are already the real deal and that they're truly and honestly being straight up with her. And in contrast to the sweet, mellow charm the guys portray on "Falling", the mood on "Straight Up" shows off more of that in-your-face, we're-bad-and-we're-hip characteristic, all put to a nice middle-tempo beat with a touch of hip flavor. A couple of hit-makers we could've had here then? Possibly, but as the trio seems to have vanished following the release of this single, it's safe to say these songs will only be hits for us boyband music collectors:

1. Falling
2. Straight Up

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

4MANDU-Baby Don't Go (1996)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 17, 2018

While I'm in the process of sharing some early Halloween treats for everyone's music goodie bags, I gotta remember that there's a few sweet treats that I need to indulge in myself! This specially-wrapped package is especially for me and all of the boyband lovers out there: "Baby Don't Go", the second of three singles released by the obscure four-piece bunch that called itself 4MANDU. Yep—gotta use that word 'obscure' again, because I knew nothing about this group's existence back in the 90's and have zero knowledge about them here and now in the present. Unless there's a boyband pop music cyber-sleuth out there who can come forward with any information regarding the origins and/or the then-known whereabouts of 4MANDU, then I'm afraid 4MANDU will be a case for the unsolved music mystery catalog. Meanwhile, allow me to do an in-depth investigation into this four-track single that entertained my ears for 20+ minutes. "Baby Don't Go" excited me right away when I recognized it sampled the chords and arrangement to George Michael's "Praying For Time" (that distinctive guitar gives it away), and only made me adore it further with the easy-flowing, chilled r&b groove and the lush vocals that followed, the earnest words of ' baby don't go away ' and ' I'm begging you to stay ' and 'I want to show you what faithful hearts can bring' giving the song its brilliant glow. Instant love for this marvelous song, and making it even sweeter are the pair of thrilling dance remixes that follow it! Both the 'Tees Club Mix' and the 'Tees Pop Mix' give the song an energetic tech/house spark, which is exactly why one (or both) of them will totally be getting added to my 'Energy Mix' playlist! Then it goes from the guys singing ' baby don't go away ' to them singing about being with the girl "All The Way". This hip-hop flavored dance/pop jam feels like it might've been a 4MANDU anthem of sorts with the 'hip-hop hooray' manner in which they chant ' I'm with you all the way ' in the chorus. It's fun jams like this that totally will make you miss those 90's boybands and just the 90's period in general all over again:

1. Baby Don't Go (Radio Edit)
2. Baby Don't Go (Tees Club Mix)
3. Baby Don't Go (Tees Pop Mix)
4. All The Way

Monday, October 15, 2018

Aaron Agassi-Right Next To Me (2006)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 15, 2018

My third sweet treat of the day sees me presenting a talented Filipino pop star to the rest of the international music world: Aaron Agassi. He is another 'accidental' recent discovery of mine, as I would become aware of his "Right Next To Me" album as a result of looking to track down something else along the OPM circuit. And once again, it's a discovery that turned out to be solid gold! I was reminded how much I've been missing these contemporary young male pop star types as soon as my ears and I were greeted to the bangin' beats and the slick sound of the dynamite opener, "Calculate It". Counting how many more lies from the girl it'll take before it's time to take a permanent break&Mmdash;that's the simple math problem he's faced with in so many words. This one's sure to have been a big hit for him, as there's an official video of the song here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw-OmIOEWMA, plus a nifty hip-hop flavored remix that includes some excellent rap flow. Interestingly, "Calculate It" would be the lone track on this album possessing that urban dance-pop punch; the remainder of the songs shifts gears over to either a more pop/rock mainstream sound or a more refined, easy-listening sound that is a signature staple in the realm of OPM music. The pop/rock comes in the form of the energetic "I'll Be Your Hero" (the pleasant melody and lively guitar rhythm gives it that 'Top 10 Radio Hits Of The Summer' spark) and the follow-up, "Take It Easy", which instantly charms when the title lyrics breath into your senses and becomes a get-stuck-to-you song when those same title lyrics keep getting repeated in the chorus. Then as for that easy-listening sound, it is showcased on every other song yet to be mentioned, beginning with the beautiful title track, which deserves candidacy for 'Slow Jam Of The Night' with its smooth and mellow glow and Aaron's thoughtful words about what can be and what will be when it comes to love. Not to be confused with "Right Next To Me" is Track #6's "Right By Your Side"; the two songs have similar titles and chord arrangement and even have similar themes, except the tempo is a little more upbeat this time.....and I adore it just the same. "When You're In Love With Someone" gets candidacy for 'Slow Jam Of The Night' as well; I just love how beautifully this one is sung with the soft and slight r&b bounce moving beneath the music. Perhaps it's the slowest songs that highlight Aaron's vocals the best; I found that to be true at least on the first and second Tagalog-language tracks, "Kasalanan Ko Ba" (wow this one's perfect for the easy-listening radio airwaves; if only there were an English version.....) and "Paano" and on the album's proper concluding piece, "Another Sad Goodbye". Of course, the dance/pop fans out there might wish there were more jams like "Calculate It" to indulge in, but I estimate that they'll still embrace this Aaron Agassi and this fine song selection nevertheless:

1. Calculate It
2. Right Next To Me
3. When You're In Love With Someone
4. Kasalanan Ko Ba
5. Paano
6. Right By Your Side
7. I'll Be Your Hero
8. Take It Easy
9. Hanggang Matapos
10. One In A Million
11. Another Sad Goodbye
12. Calculate It (Remix)

Scherrie, Lynda & Sundray-Supremely Yours (1995)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 15, 2018

The second sweet treat of the day from yours truly will indeed be 'supremely yours', one that you'll hold on to and cherish for many weeks, months and perhaps even years to come! And this special treat doubles as a fulfilled music request—the first album released by Scherrie Payne, Lynda Laurence and Sundray Tucker, who were all former members of the 60's all-girl supergroup, THE SUPREMES. It had been a surprise to me when I learned of this album's existence. Though as I've gotten more knowledgeable about music trends and such over the past three years or so, I've come to realize that a lot of these groups that I thought had broken up or disappeared altogether had continued on enjoying success, even if the res a shakeup in the lineup or the members are performing under a different name altogether. So here on "Supremely Yours", we have a trio of sweet soulicious singers who shine just as much as they did when Diana Ross and company were a dazzling force back in their memorable heyday.....at least by my ears. The sweet harmony at the very beginning of "Feel Like Makin' Love", followed by the festive dance beats that the song unexpectedly erupts into, sets the tone for the musical pleasure that is to come. In fact, I'd already declared "Feel Like Makin' Love" a quick favorite once I took in the 80's-sounding pop feel, the brilliant calypso instrumental midway in and the pleasant jazz that sparks the music throughout. And while I'm talking about music sounding like the 80's, let me go ahead and rave about my first 'Music Surprise Of The Day': their fun remake of the Luther Vandross classic, "Stop To Love". Imagine my thrill when I recognized those same chords ad those same memorable chorus lyrics, especially loving the way the backing ladies chant 'stop!' and 'celebrate!'! I've always pegged "Stop To Love" as one of my all-time Luther Vandross favorites—a fun pop song where the songwriter wants the lover to quit doing too much and quit being too busy all the time; just stop and enjoy love. The second 'Music Surprise Of The Day': their sensual soul version of "I Still Believe, a classic I've heard so many times by so many artists. Always a pleasure with that memorable chorus, isn't it? I keep remembering the Brenda K. Starr version the most, but now I have another one to add to the covers catalog! The third "Music Surprise Of The Day': "Sweet Freedom". Yep—knew this would be a cover of the Michael McDonald 80's soul/pop classic. Brings back so many nostalgic memories! That great chorus and the whole flow of the song! And I like that part 'starlight'. Admittedly, it's different not hearing Michael as the main voice, but the collective voices of these ladies is sufficient for my ears! And they do an excellent job in capturing a famous classic from more than a decade before my time: "Never Can Say Goodbye". THE JACKSON 5 original will always ring loud and clear in my ears, but I love hearing later versions of it too, and that is definitely the case here in this reinvented, slowed-down twinkly soul format. Always like that part 'tell me why is it so', plus that the 'no-no-no, no-no-no, oooh' of the chorus. One more favorite that I was so happy I recognized: "Who Do You Love?". ' If you really don't want me, if you really don't need me, if you really don't love me, then who do you love? '..... I'd only known for r&b diva Deborah Cox to have recorded this song; now I have this version to adore too!

Covers and remakes aside, every other song on this album is a dazzling Scherrie, Lynda & Sundray moment. My first 'Slow Jam Of The Afternoon' candidate (that's a new award category for when I'm listening to music in the daylight hours) came on "Just Like That!", thanks to its dreamy sound and the whole quiet storm radio vibe that I get. The ladies even sing about daydreaming all throughout, so everything perfectly fits the theme here. The next candidate would be the one that just might end up being my #1 overall: "Private Number". It's a simple song—the repeated words of wanting to get the baby's phone number are the primary lyrics—but the addition of the stunning lead vocals by the guest male singer and the sensual and dreamy sound make it an exquisite affair! So thoughtful of the producers to create the ' Slammin' Jammin' Remix ', which is the funkier upbeat pop version that you'll indulge in at the very end of this album! For those who miss that 60's throwback soul sound, the one called "Touch" is one you'll find totally divine, like the vintage SUPREMES even. It's a touching song alright—a song that's all about that special something that speaks louder than any words can say, a song that you can coast along to all day long. And I really love the versatility this supreme vocal trio demonstrates as well. "First Time On A Ferris Wheel", a charming song about how that first feeling of love is like a joyride, has a majestic and distinctive stage/theatrical presentation about it while featuring some amazing Soaring vocals! "If I Love Again" is a beautiful slow piano offering that has the smooth jazz flavor written all over it. Then a special treat for me was "Suave", which I was ecstatic to realize was a Spanish-language version of the opener, "Feel Like Makin' Love". It's sung entirely in Spanish, and although I'm not yet totally 100% fluent, it was fun to hear every delivery of 'suave' and 'cómo llamas' and 'soñé', among other things my ears could easily translate:

1. Feel Like Makin' Love
2. Who Do You Love?
3. Just Like That!
4. Stop To Love
5. Private Number
6. First Time On A Ferris Wheel
7. Colours Of Love
8. Stop! I Don't Need No Sympathy
9. I Still Believe
10. Never Can Say Goodbye
11. Suave
12. If I Love Again
13. Sweet Freedom
14. Touch
15. Private Number (Slammin' Jammin' Mix)

SISTER SLEDGE-All New Mixes '97 (1997)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: October 15, 2018

Halloween is fast-approaching, so it's about that time for me to start busting out with some early sweet treats for your music goodie bag :-) I wasn't expecting my second SISTER SLEDGE post to be a special collection of remixes of some of their greatest hits, but that's exactly what's up for grabs here with their 1997 compilation, "All New Mixes '97". It's always fun whenever a golden classic is given the techno remix treatment, and that's doubly true for disco favorites and other hits that are already have the dance element going on. So here we have two thrilling remakes apiece of "Everybody Dance", "Good Times", "We Are Family" and "Lost In Music". I have foggy memories of the latter one (maybe this could even be my first time?), but the rest I know all good and well. "Everybody Dance" is possibly my #1 all-time by this sister group, loving the looped chorus of 'everybody dance, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, clap, clap your hands' and just the whole carefree, feelgood vibe about that a lot of 70's disco music had (at least by my ears). The 5+ minute 'Bum Bum Club Remix' or the 7+ minute 'House People Remix'—both are a thrill! It's always a good time listening to "Good Times", and with the pair of 'Moiraghi' mixes, the good times roll on even further! "We Are Family" is one of those instantly-likable classics that you hear just about anywhere and everywhere, being used a lot in movies and stadium events with its references to themes about sisterly love and family, which is something that we can all relate to. The family love affair gets even more love with the exciting 4+ minute and 6+ minute 'Clutch Freaky' and 'Extended Fresh' mixes, respectively. This compilation may already be over two decades old, but it sure makes those old disco days and nights feel brand new again:

1. Everybody Dance (Bum Bum Club Remix)
2. Everybody Dance (House People Remix)
3. Good Times (Moiraghi Club Remix)
4. Good Times (Moiraghi Radio Mix)
5. We Are Family (Clutch Freaky Mix)
6. We Are Family (Extended Fresh Mix)
7. Lost In Music (N. H. Main Suite Mix)
8. Lost In Music (N. H. Edit Version)