Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jo Frances-Ultimately (2007)


Get ready for the ultimate dance experience! It amazes me sometimes what music goodies I discover just through casual browsing, and the end result of one particular recent exploration into the world Europop was my introduction to HI-NRG dance artist Jo Frances. The very second I'd seen her 2007 album, "Ultimately", then seen the very first song among the track-listing, it was inevitable that, 'ultimately', this album would be in my possession! Me being the proverbial sucker for trance/techno remakes of memorable 80's hits meant that I was totally excited about hearing Jo's remake of THE PRETENDERS' rockin' 1980 classic. And exciting this fast-paced two-and-a-half minute thriller was! Still that familiar melody and a subtle bit of rock beneath the glitzy, super-charged beat, though it took me a moment to get used to Jo's thick singing chords, which contrasts dramatically with Chrissie Hynde's rougher, rock diva's voice. Those two-and-a-half minutes fly by real quick, so you either gotta play "Brass In Pocket" four or five times in a row, or check out the handful of remixes made of Jo's version, including the ultra-trancey 'DJ Rubicon Remix' at the end of this album and the 'Northernbeat' mixes found on the four-track 2008 single. I had immediately thought Jo sounded a lot like British soul/pop singer Alyson Moyet right after listening to that PRETENDERS remake, and it's a funny coincidence that I made that notion, as ten tracks later, my ears would hear Jo's awesome remake of Alison's "Love Resurrection". Even funnier than that, I don't even remember hearing Alison's original! But I sure love this groovy Jo Frances remake, and the coolest thing about it is that it samples the funky beat from soul legend Chaka Khan's fantastic 1984 remake of Prince's "I Feel For You"! If there was another song on this album that needed to be remixed, "Love Resurrection" would get my vote! There's remakes galore here on "Ultimately", in fact, and although I'm not aware of all of them off the top of my head. I instantly recognized Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful", which sounds a bit different in its HI-NRG format. Yet that same melody and those same beautiful lyrics that I know good and well are all there, and I love the slowed-down opening intro with the ambiance and Jo's haunting vocals echoing before the beat picks up speed. SNOW PATROL's "Chasing Cars": that's a soft rock radio favorite of mine that always gets stuck in my head because of the melody and the lyrics. I hadn't heard in a while, so it was really nice hearing it again, especially with the HI-NRG beat giving it a boost. That one flies by too quickly as well, but unlike "Brass In Pocket", you won't get to hear any dazzling 5+ minute club remixes of it, unfortunately. Who can ever forget THE EURYTHMICS' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"? While Jo's version stays true to the original with the heavy electronic synthesizing and the eerie double voicing of the lyrics, it has more of a warming, intimate vibe; plus, the 'looking for something' part of the memorable main chorus gets looped infinitely as the song draws to a close. Had never heard the original disco version of "I Got The Music In Me", but Jo sure puts on a brilliant show with her mega-groovy rendition! Love the way her voice soars to lofty heights at the singing of 'music' during the beat drop. And I gotta attach the 'mega-groovy' tag also to another feel-gooder: "When I'm Good And Ready". I must suggest to you dance lovers out there at least one thing about this jam: don't stop listening to it until you're good and ready! Although every cut on this album shines bright and boasts its own special colors, one that's exceptionally golden is "Deliverance". Once the extended instrumental intro has melted your ears and the 80's-inspired beat has sunk in, the poetic words of the song will melt your heart and deliver you the sweetest dance song you've heard all month:

1. Brass In Pocket
2. Trouble
3. Bohemian Like You
4. Beautiful
5. Chasing Cars
6. Whispering Your Name
7. Sweet Dreams
8. Deliverance
9. Shine On You
10. Everybody's Talkin'
11. Love Resurrection
12. I Got The Music In Me
13. When I'm Good And Ready
14. Brass In Pocket (DJ Rubicon Remix)
15. Drop The Pilot (SleazeSisters Anthem Mix)

Jo Frances-Brass In Pocket (2008)

1. Brass In Pocket (Northernbeat Edit)
2. Brass In Pocket (Northernbeat Club Mix)
3. Brass In Pocket (Dj Rubicon Remix)
4. Brass In Pocket (Original Album Version)

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