Wednesday, December 23, 2015

DREAMLOVERS-18 Hits (2001)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: December 23, 2015

It's been cloudy, it's been cold, it's been windy and it's most certainly been rainy in my neck of the woods today, but the outside conditions haven't dampened the gift-giving spirit inside of me one bit! I've already showered myself with the wonderful tunes on the first DREAMLOVERS album, and while I'm looking forward to another torrential downpouring of "15 Hits", I coasted ahead and submerged myself in their next effort. Well these Belgian boys surely had it all figured out for the second time in a row—that is, when they decided upon "18 Hits" as the working title. They had to have known that this particular collection of remakes of memorable classics would be just as successful, and considering how much I loved the first batch of hits (not to mention, the rave reviews I gave about them), I predicted and expected the very same thing before my ears even took in the opening tune, "Love Story". A short love story, I must say, and quite a tease at the same time, as the good vibes lasts shy of the three-minute mark. Teasing me—it would be the same thing I'd experience on so many of my new-found DREAMLOVERS favorites, prompting me with the notion to playing everything here twice.....or more than twice, in some special cases. "You", above all, is, without a doubt, one to keep spinning on the CD after the romantic mellowness and the tender, smooth harmony fill your ears! Could've been something recorded back in the 70's because it has that distinctively magical soft rock radio glow, updated with that signature upbeat 90's dance-pop kick that boybands are known for. Then there's the Belgian boyband's take on Leo Sayer's "When I Need You", led by the aching vocals of the one stunningly soulicious member of the group who has a knack for turning every single one of these ballads into a show-stopping performance. He's the highlight of the show again when he leads the way on "You'll Never Walk Alone", which is one of those where the vocals are so powerful and moving that you're literally frozen in time and can do nothing but sit back and listen to every marvelous, soul-shaking word. I wonder if this guy ended up going solo.....? And it's when I got to this song where I'd started to note how certain members of this DREAMLOVERS group lead certain type of songs; the stunning ballads and slow numbers are tailor-made just for him. If "When I Need You" wasn't a show-stopper, then "You'll Never Walk Alone" definitely is, building up into epic performance with the intensifying instrumentals and production as song goes on! It's one of the other Belgian boys with the softer voices leading the way, however, on the AIR SUPPLY classic, "Without You". But the vocals work better here, as I recall the original having a breezy feel that only a softer voice could match well against, especially on the singing of those those soaring high notes. Had only heard it once or twice before I heard this version, and now I realize how beautiful a song it is. There's actually a bunch of hits within this "18 Hits" that are even less familiar to my ears than that: BOW WOW WOW's "Do You Wanna Hold Me?" (this is one that totally wakes up the music senses, given it's exotic tribal beat and new-wavish production with a modernized Eurodisco twist); "Ruby A Message To You" (the terrific unified vocals and the funky rock/reggae combo going on with the bombastic drum beats wakes up the music senses, too), which I wonder if it's a misprint on the CD's back cover, as the original was entitled "Rudy, A Message To You"?; "Love Me Tender" (never heard the Elvis original, but I sure like this warming remake with the signature boyband dance-pop vibe); "You Are The Only One" (the gentlest of love tributes on this album, the smoothest of harmony heard all throughout and accented by the acapella dropout at the end); "I Just Love You" (a very dreamy tune with a theatrical feel, THIS is one of the best places to enjoy their sublime harmony!); " I Just Can't Help Believin' " (I really love their lofty vocals here—the high contrasting with the low—plus those classy 70's undertones beneath the modern dance-pop beat)..... So that just about leaves all of the hits that I do remember well, led by their ambitious takes on Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" (I instantly fall in love with each and every remake of this golden oldie originally performed by one of my favorite solo male rockers and accomplished songwriters from the 80's!), "Love Is All Around" (had always favored the more intense pop/rock WET WET WET version from 1995, but now I will cherish this more bubbly and cuddly DREAMLOVERS version all the same!) and CHICAGO's memorable "If You Leave Me Now", which still sounds so nice in its surprise high-energy Eurodisco format, the voice of the legendary Peter Cetera echoing in my thoughts whenever that distinctive 'ooooh' part in the lyrics is sung. The Eurodisco dream comes true many more times before and after that with "Around The World" (had thought it would be a cover of AQUA's bubblegum hit by same name and lyrics, but the simple romantic lyrics and its catchy sing-along main chorus make it sweet enough), "Say", "Seventeen" and, another personal favorite and possible DREAMLOVERS original, "I Need You Baby". Yes—I absolutely did another long novel in raving about this fine second effort by these Belgian boys, and I'm confident that there'll be many more chapters to come.....

1. Love Story
2. Without You
3. Right Here Waiting
4. Around The Word
5. You
6. I Just Can't Help Believin'
7. Say
8. Love Is All Around
9. When I Need You
10. If You Leave Me Now
11. You'll Never Walk Alone
12 I Need You Baby
13. I Just Love You
14. Seventeen
15. You Are The Only One
16. Do You Wanna Hold Me?
17. Love Me Tender
18. Ruby A Message To You

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