Monday, February 1, 2016

PAULA COLE BAND-Amen (1999)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 1, 2016

My feature presentation to begin this month of February comes with a special surprise attached to it! That would be the much sought-after dance remix package of "I Believe In Love", the hit 1999 song by the PAULA COLE BAND. It's funny, because the first time I heard this song being performed by the lady who made a name for herself with the memorable theme song to "Dawson's Creek" was in its remixed format; it was quite possibly the four-minute 'Tony Coluccio & Jonathan Peters Anthem Radio Mix'. And even funnier is that I have absolutely no recollection of where and when I'd first heard it! Was probably something I came across around the time when my interest in Paula Cole grew, which happened as soon as my ears enjoyed her 1996 hit, "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?", on a soft rock-themed compilation CD. Of course, me being the dance music lover that I am, I couldn't just settle for the one mix, which is why there's six of them altogether accompanying the first and only album (at least to my knowledge) that was credited to the renamed PAULA COLE BAND. The remix package tops out with the bewildering 13+ minutes of techno club bliss that is the 'Tony Coluccio & Jonathan Peters Anthem Mix', and I love the pounding beats and how Paula's voice soars to the high heavens on this and some of the other ones that last for a whopping 8+ minutes! Among my favorite mixes of the bunch that I have to highlight is the more chilled, downtempo dance pleasure that is the 'Richard Bush & Jonathan Peters Smooth Mix'. As for the regular album version of "I Believe In Love" itself? Well, it's a gem of a song even without all of the bombastic, glitzy trance production, as I had already discovered years ago after I'd gotten my fill-up of that first techno remix. The lyrics of confidence and self-inspiration, the ambiently breezy melody and just the graceful, fluid way in which the rhythm moves all give the song a joyous glow.....in a haunting sort of way. "I Believe In Love" (and the slew of dance remixes to go along with it) is surely the biggest draw of Paula's 1999 album, but it's just one gem in this conceptually masterful treasure trove of musical jewels. You almost gotta pay close attention to what she says on selections like the album's title track, where she gives respectful shout outs to several prominent figures in world history, and "La Tonya", which tells a touching and meaningful story, in order to feel complete after hearing them. Not taking in every word of the concluding cut, "God Is Watching", and not applying it to some area of your own life is not an option. 'We are family, wake up and see', Paula reminds us, further asking the social question that has been raised and rephrased time and time again, 'Can we all just get along?'. One of the coolest songs here is the chilled 7+ minute adventure that is "Rhythm Of Life". The smooth ambient jazz groove and the slightly trippy, hip-hop flavor spiced up by Paula's stylistically poetic delivery of the lyrics and the record-scratching sound effects are a marvelously catchy combination! For as much of a spiritual journey that one is, so is Track #5's "Be Somebody", which portrays a similar theme to "God Is Watching", as Paula confesses that we are all one creation, that we are all children of the Heavenly Father. Fitting that an album full of musical gems would contain a song about a priceless gem. "Pearl" is such a sunny, warming comfort and companion for the easy-listening music lover; I almost get that epic 'world music' feeling while tuning in to this one (I love that hum of serenity at the very end). Simply said, this album does as much for your soul as it does for your receptive ears, and I think I can get an amen to that:

1. I Believe In Love
2. Amen
3. La Tonya
4. Pearl
5. Be Somebody
6. Rhythm Of Life
7. Free
8. Suwannee Jo
9. God Is Watching

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

10. I Believe In Love (Tony Coluccio & Jonathan Peters Anthem Radio Mix)
11. I Believe In Love (Tony Coluccio & Jonathan Peters Anthem Mix)
12. I Believe In Love (Joey Mosk & Jonathan Peters Gentle Mix)
13. I Believe In Love (Jim Heinz & Jonathan Peters Dub)
14. I Believe In Love (Richard Bush & Jonathan Peters Smooth Mix)
15. I Believe In Love (Lord N' Anthem Club Mix)

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