Saturday, June 4, 2016

SQEEZER-Streetlife (1998)


I 'squeezed' in some extra listening time with my newly-discovered German Eurodance trio last night by jumping ahead from the loose fit of an album that was "Drop Your Pants" to the more of a tight fit that is their second effort, "Streetlife". Making a play on words again, I say 'loose' to describe to their initial carefree bubblegum sound of before; 'tight' is the dramatically shift in their music style to that of a harder, urban-style dance-pop reminiscent of the popular boybands and girl groups of the 90's à la SPICE GIRLS and N*SYNC—a perfect fit for me and my receptive ears! That shift further includes the trio being reduced to a trio (at least that's what the album's cover artwork pictured above indicates), plus them doing away with the 60's retro pop samplings in favor of a more contemporary retro production, which is evidenced right away with the feel-good Freestyle-influenced electro-pop instrumental, "Street Jam". Yeah, jam is right, as from that point forward, "Streetlife" would see me having the time of my life once the music bounces into full swing on "Get It Right". And 'getting it right' the German duo does every time thereafter! They pause for a few minutes to slide into something quite touching with the breezy groove that is "Without You", where they show off a new dimension to their revamped approach with the guy laying down the smooth raps in a classic Eurodance DJ style. But then the urban block party in this "Streetlife" picks up again with the sensational "Crazy". You'd never think this was same SQEEZER group you heard from the previous album, because this one's got some serious spice, highlighted by the declarations of 'let's get crazy!' and the delightfully sassy raps and rhymes of the female vocalist. "Wake Up" is one that is sure to 'wake up' the senses, starting off with a humorous snippet of the lady trying to get her man out of bed before exploding into a funky big-time party groove whose beat totally reminds me of the DAZZ BAND classic, "Let It Whip" (and that would be the next indicator of the 'contemporary retro' that I alluded to before). "Summertime": loved it the instant I took in the dreamy melody, then the even more funkier old-school beat and the cool, digitized vocal effects (which always add a terrific zing to the music). The lyrics might speak about having fun in the sun, but I could jam to this one come winter, spring, summer or fall! Seems they wanted to extend that summertime feel-goodness with "Turn Me Upside Down", as the beats and the rhythms are even more funktastic! The lady on rap vocals here is awesome, as are those robotic voice effects that I can never get enough of! Turns out that "Street Jam" wouldn't simply be an instrumental to kick off this urban "Streetlife"; it emerges into a full-length song as this album's eighth track and becomes the full-out Freestyle fiesta for all of the electro-pop fans out there. A jam with nothing but digitized robotic vocals from start to finish? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too cool! "Boom Boom" has has gotta be the place where the lady's raps are the most delectable of all while "Be My Little Baby" has gotta be the most charming love song of all, as they take it slow and change up their approach with a rather bluesy, doo-wop sway (the next indicator of that 'retro' influence). The urban block party becomes an island party on "Beach Party" (boy, these sunny melodies sure have a way of making me smile) before they unexpectedly crank up the beats and dip into the sugar bowl with their return to their original bubblegum Eurodance form on "Pink Cadillac". Not a cover of the Bruce Springsteen hit by the same name, but the SQEEZER duo is still riding along the freeway of love (I had to throw in a little tribute to the Aretha Franklin hit from the 80's there). Not surprised that a bubblegum Eurodance group would perform a song simply called "Happy", but, considering the Eurodance thrill ride on the song right before it, I didn't expect the downshift back to the r&b swing. Feels like I've heard this one so many times before; just can't put my finger on the when, who and where. It's like the perfect mid-tempo r&b groove to ride to and, as the title and the accompanying lyrics say, does indeed make you feel happy. Then even more appropriately, this urban block party concludes with the hip-hop party that is "Sqeezer Party". Couldn't tell at first, but embedded beneath the beats is a sampling of SUGARHILL GANG's "Rapper's Delight" in updated electronic form—so cool! The party officially concludes, however, with the alternate remix of "Wake Up" and the reprise of the "Street Jam" instrumental, but by no means does that mean your own private party with this German duo has to end there, too:

1. Street Jam (Part 1)
2. Get It Right
3. Without You
4. Crazy
5. Wake Up
6. Summertime
7. Turn Me Upside Down
8. Street Jam
9. Boom Boom
10. Be My Little Baby
11. Beach Party
12. Pink Cadillac
13. Happy
14. Sqeezer Party
15. Wake Up (Bonus Mix)
16. Street Jam (Part 2)

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