Sunday, March 19, 2017

Brent Filip-Still In Good Shape [Fan Edition] (2017)


.....And that makes sense on so many accounts! This latest self-made compilation album of mine comes courtesy of the fulfilled requests for all of the solo singles recorded by Belgian pop singer, Brent Filip, after parting with the dance groups called GOOD SHAPE (who were previously featured right here at this site) and the lesser-known spin-off group called IMPACT (whose music I've yet to collect). So seeing as pop music from the mid and late 90's as a whole is still good on the ears—even now, two decades later—plus the fact that earlier photography of Brent showed him to be in at least decent shape from a health standpoint, plus the fact that Brent's solo recordings retain that GOOD SHAPE Europop spirit, it only seemed appropriate that this compilation should be given the title "Still In Good Shape". As such, I felt that custom-made album artwork consisting of various geometric shapes (triangles, circles, hexagons and diamonds for the front cover; a tessellation of hexagons for the back cover) was in order, with further attribution and consideration on my part going into the italicized Impact-style font for all of the text (as IMPACT was the second group he was once a member of). Colorfully captivating on the outside; colorfully captivating on the inside as well. The Brent Filip fitness session kicks of with the four-minute warm-up, "If You Go". There have been many great songs with this exact title (Jon Secada's 1994 hit readily comes to mind) and different lyrics, but the reigning theme is always the songwriter dealing with the potential fallout once there's a hole in the heart and nobody to replace it. Brent's interpretation stays within those same lines; despite the otherwise warmth and breeziness of the music, his breaking down of all the things he'll do that won't ever be the same during the chorus (' my race is won, I'm done if you go '—one memorable line from the song I really like) reinforces those sad overtones that are projected from his three tender words of ' if you go'. And I love the way his voice reaches the lofty high notes as it goes up and down the vocal scale like a roller coaster when he's singing about all of those things. The 'Slow Version' is good all by itself, but the 'Funky Version' totally gives the music a spunky boost with its dance-pop beat, highlighted by the glitzy, high-pitched synthesized riffs that play alongside the rhythm. Definitely a new goodie to add to my playlist of favorites! In fact, all five of Brent's solo singles is worthy to be added to a favorite playlist. "It Must Be Love" instantly attracts because of its reggae-style bounce and just having a beautiful groove altogether, an alluring background for his striking words of 'nothing more, nothing less, love is the best' and all the rest; its accompanying instrumental piece extends the romantic allure further. "Look In My Eyes" is one of the lushest ballads I've heard within recent days; it's the double voice effect in Brent's delivery of the chorus that strikes me here, and even more striking is the much-deserved piano-led instrumental made from it. It's on "Never Alone" where his voice stands out the most, the high loftiness making like BRONSKI BEAT's Jimmy Somerville and the PWL-produced group BIG FUN. That, plus the sweet melody and the overall breezy arrangement (which is very similar to that featured on "If You Go") and the reflective lyrics about him still carrying a picture of the lady deep inside his heart all equates to something really special. But that is just the 'Slow Version'; the 'Dance Version' and its spunky dance-pop kick takes the song to an electrifying level! Then once again, I get that unexpected surprise treat with yet another magnificent cover of "Only For You". Months after hearing the hearty, majestic remake by the Belgian boyband, DREAMLOVERS, the song is still playing inside of my mental jukebox, at times. And now comes this Brent Filip version, which is equally majestic and reinforcing how much I love the way this song skips along merrily like an Olympic march. While listening, I wondered if "Only For You" was a household go-to cover song for a lot of the Belgian pop artists back in the mid-90's..... 'My heart, my hands, I give to the sands, but only for you': it's those same words that continue to comprise my favorite line from the beautiful chorus. And as with the other instrumentals, this one's a sweet treat, too—the twinkly chords and its accompaning cinematic ochestrals, sharp violin accompaniment and the added piano. This was quite the 35-minute workout, one that's sure to leave both you and your ears in good shape:

1. If You Go (Slow Version)
2. It Must Be Love
3. Look In My Eyes (Single Version)
4. Never Alone (Slow Version)
5. Only For You
6. If You Go (Funky Version)
7. It Must Be Love (Instrumental)
8. Look In My Eyes (Piano Instrumental Version)
9. Never Alone (Dance Version)
10. Only For You (Instrumental)

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