Monday, January 8, 2018

EN VOGUE-Masterpiece Theatre (2000)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: January 8, 2018

"The Music Spectrum" proudly presents the funkiest divas of them all—Cindy Herron, Terry Ellis and Maxine Jones, better known to the r&b world as EN VOGUE. Except the trio was originally a quartet when Dawn Robinson was with them in the 90's, which was, is, and has been the period of the group's career that my ears and I are most familiar with. So while I could've put the spotlight on my favorite album by them—1992's memorable "Funky Divas"—I opted to do a special presentation on "Masterpiece Theatre", one of their post-90's releases that I hadn't ever heard before today and one that truly ended up being a terrific listen! Especially nice timing, considering I'd just heard one of my favorite all-time EN VOGUE tracks on somebody's radio the other day—"Give It Up, Turn It Loose"—plus the fact I hadn't treated my ears to much of anything in the r&b genre in recent days. Well it was sure refreshing to hear the sweet harmonizing voices of Cindy, Terry and Maxine again, most notably on the heavenly day-dreamy glow of a groove that is "Falling In Love", the beautifully mellow and the moving ballad "Whatever Will Be Will Be" (I had readily recognized this English translation of the popular Spanish phrase 'Que sera, que sera'; was nice to hear them actually sing it in the chorus amidst the majestic orchestral production). There's some really fun jams here too that I gotta rave about. "Love Won't Take Me Out" is the ladies making the bold statement that they won't be led to make any more reckless choices because of love, and I like the 'danger' sound of the intense chords from the deep piano tones that sets the theme right in the opening intro. The best part, though, is when they break it down midway through with that delicious operatic acapella harmonizing and deliverance in turn of ' won't take me out, take me out, take me out '—you just gotta hear it to appreciate it! Then there's "Love U Crazy", which has a CRAZY-cool syncopated beat and a distinctively-familiar, twinkly 'chopsticks'-style arrangement of the piano chords (now where have I heard this before?) and the lively "Latin Soul" (kinda like the vintage new jack swing EN VOGUE from the early 90's on this ride-around-town jam!). And I absolutely love the one that I could tag as an EN VOGUE anthem: "Those Dogs". This one's got that funky-divalicious thing going on too with the half-acapella, half-syncopated beat, but what sells this song is the humorous lyrics, the ladies giving the complete lowdown on how men are like canines (the two lines about men/dogs wanting to sniff every behind and only treating women nice to get a prize got a few chuckles out of me). I had actually been sold on this "Masterpiece Theatre" show way back on the funky opener, "Riddle"&mash;that catchy chorus going something like 'one riddle riddle, two riddle riddle...'—which is the one song that kept playing in my head long after the stage curtains had already closed:

1. Riddle
2. No No No (Can't Come Back)
3. Falling In Love
4. Suite Intro
5. Love U Crazy
6. Sad But True
7. Love Won't Take Me Out
8. Whatever Will Be Will Be
9. Suite Outro
10. Beat Of Love
11. Latin Soul
12. Work It Out
13. Those Dogs
14. Number One Man

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