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gaboman

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PostSubject: Music Challenge   Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:47 pm

Because I'm back working in the office, I want to start recording what music I listen to. I rarely listen to full albums anymore and I thought this would be a good opportunity to start doing that and record what I think of it. Just for my own purposes, no real reason.

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PostSubject: Re: Music Challenge   Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:36 pm


First album I'm listening to is Joe's Doubleback: The Evolution of R&B. I remember the lead single from this was "I'd Rather Have A Love", which is probably a highlight of the album. "Mary Jane" and "Doubleback" are decent. It's nowhere near the greatest Joe album, he sounds like he's coasting somewhat. It definitely has the Joe sound to it but he doesn't really get out of comfort zone with this one.

I'm surprised this album is from 2013. Honestly, I felt it was a 2008 - 2009 album because Joe has made some somewhat decent albums in the past few years. The one after this (Bridges) was far better overall. I think the one before Double Back - The Good, The Bad, The Sexy - was somewhat along these same lines as this one. Generic Joe-sounding R&B. Before that was Signature, which, again, was great.

Quite honestly, all his albums after And Then... are a bit of a blur to me. I only remember a few songs here and there and can't always place what albums they were on.

The version of this album I have is the Target exclusive version with two bonus tracks:
"Walk Away" and "Smoove". The album's cover art isn't as interesting on the Target version since it's black and white instead of colour. I guess this decision was make to differentiate the two versions but I feel Target customers got the short end of the stick there.

"Walk Away" is a decent tune, perhaps better than a few songs that made the main album. "Smoove" isn't too shabby either. Mid-tempoish, but nothing memorable overall. The 50 Shades of Grey reference dates the song (or will, soon, I should hope).

I hate to do this to Joe, but my score for this album is...

★★

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PostSubject: Re: Music Challenge   Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:57 pm


The next album I'm listening to is III Frum Tha Soul's What Cha Missin'. Definitely an album that's slept on from the new jack swing era. The lead singer Big Jim has a powerful voice that works across uptempo jams and ballads. The album's from 1993 and it really sounds like it. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on what you enjoy.

The flow of the album is perfect for the era. It begins with four classic new jack jams, all of which are irresistible. The lead single was the opening titular track, and it's catchy to say the least. We quick move onto the album's slow jams and ballads, which is definitely where the group excels.

The mid-tempo "It's Time" starts us off, before we move on to an interlude that sets the mood for the coming songs. The interlude really could be a miss, but the backbeat and the accompanying female voice makes the track work.

Then we move onto "I Can't Wait" which is a great slow jam, but is followed by the phenomenal melody of "Let Me Make Love To You / Turn Off The Lights" (originally by The O'Jays and Teddy Pendergrass, respectively). The melody brings us to the beautiful ballad of "Distant Lover" followed by the single "I Get Lonely".

That's probably the best 4 track run on the album; great songs overall and they work off each other just perfectly. After "I Get Lonely" comes the adequate but almost forgettable "Still Your Friend". It's a perfectly fine song, but with that and the addition of a "Smooth Mix" of "What Cha Missin'", the end of the album is a bit of a bore. The remix in particular isn't really necessary as it doesn't add much to the original song.

Overall, though, I give it...

★★★˝

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PostSubject: Re: Music Challenge   Fri Mar 18, 2016 1:49 am


Considering the wait between Jodeci albums it would be easy to be disappointed by the resulting album. They left a legacy that endured the entire 20 years they weren't releasing music. From Forever My Lady to The Show, The After-Party, The Hotel, they created a distinct sound in R&B that many have tried to mimic. Tried, but failed.

The Past, The Present, The Future isn't a perfect album by a long shot, but for a Jodeci fan jonesing for a fix it's beyond adequate. There are a few things to be disappointed in. First of all, none of the songs are written by DeVante by himself. Any Jodeci fan knew that when you saw "Written, Produced & Arranged by DeVante Swing 4HIMDAMNSELF" you were getting something special (even if he did use people around him for parts of the writing and production). This is a minor gripe though, as the songs really should speak for themselves.

The album starts with the decidedly uptempo "Too Hot" which doesn't quite bring the warm and fuzzies it should have but is an otherwise okay way to start the album. It moves quickly into the "Sho Out" which has a Jodeci feel for the most part, but with a bit of a modern twist. Perhaps giving an idea of what to expect from the album. It'll be revisited later on the CD with a version featuring Liana Banks.

After these two tracks, mind you, things blow up with the ballad "Checkin' For You" which is unarguably a classic Jodeci song back to front. It has DeVante's signature sounds with lush vocals by K-Ci and JoJo. They nailed this track. This is followed by "Those Things" which was co-produced by Timbaland (a DeVante protégé) and, again, they nailed a modern interpretation of the Jodeci sound. These tracks are not "Come & Talk To Me" or "Feenin'" but they definitely fit into the mold somewhere.

The album gets a bit software on "Every Moment", which was the second single. It's definitely the Wedding Song of the album, fitting neatly beside "Love U 4 Life", "Forever My Lady" and "My Heart Belongs to You". That's followed up by "Nobody Wins" which I'm sort of conflicted on. The chorus is fine, and it's an important subject. But I don't think the verses took much thought at all. I'm surprised that I like the raps, brought to you by round-earth-denier B.o.B.

"Incredible" is another song co-produced by Timbaland. I can't honestly say I like it as much as some of the other slow jams on the album, but it's decent. It leads into the soft piano ballad "Jennifer" sung by JoJo with support by K-Ci (they change roles during the chorus). It's a lovely ballad and was touted as an "old" DeVante track. You can see that possibly being the case.

"Body Parts" and "Stress Reliever" are probably generic Jodeci tracks but decent tracks in their own right. After these, they move onto two different versions of previous tracks. They're not so much remixes as they are re-workings. "Sho Out" has a version with Liana Banks giving a sort-of rap, while "Nobody Wins" appears as a no-rap version. Nice additions if you want to hear different versions, but I think they could have just picked one and stuck with it. Nobody would have been the wiser.

Overall, it's not quite classic Jodeci but it's damn near close. After a 20 year wait, I was pleased with the results even if the overall album isn't as strong as their last 2. The fact that their third album had such an outrageous concept behind it, you can't help feel a little insulted that all you got this time was 10 straight tracks and 2 'remixes'.

I give this album...

★★★˝

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PostSubject: Re: Music Challenge   Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:14 am


I've always been of two minds about The Tony Rich Project. He walks a fine line between being a 90s R&B artist (and one of the better ones) and a sort of non-genre specific chameleon that likes to venture into Prince's territory a bit. Birdseye is probably my favorite of all his albums. It took what worked with Words and amplified it a bit, sticking to R&B of that time. Where the first album had tracks like "Ghost" and "Like A Woman" that were sort of adventurous for the time, Birdseye is a much brighter album that is all the more satisfying for it.  

It starts similar to the album Words, with a nice mid-tempo jam that's easy on the ears. He moves onto the slightly odd "Silly Man". The song lives up to the name of the song, but it's definitely a nice track. It would also end up being the only single released from the album (as far as I'm aware, at least). And I may be wrong about this, but I think Eric Clapton plays guitar on it.

After "Silly Man" comes the enjoyable "No Time Soon" leading into the beautiful ballad "If You're An Angel". "Bed" is a nice little ballad that leans into the smooth mid-tempo jam "Cool Like That". The Joe Rich-penned "Thoughts of Leavin'" comes next. The writer is notable because he's also responsible for Tony Rich's past hit "Nobody Knows".

The album takes a bit of a dark turn at this point. "My Stomach Hurts" is pretty dark, but definitely a catchy tune. Something akin to 80s alternative music with an R&B flare. The following track, "Blue Butterfly", is a very R&B song but remains a little dark at this point. The album ends on a great callback to his first album. "Ain't No Laughing" opens with "don't forget my chili" which is a reference to the start of "Hey Blue" from the first album. The song definitely has the same spirit of "Hey Blue" too, making it a killer way to close the album.

Overall, I give it...

★★★★

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