jeudi 22 octobre 2009

Aden & Jordan Jaric don't Hit it up !

The first new release that fits in this blogpost's theme is Hit me up, first single by the Falcon studios pornstar exclusives, real-life couple Aden & Jordan Jaric. Fronted as "The Jarics", this new musical duo owes a big thank you to our foxy lady RuPaul for introducing them to studio wizards. "You want it?" asks a manly voice to introduce this piece of electro/dance but I must admit that, whatever the sex-appeal the boys truly have on video or pictures together, this song does nothing to me... The chorus is very repetitive and quite irritating while the vocals must have been rushed up in an hour or so. The verses are okay but the whole is a little too bland compared to the high level of their previous porn-to-music-stars. If this first single is what they can do best for popmusic, I'd say "stick to porn guys!" They put a lot more passion in their body actions than in their vocals parts...

mardi 20 octobre 2009

UnClubbed : club classics unplugged revisited

"Club Classics Unplugged & Chilled Out ...Discover the songs behind the beats" states the sticker from my UnClubbed digipack CD.

If you liked the Sagi Rei accoustic versions of club hits or appreciate chilled out soulful revisitations of dance songs we all know, you should take a look on Sacha Collisson's latest project's page :

Along Simon Greenaway, he was the one behind UK dance act Aurora, who gave us several club hits a couple of years ago : The day it rained forever, Dreaming, Hear you calling, Real life, and the covers Ordinary world, If you could read my mind, Sleeping satellite, Summer son (mostly displaying vocalists Lizzy Pattinson and Naimee Coleman's talents) and recently Love resurrection featuring Freemasons' past vocalist Amanda Wilson.

On Aurora's 2002 eponyme album, there already were acoustic versions (the beautiful If you could read my mind
with Marcella Detroit for example) but with UnClubbed, things are pushed a little more far in the chill-out territory.
It's all about organic soulful sounds with guitar, flute and piano, all surrounding beautiful voices giving new life to past club hits.

The album opener is Aurora's favourite singer Lizzy Pattinson with a funky laid-back version of Moloko's Sing it back. Abigail Bailey follows with Finally, not the CeCe Peniston's 1992 overcovered UK #2 song, but the Kings Of Tomorrow lesser known 2001 #24 one... Her strong vocals are perfectly shown by a delicate all acoustic arrangement. Then comes the intemporal Shannon's classic, Let the music play, by Laura Vane, sounding like going back to its roots, a voice and a melody to simply express the music to make you move and dance in rhythm. Deee-Lite's Groove is in the heart is next with Bess Cavendish's well-suited voice. This song I've build to find irritating with the years sounds like fresh again to my ears and that's a surprise !

Then comes one of my favourite club classics EVER : Alison Limerick's Where love lives sublimely revamped by new diva Rita Campbell, who's previously sung for Stonebridge or on lots of PWL/Steps backing tracks in the 2000s. Oh how I wish I'd someday hear a full album of her ! My heart, my ears, all of me needs it... She breathes new life into this perfect song, building from a full accoustic first verse and chorus into a more beat-driven 2nd verse and chorus to fade.

Then, another pure classic, You don't know me, formerly by Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden, is stripped to the bone and sent straight into soul/blues heaven with Lewis Cutler's interpretation. Abigail Bailey returns on Rui Da Silva's 2001 number 1 Touch me, a song I didn't really know well but that's nice enough to wait till next treasure, Rapture, the Iio hit recently covered by Bananarama on their Viva album, with Sam Obernik (of Tim Deluxe's It just won't do fame). This version has kept all the energy of the original except the electronic arrangements are replaced by accoustic ones with rhythm guitar, and I, who have never been a fan of the accoustic guitar sound, am totally hooked, or should I say under the magic spell?!

Bimbo Jones' diva, Katherine Ellis, comes next with Hideaway, De'Lacy's cover, and as usual she gives strength and diva power to the song, making it sound punchy and rock, though with some jazzy musical elements in the instrumentations. Another intemporal anthem, You got the love, follows and for once it is a male vocalist that replaces Candi Staton's unforgettable version for The Source and it is none other than soulman Andrew Roachford. You can guess it is another highlight of the album but nearly all tracks here reach exceptional rates of quality.

Sacha Collisson invited Rosie Gaines to re-sing her own song Closer than close and it's all soul/jazz on this new version. Sunscreem's Perfect motion is next revamped and it is another favourite of mine that comes to a new life with Zoe Durrant's fresh vocals. Her voice also ends the CD on Mezmerized 09, which looks to me like being an original song especially written for the project. Maybe I'm wrong, though... But before the end, Justine Suissa did her best Tracey Thorn impersonation on the EBTG worldwide hit Missing, in the former spirit of the song, accoustic folk, and Sweet Female Attitude re-did their 2000 hit Flowers like Rosie Gaines previously did for the CD. I must admit that although the song was a #2 chart hit in the UK, I didn't know it at all. So it is hard for me to judge this new version, except that maybe it makes me feel the limits of such a concept album : I do appreciate chill-out versions of dance songs as long as... I already know these songs well. But that makes two out of 15 songs that I could get without so that's not bad at all!

Add to this several instrumental interludes to help these songs melt one into another and you'll get an ideal chill-out CD to be the musical background for an evening with friends or just while reading a good book in bed or cooling with the one you love in a warm bath with candles.
Go check yourself!

samedi 3 octobre 2009

Viva Bananarama ! their tenth studio album

Keren and Sarah have just released their tenth album, Viva, on Fascination Records (house of Girls Aloud, The Saturdays or Sophie Ellis-Bextor) and as much as I loved the lead single Love comes, I feel a little deceived.
It's not that it is a bad album but maybe I was awaiting too much from the ladies' return. And 11 tracks is FAR too short a tracklisting for my tates, considering there are 5 other tracks already available as digital B-sides/pre-order bonuses... WHY OH WHY do CD buyers always feel betrayed nowadays? And the Music Industry wants us to still buy physical over digital ? I don't think so : I think they want us to buy both! And that can only lead to file exchange & piracy...
Let's get back to Viva though.

From the first listen, their new album has grown on me but I remember their first work on a new album was to do a disco cover versions collection and when I hear the brilliance of The Runner, I regret Viva is not the tribute album it was first meant to be. Instead, They've recorded more new songs (and some cover versions too) with help from Ian Masterson (remember Dannii's Neon nights or Sheena Easton's Fabulous disco album?) who produce them all here with up-to-date electro sounds.

Love comes opens it up with its catchy pop melody, electroïfied arrangements and the Nanas OH WOAH OH WOAH trademark lines. It sounds to me like the following step after their previous work on Drama and it's a brilliant lead single, although it only reached a poor #44 in the UK charts a couple of weeks ago. Love don't live here follows the same strategy, after an opera inspired intro ; same electro dance with catchy pop melody but with melancholic lyrics. A cover of Iio's 2002 hit Rapture
is next and could easily be tried as following single to try to catch some more chart success. The original is not re-invented but the ladies' voices suit this song perfectly.
Dark retro synthés open the following Seventeen track and it sounds very 80's inspired, robotic beats a la Kraftwerk and keyboards from the Erasure recording room. I especially like the chorus line "Kiss me now, don't let me go. Make me feel like Marilyn Monroe" even though the melody is a little too flat to really suit a single release. This reference may show the Nanas are no girls no more and that their reference may be a little too old for the youngs of 2009. Their chart performances say it more : Bananarama's releases (just like Pet Shop Boys or Depeche Mode's) are for their fans (in their thirty or more), not for the mass audiences. Twisting follows with somewhat an even darker sound and monotone vocals around musically oriental influences I feel. I don't like it much... Strangely this one is the only original the Nanas have not co-written with Ian Masterson ; Rose & Foster were the partners for it.
Thankfully Tell me tomorrow is next and the girls are back to the disco influenced pop we know them for, at their best. This one could have easily been included on previous albums except there's a clicking sound all along the song that makes it sound modern. The chorus is pure catchiness and I hope it'll be a further single, just to hear remixes for it too. Their cover of the Three Degrees' The runner follows and increases the rhythm more. Words can not express how much I love their version !!! And it's even got some Ooh ooh ooh Oooh ooh ooh lines you can sing along to. Musically, Ian Masterson's production is clearly inspired by the original electronical disco of Giorgio Moroder but it sounds as much retro as up-to-date, in a glitterin' campy disco dance kind of way... I think that it is that particular track that makes me think of what a full album of disco cover versions from them could have been (their own Fabulous in fact) and I would have liked it a lot I'm sure!
Extraordinary gets them back on the electro dance/pop side of the CD with 80's influences, diva attitude and some vocoder effects too. A good track but not one I would see be released to radio though. Dum dum boy is next and the rhythm speeds up for a full electronic disco-pop number that sounds fanatstic to me. S-s-s-single bed follows with a downtempo funky rhythm and more vocoderized voices. It is another cover version (the original was by Fox) but it doesn't sound fabulous to me. In fact, they've kept the good for the end as final CD track #11, We've got the night, is the pure jewel of Viva. With anthemic lyrics, a catchier than ever chorus and a wise production, equally sharing the disco/pop influences with the electro/dance ones, this one must be a single somewhat ! I can't get enough of it...

We've finished with the CD's tracklisting but there are some more tracks being part of the Viva release :
First, there's Voyage voyage, a cover of Desireless' 1988 european classic and the girls even sing it all in french with a charming slight accent. One of the first rumoured songs for their disco album, this one ends up being a B-side on some vinyl collector or a digital bonus. It's a shame it hasn't been added on the CD with the others : it's a fresh & breezy version that sounds really good.
Digitally pre-ordering the album gave buyers some bonus tracks and Run to you is one of them. It's a 80's rock inspired electro/disco cover version of the original Bryan Adams hit and makes me think of past Sunblock's I'll be ready and other disco/house dance tracks of some years ago.
Tokyo Joe and The sound of silence are other cover versions, respectively by Bryan Ferry and Simon & Garfunkel, but both leave me cold. The first is really bland and the second really faithful to the original, sounding very fairy but while a dance versions would have make a difference, this aerial good performance can't make us forget the original.
Final to the additional tracks is a new version of one of their old hits, Cruel summer '09, the official B-side of Love comes. I really like this punchy & electronic version more than the 2001 re-recorded one they did for Exotica or the 1989 house remix. This proves that, like a cat, a good song has nine lives.

We're through the review for Bananarama's tenth album Viva and you see this is a must-have album for all Nanas-addict over the planet for sure, a good album for pop collectors but not the BIG comeback album I was dreaming of, the one who would have given the nearly fifty ladies a new exposure on young audience. Next time maybe ?