David Archuleta / The Other Side Of Down

The Other Side Of Down

David James Archuleta (born December 28, 1990) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. At ten years old, he won the children’s division of the Utah Talent Competition leading to other television singing appearances. When he was twelve years old, Archuleta became the Junior Vocal Champion on Star Search 2. In 2007, at sixteen years old, he became one of the youngest contestants on the seventh season of American Idol. In May 2008 he finished as the runner-up, receiving 44 percent of over 97 million votes.

In August 2008 Archuleta released “Crush“, the first single from his self-titled debut albumThe album, released three months later, debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart; it has sold over 750,000 copies in the U.S., and over 900,000 worldwide. In October 2010 he released a third album, The Other Side of Down, featuring lead single “Something ‘Bout Love“. On March 28, 2012, Archuleta left on a two-year hiatus to be a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile, but stated that he will continue his music career after that.[14][15] As of February 2012, Archuleta has sold 1,108,000 albums and 3,327,000 tracks in the United States.

In March 2012, Archuleta released his fourth album, Forevermore, exclusively in the Philippines. This was his first Original Pilipino Music album, composed of several covers of Filipino songs. The album was certified gold in the Philippines (10,000 units) as of June 2012. Archuleta’s fifth album, Begin, was released on August 7, 2012, in the United States. His sixth album, No Matter How Far, was released on March 26, 2013.

The Analysis—-

The Other Side Of Down—-There is something about the purity of Archuletas’ voice, combined with the syrupy pop perfection that is contained on his releases that attracts me. I love the smooth delivery…the ‘heart on my sleeve’ type of music that he delivers…combined with vocal overlays and a stellar production team…it becomes rather addictive.

Something ‘Bout Love—-Right from the very first note, you can tell this is one of those perfect recipe songs that deliver all the ingredients required to stay in your head for days and days…even if you hate it!. The chorus of this track is pure pop perfection…..containing the melody and the lyric that digs in and refuses to let go. For me, as far as pop music goes…this might be as perfect as it gets.

Elevator—-With a magical guitar intro, the voice enters with a remarkable purity and lyrics that are relate able and catchy. You can catch every word and then you are smacked in the face with the chorus that again threatens to take over your brain…waking you up in the middle of the night playing to loud in your brain. There is no denying the genius of this writing team….this guy has a perfect relationship with pop music.

Stomping The Roses—-Brilliant instrumentation that never really seems to require an actual band, this wraps itself around you and threatens to strangle your sensibilities. The strong message of empowerment is remarkable…Archuleta still delivers that boyish charm of a vocal…appearing so pure and naive. The appeal is undeniable.

Who Am I—-Although this stays in the same vein, the track still has a magical quality. David rarely veers away from the recipe that has made him successful…..meaningful lyrics and a powerhouse chorus that threatens to explode your brain. There is not a ton of substance….but there is talent…and that is important also.

Falling Stars—-Gentle and remarkably poignant, David delivers a vocal the emits emotion without even trying…he just has that talent. The breaths in between words and the falsetto words….overlay ed with double track voice makes for a huge full song. As the track opens up in the second bar…it still maintains the magic melancholy that started it all. It just all seems so damn genuine.

Parachutes And Airplanes—-Sounding as if I have heard this before at the onset, the appeal is still very present. The pure pop perfection of the music is what sucks me in and chose to review it in the first place. The mastery of the world of music production and image is a remarkable thing…add in Marketing and you have the true genius of the career of this guy. This is a wonderful journey of pop mastery.

Look Around—-For me, one of the weaker tracks on the release, I still zero in on certain aspects of the song. The overlay ed melodic vocal…the huge chorus….the simple melody and the hook that stays with you. Even at weak the song is still strong. The lyrical content…a bit juvenile…but still reeks of human emotion.

Good Place—-A perfect ballad that seems to musically wrap itself around David’s voice, the production is incredible. All of the vocal overlays makes me think how hard it must be to make a record like this…he has to record each overlay right? And then it is all played on a backtrack. This is remarkable perfect production.

Complain—-Although this track offers little new…it is the consistency that is remarkable. I love the hook of the song….with an almost underlying Country feel to the whole thing. The vocal is so pure and un-adulterated. Production tricks are not required for this…because the voice is as perfect as it sounds. Just remarkable.

Things Are Gonna Get Better—-This really did nothing for me….the music is a little weak and falls flat on my ears. But of course you have the magical chorus that again tries to FORCE you to love the song. This is not a throwaway……but not something you would listen to on a regular basis.

My Kind Of Perfect—-Ending the release with a track that moves the vocal to the very front of the mix, this shows the purity of the whole damn thing. This is simple and pure….which is what makes it so damn nice. I need to get the newer releases…..I still love that voice.

***** out of 5

 

Pet Shop Boys / Fundamental: Further Listening 2005-2007 [2017 Remastered Version]

Fundamental: Further Listening 2005 - 2007 (2017 Remastered Version)

Fundamental is the ninth studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was released in May 2006 in the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Canada. It was released in late June 2006 in the United States. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number five on 28 May 2006 (see 2006 in British music). In the US the album peaked at #150 selling 7,500 copies in its first week. As of April 2009 it had sold 46,000 copies in the US and 66,000 copies in the UK. Fundamental earned two Grammy nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards for Best Dance/Electronic Album and Best Dance Recording with “I’m with Stupid”.

The album was produced by the Pet Shop Boys and Trevor Horn and it features eleven new Pet Shop Boys compositions, and “Numb”, written by Diane Warren (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe originally planned to have “Numb” be one of two new tracks on PopArt, but opted instead for “Miracles” and “Flamboyant”).

The liner notes show that the album is dedicated to two executed Iranian gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were hanged on 19 July 2005. Some reports have suggested the two may have been executed for engaging in homosexual behaviour, though the official Iranian report was that they were hanged for raping a 13-year-old boy. The album was very well received by critics, some considering it to be their best album since Very, but its sales failed to improve much on the sales of their last two albums.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Psychological—-Of course, any fan can tell you that there is never a doubt when you hear the opening strains to a PSB track who they are….this is no exception. Lowe has his trademark sound and the vocal of Tennant can never be confused with anyone except perhaps Al Stewart. This track is magnificent….dark..and with a layer of eerie warning to it almost. But the brightness is there as well. This is wonderful.

The Sodom And Gomorrah Show—-Beginning a bit mundane, this track explodes into a huge stomper that sucks you in and encourages you to dance your ass off. The progression of the keyboard is remarkable…and the voice from Neil never seems to age. This is huge…an over-whelming chorus that elicits joy and wild abandon. A classic PSB track.

 

I Made My Excuses And Left—-Underneath all of the synth, the glam and the joyous dancing, there is always a sadness that lies underneath of the brilliance of PSB. For me…this brings it a bit more to the forefront. Neil delivers a vocal that gives me goosebumps…even still today. This has an intense lyrical line….a poignant and sad synth base….all adding up to an unforgettable journey of introspection. This is brilliant!!!

Minimal—-One of my favorite tracks on this release. I even have a software embeded single that allows you to make your own version of the song. I love the energy…the remarkable ability to match all the letters with the beats…lol. The message of the song…and the brilliant vocal…this is a standout. Such a joyful synth line.

Numb—-Penned by the famed Diane Warren, this was a perfect match for the brilliance of The Boys. This is so sad…intense…but has a joy to it I can’t explain. The huge orchestrated intro is just fantastic…..seemingly to be built around the vocal that Tennant would produce for the song. The gentle piano….not overdone…but present…adds to the sadness of the song. This is a magical moment for me in the career of The Boys….just as good if not better than October Symphony.

God Willing—-With that brilliant flowing synth line that just seems to meld right around Neil’s vocal cords, this is another song that literally defines the band, Rarely on any disc is there a single throw away track….although not lauded…..this track is phenomenal. The energy flows throughout the whole song….this is like a song from a huge soundtrack.

Luna Park—-Sounding to me, like a continuation of Numb, this is another one of those tracks that will make you sit back and reflect. The bass heavy synth line is missing…but the keyboard Orchestration guides you through the line after line of intense lyric. This is beautiful and brilliant.

I’m With Stupid—-The context of the song rumored to be about George W. and Tony Blair, you have to…at this point sit back and laugh at the British-ness of it all. Delivered with the same irony you would expect from Morrissey, this was wonderfully brilliant…still makes me chuckle.

Casanova In Hell—-Again….full of irony and classic British humor, I love this track…although I much prefer the live version on Concrete with Rupert Wainwright…..I still look back on this with fondness…just because it is so funny and so damn true!

Twentieth Century—-Returning to the classic sometimes creaking synth line of Lowe, Neil always seems to find a perfect balance for his sardonic lyric wrapped around the swirls of synths that Chris can’t help but provide. These two are a match made in heaven…this is sheer brilliance.

Indefinite Leave To Remain—-Another track that is maybe…provided to allow you another chance to look inside yourself and determine if everything is as it should be. This is a truly brilliant track….the songwriting…combined with the instrumentation…just reminds me what an unstoppable force these two are.

Integral—-An incredibly dark and timely song set to brilliant bright synth lines…just shows the contradiction of the band. Brilliant! Speaking….in my opinion of the nefarious actions that the Internet can bring…this is a very nice warning to the masses. A nice spoken word chorus that reminds me of Parinaro….this is just brilliant!

Disc Two:

Fugitive [Richard X Remix]—-I will never understand why this song was not issued on the original release or why it was not released as a single. The hyper-kinetic synth lines are fucking brilliant…everything about this track literally embodies the career of a band that has worked so hard. This is worth far ore than a B-side or casual listen…this is pure genius!

Ring Road [Demo]—-Almost an odd type of intro…the synth is almost noisy….but opens up a bit. the weird stringy style 80’s synth line does not gel with me. The bass overtakes things but Neil delivers a vocal that seems pushed to the back a bit. This is nice to own…but will never be a favorite!

The Performance Of My Life [Demo]—-Again, at the onset…I don’t gel with the off synth line…but Neil enters with a magical dead pan vocal that takes you on a magical journey. This develops a melody that is so addictive to me..it belongs on a proper release as well. This is a magical moment…I would love to see how something like this comes together between the two of them.

One-Way Street [Demo]—-Brilliant…swirling synths from the very first note. Neil delivers a higher tone that still amazes me with the ease he performs. This has a low reverberation through the underbelly of the song that is key to the sound. The chorus part of the track will live in your brain for sometime…another brilliant effort.

Girls Don’t Cry—-This track has kicked around for some time. I still believe it belonged on a proper release as well. It must be hard to decide what tracks to ‘throw away’ from the structure of an actual release. The sound of the synth line is deep and dark…the vocal is magical and soars with a brilliance only Neil can deliver…this is fantastic.

The Resurrectionist—-Brilliant!!!! A true dance floor stomper that makes me want to get up and dance with abandon. The chorus is this gigantic huge affair that lifts even the lowest spirit This is brilliant….why is this not a single? People have no idea of the genius of this duo!! That synth melody line is brilliant!

The Sodom And Gomorrah Show [Demo]—-Quite a bit more stripped down and under developed, the basic idea of the song still shines through. I feel like this really does not offer that much new as to the development of the finalized song…really just filler to me…this is basically a more naked version of the final cut.

Dancing In The Dusk [Demo]—-A bit down-tempo….nut still magical. Anytime I get to hear a bit of an unheard track from the duo is for me an adventure and pleasure. Neil actually sings at times on this track…and the vocal overlays really don’t sound like a demo….this is nice.

After The Event—-An almost horror movie piano line introduces the song…with that trademark low hum in the background that seems to travel through every song. The ‘noise’ clears for the introduction of the vocal. The song is pleasant…the delivery is stellar…the lyrics are a story….the chorus is the KEY to the entire thing…..the huge sound of it sucks my brain right in. Another winner.

The Former Enfant Terrible—-This, for me , is very reminiscent of The Sound Of An Atom Splitting. I don’t think it really offers any thing new or interesting…I could do without this….but still it is The Boys.

No Times For Tears [Orchestral Mix]—-Beautifully constructed and delivered with a vocal that I will remember for quite sometime, this is a bit of a lackluster track for me…I will accept anything the band has to offer with little criticism…but this does fall a bit flat for me.

God Willing [Original Full-length Mix ]—-Very, very, very slow intro and beginning of the track. Eventually, the sun does seem to burst through the convoluted instrumentation and the track becomes a bit livelier…but it takes a very long, tedious time. This was terrible….

I’m With Stupid [PSB Ma[xi-Mix]—-A bit more energized with the requisite DJ break points throughout the song for even longer mixing, I do like this version. The instrumentation is lively and very 90’s in sound….as said before…there are nice mixing interludes but also a healthy dose of the original vocal…this works for me.

Answer The Phone [Ringtone]—–Ok…whatever…kind of humerous

Where Are You? [Ringtone]—-People pay for this right?

Water [Ringtone]—-Bizarre……not getting it….

Numb [Single Edit]—-Really…..these ‘edits’ don’t offer much new to the die hard fan. There is little unique about this version. The harmonies seem a bit more pronounced to me….but this is just wasted space to me….

One Night—-Really nice vocally…the irritating high pitch synth line that runs through the song graciously disappears as the beautifully constructed chorus pen up and then seems to re-appear…much to my chagrin. I like the song…but the instrumentation is obnoxious. The vocal is beautifully presented.

A Certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’—-Literally brilliant from the very first note, this takes me back to the glorious 90’s period when the Boys produced dance floor classic after dance floor classic. This is just wonderfully put together…the synth is magical and modernly retro….the vocal is classic…this is a wonderful track….also on the Winner CD 5.

Transfer [Visionaire Mix]—-This, for me, has a rather dark edge to it from the very first note. the synth delivered is a flat consistent feel that is not even interrupted by the entrance of the vocal. Some beats emerge…but this snip is sad.

Integral [PSB Perfect Immaculate 7″ Mix]—-Offering little new except an abbreviated version of a masterful track, I suppose it was included to fill space. This is nice….but still offers little new to what we already knew was genius.

Integral [PSB Perfect Immaculate Mix]—-Really a DJ mix of the song that includes lots of breaks and mixing opportunities, this is not much different than the original…although it is nice to own.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean-Michel Jarre / Electronica 2: The Heart Of Noise

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise

Jean-Michel André Jarre (pronounced: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl ɑ̃dʁe ʒaʁ], born 24 August 1948) is a French composer, performer, and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient, and new-age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.

Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and grandparents, and trained on the piano. From an early age, he was introduced to a variety of art forms, including those of street performers, jazz musicians, and the artist Pierre Soulages. He played guitar in a band, but his musical style was perhaps most heavily influenced by Pierre Schaeffer, a pioneer of musique concrète at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

His first mainstream success was the 1976 album Oxygène. Recorded in a makeshift studio at his home, the album sold an estimated 12 million copies. Oxygène was followed in 1978 by Équinoxe, and in 1979, Jarre performed to a record-breaking audience of more than a million people at the Place de la Concorde, a record he has since broken three times. More albums were to follow, but his 1979 concert served as a blueprint for his future performances around the world. Several of his albums have been released to coincide with large-scale outdoor events, and he is now perhaps as well known as a performer as he is as a musician.

As of 2004, Jarre had sold an estimated 80 million albums. He was the first Western musician officially invited to perform in the People’s Republic of China, and holds the world record for the largest-ever audience at an outdoor event.

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise is the eighteenth studio album of French electronic musician and composer Jean Michel Jarre, released on 6 May 2016 by Columbia Records. It is the second of a two-part album (the first being Electronica 1: The Time Machine) that is based around collaborations with other electronic musicians from a wide range of decades and styles.

Electronica 1 included artists such as Vince Clarke, Gesaffelstein, M83, Armin van Buuren, John Carpenter, 3D (of Massive Attack), Pete Townshend, Tangerine Dream, and others, while Electronica 2 includes collaborations with Pet Shop Boys, Rone, Julia Holter, Primal Scream, Gary Numan, Hans Zimmer, Edward Snowden, Peaches, Sébastien Tellier, The Orb, Siriusmo, Yello, Jeff Mills, Cyndi Lauper and Christophe. In all, the two-album collaboration has some 30 collaborators, and Jarre has described it as his “most ambitious project.”

The Analysis—-

The Heart Of Noise Pt. 1 featuring Rone—-At the onset, the sound of this recording is lush and deep. The synth lines literally wrap themselves around your body…often reminding me of later enigma recordings. The beautiful and unadorned synth line creates an almost visual landscape in your brain as you listen to the progression of the song…..beautifully constructed and delivered.

The Heart Of Noise Pt. 2 featuring Rone—-Continuing in the same vein, Pt. 2 delivers a bit more of a space filled experimentation that magically lulls you into your own thoughts and allows your brain to magically wander. There is a nice break when the rhythmic bass lines enters the song and allows it to become much bigger and ambient. This is truly brilliant!

Brick England featuring The Pet Shop Boys—-Fantastic…..that about sums this track up from the very first note. This is brilliant. Tenant delivers his distinctive trademark vocal and the synth line is right out of the Lowe playbook. The arrangement is lush and filled with that underlying sad hum found in most of The Boys recordings. This is classic electronica with a brilliant atmospheric twist I can’t seem to walk away from.

These Creatures featuring Julia Holter—-Wonderfully full of computerized synth bleeps and bursts of beautiful sounds, the vocal enters with a ghostly beautiful delivery that literally transports me somewhere else as I listen. Never overdone or overblown, this has the magical element of everything needed to create a masterpiece of a song. I love this vocal!!!

As One featuring Primal Scream—-Coming out of the calm like the opening credits to a masterful movie, this song is layered and textured with an ambiance that almost lulls you into a beautiful nothing. Then the strains from Primal Scream steer the song into an almost joyous romp that encourages you to shed inhibitions and dance like no one is looking. This is fantastic…..a step right back into 90’s Dance Floor masterpieces…..I’m in love!!!

Here For You featuring Gary Numan—-It is impossible for me to find the correct words for this track. How could it possibly go wrong….combing contemporary synth lines and the current direction of the Numan sound, this is a journey that encompasses everything wonderful and right in the world of music. This is simply brilliant….Numan sounds driven and haunted…..the music fits him perfectly. Just incredible! Numan sounds literally driven with emotion and the need to be there for someone……I love this!!!

Electrees featuring Hans Zimmer—-How could this brilliant pairing of two incredible talents possibly go wrong. This has wonderful stamped on it from the very first notes. Atmospheric and laden with dense beautiful sound effects, this takes me out of my very body every time I listen to it. Lush and wonderfully constructed…..this can make you happy as fuck or sleepy as hell…..wonderful!

Exit featuring Edward Snowden—-Perhaps the most interesting collaboration on this release, the music that is delivered here has the urgency that you would expect….making you lean forward on your chair as you are driven into the spy like element of the music. The Snowden vocal overlays are incredibly fascinating and a fantastic concept. This is yet another standout track…..I have to think Jarre is a pure genius.

What You Want featuring Peaches—- Combining a bass heavy sexy synth with the vocal of one of the ‘queens or sleaze’ is a magnificent journey though a trail of seductive vocals and electronics that seem to add to the sexy nature of the track….another brilliant collaboration…in both content and delivery.

Gisele featuring Sebastien Tellier—-Moving at an incredibly nice pace, the song has a Kraftwerk element for me….the feel of the mainstream type electronics are interspersed with a blip filled fun turn. The vocal enters and you are right back in the beginning era of electronica……filled with the best elements of Kraftwerk….with a modern contagious twist.

Switch On Leon featuring The Orb—-Bright and poppy with just the right elements of ambiance and experimentation, you would expect nothing less from this pairing. The effects and the heavy laden synth lines that combine background vocal effects and noises from all directions make you a little crazy……but it is incredible none the less.

Circus featuring Siriusmo—-Dense and epic in sound right from the onset, the music builds and builds and becomes a surprising romp through dance-land. This is full of jaunty dance synths and breaks in the music that keep you guessing where everything is going. Then a magical synth line enters and makes the track even larger….just fantastic.

Why This Why That And Why featuring Yello—-Beautifully constructed and filled with atmosphere, the vocal on this track reminds me so much of Leonard Cohen…..it just all comes together like a magnificent musical poem. I am in heaven with this experience…..I really need to investigate more of this man’s music…I am stunned by the beauty and genius of it all.

The Architect featuring Jeff Mills—-A bit eccentric and muted in delivery, it takes a bit for this song to take any shape or form. The bass keeps creeping on you…promising to explode but leaves me exhausted with the anticipation of joyous abandon. A weak track for me….but still nice.

Swipe To The Right featuring Cyndi Lauper —-Wonderfully full and energy filled from the first strains of the song, Lauper delivers a vocal that belies age and allows you to climb right back into the 80’s heyday. This is energy filled and upbeat with huge crashing synths and crashing timbres. Just fantastic….I am in love with this man. This is the best I have heard Cyndi sound since Bring Me To The Brink release.

Walking The Mile featuring Christope—-A bi dense and dark, the vocal enters and sounds muted and in a tunnel. The delivery is odd….trying to sound psychedelic over a rather bright synth line. Not a favorite…..but it seems to fit in the entire picture well.

Falling Down—-Filled with an undeniable melody line that runs underneath the synth line, the song is so well constructed and is contagious as hell. This has every right element included in it…you can’t escape the tune…it will live in your head…with a bit of throw back to the 80’s fun sound….but still modern, this is fantastic.

The Heart Of Noise [The Origin]—-A bit mundane and filled with much of the sound and melody we have heard thus far, it is a throwback to the opening strains of this release. I would have preferred another collab rather than a redux of something heard before. This is pleasant but tried.

Conquistador [JMJ RMX] featuring Gesaffelstein—-Nicely delivered with an urgent synth line, this song has a pace to it that begs you to pay attention. I like the higer pitched synth lines and the split second breaks that keep everything incredibly interesting before it all dives back into a bass heavy sea, Magnificent!

***** out of 5

 

 

Erasure / World Be Gone

World Be Gone

Erasure (/ˈrʒər/) are an English synthpop duo, consisting of singer and songwriter Andy Bell and songwriter and keyboardist Vince Clarke. They formed in London, and entered the music scene in 1985 with their debut single “Who Needs Love Like That“. Following the release of their fourth single “Sometimes“, the duo established itself on the UK Singles Chart and became one of the most successful artists of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

From 1986 to 2007, Erasure achieved 24 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK, while having three Top 20 hits in the US (on the Billboard Hot 100): “A Little Respect“, “Chains of Love“, and “Always“. By 2009, 34 of their 45 singles and EPs (of which 8 out of the 45 were not chart eligible in the UK) had made the UK Top 40, with 17 climbing into the Top 10. At the 1989 Brit Awards, Erasure won the Brit Award for Best British Group.

The duo are most popular in their native UK and mainland Europe (especially Germany, Denmark and Sweden) and also in South America (especially Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Peru). The band is also popular within the LGBT community, for whom the openly gay Bell has become a gay icon. To date, they have penned over 200 songs and have sold over 25 million albums worldwide.

World Be Gone is the seventeenth studio album by English synthpop duo Erasure. The album was released through Mute Records on 19 May 2017 in the UK, and 20 May 2017 in North America.

The Analysis—-

Love You To The Sky—-With a nice pulsating bass synth line to introduce the track, Bell enters with his vocal…finely tuned and filled with wonderful emotion. This is nice and upbeat…even though the lyrics and the constant repetition seem a bit tired. I love the wizardry of Clarke and his synth….a well practiced delivery here. I love the familiar sounds of Clarke and his machines.

Be Careful What You Wish For!—- With a slower introduction, swirling slow synth lines and a melancholy vocal, I am transported back to the Erasure CD. This is sedate….the vocal layered in delivery and stacked on top of a sedate slow tempo ed synth that makes the track dark and powerful. This is brilliant….the slight echoes….the in control vocal…..the instrumentation…..come together to create a perfect storm.

World Be Gone—-Continuing in the sedate synth delivery and heavy laden lyrics, the band seems very reflective and slightly melancholy on this release. Perhaps they also feel the weight of the world we live in these days. Andy Bell has not delivered such controlled and beautifully structured vocals on an Erasure release in quite sometime. This is brilliant!

A Bitter Parting—-Opening with a rather familiar Clarke synth line, the jaunty and speedy musical delivery is almost void on this release. This continues in the same sedate and reflective vein…wondering what each of these songs mean to the duo. The vocal is very upfront in the mix…the synth taking a back seat as the spotlight shines on the crafted and damn near perfect vocal of Bell.

Still It’s Not Over—-Deep an morose at the onset, the reverb from the dense sound in overwhelming. Bell delivers tales of lost lives and loves….making you wonder what has brought about all this introspection. He references Harvey Milk….The Castro…..the years of the plague. This is a brilliant track….sad and haunting. Just incredible. The melody line of this track is wonderful…..rather addictive despite the heaviness of the song.

Take Me Out Of Myself—-  With a slight higher synth tone, the pace of the song remains much as the majority of this release….dark and plodding. Bell delivers line after line of desperate words that make me inwardly sad. The control in his voice is amazing on this record…..you actually feel every word he sings…the voice overlays gives a nice texture to the song. Brilliant!

Sweet Summer Loving—-Brighter Yaz styled synth introduces the track….nice blips and beeps are dancing around on the song. the track is still slow and mellow…but the feel and the melody line gives me a happier feel….I can almost hear Alison sing this track. This is really nice…beautiful in construction and sentiment…a brighter spot to break things up a bit.

Oh What A World—-A huge hum through my headphones usher in this track…the deep bass is amazing. The vocal enters and for the first time in a long time I am very disappointed with the band. This is mundane and monotonous…..insane in lyrics and lacking a true energy.

Lousy Sum Of Nothing—-With a sight funeral introduction, the synth in more of a hum rather than fully constructed notes. Bell delivers line after line bemoaning the lack of humanity in the world today. The lack of optimism is rather wearing at this point…but it is Erasure…and it is new material. As a life long fan I appreciate the new direction and welcome the ensuing explanation that I am sure is to come.

Just A Little Love—-Ending the release on a refreshing bright and poppy note, the synth lines is faster and the vocal is delivered in a higher more jaunty style. The positive message of the track almost wipes away the dense feel of previous tracks. Bell sounds energized and happy hear and the synth line wraps right around his vocal. A nice ending.

**** out of 5

 

Rickie Lee Jones / Girl At Her Volcano

Girl At Her Volcano

Rickie Lee Jones (born November 8, 1954) is an American vocalist, musician, songwriter, and producer. Over the course of a career that spans five decades, Jones has recorded in various musical styles including rock, R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz.

Jones is a two-time Grammy Award winner. Additionally, she was listed at number 30 on VH1‘s 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll in 1999.

After touring through much of 1982 following the release of Pirates, Rickie Lee Jones released the Girl at Her Volcano EP. It contains three live recordings, a few new studio ones and recordings left over from earlier studio sessions. “Hey, Bub” was the first song originally written by Jones for Pirates in September 1979.

The live recording of “Something Cool” was not included on the original vinyl EP release, but on the Musicassette release of the same year. Earlier recordings of this song can be found on June Christy‘s 1954 album Something Cool, and Julie London‘s 1960’s Around Midnight (which features also “Lush Life“).

I have been a fan, collector and follower of Rickie Lee Jones most of my adult life. Although there are many favorite songs in her vast catalog, this EP remains my favorite body of work from her. It shows catastrophe, vulnerability and a raw edge to the the princess.

The Analysis—-

Lush Life—-Perhaps a nod to the alcohol struggles Jones was experiencing at the time, this live rendition puts me smack in the middle of a smoky piano bar sitting around being thoroughly entertained by the ‘dame’ at the piano. Jones delivers a raw and naked vocal that runs through the notes and word inflections with an outstanding clarity and emotion. This gives me a peaceful and serene feeling…and a longing to have been in this crowd. Just brilliant.

Letters From The 9th Ward/Walk Away Rene—-Coming at you from a silence and developing into a grandiose beauty, this remains one of my favorite Jones tracks in her history. the vocal is sweet and serene with an almost child like quality to it. The music swells around your head and sucks you into the magnificence of the piano strikes and the lazy drawl of the sometimes slurry vocal. This is just fantastic….never have i heard anything this superb. I love to sleep to this album…..it gives me an almost out of body sleep experience……and that folks…..is what music is all about.

Hey, Bub—-Minimalist with just a stark piano and the sweet jazzy vocal from Jones makes this song a pure masterpiece of music. Although there some some double tracked vocals here and there and strings that enter into the song….it is the pure tormented vocal from Jones that makes this song an ethereal track of pure magic…I could never ask for more from one artist. This is magnificent.

My Funny Valentine—-Returning to the smoky dark bar feeling of the first track, this rendition of this song is brilliant. Stroked only by the piano, the voice is rough and full of natural beauty. The notes that require Jones to soar…are never missed….this slight jazzy feel to the song makes me long for a nice show tune bar where I can sip martinis and forget the world we live in. Such a simpler time this was……

Under The Boardwalk—-This is a brilliant cover version of The Drifter’s classic. Jones is joined by a male vocalist…and the vocal delivery is everything you could ask for. The slow and lazy drawl of Jones is a perfect match for this song…you can almost feel the sun on your shoulders and the sand beneath you feet. This literally transports me somewhere else. Just fantastic. You have to check this out!!!

Rainbow Sleeves—-A gentle piano introduces the song and sets the tone for the heartbreaking vocal that only Jones can deliver. This is magical…..minimalist but full of beauty…Jones sings in that alto voice of hers that manages to convey so many feelings in just a few words. I can not say enough good things about this release…when Jones really lets loose….tears flow down your cheeks…..just magical.

So Long—-Light and full of an airy vocal, Jones manages to paint an entire picture with her voice alone. I’m not sure instruments are even necessary with a performance like this. The delivery sounds heartbreaking and tortured….the notes are just perfect. The heart wrenching feel to the song makes me shake my head in amazement….I can’t believe we are blessed with such greatness.

Something Cool—-The slow and lazy drawl of Jones vocal here matches the jazzy piano almost perfectly. This is fantastic…every word and vocal inflection paints the picture of the song. I love the way the song makes me feel…..it tends to remind me of Drag Queens I have heard deliver this song….huge…..flamboyant and a bit flip…..just brilliant.

***** out of 5

Pet Shop Boys / Elysium

Elysium

Pet Shop Boys are an English electronic pop duo, formed in London in 1981 and consisting of Neil Tennant (main vocals, keyboards, occasional guitar) and Chris Lowe (keyboards, occasional vocals).

Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide,[2] and are listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by The Guinness Book of Records.[3] Three-time Brit Award winners and six-time Grammy nominees, since 1985 they have achieved forty-two Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, including four UK number ones: “West End Girls” (also number one on the US Billboard Hot 100), “It’s a Sin“, an acclaimed cover of “Always on My Mind” and “Heart“. Other hit songs include a cover of “Go West“, “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)” (satire of Thatcherism) and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” in a duet with Dusty Springfield.

At the 2009 Brit Awards in London, Pet Shop Boys received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2016, Billboard magazine named Pet Shop Boys the No. 1 Billboard Dance duo/group over the 40 years since the chart’s inception in 1976.

The Analysis—-

Leaving—-Even on the loudest and most energetic dance floor stompers produced by the Pet Shop Boys, there always remains an underlying sadness to the songs they produce. Perhaps it is the voice…perhaps the unique styling of Chris Lowe at the musical helm…..but it is always there. This release is no different. The deep hum that is carried through this track is just over whelming. Tennant delivers his talk sing style of delivery and I feel warm all over. I am a true collector of this band….owning everything I can get my hands on and having seen them live 10 times. I love this track….the beauty of the composition envelopes the voice…this is art.

Invisible—-Continuing much in the same vein, this entire release seemed to find the Boys at an introspective period. The lyrics of this track are heart breaking…so relate-able to myself personally…perhaps that is why I hide behind this keyboard. I can relate on every level with the music from this duo….they always inspire me to think….look inside and examine. This is brilliant.

Winner—-Written and preformed for and at the Olympics, there is an element to this song that makes me incredibly happy and joyous. The words and the mood of the music lifts me up and just makes me want to celebrate. Tennant and Lowe are a fined tuned machine…they seldom make a mistake…this is a prime example. There is beauty and emotion in everything.

Your Early Stuff—-Delivering a tongue in cheek British styled track, this song is humorous and catchy as hell. Perhaps this is a true rendering of some of the fans responses…after all this duo has been at it for a very long time. The delivery is still sedate and full of that low sad hum…..the beats threatening at the edges to bursts out but remain locked up in the machine. This is humorously self deprecating….I appreciate the not so seldom humor.

A Face Like That—-With a bit livelier musical landscape, this song moves at a fairly good pace. The blips and the bleeps are incredible…layered effects and double tracked vocals give the song a very big feel. The hum is there…and the humor is undeniable…but this is classic PSB…..you want to listen to it over and over. Chris Lowe has his recipe down pat.

Breathing Space—-With an actual acoustic style guitar introducing the track, Tennant enters with a mournful and melancholy vocal that takes me down a notch and just lets me sit in my sadness. There is a remarkable beauty to the song when the chorus kicks in….Tennant actually sings and delivers a lyric that makes you think…ponder and wonder how he can know so much about your life. just fantastic.

Ego Music—-Delivering classic style dance floor beats, Lowe returns us to a bit of a happier place. Neil delivers a double tracked vocal that is more upbeat and still brimming with a dark sense of humor that is always present in the Boys music. Reminding me a lot of the song The Sound Of The Atom Splitting. This is fantastic!

Hold On—-Huge in sound right from the onset, this has that nice mellow feel to it…but an underlying feeling of happiness and positive vibes. I notice that whether realizing it or not….there is a smile on my face as this song plays…that is the mark of phenomenal music. The ability to make you feel….something…positive or negative…it is a joy just to feel….this is extraordinary.

Give It A Go—-Probably my least favorite track on this release, it is too repetitive for my taste. Although……there are great things about this song as well. Tennant comes so close to actually singing it is scary. Stepping away from his talk/sing delivery he hits some notes that are impressive. The nice low hum running through the track is remarkable….Chris Lowe deserves much more credit than he gets.

Memory Of The Future—-Taking me back in time to some of the best compositions this band has ever produced, this is classic. Released on the UK version of the CD only [go figure] this has every element that speaks to me from this duo. This is superb….introspective but powerful…it makes me think…ponder and relish in life and the strides I have made. Isn’t that what this all superposed to be about. Fantastic.

Everything Means Something—-This is an odd track…to be honest, I tend to skip over this. The construction of the song is a bit abrasive and contrived. I like the chorus of the song…but even that sounds a bit hollow to me. Sometimes a favorite makes a mis step….but that is ok.

Requiem In Denim And Leopard Skin—-With a familiar musical line introducing the track, Tennant enters with a simply fantastic vocal…full of inflection…humor and gay leanings. I love the feel of the song….taking me back to the early 80’s when we really did dress that way. This is a wonderful end to the release…leaving a wonderful taste in your mouth. Just fantastic!

****3/4 out of 5

Phil Collins / Both Sides

Both Sides Of The Story (2015 Remastered)

Philip David CharlesPhilCollins LVO (born 30 January 1951) is an English singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer and actor. He is known as the drummer and lead singer in the rock band Genesis and as a solo artist. Between 1983 and 1990, Collins scored three UK and seven US number-one singles in his solo career. When his work with Genesis, his work with other artists, as well as his solo career is totalled, Collins had more US Top 40 singles than any other artist during the 1980s. His most successful singles from the period include “In the Air Tonight“, “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)“, “One More Night“, “Sussudio” and “Another Day in Paradise“.

Collins’ discography includes eight studio albums that have sold 33.5 million certified units in the US and an estimated 150 million worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling artists. He is one of three recording artists, along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, who have sold over 100 million records worldwide both as solo artists and separately as principal members of a band. He has won seven Grammy Awards, six Brit Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, an Academy Award, and a Disney Legend Award. In 1999, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, and the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2012.Despite his commercial success and his status as a respected and influential drummer, music critics are divided in their opinion of his work and he has publicly received both criticism and praise from other prominent music artists.

Both Sides is the fifth solo studio album by English singer-songwriter Phil Collins. Featuring an adult-oriented soft rock based sound, the release came out in November 1993. Collins notably created the album entirely by himself without any collaborations from outside songwriters and performers, and he picked up mixed to positive critical reviews with the release, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic stating that the album’s “artistically satisfying” songs feature “troubled, haunting tales”

The Analysis—-

Both Sides Of The Story—-By far and away my favorite Phil Collins release, this track is a prime example of why. The faux bag pipe sounds…the introspective lyrics and the melancholy feel to the songs make this a personal masterpiece. Here Collins abandons the proven AOR recipe and makes a record that actually means something. While the tracks are sad in tone, you find an uplifting tone to the entire thing. This is wonderfully brilliant.

Can’t Turn Back The Years—-Perhaps embracing his own impending mortality at the time, Collins leads us on a journey that we have all taken from time to time. The wish to turn back time…erase mistakes…learn and make ourselves better people. I have nothing but respect for this song. At times, the sound is a bit too syrupy sweet….but the feeling the song projects overcomes the tone. The beautiful saxophone plays its own song…lending to the heaviness of the track.

Everyday—-Beginning with a wonderful sad piano, the song is another classic favorite of mine. This finds Phil at his best…actually singing about things that matter. The melody of the song enters and takes you on a journey that only piano Bruce Hornsby can project. This is a true love song…full of hurt….determination to survive…and the attempts to move on despite the sadness that weighs you down. This is melancholy at its best.

I’ve Forgotten Everything—-A deep mellow sound pervades the track aided by the slow and sad horn that introduces he very, very sedate vocal from Collins. This is a song that just about everyone can relate to….the passing of feelings that come flooding back because of a sight, a word or a smell. The beauty of this record is the damn relatability of it all….who can not understand these types of feelings?

We’re Sons Of Our Fathers—-Taking a break from the very heavy feel of the record, this track enters with a nice happy vibe that even the lyrics can not change. It is great song placement….breaking up the heaviness with a slight intermission. Collins even sounds lighter in voice and we are treated to more keyboard produced Scottish sounds that I just adore. A nice respite!

Can’t Find My Way—-With a really nice guitar intro, this track finds us falling back into a more introspective lean. Perhaps my least favorite track on this release…it sounds rather empty and contrived….it just never seems to meld with the music in the right way.

Survivors—-Beginning with a bit more bombastic feel and a nice sense of atmosphere, this track again, serves up a bit of hit and miss feel. I am still impressed by the vocal prowess of Collins at times….he reaches for higher registers. When the song finally opens up with the tambourines and the nice drum, the song becomes much larger than when it began……really nice.

We Fly So Close—-A slow Spanish style guitar begins the song playing a melody that is slightly familiar and comforting. The song dissolves into the predictably beautiful mellow feel that Collins has offered us on this release. If you feel sad…and you WANT to feel sad…this is a perfect release. The words are so brilliant and vivid…full of their own color and photos. This is a remarkable feat for a songwriter…you can actually form your own photo from someones words……magnificent.

There’s A Place For Us—-Full on 70’s style AOR produced music with horns and a need for constant rotation, this again takes you on a journey of melancholy….longing and want. Collins has a way of penning lyrics that few people have….every word is a photo in time…..YOUR TIME……miraculous.

We Wait And We Wonder—-This track is HUGE…from the intro snare drums to the faux bagpipes that blow out your speakers…..to the lyrics that leave you on the floor. There is not a single fault with this song…..PEOPLE….this is perfect! I can’t find anymore words that fir it better.

Please Come Out Tonight—- Wrapping up this journey much in the vein it began, I always feel I have learnt something about myself every listen I give this. It always causes me to reflect, introspect and listen to my inner voices. That is what music is all about. This is a genius release!

*****out of 5