Berlin / Best Of Berlin 1979-1988

Best of Berlin 1979-1988

Berlin is an American new wave band. The group was formed in Orange County in 1978 by John Crawford (bass guitar). Band members included Crawford, Terri Nunn (vocals), David Diamond (keyboards), Ric Olsen (guitar), Matt Reid (keyboards) and Rod Learned (drums). The band gained mainstream-commercial success in the early 1980s with singles including “The Metro“, “Sex (I’m A…)“, “No More Words” and then in the mid 1980s with the chart-topping single “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 film Top Gun.

The Analysis—-

Blowin’ Sky High—-For me, Berlin was one of the under-rated and under appreciated bands of the early 80’s. The tight musicianship, combined with the strong and flexible voice of Nunn helped to create a landscape of material and helped the band become mainstays on MTV. Crawford had an unmistakable guitar style that ebbed and flowed around the vocal. This track, never a huge hit…which I don’t understand, has that rhythmic guitar song that drives it to great heights at the chorus aided by super strong drums. This is a standout track.

No More Words—-There is always a remarkable power and slight anger to be found with many of the songs from Berlin. Nunn delivers a huge vocal….full of an underlying rage and betrayal that makes it instantly approachable. The song…full of trademark 80’s synth sounds comes across now as a bit dated. But if you zero in on the vocal and all of the power from the band, you will find yourself hooked all over again. The ‘breaks’ in the song are classic.

Like Flames—-I have never understood the fickle ways of American pop music listeners! For me, this may be one of the best tracks the band ever produced…but it received little or no attention from fans and/or radio. The vocal is so full of emotion…the band plays with a renewed intensity…the hook of the song stays in your brain for days after just one listen. The galloping musical intro of the song is shattered with a ballsy yell from Nunn. The vocal that follows is so strong and filled with emotion…this is by far my favorite track from this band. It literally makes me want to jump up and down and lose control.

 

Take My Breath Away—-Taken from the blockbuster film Top Gun, this track is largely considered to be the reason for the demise of the band. A mega-hit all over the world, it moved from the traditional sound of the band into a sound the rest of the band was uncomfortable with. Berlin was never really known for the ‘love song component’ and this really did not fit the image the majority of the band had set for themselves. I can take or leave this track..it became too huge, too overplayed and too worn out. The vocal is a bit to whispery for me…the arrangement robbed Nunn of that powerhouse alto she had become known for.

Sex [I’m A…]—-The single that primarily brought the band to the forefront of the New Wave movement in the early 80’s, this is laden with a synth line and effects that drive you to the dance floor. The trademark sounds of the song…full of everything that defined the time period, the song was just interesting enough in content to have us all paying attention. The two vocal delivery is really nice and seldom heard from the band. the synth line is straight out of the Moroder playbook. Still plays really well.

Now It’s My Turn—-Driving synth lines introduce the song and finds Nunn delivering another slight wispy vocal that takes a bit to grow on you. there is a strength in the subtle approach she uses, and the double track lay out gives a bit more bolster and power to the song. Not a favorite…but it plays really well with this release. The chorus is catchy and well delivered….combing a perfect mix of drums, guitars and synth lines.

Masquerade—-Another really favorite track of mine, I love the end of the song the most off all…when all the double tracks of the song play at once…giving it an irresistible hook appeal you can’t ever forget. Again, the band finds a brilliant middle ground that is able to deliver fantastic guitars and drums with the requisite 80’s synth sound. The vocal is at the very front of the mix…Nunn truly shines here. A remarkable testament that the band had a true direction and ability to deliver.

 

You Don’t Know—-As the track begins, there is a slight throwback sound to the 60’s style music….it seems to fall away as Nunn begins her vocal. This is a bit of a weak track for me. The sound is less power packed and seems a bit airy to me. I’m glad to have it, but I generally skip over this track.

Matter Of Time—-A nice jaunty synth line opens the track. as Nunn begins to sing in an almost robotic style vocal, it fits perfectly into the 80’s playbook of Pop/New Wave songs of the time. the guitars and drums are much more pronounced and up front in the mix. The chorus is a double track affair that sticks in your head and reminds me of something right off of a Josie Cotton record. This is superb.

The Metro—-Another track that allowed the band to continue stacking up hits and plays on MTV, this is a track that can be found on about every 80’s hits compilation. Recognizable from the very first note, the schizoid synth line is addictive as hell. Nunn delivers a mysterious sounding vocal that as the song progresses really shows the power that she is able to emit. This is addictive…it has that perfect recipe of lyrics…vocals and synth line that still sounds incredible today. A true classic.

Will I Ever Understand You—-Much more powerful and guitar based than the past few tracks, this was the kind of stuff that helped to propel the band past the ‘New Wave’ era of the early 80’s. You can’t listen to this and possibly deny the power packed vocal style that Nunn delivered later in the band’s career. There is such a subtle slight angry edge to her vocal….it is sublime but damn effective.

For All Tomorrow’s Lies—-A bit of a lackluster performance for me here. I much prefer the band when they have that more aggressive sound that attracted me to them in the beginning. This is sappy, syrupy sweet and laden with too much melancholy. The vocal is nice…but lacks a true emotion for me.

**** out of 5

 

The Go-Go’s / Beauty And The Beat

Beauty And The Beat (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

The Go-Go’s are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1978. The Go-Go’s rose to fame during the early 1980s as an all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments, rising to the top of the Billboard album charts.

Their 1981 debut album, Beauty and the Beat, is considered one of the “cornerstone albums of US new wave” (AllMusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. When the album was released, it steadily climbed the Billboard200 chart, ultimately reaching No. 1, where it remained for six consecutive weeks. The album sold over 2 million copies and went double platinum, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. The Go-Go’s have sold over 7 million records worldwide.

The Go-Go’s broke up in 1985, but reconvened several times through the 1990s and beyond, recording new material and touring. Though their 2016 performances were billed as a farewell tour, the band remains active on a sporadic ad hoc basis, most recently appearing as guests on a March 2017 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Beauty and the Beat is the debut album from Californian new wave band the Go-Go’s. Released in 1981 on the I.R.S. Records label, the album was preceded by the single and signature song “We Got the Beat“, which became a massive club hit in Europe and, later, the United States. When the album was eventually released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks, ranking second among Billboard’s Top 100 albums of 1982. The LP sold in excess of two million copies and reached double platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Critically acclaimed, it has been described as one of the “cornerstone albums of American new wave”

The Analysis—-

Our Lips Are Sealed—-There are such remarkable memories in my brain when i hear this song…really, having embraced the New Wave movement as a kid. I fell in line with these girls from the very first listen. This was remarkable…post-pop-punk music from an all girl group that conjured up the beach…the 50’s…the 70’s and the 80’s all in one song. this was a fantastic introduction to New wave…and MTV loved these girls…..Just a wonderful moment.

 

How Much More—-Fully embracing the Beach sound of the huge girl groups of the 50’s. this was addictive as hell for me. The vocal harmonies that are led by Belinda but by the guitar from Jane as well made this an infectious and fum romp through the yesteryear…but a look to the future as well. god…this song had everything.

Tonite—-A bit more aggressive in the guitar delivery. even the vocal from Belinda is more driven. this was really pure pop perfection at the time. I can only try to describe how much stuff like this meant to a kid in the 80’s…this was a whole new world. The song has a dark mysterious element to it…the guitar and the bass line from Weidlin are masterful. This was an is still incredibly well delivered. these girls were not afraid to party…lol

Lust To Love—-Really one of the overlooked songs on this release, it remains a centerpiece for me on the whole release. There is a remarkable dark element to the music and the lyrics..letting you know that this is not all pure fun pop madness. Belinda delivers a vocal that at times is damn dark and menacing. The remarkable magic of the band is still strong…there is a strong pop element to the entire thing…but if you lift the covers and look underneath. you can find the dark and aggression clearly. a pure masterpiece.

This Town—-This was designed to attract everyone from every town…because this song could be about your very home town right? The girls deliver an almost dirty track that is aggressive in nature…but the bass line from Jane gives the entire thing a punk/new wave feel that stayed true to where the girls started. the vocal harmonies almost make it too pretty….the underlying message a but more aggressive than I imagined it back then. This is a pure pop masterpiece…every element…the guitars….the drums…that bass line…the vocal….just incredible.

We Got The Beat—-Meant to be commercial and a massive hit, this kind of steered away from the true message of the band. Of course, it had kids po-going all over the nation. But the song has a dark message to it as well…this fell back into the roots of the band…fast…aggressive and meant to cause mayhem. This is perfect…but I guess I missed the real meaning at the time.

Fading Fast—-Returning to the darker nature of the band….so many of the songs really spoke of Female Empowerment, this is a remarkable track. The vocal harmonies are like a wet dream…never have voices together sounded so incredible. The disappointment that the lyric describes are perfectly transposed in Belinda and her delivery. This is a huge song….the sound…even in 2017 sounds incredible…the harmonies…the bass line…..the drums. This is brilliant.

Automatic—-And again, we keep the concept clear and concise. The dark feel of the song is remarkable…the vehemence that the vocal is delivered with can be no mistake….these might be really pissed off girls…delivering pop mastery set to a wonderful beat. This just shows…that if you trace the roots of the band back to the very beginning….this huge record really never steered far from the original message they were delivering. This is fantastic…..huge…dark…but damn contagious.

You Can’t Walk In Your Sleep [If You Can’t Sleep]—-I love the pop-punk element of this song. The music is jaunty and the joined vocals provide a nice layer to the dark element of the lyrics. The band is so well rehearsed and delivers a stellar performance. Everyone heralds Belinda so much with this band….but damn Jane Weidlin is a fantastic musician. This is a fantastic track.

Skidmarks On My Heart—-Without a doubt, my favorite track on this release. Belinda sounds so damn pissed off when she delivers her vocal. The drums are fucking incredible. The vocal harmonies add a huge feel to the song…but here…yeah…Belinda is the star and she is pissed at the stupid ass Hetero dude….lol.

 

Can’t Stop The World—-Ending the release with the same aggressive pop sensibility that began it, Belinda and the band are in full pogo mode…leaving the sand splashing in your face from the beach as they go in search of the instruments that will make them giants. The drums are fucking magical on this track. Jane and that bass line leads the whole thing…by the end of this classic release…I’m in an exhausted joy.

*****out of 5

Tears For Fear / Rule The World : The Greatest Hits

Rule The World: The Greatest Hits

Tears for Fears are an English pop rock band formed in Bath in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Founded after the dissolution of their first band, the mod-influenced Graduate, they were initially associated with the new wave synthesiser bands of the early 1980s but later branched out into mainstream rock and pop, which led to international chart success. They were part of the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US.

Their debut album, The Hurting, released in 1983, reached number one on the UK Albums Chart, while their second album, Songs from the Big Chair, released in 1985, reached number one on the US Billboard 200, achieving multi-platinum status in both the UK and the US. Their second album contained two Billboard Hot 100 number ones: “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World“‘, the latter winning the Brit Award for Best British Single in 1986.

Smith and Orzabal parted company in 1991, after the release of their third platinum-selling album The Seeds of Love (1989), though Orzabal retained the Tears for Fears name throughout the remainder of the 1990s. The duo re-formed in 2000 and released an album of new material, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, in 2004. Since 2013, the duo have been working on their seventh album. Tears for Fears have sold over 30 million albums worldwide

The Analysis—-

Everybody Wants To Rule The World—-It is always interesting to look back at the music that helped to form your teen years and see how it stands the test of time in your adult brain. I was disappointed at yet another Greatest Hits record from this band…but it is always nice to hear the classics again. This track is monstrous…melodic and really does manage to stand the test of time. The two voices when joined together are a force. Roland has that remarkable upper register. The synth drive of the song screams 80’s…it is brilliant.

Shout [7″ Edit]—-Laden with every trademark gimmick of classic 80’s pop music, this song..in it’s heyday was an absolute monster. I assure you….it still plays with exquisite flavor in 2017. That classic vocal…the long notes from Roland that adds depths of emotion to the song…still can give you goosebumps even now. This is a remarkable reminder of why the 80’s still live on with a bit of success.

 

I Love You, But I’m Lost—-One of the new offerings that are offered on this release. I listen to this very carefully…looking for the magic that served as the propulsion for the band in the early years. The sound at the onset is dense, giving way to a synth laden happiness that captures my attention. The vocal is a bit odd for me….they sound more like MGMT to me. the chorus is not the huge affair I expected…but the track does not let me down. There is a catchy element to the song that makes me smile somewhere inside my self…I don’t profess pure love…but I don’t hate it either.

Mad World—-I think the key elements of this track were meant to burrow into your cerebellum and just stay there. this is a recipe laden pop song that hits a perfect 10 on every mark. The jungle drums…the static synth line…the guitar line…the beautiful and perfectly clear vocal…the intermittent horns….how can you go wrong here. This is, for me. pure pop perfection.

Sowing the Seeds Of Love—-This for me, was one of the best tracks the band ever produced. the track shows a progression of sound…while still retaining the trademarks that made the band a huge hit. The slight psychedelic feel of the song propelled them further…while the vocal harmonies were stronger and more intact than ever. The horns at the end of the track were incredible. This is a pure masterpiece…a song I never really ever tire of hearing.

 

Advice For The Young At Heart—-I remember when I first heard this song, I though maybe i was hearing a new song from Icehouse or Icicle Works….I was surprised. This is wonderfully layered with that magic emotion the band was able to produce…as well as a chorus that will live with you…even twenty plus years on. This still sounds great…still sounds important as ever…and still plays in my brain like the very first time. Those voices…it’s like magic.

Head Over Heels—-Perhaps the biggest selling single for the band…and the one that sent them way over the top in the 80’s and the video driven world, this still plays as well as it did from day one. The vocals are so strong…the way the band plays off of each other is just pure magic…there is an almost pulley system between the two….where the voice and the guitar strive to be the best. The synth lines are so strong…producing a magical melody that will never leave you alone…this was a pure magical time.

Woman In Chains [feat. Oleta Adams]—-Funny to hear this song with the climate of the nation today. It seems right in line with all of the stuff that seems t be going on. And the vocal guest from the fantastic Oleta Adams is literally heartbreaking and wrenching. This is timely…and should be played everywhere. the soaring vocals give me goosebumps…this is brilliant…way before it’s time.

Change [Radio Edit]—-Another one of those tracks that carries so many familiar sounds of the times. At certain times, the synth line sounds like a pure rip off of Rio from Duran Duran…..but the vocal kicks in and you know this is classic. The long drawn out vocal sounds from Roland gives the song a remarkable emotional quality….even while the instrumentation plays right up in the front of the song. This is brilliant.

Stay—-The second of the two new tracks on this compilation, I find this rather flat and a bit uninspired for my ears. The trademark sounds of the band seem to be largely missing…where is the play of the back and forth between the members. The vocal sounds almost foreign to me….I really do not like this very much….but I’m still glad to have it.

Pale Shelter [2nd US Version]—-This has that nice synth driven sound that is actually aided by the guitar base of the song. I love the vocal…even though it seems almost hollow in this mix. The voice is one of the key elements of this band…and the way they play back and forth with each other. I wonder what would have happened if a band like INXS would have recorded this…..wow….

Mothers Talk [US Remix]—-This has never been a very favorite track of mine….it seemed like the band was really coming apart during this period…adding all kinds of back drop vocals…nor heavy guitars and a distant between Kurt and Roland…you could smell the dissonance between the two here.

Break It Down Again—-Perhaps one of the most aggressive sounding tracks from the band, it is remarkable in melody and truism. The band offers a new bolder sound…but still managed to keep the base of the sound in the song at the same time. this has a nice anthemic quality to it. I really still love hearing this track. Really a nice memory.

I Believe—-Ghostly and full of a magical sadness that still can raise the hairs on your arms, the vocal is so pre and without any effect. The instrumentation has a slight underlying jazz edge to it that lulls you into the lyric of the track…this is so nice to hear….a magical moment.

Raoul And the Kings Of Spain—-Never a favorite track of mine…..I found nothing that was released around this particular period…out side of Sowing that appealed to me. This is so noisy and unorganized to be…like a smash and haberdasher track to satisfy an obligation….ummm….no……

Closet Thing To Heaven—-Again, there are certain elements of this track i really like. but the band seems to have lost a bit of direction here. The sound…the huge sound they always managed to produce…seems to be missing. The chorus is very nice…but the drums are too loud…the vocal sounds a bit weird as well. I like the melody…but where is the key element we love…the back and forth of the vocal and the guitar…..this is not a favorite….

**** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Shop Boys / Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012

Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012 (2017 Remastered Version)

Elysium (/iˈlɪziəm/) is the eleventh studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. Released on 5 September 2012, it is the duo’s final album with Parlophone. The album was produced during 2012 in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and Pet Shop Boys.

As well as the remastered album with original track-listing, the ‘Further listening’ album of additional material features previously unreleased demos entitled ‘Vocal’, ‘She pops’ and ‘In slow motion’, as well as PSB mixes and remixes of ‘Leaving’ and ‘Memory of the future’.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Leaving—-From the very first opening strains of this track, you knew that the boys had fully returned to form after a few forays into a bit less that traditional PSB music. Tennant delivers a vocal line that wraps right around the instrumental melody and aided by backdrop vocalists the song becomes even fuller. This is traditional…remarkable and very damn pleasant.

Invisible—-The wonderfully melancholic strains of the song wrap themselves around your head right from the opening notes. Tennant delivers line after line of alienation that is so damn relatable it is almost sad. I love the underlying hum of sadness that runs through the belly of the song…allowing you to submerse fully into the mood of the song. this is a band that seldom does wrong.

 

Winner—-Originally written and performed for the Olympics, this has long been a very favorite track from this band for me. There is a certain empowering and joyous feel to the song….the whole damn affair seems to make me happy and a bit elated. The double track sound to the vocal…and the sing song delivery from Neil gives the song this huge sound.But it is the chorus of the song that truly brings it all into focus….the joy and the happiness is contagious….all the while the low sad hum underneath of everything adds a perfect landscape of a song that should have been HUGE!!

 

Your Early Stuff—-British humor and tongue in cheek delivery is in full effect here. Tennant has a way of delivering self-effacing lyrics that still produce a magical effect. Of course, The Boys must be realizing the length of time of their career and the difference in music as opposed to now and then. this is a wonderful nod to the past and realizing the future. And in the gay world…this takes on a whole new meaning. Tennant has his pulse on human emotions.

A Face Like That—-Building and building, this becomes a stomper right out of the gate. This has the classic Lowe sound to the synth line…full of shuffling beats that are replaced by the rhythmic dance beats that fill a dance floor. Tennant…by now, knows how to phrase and deliver lines that are in tune to the music…this is a wonderful track. The effects from Lowe come at you from all directions. Neil has a vocal that is echoed and removed from the fore-front…but it is still magical.

Breathing Space—-Surprisingly introduced with an acoustic guitar sound, the song is both airy and filled with emotion. Tennant amazes me….this voice never seems to show age or abuse…it is as remarkable as the very first day. when the chorus of this song hits you….the tears threaten the back of your eyes…the emotion comes right through your speakers. Perhaps this is a tale of an aging musician……wonderfully told.

Ego Music—-Delivering a nice break in the more introspective elements of the album, this delivers a nice simple kind of song…un-complicated and delivered with a bit of fun and a nod back to the Very release with the spoken word kind of delivery. Not a favorite…but a nice break….placement is everything. The lyrics speak of the true life of famous musicians everywhere…..classic.

Hold On—-Another huge and joyous song that seems to speak to me in the saddest and most overwhelming of times. The huge choir of voices gives the song an anthemic feel….you can wrap all of your negative energy around it…press play and send it flying out of the window. This is a beautifully constructed, cheerful and empowering track.

Give It A Go—-This opens with a classic Lowe styled synth line that magically gives way to the mellow crooning from Neil. The stark piano that rides on top of the subtle synth line is a PSB magical moment. I love this…it has every element that is required with a PSB track.

Memory Of The Future—-A nice shuffling synth line…..played underneath of a classic Tennant vocal. This track seemed to garner tons of attention from fans….I mean…I like it….but it was never a pure unadulterated favorite from this release. The chorus is huge and addictive…but repetitive and without tons of substance. I like the music more than the vocal…and that is rare with this band.

Everything Means Something—-An odd intro ushers in an almost orchestrated synth feel…..with a steady bass beat in the backdrop. Tennant delivers a vocal that seems less than heartfelt and almost by rote. I never gelled with this 100%. I like the chorus and the way it opens up…it just seems a bit lackluster to me.

Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin—-A classic proper ending to a PSB release. A tongue in cheek nod to the community that buys every minuscule element of the band and a nod to Tennant. This is the gayest track I have heard since New York City Boy…I love all the references and the true understanding of the community that we live in. The chorus is a huge Gay Parade affair that makes me want to dance and proclaim myself at the top of my lungs. A magical moment.

Disc Two:

Vocal [Demo]—-For a so-called Demo, this is well constructed and delivered in classic PSB fashion. There is nothing in the least under-developed about this track. This is a joyous romp through club-land debauchery that makes me happy….allows me to dance all by myself…and fills me with an unmatched joy that only this band can bring. Brilliant!

She Pops [Demo]—-From the very first note, this is literally BRILLIANT. That low mechanical hum that drives the song underneath everything adds to the feel of the song once Tennant begins to sing. This has a nice retro feel that is so damn addictive…I can’t stop listening to it. Why this was not huge is beyond me. This has every single element that constructs a classic synth pop masterpiece.

Inside [Remastered Version]—-Right from the onset, this was a track that I could take or leave. This duo rarely ever steers me wrong…and this is NOT a bad song…but it sounds a bit uninspired and less than driven to me. Even the vocal seems a bit distant to me….not sure what the problem was here…not a favorite.

In Slow Motion [Demo]—-This has such a classic PSB sound to it…it reminds me of every great moment in this career. The lyrics are tender and real…full of emotion and a certain realness. The synth line is true to form..understated enough that they belie emotion in their very delivery. The vocal is as perfect and clear as from day one. A true classic…..

Listening [Remaster]—-Hmmmm….a slow and plodding synth delivery introduces a vocal that sounds a bit empty…until the ‘chorus’ opens up and delivers a slight dark journey through perfect pop music. The synth swells suck me in…the chorus is what makes this masterful…I don’t care for the line to line of the song…but when you get that hook….damn…you are sucked right in.

Hell [Remaster]—-Returning to full on dance mode, there is a nice jaunty feel to this song that sucks you right in from the very onset. Lowe provides enough blips and bleeps to power a space ship. Tennant relies on a slight lazy vocal that seems to fit the mode of the song in a magical way…these two know each other very well. a nice magical moment.

The Way Through The Woods [Long Version]—-Well…..this really struggles to find a place in my memory bank. there is nothing for me that stands out as incredible for me here. I was a bit disappointed…because I never heard this before…but i find it lackluster and that it tries to hard. Not a favorite at all…..sorry

I Started A Joke [Remaster]—-Whomever decided that The Boys should cover this track was a pure genius. This is a spectacular result…the emotions of the original seem to grow even stronger with this version. This is another magical PSB moment. I freakin’ love this cover….it could be huge the entire world over. Tennant delivers a vocal that is so pained and emotional…i actually cry. This is brilliant.

 

In His Imagination [Remaster]—-A huge shuffling and undeniable PSB synth line introduces this track. This is perhaps one of the most brilliant tracks I have never heard from the duo. this is sad…uplifting…emotional…joyous….full on entendres…..dance able……magical…….and wonderfully PSB. I love this track undeniably. That voice! That bass line….that magical quality…..this is wonderful.

Leaving [Believe In PSB Remix]—-Swirls of an almost Soundtrack quality introduce the track that fall away quickly to a deep house dance floor beat. This version begs you to hit the dance floor and become sweaty and trace dance with the magical synth lines….it is so easy to fall into the trance of the vocal delivery. This is magical. I love the breaks and the airy sound of the mix. Quality!

Leaving [Side By Side Mix]—-This offers a much more sonic feel to the song that is obviously designed for DJ mixing and club play….there is nothing new here…except the breaks that allow for extension…..we all have this already.

Leaving [Freedom Remix]—-This is a much. much, much better remix. The galloping beats and the synth sounds that dance from speaker to speaker are fantastic. The Lowe sound replicates an almost Moroder feel to the song that almost makes you wait for Donna to start singing. This takes a track and escalates it to a level that is historic. By far my favorite…this is magical!

Memory Of The Future [New Single Mix]—-What I really like about this remix is that it begins with the chorus in your brain….so it is already laid in there…that magical quality. Even though Tennant delivers the chorus in ‘real time’ it is already in place…..this is brilliant. I have developed a new affection for this track.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

 

 

Monaco / Music For Pleasure

Music for Pleasure

Monaco was a side project of New Order bassist Peter Hook. Together with David Potts, the only remaining member of Revenge, the band was formed in 1995. The group is best known for the 1997 single “What Do You Want From Me?” and the album from which it was taken, Music for Pleasure, which sold over half a million copies. Hook and Potts currently perform together in Peter Hook and The Light.

The Analysis—-

What Do You Want From Me?—-Of course, I have to admit that the entire reason I fell in love with this band was because it sounded like New Order. There was nothing new from the band and I took it as a substitute. But after numerous listens, you realize the genius of the band…the vocal harmonies, the incredible contagious hooks. The bass is there of course…but the pop fundamentals are incredible…this is a brilliant track…fitting in with the Brit-pop crowd with no problem.

Shine—-Literally, still after all of this time….this song still takes my breath away. At the time this was released….things going on in my life..I felt this track was written just for me. The Hook bass line is present but understated at times…the synth line is magical…the vocal a near Bernard copycat…this still can make me tear up…this is a magical moment for me. The emotional vocal delivery tears my heart out…wow!

Sweet Lips—-The intro to the track is an airy Dance Floor stomper complete with a female singer in the back drop taking things to an even higher level. The unity of voices come together to make it a quasi Gospel stomp through feel good dance floor music. Hook gives the baritone vocal while Potts keeps things light with his magical voice…and then it all comes together to make it a joyous  ‘Come To Jesus’ track that still makes me smile.

Buzz Gum—-The intro to the song sounds like a soundtrack and then becomes a huge Oasis sounding track that somehow manages to still give me goosebumps. The wall of sound is incredible..the Brit pop sound is in place…the feel of the 90’s is everywhere. This is the best song Oasis never sang. The instrumentation is fantastic…Potts sounds so comfortable…this is just wonderful. My God when that trumpet plays at the end…..I’m done!

Blue—-Incredibly beautiful strings open the track…followed by a miraculous lonely vocal from Potts that seems to dig right into my soul. The huge swells of music are just incredible…I sit back and wonder what history would have looked like if New Order had recorded these songs…it would have been historic. This is the saddest and most uplifting track I have heard in years…it reeks of emotion….sadness and the positive. Just a miracle.

Junk—-Not a favorite track of mine, but it fits on this release like a glove. When the synth line kicks in it gives the song a sense of purpose and you feel a bit energized. Hook and his bass line are always there…even if underneath everything that is going on. This is fantastic…I take back my earlier words. Hook has a way of playing bass like few have ever have….the melody is all formed by the deep tones…just incredible.

Billy Bones—-Introducing a slight Ambient sound, the track begins quite airy and atmospheric. Hook enters with his bass line and the Potts delivers a forlorn vocal that brings sadness and desperation to your ears. This is wonderful…placed in just the right spot to make you step back and think about things. I love this.

Happy Jack—–Easy guitar and an addictive bass line come together to produce everything that New Order were not at the time. Potts opens up his mouth and gives his best spot on Gallagher impersonation. For me, I wonder, why was this release not huge? This is a genius of an album. The melody line on this song is as brilliant as anything that was being produced at the time.

Tender—–A bit odd for me….the intro to the song did not catch at first…then the female vocal began and made me think of the other off-shoot band….The Other Two…..lol…always making comparisons right? This is pleasant…I like the feel of it…but it is not a song I turn to on a regular basis.

Sedona—-Swells of music, and the release ends as magically as it began. You can feel the anticipation building as you hear the track forming with the addition of sounds hear and there….when you get those first Hook strings you feel comfortable. The track becomes alive and makes me joyous once again….just in the literal happiness of the feel of the music. A magnificent end to a very over looked release.

*****out of 5

 

 

 

The Shamen / En-Tact

En-Tact

The Shamen (/ˈʃmɛn/SHAY-men) were a Scottish electronic dance music band, formed in 1986 in Aberdeen. The founding members are Colin Angus (born 24 August 1961), Derek McKenzie (born 27 February 1964) and Keith McKenzie (born 30 August 1961). Peter Stephenson (born 1 March 1962) joined shortly after to take over on keyboards from Angus. Several other people were later in the band. Angus then teamed up with Will Sinnott, and together they found credibility as pioneers of rock/dance crossover.

En-Tact is an album by The Shamen, released in 1990. It was the first Shamen album to feature Mr C, and the last to feature Will Sinnott (who died on 23 May 1991). It fused the band’s past psychedelic rock sounds with the rave act it became, developing a style that represented multicultural dance music.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Analysis—-

Human NRG—-This band, long forgotten by many I’m sure, still finds it’s way to my turntable on a regular basis. The hyper kinetic sound and the addictive electronic melodies were huge for during the burgeoning early House Music days….I fell in love from the first listen and have never left since…even though later material became much more ambient in nature. This track…with the high keyboard tones, the melodic vocal and the understated but hypnotic beats were trademark….classic stuff…it still plays well today.

Progen [Land Of Oz]—-Most people will immediately recognize this track as Move Any Mountain…a huge underground dance hit in the early 90’s. This is hyper kinetic…fast but with a vocal that addictive as hell. The MC that was added gives the band a depth that was missing…this is an incredible song…a footprint in musical history. I love looking back. This laid the framework for bands like Blackbox and C+C Music Factory.

Possible Worlds—-Using a brilliant vocoder before people even knew what one was, this is fantastic. With a slight ambient beat going on underneath the synth line, this is a nice cool-down track for the after party…combining dance and a chill atmosphere the title of the song says it all.

Omega Amigo—-Expanding on the quasi-ambient feel, the track opens with nice synths and a slow pace..but becomes a track that is a favorite of mine. The bass line provides a perfect trance dance rhythm that sucks me in. The vocal is just OK for me…almost too pretty for the song…but it is the music that is the star of the show. There are slight 80’s leanings to the voice that i like…this was a magical time….

Hyperreal—-Really an ambient and airy feel, the song denies the title…lol. This is perfect for those after long night parties at the crib. The vocal is much nicer on this track,,,you fall right into the trace like delivery. This release…in it’s entirety….was truly a masterpiece for the youth of the 90’s who were raving and dropping in…..still fantastic.

Lightspan—-You can almost feel the huge strobe lights and sweaty crowds as this track begins. The staccato vocal is perfect for dancing by yourself like no one cares. I love this…the ability of a band this early in the 90’s to deliver such magnificent technology is awesome. The sound and vocal snippets are perfect for mixing in and out of….just brilliant.

Make It Mine V2.5—-Yet another classic track is you ever perused the dance floors of the early 90’s, this has every fantastic element of The Shaman included on one track. The music…at times can almost come across as angry and ugly…the vocal is literally fantastic…it just seems to float over my head….a brilliant moment in music history.

 

Oxygen Restriction—-With a classic and familiar bass beat at the intro of the track, you have heard it 1000’s of times repeated on rap tracks. The song as a whole is a bit to airy and full f space for me…I was never a true ambient fan…none the less, the song placement is perfect on the record…giving you the needed variety. Really Nice!!

Evil Is Even—-A bit to spacey for my taste, the form of the song takes a very long time to appear and never really becomes much more than a wall of sound and repetitive effects….a downer for me…just not my cup of tea. The quasi African sounds are interesting….but the repetitive nature of the song continues FOREVER!!!

Human NRG [Massey]—-Not differing in a dramatic form from the original, the vocal seems much clearer but the beats sound a bit more muddled. The high tones of the synth with the slight reverb make the track a spacey kind of ordeal..I love the air that magically flows through the underbelly of the song.

Make It Mine V1.3 [Pirate Radio]—-The intro to this remix seems more updated and appealing to the ‘straight’ club crowd that was loving C+C Music Factory and classic New Order at the time. This is a long extended musical version that goes on for a very long time…with just snips of the vocal here and there…a DJ’s dream I suppose…making mixing in and out a bit easier.

Oxygen Reprise V2.0—-Not a noticeable difference in this version. I like the ‘rolling’ synth lines that appear in between the vocal…the hyper beats that play in the background but never take over the song. The vocal seems more sedate….this is preferable over the original actually.

Hear Me O My People [Orbital-Expect Delays]—-Brilliant…..the vocal snippets combined with the static synth lines is just magnificent. I love this track….really forgetting that it was on this release. The track is a huge epic sort that has all of these underlying messages of Apartheid and the urgency of freedom fighters…this is a magnificent track…the message was clear.

****3/4 out of 5

 

 

Martha Wash / Something Good

Something Good

Martha Wash (born December 23, 1953) is an American singer-songwriter. Known for her distinctive and powerful voice, Wash first achieved fame as one half of the successful act Two Tons O’ Fun who sang backing for American disco singer Sylvester. After gaining their own record deal, they released three consecutive commercially successful songs which all peaked at number 2 in the dance charts. The duo was renamed The Weather Girls in 1982 after they released the multi-platinum single “It’s Raining Men“, which brought the band to mainstream pop attention.

After the disbanding in 1985, Wash made a successful transition into house music as a featured artist on several successful songs. Her success on BillboardDance chart has earned her the honorific title The Queen of Clubland, with a total of twelve number-one songs on the chart to date.

Wash is also noted for spurring legislation in the 1990s that made vocal credits mandatory on CDs and music videos after being denied proper credit and royalties for the platinum-selling number one song “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” after she had been labeled “unmarketable” due to her weight. In December 2016, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 58th most successful dance artist of all-time.

In January 2013, Wash released her second studio album Something Good. The album’s second single “It’s My Time” was written by Swedish singer-songwriter Helena Johansson. In March 2013, she was a special guest for the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus during their spring production “Big Gay Sing 6: Club Night Out”. In 2014, the album’s final single “I’m Not Coming Down” peaked at number two on the Dance chart.

The Analysis—-

Alright—-Even if you are not familiar with the name Martha Wash, if you have ever listened to current or 90’s dance music you know the voice. This song…is literally fantastic. Wash sounds ageless and delivers a fantastic positive message with her music. This is less dance and more mainstream, but the strength of the vocal and the addictive chorus makes it spectacular.

Destiny—-Such a brilliant vocal mastery from Martha. This is a bit deeper and more comfortable in range…but the power is still very apparent. The chorus…once again is the magic that draws you in and makes you stay for the rest of it. This is addictive as hell…delivered with practice and power. A brilliant and powerful message.

I’m Not Coming Down—-Such a gentle introduction, Wash shows a vulnerability in her vocal and lyric. The song becomes more peppy and reminds me of a David Archuleta song. This is addictive as hell…Wash maintains a comfortable Alto vocal…but the energy that flows underneath of the song is wonderful. I love this

It’s My Time—-Full of such atmosphere and emotion, the beats are not huge…the groove is missing…..but the emotion and the feeling coming out of this woman is extraordinary. I listen to the lyrics…combined with the voice and it inspires me and makes me NEED to forge on. The power of the song is driven by the voice and the message. This is just wonderful….Wash is a true legend.

I’ve Got You—-A wonderfully large arrangement of piano and strings, this track just screams emotion. Again, the lyrical message of the song is so uplifting and positive….delivered by a powerful vocal….This is wonderful. If you are looking for a dance record…try the first release…this is introspective and meant to inspire…and it does. And that voice…it is like a favorite blanket on a cold winter day.

Proud—-Stripped bare with an almost naked feel…the vocal is so present and filled with emotion. This has a wonderful melody line that becomes addictive as well as positive. This is remarkable…Martha delivers such inspiring messages…if you feel down…put this record on and you will feel better. Man, I would love to hear this woman sing in Church….the song needs no effects or beats….just the powerhouse voice of Martha.

Dream On—-How magical that Wash tackles the Aerosmith classic. The song…in feeling….fits in perfectly with the entire positive vibe of the record. The fact that this is a Tyler song does not inhibit the Master from making it her own…and indeed she does. This is a brilliant cover….Martha displays such a strong vocal…this is just fantastic.

Something Good—-Just brilliant…right from the first note. Wash phrases her words around the music and it becomes a magical wall of pure joy. I feel so uplifted listening to this. I love the tone of the voice…the music never over powers….and the purity of it all touches my soul and makes me want to dance with happiness. I really love this record.

*****out of 5