Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's All 'Appenning

From next weekend, I'm going to "mothball" this blog (I hope I have the terminology right) to concentrate on doing some other things. Such as contributing to Stuck Records, and to do some proper jobs for a bit. Expect a few more posts including the rest of the R'nB Girls posts by the weekend (I knew I wouldn't manage a post a day for two weeks!), and see you about.

Corrections and Clarifications

"Control" is Janet Jackson's third album, not her second. Her first was "Janet Jackson" (1982), and her second was "Dream Street" in 1984.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Tweet, tweet...

You can now follow my tweets by following the link below...

Pop Thought For The Day

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tweet "Southern Hummingbird" (2002)

Released: May 2002
Label: The Goldmine Inc./ Elektra
Produced by: Nisan, Jubu, Craig Brockman, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Timbaland and Charlene “Tweet” Keys
Highest UK Chart Position: 15

1. So Much To Say (Intro)
2. My Place
3. Smoking Cigarettes
4. Best Friend
5. Always Will
6. Boogie 2Nite
7. Oops (Oh My)
8. Make Ur Move
9. Motel
10. Beautiful
11. Complain
12. Heaven
13. Call Me
14. Drunk
15. Southern Hummingbird (Outro)

This follows on from the late night soul of Janet Jackson’s “Lonely” and the gentler corners of Anita Baker’s “Rapture”. “Southern Hummingbird” is a seriously laid-back record. It might seem odd to draw comparisons between it and the Blue Nile, but listening to things like “Always Will” and “Beautiful”, I’m always reminded of the Blue Nile’s “Hats” album: both are sparse and electronic, snail-paced at times, frequently moving and naggingly catchy. It sounds great at the dead of a particularly balmy night in the summertime. Sometimes it’s so quiet you could almost hear a pin drop while it’s playing. Call it a weird synaesthesia or leap on my part, but while listening to “Southern Hummingbird” I picture traffic lights changing on deserted city streets at 4am. Even the most uptempo, dancey track here – “Boogie 2nite” which, brilliantly, was covered by Booty Luv – has a lazy loping groove. “Oops (Oh My)” was the lead single – a brave record (alluding to female masturbation) which made the Top 10 in the summer of 2002. The best tracks here are to be found on what I suppose they used to call side two. “Motel”, “Beautiful”, “Heaven”, “Drunk” and even the slightly more danceable “Call Me” are all ambient r’n’b wonders. The overall effect is to lead the listener into a world which you can really feel lost in. This sort of restrained, modern, post-electro, post-millennial soul represents the most forward looking pop of our time. Equal effort seems to be spread between writing cracking witty lyrics, dreaming up lovely melodies and building sound collages to rival those of Brians Wilson and Eno. “Southern Hummingbird” is certainly one of the ten best albums I’ve heard this decade. Such a simple album, so unfussy, so addictive and beautiful. The five mp3s I post here are all great but there are a lot more where they came from here, so I urge you to buy this album. Seriously.

Tomorrow: Diana Ross "diana"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Anita Baker "Rapture" (1986)

Released: April 1986
Label: Elektra
Produced by: Anita Baker and Michael J. Powell
Highest UK Chart Position: 13

1. Sweet Love
2. You Bring Me Joy
3. Caught Up In The Rapture
4. Been So Long
5. Mystery
6. No One In The World
7. Same Ole Love
8. Watch Your Step

Of the records I intend to put up over the next two weeks, this one strays deepest into big, gospelly, belting-voice territory. I don’t know how much influence “executive producer” Anita Baker had over the sound of this record, but with the aid of Michael J. Powell, she cut this unsurpassable album in 1986 (her second album, her debut was released to great acclaim in 1983). Anita Baker is a proper singer if you know what I mean. She does astonishing things with her voice here. In fact “Rapture” is the sort of record you hope Leona Lewis or Alexandra Burke might make one day. Baker’s voice reminds me of Mary J. Blige at times, but is richer still. Let’s cut to the chase: the Voice is the main attraction here. The songs are usually amazing too. “Sweet Love” (probably the best thing here in fairness) is still a staple of daytime radio and VH1 Classic. Anita co-wrote that one too (she also wrote “”Been So Long” and “Watch Your Step”). Eleven songwriters are credited on the album in total, including Rod Temperton of Heatwave and “Thriller” fame, who offers “Mystery” - one of this album’s highlights. “Caught Up In The Rapture” was a sizeable hit too, and sounds a bit like something Steely Dan might do when they’re feeling poppy (think Rosie Vela’s “Zazu” album). It’s easy to imagine (Steely Dan backing vocalist and Doobie Brother) Michael McDonald singing most of the songs here actually. Anita has had one of those “long and distinguished” careers which hasn’t furnished her with many hits, so she’s often thought of as a one-hit wonder by people on the eastern side of the Atlantic. She had a minor hit with “Giving You The Best That I Got” in 1988 and that was great too, but she’ll probably be best remembered for, even become synonymous with, “Rapture”, a record which oozes adult sophistication. It’s like the soul equivalent of reggae’s “lovers rock”. I’d describe it as “music to hump to” if that didn’t sound so ghastly. Besides this music doesn’t deserve to be backgrounded, you’ll want to lose yourself in its lusciousness. Get caught up in the rapture, indeed.

Tomorrow: Tweet "Southern Hummingbird"