Zapp - "Computer Love"


Most of Zapp and Roger Troutman's output tends to leave me a bit cold; I can only listen to so much vocoder, y'know? But where much of the Troutman catalog succumbs to overkill, "Computer Love" (er, not a Kraftwerk cover) succeeds for the opposite reason: it keeps things simple. For a mid-'80s R&B single made on keyboards and, well, computers (presumably), this is quite a stripped-down single, with plenty of room to breathe. A shuffling beat, some Troutman vocoder (natch) augmentation to the vocal line, and that's about it. To hear it today is refreshing, because of what it's not as much as for what it is.

Beyoncé: cultural theorist


As if Ne-Yo's ego wasn't swollen enough, he goes and writes my favorite Beyonce single by some distance. The thwackety arrangement of "Irreplaceable" is a disappointment, but the star gets a lyric blaringly subtle enough to suit her blaring voice. "I could have another you in a minute/Matter of fact he'll be here in a minute," she shouts in Sean Carter's ear, as if she was singer enough to persuade us she was referring to a fictional lover. This is no "Express Yourself" or Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," dependent upon empowerment platitudes; Beyonce, who evidently saves every receipt, equates independence with the name monogrammed on the handbag. I suppose it's the unmitigated vulgarity of so much contemporary R&B and hip-hop which repulses young music fans, driving them to seek the ascetic pleasures of Wolf Eyes and the Junior Boys; but Beyonce understands the relationship-as-capital-investment model as well as Gang of Four, and her guitar sound is just as noisome.

This post is dedicated to the late Milton Friedman. R.I.P.

(crosslisted with A Grand Illusion)

New Jack Swingin'


Yahoo! Launchcast New Jack Swing station 24/7 OMG OMG! (No I don't work for 'em or anything, i'm just super-excited. This is all I'm listening to at work from now on.)

Gerald Levert, 1966-2006


From HITS Daily Double:

LEVERT PASSES: R&B singer Gerald Levert died today after suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 40. Levert, also known as "G-Bear" to his fans, is featured on Styles P's upcoming album Time Is Money. The soul star was working on a reality show that featured him losing weight along with 12 of his female fans, who lived and trained with Levert for 30 days. Gerald Levert's father Eddie is the lead singer of the O'Jays. Levert scored pop success as a member of the R&B group LeVert and as a member of LSG with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill. He later hit big with singles like "Casanova," "Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop (Goes My Mind)," "Mr. Too Damn Good to You" and others.

Give a spin to LeVert's "Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop" (which I dearly love) or "Casanova" (ditto, both available on their solid Best of), or G's "Private Line" (the title cut from his 1991 solo debut - remarkably, and sadly, there's yet to be a compilation of his solo work), and raise a glass of something smooth in his honor. One of the great soul voices of the '80s and '90s will be sorely missed. R.I.P., Gerald.

(Cross-posted at Oh, Manchester.)