| I'm inevitably the only person 'round these parts who feels this way, but this is stunning. Discovered thanks to Andy's Walter "Cockroach" Bradley - Back to Mine mix, "One Love" is an aces mid-'80s track, to my ears almost more R&B than hip-hop in that while it's based around a simple synth bassline and some Linn drum handclaps, what sucks me in are the icy-cool keyboard stabs. They're nothing like the icier-than-Jeezy-ness of Cameo's "She's Strange," but the song's part of the (musical) family tree, maybe a second cousin. The lyrics are some of Whodini's best, up there with "Friends," too. Perhaps it's time for a critical re-revaluation of the 2nd- or 3rd-best hip-hop trio of the '80s (behind Run-DMC and S-N-P, I mean)?
George Michael, unlike his putative idol Stevie Wonder, is not known for producing other artists. He made an exception for his bass player Deon Estus, co-writing a Top Five pop and Number Three R&B in 1989 that raises the question: what would Michael have sounded like if he'd courted the Sade market? (or another question: how do you keep the royalties pouring in while recording your anticipated follow-up?) The mild-voiced Estus is a dead ringer for Michael, which no doubt helped his chart chances after Faith had emptied its cache of singles (a milestone which looked increasingly sui generis after 1990's Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 augured a rather morose -- if not moribund -- period). The template for "Heaven Help me" is a languid variance on Faith's "Hard Day": breathy harmonies, electric piano, finger snaps, subtle trumpet. It's sophisti-pop worthy of the great one-offs released two years earlier by the likes of Danny Wilson and Swing Out Sister; it's as if Michael, understanding the dynamics of arranging and producing a good understated ballad, had reconfigured the parts he'd stolen from his chart competition. "Heaven Help Me" could have so aped Cheryl "Pepsii" Riley or, I dunno, Curiosity Killed The Cat (sorry, Thomas).
A genius moment of b-boy band brilliance: Ralph Tresvant's finest vocal ever (so pleading, so desperate); harmonies as creamy as you've ever heard, let alone from these boys-to-men; new boy Johnny Gill chiming in like a preacher's assistant ("woooo!"); a ridiculously clever lyrical conceit, even if it sounds like a so-bad-it-might-just-work pick-up line ("sorry, you're not my kind of girl/'cause you're the kind of girl that a man's dreams are made of"); and THE. MOST. PERFECT. production, and since this was 1988 top-of-the-line R&B, it's of course done by Jimmy "Jam" & Terry Lewis. Absolute perfection. (I know I'm a bit over the moon in my description, here, but I want to ensure that you get what I'm telling you. This is crucial!)
What's the most surprising thing about this new track, available as a (really loud) stream? The false ending? The track, computer-y and minimal without sounding remotely electro? The accent he uses on the phrase "la costra nostra" near the end? All that, but I have to go with his shout-out of Murs, which is actually less of a shout-out than a demand that Murs be heard--Snoop's version of "If skills sold, truth be told/I'd probably be/Lyrically, Talib Kweli."
(Speaking of hot-ass streams, thanks to my man Peter S. Scholtes for showing me Pittsburgh Reggae, which features on-demand, good-sounding streams of a clutch of recent dancehall stuff. Listen to Ras Maisha's "Learn Fi Read" and any/everything on the page affixed with a "DJ Phinesse Refix." Phinesse's homepage has basically no legible info whatsoever, unless you're one of those numbers-stations fanatics, but does contain an absolutely atomic Baltimore club mix.) Anyone with more info on this guy should throw something in the comments box.)
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Going on the production work alone, the freeze pitched by "Long Way 2 Go" isn't quite as deep as that of "Me and U." It has a rapid and slightly chirpy keyboard vamp that persistently retraces its steps and regenerates, as well as extended swirls of synthesizer that were possibly learned from Kelis' "Young, Fresh and New." It's also relatively upbeat. Lyrically, it's a flippant dismissal, the opposite of "Me & U." I see Cassie lowering the boom by cellphone as she eyes a display of designer shoes. The hopeless suitor on the other end probably zeroes in on "You gotta long way to go" ("That doesn't sound like a 'No' to me!") instead of everything else. He's dealing with someone who is playing next-to-impossible to get, and even if he does eventually get her, her friends will knowingly chuckle at him when they cross paths. Is the pursuit worth the potential -- make that probable -- embarrassment? Quite possibly.
[Note: Any MP3 related activity on my part will be taking place on the now-settled Boom Ping Ping. A fair amount of the coverage thus far has been Back and Forth-friendly.]
Originally I was going to send this mix on a cassette to Cuba to Fidel Castro's hospital room with a get well card and some potato chips, but thought twice after figuring out postage...and then by the time it gets through customs...well...yknow...
I don't have Castro's email address, he's not checking his myspace account and his AOLIM screen name is no longer working so instead I'll just post it here and hope he does a google search on "GET WELL FIDEL CASTRO" and finds this surprise.
This mix is best for sitting on your porch in the evening with something cold to drink. Y'all.
Once again, a nod of the cap to Lee at Blagspot for all of his generous hosting hospitality.
i dunno about where you live, but man it's hot out. spine crushing hot. this not only has led to a decrease in activity, but also the speed with which said activity commences. i sit online drinking water. i read articles. i'm sure dementia will set in any second now.
but before it does, i attempted half heartedly to make a mix. it contains several of the songs Sir Kellman (D-MI) [more like anti-American Zinnist commie wussbag, as he has been called -- ed.] has been praising (look for them to show up being praised in another magazine soon!) in recent postings.
it's a mini mix. only 22MB of goodness at 128. apologies for some of the crummy transitions. this was originally to be for my ears only, but i figured maybe someone else could get a good walk out of it.