Monday, December 21, 1998

Single Reviews - December 21, 1998

December 21, 1998

Billie - "She Wants You" - Innocent/Virgin UK CD-5
This is Billie Piper's latest single from "Honey To The B", just in time for the Holiday rush....I really like it! Classic pop song structure and a very catchy melody line and chorus. 

CD 1 comes with two cover version B-sides: "It Takes Two" and Wham!'s "Last Christmas". The former is not too bad, but nothing special. However, "Last Christmas" is a really nice number. Very good production and vocals from Billie. It might be even more enjoyable than the original!

CD 2 features remixes from Erick Morillo and Cevin Fisher. With "Because We Want To" and "Girlfriend" getting UK progressive styled mixes from Tall Paul and Tin Tin Out respectively, it's a welcome change to get some remixers from New York. Erick Morillo's mix is pretty standard house fare, nothing really exciting. Though he does use almost the whole vocal, which I always like. Cevin Fisher's version is more of a dub. Not too much of the original vocal track, just little samples here and there. I'm hoping to get a copy of the vinyl 12". It has the Erick Morillo dub, which will hopefully be more exciting as well as a new remix from the Sharp Boys.

Tom and Joyce - "Vai Minha Tristeza" - Yellow Records 12"
Delicious new Brazilian vocal track from Thomas Naim and Joyce Hoze. Original and acoustic mixes on the first side, with the B-side having a slightly different interpretation: "Bob's Le Mix", from Bob Sinclar. This one uses a different Housy drum pattern and has nice keys from Cutee B, who you've probably heard on Dimitri From Paris' productions. A Must-have!

Fat Joe - "Bet Ya Man Can't" - Big Beat/Atlantic 12"
The latest from "Don Cartagena" features Big Pun, Cuban Link and Triple Seis in a catchy jam that is very similar to "still not a player". Recommended party track.....

Nick Holder - "Retrospective EP" - DNH Records 12"
One of Nick's most recent releases, and one of his best! The A-side track, "Da Sambafrique" is an instant jazz-house classic. Great keyboard and sax loops. Beautiful! I only wish that it was much longer.... The B-side has a more mellow house vibe, called "Feelin' Sad" Bonus beats for each track round off the 12" package.

Friday, November 20, 1998

Single Reviews - November 20, 1998

November 20, 1998

Billie - "Girlfriend" - Virgin UK 12"
The newest teen singer from the UK drops her newest single. "Girlfriend" is a nice R&B/pop confection produced by Cutfather and Joe. It's a more mellow vibe than her first single, "Because We Want To". Remixes are from Tin Tin Out, which reworks the track into the progressive UK dance style, and D Influence, who does a stellar job mixing old breakbeats and melody lines from "Too Close" by Next and "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club for the music background. A nice party starter. The 12" also features "Love Groove," a track taken from her debut album "Honey to the B".

Mass Syndicate featuring Su Su Bobien - "You Don't Know" - Strictly Rhythm 12"
Everyone who loves good house music should have at least heard this gospel stormer by now..."You Don't know what you did to me...Did toooo Meeeeee...." Produced by Sandro Russo and Andreino from Italy, this song is one of the best vocal house tracks I've heard in a long time...irresistible chorus and that piano! Go out and buy this record now!

Will Smith - "Miami" - Columbia EU 12"
Big Willie's new track is yet another rap lite party jam. In its original version (which strangely is not available on this 12"), "Miami" is a funky Trackmasterz production which owes it's catchiness to the use of The Whispers' "And The Beat Goes On" sample. However, this 12" features a bunch of new versions, which are more in a dance groove. The credits make the "Miami Mix" appear to be the album version. However, it is actually a remix by and featuring Miami Sound Machine. Snippets of "Conga" are even used in the mix. 

The other two mixes are by Jason Nevins, who does a surprisingly good job. The "Live at 54 Mix" turns the song into a disco hip house reworking. The "Live On South Beach Dub" is a sweaty latin tribal fiesta. I really like that mix. Quite entertaining versions, even though I usually don't like Jason Nevins' remixes. Very nice pressing on 45 RPM, too. I just wish the original mix was on there. Maybe they'll issue it on the US pressing.

All Saints - The Remix Album - London CD
Just in time for the Christmas season, we have a new All Saints CD. It's not a new album, but a remix album. A very good remix album at that. Mixed by the legendary Pete Tong (BBC1's "Essential Mix"), the CD features remixes that were only previously available on promo 12" and limited edition CD singles. All of their hits are available here in multiple versions: I Know Where It's At, Never Ever, Bootie Call, Under The Bridge, Lady Marmalade....remixes are by Ignorantz, Charles "Mixologist" Roane (erroneously miscredited to someone else), Dreem Team, Club Asylum, Ganja Kru and more! The drum and bass reworking of "War of Nerves" and Dreem Team's rejigging of "Bootie Call" are especially good. And it's only $10.99 at Sam the Record Man! Worth a listen, even if you aren't a fan....

Red Snapper - "Image Of You" - Warp UK 12"
I don't really like the A-side remixes of this song....Shut Up and Dance deliver a very boring and listless version....I really don't want to dance until the BPMs are increased a lot faster....Rae and Christian's mix is ok, but I really like the Salt City Orchestra Vocal, which is their usual dark, deep house style...

Stetsasonic - "Talkin' All That Jazz" - Tommy Boy UK 12"
The first remix for the new Tommy Boy Greatest Beats compilation in the UK. The US remixes have released "Jump Around" instead....Dimitri from Paris is the man chosen to redo this hip hop classic. He does not disappoint..."Dim's Respect For The Old School" takes the original rap and builds a ten minute disco symphony around it...Stellar work....The B-side features the original and a beats and breaks edit of the Dimitri mix by Torti...yummy.

Scott Grooves featuring Parliament/Funkadelic - Mothership Reconnection - Soma Records UK 12"
This track takes samples from a live recording of "Mothership Connection", loops them around and adds a live drummer and a disco house arrangeement. Devastatingly good! The B-Side has an incredible remix by Daft Punk. Killer....

Indo - "Are You Sleeping" (Bump and Flex Mixes) - Azuli 12" Test Pressing
The classic Hula/K. Fingers production gets yet another slab of vinyl remixes...this time courtesy of Bump and Flex. While the original cannot be topped, some nice 2-step style remixes are here. I prefer the mix with the vocal, which is on the side with printing. The flip is just the same, but without the main vocal, which makes it a lot less interesting.

Jhelisa - "Friendly Pressure" - Dorado 12"
One of the soul-jazz singer's most popular tracks gets a rerelease for 1998. This time, it features speed garage and 2-Step remixes from Sunship. Don't sleep on this jam! It's big in the UK, especially with people like Tuff Jam. However, hardly any copies seem to have made their way over the ocean...pick it up if you find it!

Monday, October 19, 1998

Single Reviews - October 19, 1998

October 19, 1998
This time round...remixes of R&B Tracks...

Monica - The First Night - Arista UK 12"
The North American hit smash finally gets a UK release! On the a-side are the original mix and the remix from JD. Both are solid. It's the flip that has the club mixes to check out. Arista UK has gotten Gary Booker, aka Booker T to do the remix duties. While the main vocal remix isn't the best that Booker T has done, it's still nice. It has the classic vocal house/garage flavour that you get with his mixes. The only fault is that the vocals sound slightly off-key with the music. The Booker T dub is also good. Thank goodness that they didn't release the Razor and Guido remixes on this pressing. Let's hope whoever is in charge of BMG's dance department realizes that R-n-G are not a good choice for dance it still Vince DeGeorgio?

All Saints - Bootie Call - London UK CD-single
This is the two track CD single released for Bootie Call, not the two part maxi-CD release reviewed earlier. If I could turn back time, I would have just waited for this version to buy. It has the radio mix of Bootie Call, plus has the Club Asylum "Skank" Vocal Mix, which is much better than the remix available on the other versions. I just wish that the Club Asylum Dub was included on this release as well.

Cleopatra - Life Ain't Easy - Maverick/Warner 12"
This is the second single from England's teen sensations Cleopatra. It's a strong followup to their first single, "Cleopatra's Theme", which had a funky new US remix. This time around, the label has decided to just release all the original UK remixes. On the vinyl release, remixes are from Direktorz, Artful Dodger, Booker T and Full Crew (though this mix isn't credited anywhere at all on the sleeve.) The Direktorz give the song a more summery, laid back feel, emphasizing the gospel style vocal. It actually reminds me of Steve Silk Hurley's "Old Skool" R&B mixes that he did for Ce Ce Peniston, Chantay Savage and Janet Jackson. Full Crew aim for a more jumping party mix, sampling from The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back". Artful Dodger and Booker T deliver solid house mixes on the flip side. I like Booker T's mix more, but the 12" is a solid package of music.

Kenny Lattimore - "Days Like This" - Columbia 12" Promo
One of the best soul singers this decade returns with a brand new track! "Days Like This" is a limited promo-only release which features remixes from Masters At Work and M'Du. MAW turns in two different reworkings of the song. The "Lattimaw Soul House Mix" has a smooth house groove with a nice bassline and great vocals from Kenny. The "Nuyorican Soul" mix delivers their trademark sycopated beats and rhythms. On the flip, M'Du slows it down for an older house feel, with heavily sampled vocals in the intro. Both sides seem to sound like new and separate productions of the track, as the vocals are quite different. Strongly recommended that those who love vocal house get this record. It's not going to be in the stores for long!

Faith Evans - "Love Like This" - Bad Boy 12" Promo
This is the first single off her new album, "Keep The Faith". It's a good taste of what's to come. While the music relies on Puffy's trademark use of familiar songs - this time it's "Chic Cheer" by Chic - at least this time they've chosen a song that people don't know as well. Faith gives a nice vocal delivery that distinguishes this release from other cookie-cutter R&B releases. Plus it's irresistably catchy. They will inevitably release a remix, but I think the original will be hard to top.

Mya with special guest Sisqo - It's All About Me (Club Remixes) - Interscope/University 12" Promo
My first introduction to Mya was the horrific "Ghetto Supastar" song that was inexplicably popular (and still is) in clubs. I couldn't take the irritating chorus, and I thought Mya's voice was way too shrill. However, this release has gotten me interested in her singing again. While I didn't really pay attention to the original slow jam version, the release of additional promo only mixes for the clubs made me check them out. I enjoy hearing how R&B songs are remixed into house/garage/dance anthems, and usually most of them are lacking, but this was a pleasant surprise. The main remix was done by Hula (from Hula and K. Fingers/Outhere Brothers/Indo- "Are You Sleeping" fame). It's a good dance mix with some nice garage flavour. It also has some hints of beats from the Todd Terry/EBTG "Missing" remix. I think record companies should get Hula to do some more remixes rather than say Junior Vasquez. No one needs that much drama and cheese in a song. The B-side features a Mijangos remix that is alright, but leaves out most of the vocals. It makes you think it's going to be a speed garage-type mix with this majorly time stretched vocal snippet from Sisqo, but then lets you down. There's also a decent booty mix from some guy named "Slammin' Sam".

Linda Clifford - Runaway Love - Curtom 12" Promo
While I already have the Masters At Work remix/re-edit on the "Everybody Dance" compilation, I finally found a copy of the original 12" for 50 cents in a used shop. It was a true find. I prefer the original version more than the remix. Nine minutes and forty-four seconds of sweetness. I love the horns in the song.

Janet Jackson - Go Deep (R&B Mixes) - Virgin 12" Promo
Janet Jackson - Go Deep (Club Mixes) - Virgin 2x12" Promo

I've had these records for quite a while now (since July) but they've been playing non stop since then! I was overjoyed when I found out that my favourite song off "The Velvet Rope" would be released as a single and remixed by Masters At Work, Teddy Riley, Timbaland, Missy Elliott and Roni Size no less! The original mix has great production from Jam and Lewis and the most infectious groove I've ever heard! I've listened to the song hundreds of times and it still makes me move! Other songs I listen for a couple of times over and I already can't stand them. Timbaland and Missy give the song their own sound and a new chorus as well! Teddy delivers a solid groove with a heavy bass. It's a bit too slow, though. Pitch it up to at least +2. Roni Size's version had me going "What?!" when I first heard it as he has tweaked the vocals to make it sound off. I didn't like it at first, but listening to it repeatedly has gotten me into it. Plus, it has a hilarious phone conversation in the middle of it! 

The best mixes in the remix pack come from Masters At Work. The House mix is absolutely beautiful, with a flute solo. The "Deep Disco Dub" is the mix I always play, but others seem to like the "Spiritual Flute Dub", which is mostly instrumental. There is also a solid downtempo mix from MAW. If you want the original, there is also an extended mix thrown into the double pack. One of my favourite releases this year! I'm not exactly sure if this was commercially released in the US or not, as I've only seen US vinyl promos while it is available readily on CD here in Canada domestically and on import from the UK.

Monica - The First Night (Razor and Guido Remixes) - Arista 12" Promo
Eccch. The massacre of a classic. Razor and Guido demolish what was an irresistable R&B gem. Now, it's all cheesy synths and sirens, total production overkill. Will Arista never learn? Get someone else to remix the R&B jams into House/Dance tracks. Even I could do a better job than that, and I don't have any formal music production experience! Ghastly remix. Let's hope this stays as a promo. Though it's a shame how much vinyl was wasted on that...

Tuesday, September 1, 1998

Single Reviews - September 1998

September 1998

Melanie B featuring Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot - "I Want You Back" - Virgin UK 12"
Well, well, well! The duet between the Spice Girl and Missy has finally been released! I was wondering what kind of affair would result of their collabo, and it sure is interesting! In it's original form, "I want you back" is a straightforward R&B jam with the trademark Missy/Timbaland sound. For the club crowd, the track has been remixed by the legendary Masters At Work. The MAW Remix is a nice piano house affair, with the vocals time stretched to half their tempo. It sounds very off kilter at first, especially since I was used to the album mix, but it does grow on you after a few listens. Not necessarily the best mix MAW has done due to the limitations of the vocal track. I'd love to have seen them reproduce the whole thing for the remix. The Deep Dub uses mostly Missy's adlibs and a brief bit of Mel B's voice.

4 Hero - Starchasers - Talkin' Loud/Reinforced 12"
One of the best tracks on the 4 Hero album is now remixed by Photek, 4 Hero and Masters At Work. No review necessary. The MAW mix is the one to go for.

Deep Dish with EBTG - The Future of The Future (Stay Gold) - Arista/DeConstruction 2x12" Promo
A classic track from Deep Dish is rereleased on their new album "Junk Science" with new vocals and melody from Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt from Everything But The Girl. An already amazing song is made even better! The double pack contains the full length version plus a new Deep Dish remix. David Morales also contributes his talents with a "Classic Club Mix" that keeps only the vocal from Tracey. It's great to see Dave back in fine form. Radio-friendly edits are also included. A definite must-get.

All Saints - Bootie Call - London CD-5
This is the latest track in the UK from All Saints. There are two CDs available. The first has two versions of Bootie Call, and a unreleased B-side. The second features a video of Bootie Call, the single version, plus the -unreleased on CD- Booker T remix of "Never Ever", and (inexplicably) the album version of "I Know Where It's At", Doesn't everyone who likes the group already have that song? Anyways, the remixes of Bootie Call are nothing to get excited about, since they were all done by the people who did the original production. I don't understand why they didn't put the Club Asylum house mixes on the CD. As far as I know, they're only available on Vinyl and Pete Tong's Essential Selection Summer 98 CD. If you don't have the Booker T Vocal remix of "Never Ever" on vinyl, pick it up on this CD. It's great, and the US Vinyl copy only had the Booker T dubs. A somewhat disappointing release (due to the lack of proper remixes).

Spacedust - Music Sounds Good With You - 12"
Starburst - Gin & Tonic - 12"
Ugh. Utterly repellent rip-offs of "Music Sounds Better With You" and Bob Sinclar's "Gym Tonic". Don't waste your money. Get the originals instead.

Sunday, July 5, 1998

Single Reviews - July 5, 1998

Sunday July 05 1998 - 1:53:11 AM

Ultra Nate - Found A Cure (REMIXES II) - Strictly Rhythm Double 12"
Here comes two more platters of vinyl with remixes of Ms. Nate's latest smash. This time around, the mixes are provided by Club 69, Mood II Swing, Steven Nikolas and Albert "Rascal" Cabrera. The label misleadingly implies that there's a new mix from Masters at Work, but it's really just Louie Vega doing effects on The Rascal Dub Edit mix. The best mixes are provided by Mood II Swing. 

The Underground mix has more of a deep, jazzy mood, reminding me of Jamiroquai's "Revolution". You also get Acapellas, with and without guitar. Club 69's Peter Rauhofer reinterprets the track into a harder tribal sound, which is alright. The Hooker Bisquit remix by Steven Nikolas is a bit too euro for my taste. I'm getting tired of those pizzicato strings...overall not bad, stick with the Mood II Swing mixes.

Ce Ce Peniston - Nobody Else - Silk Entertainment 12"
Ce Ce Peniston, one of my favourite singers, is going back to her dance roots with her latest release. Produced by the legendary Steve "Silk" Hurley, this track shows the two back in fine form. Ce Ce gives a strong vocal performance, and the music is centered around a bass loop and simple keyboards. It's not going to be a massive pop hit, but I don't think that was their intention with this song. I'm looking forward to Ce Ce's upcoming album on Steve's label.

Tatyana Ali - Daydreamin' - MJJ Music/Work 12"
Little Ashley from TV's "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" releases her debut single and it's a good one! Produced by Rodney Jerkins, the track is based on the same loop of Steely Dan's "Black Cow" used in "uptown baby" and also features a rap from Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. Fun summertime R&B.

Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You - Roule 12"
This track is one of the hottest house jams right now! It's produced by Thomas Bangalter, who you probably know more from Daft Punk. It's built around a sample from "Fate" by Chaka Khan. Simple and sweet! Apparently this song is extremely difficult to find in England as VC recordings licensed it from Roule for something like $500,000, and is trying to block any copies coming in. They will release it in October from what I've heard. If you see it pick it up! You'll wonder how you lived without grooving to this track!

Sao Paulo - Be Yourself Be Free - Ministry of Sound 12"
Beautiful Jazzy Disco house from the UK. The main track used in this song is "brazilian love affair" by George Duke. Side A has the original mix and the b side features a summery disco reworking by Joey Negro, one of my fave remixers. Dave Lee does it again! There's also a "twisted punk" mix, which is a little Daft Punkish.

Friday, May 22, 1998

Single Reviews - May 22, 1998

Friday May 22 1998 - 12:28:56 AM

Cleopatra - Cleopatra's Theme - Maverick/Warner Promo 12"
I first saw these three girls earlier in the year on the Brit Awards shown on MuchMusic. They were very full of energy and kept shouting "Cleopatra, comin' atcha!!" which I thought was funny and cute. However, I never listened to their song, even when it showed up as a domestic release here in Canada. However, I decided to check it out when I saw it today. The girls have been signed to Madonna's label Maverick in the US. The B-side has the original UK album mix, as well as UK mixes from Brooklyn Funk and D+A. The original mix is the best of the three, poppy R&B style. D+A's mix is not bad, but Brooklyn Funk disappoints with boring beats and rapping that was not necessary. The A-side has the best mixes of the bunch though. The "US Club Mix" reworked by Frankie Anobile and Robert Hathcock spins the track into a west coast jeep anthem. The use of "Cutie Pie" by One Way as the main sample works really well. In the US remix form, it's a fun summer jam.

MAW featuring Louis Salinas - Pienso En Ti (I Think Of You) - MAW Records 12"
Masters at Work are back again with another smoking jazzy house track. Very much like their earlier "You Can Do It (Baby)" which featured George Benson on guitar and scatting, this time it's guitar and scatting with Louis Salinas. The song is very brazilian/latin in flavour. Side A is in the usual NuYorican style, with skittering beats and rhythm. The "Smooth Out House Mix" on the B-side is just that, and the Latin Soul Mix is wicked. If you've heard the NuYorican reworking of "Watching Windows" by Roni Size, you'll notice that this is very similar, with chanting and wild jamming from Luisito Quintero, Carlos Henrique, Gene Perez, Albert Menendez, India and Nelson Gonzalez Sr. and Jr. This is a song you really listen to. Play it for the after hours house vibe, it's obviously not going to go over well in a peak-hours commercial dance/nrg/house set. One musically ignorant person at my local DJ store commented "You have to wear a beret when you listen to this stuff!" WHATEVER, MISS THANG! If you see it, get it!

All Saints - Never Ever (Remixes) - London UK 12"/London US Promo 12"
This is the girls' latest US release. The US copy has the "Rickidy Raw Urban Mix" which is almost no different from the original mix. The All Star mix time compresses the vocals to speed up the tempo of the song, but it's a cool remix. The song finally has some "life" in it, with a funky hip-hop groove. The B-side features dubs from UK's Booker T, but the best mix is "Booker T's Vocal Mix" which has completely new vocal production and has that sweet garage flavour. Unfortunately, that mix is only on the hard-to-find UK 12".