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Life on Mars/Whats the World

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (17 Dec. 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Westside
  • ASIN: B0000258UU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,855 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. A Prophet Named K.G.
  2. Life On Mars
  3. Together Once Again
  4. Stargazer
  5. One Million Miles From The Ground
  6. You Can Be What You Wanna Be
  7. Theme From The Planets
  8. Rings Of Saturn
  9. First Light In The Morning
  10. Dance With Me Tonight
  11. Holdin' On
  12. Ode Infinitum
  13. Disco Lights
  14. What The World Is Coming To
  15. Going Back To Kingston Town
  16. Dreams Of Tomorrow
  17. Prelude #1

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Hi everybody,
This CD is a perfect jazz disco funk music!!!!
I started to listen to Dexter Wansel music because i am
jamiroquai fan and when i bought "Late Nite Tales" cd
which is a compilation of Jay Kay's favourite 70s disco funk tunes, it contained 2 (!!!) songs of dexter wansel -
"Life On Mars" and "I'll Never Forget". I fell in love with this music. So the only place where i found Dexter Wansel cds was www.amazon.co.uk. Today i have received the cd and now i am listening to the tracks... I have such magical feelings - this music is very special for me. There was a very short period in history of music when musicians used rhodes piano, hohner clav, cool oldschool synths like ARP (which sounds soooo fantastic),
cool rhythm section including great 70s drumming style and funky fender bass with compression effect with a lot of octaves, slapping, and amazing live strings and brass!!!!!
besides the tunes are so beautiful - Dexter (he was philadelphia international's director of A&R)
used to produce and write/arrange tracks for many american 70s soul funk disco stars like jacksons, MSFB, The O'Jays and many others.
So this cd and the one called "Voyager/Time Is Slipping Away"
which is also sold on amazon.co.uk is a unique chance to listen to amazing solo work of cool 70s musician Dexter Wansel.
all the best
Ian
Comment 11 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
Both these albums date from the mid seventies, 'Life On Mars' from 1976 and 'What The World Is Coming Too' from 1977. Though neither made much of an impression at the time, due to the popularity of bands such as Jamiroquai and Brand New Heavies the commercial value of 'Jazz Funk' has risen sharply and for fans willing to explore the origins of that genre these are a good place to start. Of principal interest to the 'Jazz Funk crowd' here are 'A Prophet Named K.G, 'Theme From The Planets' and the title track from 'Life On Mars' and 'Ode Infinitum' and the really funky, building 'Disco Lights' from 'What The World Is Coming Too'. Most of the tracks on both albums have a kind of 'spacey vibe' to them in keeping with the 'Life On Mars' theme. There are of course a few (more typical for PIR records) ballads to break things up a little and occasionally Wansel throws in a more 'soundtracky' sounding instrumental ('Stargazer' especially from LOM). While not all of the Jazz Funk material is essential listening (some become a little too self-indulgent and just degenerate into 'directionless noodling') if your a fan of the genre and haven't tried these you could do far worse.
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Format: Audio CD
Both these albums are of high quality production. However, neither of them are as consistent as other superb albums that the artist produced for other artists on the same label Philidelphia International. They are also interesting historically from the point of view of both the development of the artist as writer producer and the development of the jazz funk genre. Perhaps there is a clash of styles and maybe he might have handed some of the scarce vocal work away from himself (Jean Carne is way underused). In the end an enjoyable listen if somewhat inconsistent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9acb9c48) out of 5 stars 17 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa056c7e0) out of 5 stars Interplanetary Philly Soul Beauties 11 Oct. 2000
By James A. Allio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was working at Odyssey Records in Berkeley in spring 1977 when my friend and co-worker, Tina, put a new disc on the house sound system. The mellow synthesized sounds and relentess backbeat mesmerized us, and Dexter Wansel's "What the World Is Coming To" became a personal favorite to each of us, especially the ethereal title song and hopeful "Dreams of Tomorrow" with Jean Carn. We were also captivated by the eclecticism Wansel demonstrated on this LP, from total mood pieces ("First Light in the Morning") to disco ("Dance With Me" and "Disco Lights" both found homes in clubs from the Ice Palace in NYC to The City in San Francisco) to reggae ("Going Back to Kingston Town"). Sometime later, stocking the shelves, we discovered Dexter Wansel had a previous LP, "Life on Mars," which we immediately slapped on the Odyssey turntable and promptly went into heavy in-store rotation. This recording was cohesive thematically and musically, exploring outer space through jazz-fusion in dreamy cuts like "One Million Miles from the Ground," "Themes from the Planets" and "Rings of Saturn." This would have made an excellent addition to the "Mission to Mars" soundtrack. Dexter Wansel went on to produce and write for The Jones Girls, Lou Rawls, Dee Dee Sharp Gamble and most of the Philadelphia International stable and released two more LPs; Tina and I went to work at the phone company for awhile and left Odyssey Records behind. Dexter Wansel retained a special place in our musical hearts and to my delight, Westside has now issued both Wansel LPs on one CD. Now that I can listen to Dexter anytime I feel like it, I've got to wonder" "Where's Tina at?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a2631a4) out of 5 stars UNDERRRATED PHILLY INTERNATIONAL GOLD! 11 July 2009
By Patrick Frierson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
1975-76 were transitional years for Philly International. The great musicians and arrangers who once populated MFSB -Ron Baker, Earl Young, Norman Harris, Vince Montana, amongst others- were leaving in droves due to royalty disputes, One of their best songwriters- Bunny Sigler left to pursue a solo career, and the turmoil within Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes dampened some of the label's hit making momentum. To maintain PIR's status as soul music's premier record label, Gamble and Huff had to readjust by signing a slew of new artists, writers, and arrangers. Dexter Wansel was hired as a in house producer, arranger, and semi songwriter (he collaborated frequently with Cynthia Biggs so he wasn't writing songs as exclusively as he was with arranging in producing). While established acts like The O' Jays and newer acts like Lou Rawls, and Teddy Pendergrass made the most popular PIR recordings during their post 1976 period, Dexter Wansel dropped four musically adventurous, but underappreciated albums during this time as well. This two for one package covers the first two of Dexter's musical excursions- "Life on Mars" and "What's the World Coming To".

If you ever heard one of his albums, you'd immediately recognized his affinity to take on a variety of styles (namely Jazz, Soul, and Funk) which are punctuated by his trademark brand of spacey keyboard quirks. As a musician, Dexter style was considerably different from MFSB's. Where as MFSB sound was elegantly funky, Dexter's own compositions were more otherworldly and ethereal than the string laden instrumentation of MFSB.

LIFE ON MARS;

This is one of his most sought after albums and for great reason. The title track alone is an infectious spaced out funk jam filtered with a strong keyboard solo buried underneath the groove and a dissonant chant as a hook- which sounds like a welcoming call for anyone traveling in space to come to Mars. The hook captures the mood of the song well. Also noteworthy is "Stargazer". It's a fast Jazz fusion workout in which the Philly strings create an atmosphere of a rocket jettin off into space for a destination travel at high velocity. That's especially noticeable at the beginning of the record- it can also pass off as a late night movie bumper. The slow jams are also noteworthy for the chill beauty it brings to the album especially "One Million Miles From the Ground" where you can truly get the feeling of being sheltered from the obstacles on Earth to share intimacy with your one and only ( Instead of literally going to another planet, you go to a state of mind with the record). Since this is a concept record, you're get those incidental tracks that serves the purpose of simply filling out the album intended concept - "Theme from the Planets" (The Planets are Dexter's backing Band) and "Rings of Saturn". Overall, the album sticks with the concept without sounding ambiguous ( a common problem with many concept records).

WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO;

Dexter's second time around is more of the same. You can look at this as "Life on Mars" without the Sci Fi concept that held that album together. If you look deeply at how both albums are sequenced in this two for one, Life on Mars can be seen as something of a dream, where as this album can be the awakening in which you search for peace here on Earth to recapture that dreamy ride on Mars. Where as the last album dealt with "Life on Mars", this album can be looked upon as "Life on Earth". I'm not sure as to weather or not Dexter Wansel did this on purpose, but the two albums parallel each other in terms of emotional range but differ in its intentions- if there's any type of concept.

"First light of the Mourning" starts the album off smoothly as the awakening from the dream on Mars. It's the same feeling as waking up and remembering a good dream that stays with you all day. "Dance with me Tonight" and "Disco Lights" are pulsating slices of the good life (in the 70's) that's balanced out by more somber moments like "Holdin' On" and "What is the World coming To" which are by the numbers quiet tracks that deal with the complexities of romantic affairs and the world respectively. "Ode Infinitum" is a jazz fusion work out that has a broken beat type feel to it's horn heavy funk/ jazz. Of course with a Philly International record, you get the obligatory message song in "Dreams of Tomorrow"- which is sung beautifully by Jean Carne. The rhythm arrangement is excellent on capturing the essence of kids as tomorrow's bright leaders - it feels like a bright light is shining upon reflecting a glow of optimism in their abilities.

FINAL ANALYSIS;

Overall these batch of songs make for a musically adventurous trip that listeners should take at least once. I have to admit, while this anthology is filled with a lot of excellent material, there's also a lot of other songs that could've been better. Perhaps if Dexter would've been given the ample amount of time to make these albums his main priority, they could've been sharper in terms of rhythm arrangements and building a overall cohesive sound. That minor issue aside, smooth jazz, disco, and soul enthusiasts should find plenty to enjoy here.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x997707c8) out of 5 stars Pure 70s fusion funk-jazz, but watch out... 22 May 2002
By Scott Woods - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I don't recommend this artist to people looking to get into jazz very often, at least not right off the bat. I love Dexter Wansel's playing and his ideas and compositional skills have always intrigued me, but I know that some of the tracks can come off dated at this point (some of them are frighteningly disco era pure) and if you get the wrong record first, you'll never give him his fair shot.
That said, if you're going to mess around with Wansel at all, this is the CD to do it on, but mostly for the "Life on Mars" record. That record has a classic or three (#2 and 3 most notably), and the rest of it is still pretty groundbreaking stuff for its time. Wansel not only put himself out there on the fusion front, but used synthesizers in a way that was only being experimented with on other artistic fronts. Parts of this record come off like old school electronica (before it became mostly trite), but not in a way that would turn you off. he walked a real tightwire on that "Life..." record, and anyone who's into 70s era jazz - or just interested in the development of modern music - should pick it up. It's funky, jazzy and trippy all at once.
The second record on this disc is an attempt at everything I just said above, but less so. Get the disc for the first half...it's still worth it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa056cb7c) out of 5 stars Hits are great; misses are so-so. 8 Dec. 2005
By Earl Lee Kelly Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I was lucky enough to chase down the 2005 import rerelease of this album. I came for "Life on Mars," the title track of the first album, a wonderful, indeed spacy tune from a period when the Disco Infestation was spreading into the once-hallowed halls of jazz. There is a single rotating drum-beat, but what a beat it is. Backup voices and sax come long too, creating an optimistic 'universe is yours!' sort of vibe. When Man touches down on Mars, it would feel good to hear this song in radio rotation.

The track afterwards, "Together Once Again," gave me the strangest goosebumps! The lyrics weren't the greatest, but the stratospheric, occasionally exaggerated singing of Terri Welles combined with all those synthesizers gave me the sensation of a soul concert in a helium-breathing future alien world. Considering D. Wansel's objective for the album (the outer space craze of the late Seventies, disco-fied), its very effective.

As Funkadelic once sang, "that one beat up and down, it just won't do." And indeed, somewhere in the middle of the second album (tracks 9-17), I got exhausted by the generic disco looping. I can't tell you what the album sounds like from "Disco Lights" on down 'cause I just got bored with it. Liner notes on the '05 version lament why "What the World Is Coming To" album was not a success. I'll tell you why - it was just barely distinguishable from the rest of the disco released at the time.

Ah, well, I'm glad I purchased Mr. Wansel's wares - the four or five hits he has for me are worth the price of the album. "Life on Mars" truly stands with "Doctor Buzzard's Original Savannah Band" as a sadly forgotten piece of gold in a crap era.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By mellos - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
thanks to amazon.com i was reunited with an old friend.

I love dexter's tunes and the ability to shop the world with

amazon.com - long live the 70's
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