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4.7 out of 5 stars235
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 December 2001
This album is excellent. Not just because Tracey Chapman has one of the most unique voices of her generation or because her songs are wonderfully created but because unlike the mainstream music of this generation they all tell stories about things that really matter. The music is lilting and it's impossible to refrain from singing along but more than that they stay in your mind and challenge with their themes, more powerful than the Westlife's of today.
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on 13 February 2002
Put simply, Tracy Chapman is the most unsung hero of soul music in history. Forget the likes of Dido, Chapman did emotive music best. Much of the album is melancholy and at times shocking (the highly effective "Behind The Wall" for example). "Fast Car" has an instantly memorable acoustic lilt and for a time in the late 80s Chapman was hot property. Sadly she faded into relative obscurity. This debut album from 1988 was well ahead of its time; if anyone remembers the mid to late 80s there was an incredible amount of dross being churned out. This is excellent, and one of those albums that anyone could listen to and love.
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on 25 September 2001
This album is among the best i have ever heard. From the easy listening introduction of ' Talkin bout a revolution ' to the peaceful and soothing 'if not now ' and 'for you', it really takes your breath away. A realy soothing and easy listening album. Tracy Chapman is one of my favourite female artists of all time with a strong character to her voice. Recommended to anyone, well worth the money.
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on 3 July 2001
It's not often that you hear an artist quite as unique as Tracy Chapman. The soothing voice mixed with the very topical issues works perfectly. This is typified in "Behind the Wall" - a soothing acapella song about domesic abuse. "Baby can I hold you" was so cruelly ripped off by Boyzone, that it emerges as one of the best tracks on this LP. "Across the Lines" is a poignant testament to race violence, and "Why?" is simply beautiful. It's an album worth having - if only for the uplifting "Talkin' bout a revolution".
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on 7 April 2000
Whether you like Tracy Chapman's music or not, it is unique, you do not hear anything else like it.
She has a very special way of singing. Her extreme voice underlines her strongly political lyrics in an emotional, but in no way exaggerated, way.
The best tracks are the superhit »Fast Car« and »For My Lover«. The most different song is the afro-reggae-inspired »Mountains O'Things«. Most of the songs are very short.
An interesting collection.
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on 1 August 2012
There is not a single space filler track on rhis album. All the songs are strong with individual identity.
The unfussy production complements Tracey's deep soulfull voice perfectly, allowing the lyrics and her vocal delivery to come to the fore.
It is difficult to do justice in descrbing the style: a singer/songwriter of her calibre has her own unique brand. I would characterise it as soul/blues fusion.
The range of subject matter and delivery is wide, with particular focus on human rights and inequality, with songs like 'Talkin Bout a Revolution', 'Fast Car'. Then there are tracks like 'Behind The Wall' and 'Why' on abuse and injustice. And her offerings on love cover the angles,: the longing in 'Baby Can I Hold You', suffering with 'For My Lover' and the heart rending hymn 'For You'.
A truly wonderful, soul grabbing piece of art.
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on 15 November 1999
This is obviously an older cd that most people have probably heard most of the songs from. There are some wonderful songs on this cd that did quite well for Tracy Chapman - Fast Car and Baby Can I Hold You are my two favorite songs here. These songs can be a bit depressing as the lyrics are true life and often have consistent themes of love lost or poor circumstances so it is probably not the one to listen to if you are in a bit of a funk. However, if you just want some great songs and lyrics this is worth a second listen. Every now and then, this cd makes it back to my stereo and there it sits for a few days before it goes back in its case. Tracy has such a distinct voice and this cd reminds you why you liked her the first time.
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on 13 June 2014
Tracy Chapman’s self-titled first album, released in the spring of 1988, helped revive interest in folk-influenced singer-songwriters, a genre that fell out of favour after the first half of the 1970s. The best examples are concentrated and detailed, but also very melodic and accessible. Take “Baby Can I Hold You” which, appropriately for a song about the failure of words, uses its own very economically. The three verses are tightly structured around three phrases that the unnamed subject of the song “can’t say”. They are “sorry”, “forgive me” and “I love you”. The six words that can be said – “Baby can I hold you tonight” – are placed in the chorus and suggest that there are ways of expressing emotion that go beyond the verbal. However, they may not be enough, or may even be the wrong words. The song slips into the past tense to reveal that this relationship failed. “Maybe if I’d told you the right words/At the right time/You’d be mine”. And we hear that the problem is an ongoing one, on both sides: “Years gone by and still/Words don’t come easily”. That’s about it – the sum total of all the words used.

Musically, the song is just as tight, relying mostly on the three most common chords – D major (the tonic) G major (the subdominant) and A major (the dominant). But simple means can be used to great effect. Chapman always uses the song’s main “wild card” chord – the supertonic (E minor with the hint of a ninth) – on the recurring two lines that express the most uncertainty (“can’t say” and “don’t come easily”), where it has the effect of delaying the inevitable resolution to the strong dominant and tonic chords. The first time the supertonic is used as a weaker alternative to the subdominant and leads straight to the dominant (albeit one with a suspended fourth, a further delaying tactic). The second time it’s used, the supertonic is diverted to the subdominant before it gets to the dominant (as the “unsayable” phrases of each verse are repeated twice), only then resolving onto the tonic. In a way this is all too obvious to need explanation, and takes longer to read than to listen to. But I think it is worth spelling out, as in the end it has a lot to do with why the song feels so satisfactory.
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I have a terrible confession to make about this album; I discovered it because of Boyzone. I know, horrible isn't it? Back in 1997, I was in my Father-in-law's car and, as usual, he had some dreary middle-of-the-road radio station on and I suddenly became aware of this fantastic song a group I knew I absolutely despised were singing. Knowing that it must have been a cover version, as it was too good to be a song written for those talentless twits, I went into the local HMV and asked the members of staff if they knew who did the original of "Baby Can I Hold You" and one of the more knowledgeable members of staff both informed me that it was a very wonderful Tracy Chapman song from the very wonderful "Tracy Chapman" album and expressed her utter disdain for the Boyzone version. Impressed by the sales assistant's endorsement, I bought this album the same day. When I got home and played it, I realised that I already knew and liked a couple of the other songs, the catchy "Fast Car" with that lovely, memorable guitar line and the fantastic moment when the powerful snare drum crashes in, the country-tinted "For My Lover" and the quietly optimistic "Talking 'bout a Revolution" from the radio, years ago.

I was, and remain, blown away by the strength of the songwriting and the heartfelt delivery of the whole of the album. It's surely one of the greatest, most remarkable début albums ever made. "Baby Can I Hold You" is still my very favourite song and often causes excess moistness in my eyes when I listen to it, but there are so many excellent songs on her début, so many songs that hit home, emotionally, that it is truly excellent as a whole. The social and political commentary is just as relevant today as it was 25 years ago and it is all the more effective delivered by that beautiful, deep, soulful voice. "Behind The Wall", especially, is hard-hitting and powerful, sung simply, starkly and without any backing. "Talking 'bout a Revolution" particularly hits home, talking about "welfare and unemployment lines" and could easily have been written today, about people's lives in our difficult, present economic climate.

This wonderful lyrical mixture of love, anger, feminism and racial issues (the superb "Across The Lines") works so well because it is so convincingly conveyed with such dignity, passion and, certainly, a very emotionally honest way. It's an album that I come back to time and time again and it retains a timeless feel to it, thanks to the largely acoustic instrumentation and unfussy production. I haven't heard every subsequent Tracy Chapman album, but I would find it difficult to believe that she has ever equalled such a tremendous piece of work. However, she is obviously a genuine talent and has had a long recording career, so perhaps I'm doing her a disservice by saying that. One thing is for certain, this is an essential part of any decent record collection.
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on 10 August 2000
A saw Tracy for the first time on "Live Aid" on TV and she just blew me away ! She was one of the most outstanding artist's on that memorable day with an originality and style that is captured perfectly on this album. Buy it now, sit down, relax,and listen, and be transported by her simplistic lyrics and outstanding vocals.
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