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Locked Down
Locked Down
Price: £12.22

30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steamy, greasy, raw : its grooves are tight but immediate..., 4 April 2012
This review is from: Locked Down (Audio CD)
Between 1968 and 1972, New Orleans-cum-L.A. session musician Mac Rebennack transformed himself into Dr. John, The Nite Tripper.
He recorded a series of albums for Atlantic, most importantly "Gris-Gris", but also "Babylon", "Remedies", and "The Sun, Moon, & Herbs"; they seamlessly wove a heady, swampy brew of voodoo ritual, funk, and R&B, psychedelic rock, and Creole roots music.
The Black Keys' guitarist Dan Auerbach admitted upon meeting Rebennack that he wanted to produce a Dr. John album and to revisit the Nite Tripper's musical terrain on record.
The pair worked in Auerbach's Nashville studio with a group of younger players to explore the rawer, spookier elements in Dr. John's music.
"Locked Down" is not an attempt to re-create "Gris-Gris", which remains his classic; it -- and the other three records -- resembled nothing that existed before.
Auerbach and Dr. John wanted to make a modern recording that drew on the spontaneous, more organic feel of those records; they succeeded in spades.
"Locked Down" isn't quite swampy, but it is humid, even steamy. Its grooves are tight but raw and immediate. Its lyrics and music are charged with spiritual energy, carnal desire, and righteous indignation. It melds primal rock, careening R&B, and electric blues in an irresistible, downright nasty brew.
The fingerpopping horn chart that announces "Revolution", is underscored by a fat baritone sax, an urgent, shake-your-ass bassline, and pulsing guitars.
Drum breaks are constant in accompanying Rebennack's screed against corruption, "religious" hatred, and violence, which degrade humanity.
His Wurlitzer solo is brief yet searing.
"Ice Age"'s guitar, drum, and percussion vamp are deadly infectious. Rebennack's voice growls about collusion between the CIA and KKK and the end of an era, as the McCrary Sisters complement the vocals with an R&B chorus line in affirmation.
His organ drones and wheezes to complete the picture, yet turns the last line into possibility: "If you ain't iced/you got the breath of life within".
The electric piano on "Getaway" sets up a funktastic, bluesed-out swing. The guitars and Nick Movshon's hyper bassline drive it urgently with clusters of surf-like chords, reverb, and effects, completed by a roiling, over-the rails Auerbach solo.
"Eleggua" is pure spaced-out Nite Tripper, a cosmic funky butt strut; its chanted mystical prayers come from the world of flesh and spirit; it's populated by slippery, watery guitars, wailing B-3, broken snare beats, and even a flute.
That feel is underscored in the nocturnal shift and shimmer of "My Children, My Angels", driven by Rebennack's Rhodes, guitars, and a skittering snare.
It's greasy yet somehow in synch with this love letter from a repentant father to his kids.
Rebennack and Auerbach send it off, appropriately enough, with rock & roll gospel in "God's Sure Good" and a joyous chorus from the McCrary's behind-the-lyric's gratitude, highlighted by a swelling B-3 and backbone-slipping grit.
No matter which era or what record you prefer, as an album, "Locked Down" stands with Rebennack's best. T. Jurek

Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2012 8:37 PM BST

Where It All Begins
Where It All Begins
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.37

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully played!, 7 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Where It All Begins (Audio CD)
The artwork for "Where It All Begins", Lalah Hathaway's second Stax album, features a striking collage of her father Donny's album covers, with Lalah cleverly inserted in place of her father on most of them.
In addition to family photos scattered throughout the booklet, Lalah maintains a looking-back theme with a naturally heart-rending version of her father's "You Were Meant for Me", the original of which was issued as a single a few months prior to his tragic passing.
Lalah also reaches back 20 years for a hushed but powerful remake of her own "I'm Coming Back', her fourth charting single, first released in 1991.
Otherwise, "Where It All Begins" picks up where 2008's "Self Portrait" left off, though the pop-R&B-type moves -- buzzing synthesizers, harder beats -- are a little more pronounced.
"If You Want To", a gleaming disco-funk track co-written by Rahsaan Patterson, is the best of that lot: the remainder of the album's highlights are relatively subdued, led by the gliding, atmospheric title track -- a stunning throwback to lyrically inward, sonically otherworldly soul-jazz of the '70s. There's also a pleasant surprise in the form of "Wrong Way", an uplifting number driven by bright acoustic guitar and a big chorus.
It could easily fit into the playlist of a mature-rock radio station. A. Kellman

Lalah Hathaway

Black And White America
Black And White America
Price: £4.64

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspired from late 70s/early 80s funk, reinvented for the ears of the modern generation., 22 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
The long awaited 9th studio album by Lenny Kravitz is finally amongst us.
After the delay in finishing the album, and the push backs from the original release date, the album's has been released.
Possibly a little late since the majority of songs on here were meant to be enjoyed on a hot summers day, catching the rays with a cocktail of your choice by your side and a few friends to hang out with to spread the good times. Unfortunately, the record does come with its problems that might jeopardize the credit of the artist.
As it is always the way with Lenny Kravitz, you are invited to a host of instrumentally glories that most artists just cannot muster.
Credited with playing the piano, the drums, the synthesizer and the acoustic, electric and bass guitars, this one man band only had the help of the trusted Craig Ross to aid him with a more acoustic and electric guitar magic. Oh and did I mention Hip Hop icons Jay-Z and Drake along with DJ Military feature as well! The album features different numbers inspired from late 70s/early 80s funk, reinvented for the ears of the modern generation. Possibly for the connoisseur, it might have been too much to cope with as something is missing.
There is a range of styles to choose from as you can either rock out with the guitar heavy "Come On Get It", get under the covers with the Barry White bass vibes in "Looking Back On Love" or smile in ecstasy with the fun loving bouncy "Everything".
However, there isn't really a stand out classic song that will last forever to keep this record going.
On previous albums, the 4 time Grammy award winner has brought that special spark to the front that has blown the world away.
Unfortunately you can't see it on this record.
An easy record to listen to will suit the outdoors in the background when you are chilling with your amigos or driving down the riviera to the seaside which is hard to come by nowadays is an achievement in itself.
"Black & White America" is not going to turn heads and is certainly not the best Lenny Kravitz work you will come across but by just reading the song titles of the tracks and listening to the aftermath suggests that Lenny is in a good place.
Particularly the track "Life Ain't Ever Been Better Than It Is Now" brings out the positive energy Lenny is famous for.
Lenny Kravitz is a talent that will live forever, perhaps not this record. D. Woodhouse.

Price: £7.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally this one marks the right setting for her considerable gifts., 26 July 2011
This review is from: LP1 (Audio CD)
"LP1" marks the third successive album from Joss Stone where she's attempting to hit the restart button on her career, to usher in a new beginning for the neo-soul diva or, better yet, find the right setting for her considerable gifts.
This journey began with 2007's splashy modern R&B set "Introducing Joss Stone", a makeover she rebelled against on her major-label kiss-off "Colour Me Free", and now that she's truly independent, she's aligned with Eurythmics' Dave Stewart for "LP1", returning to the classicism of her earliest work.
There is a difference.
Stewart is naturally reluctant to present Stone in a strictly soul setting: R&B is the foundation, but he dabbles in tight funk, folk, blues, Euro-rock, and modernist pop, giving "LP1" just enough elasticity so it breathes and just enough color so it doesn't seem staid.
Then, there's Stone herself. She may still have a tendency to over-sell her songs, but she doesn't sound like she is patterning herself after her idols. She's developing her own style, somewhere between classic soul and the pyrotechnics of modern divas, her settings leaning toward the former and her phrasing the latter.
"LP" doesn't always achieve a balance between the two extremes, not to the extent Stone and Stewart desires, as some of the ballads are a little formless and some of the funk a little too restricted, while some of Joss' posturing is a little affected, but it has more moments that work than anything she's done since her actual debut in 2003.
If this winds up being the first album of many that mine this style, "LP1" will serve its purpose well. S. T. Erlewine

Love Songs
Love Songs
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £7.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful !, 20 May 2011
This review is from: Love Songs (Audio CD)
This fine compilation is, in a way, a perfect introduction to the soulful vocal stylings of Regina Belle.
Intimate, sensual, and expressive, Belle's voice sounds as if it was created to sing love songs, as these 15 tracks attest.
Whether putting her distinctive stamp on standards ("Make It Like It Was") or duetting with first-string bedroom crooners Johnny Mathis ("Better Together") and Barry White ("Quiet Time"), Belle proves perfectly suited to communicating matters of the heart.
This is a fine sampling of her seductive brand of romantic sound!

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