It’s easy to think that Prince’s side projects as nothing but token artists providing an outlet for his ego, however most (if not all) were/are talented artists in their own right. Jill Jones provided backing vocals and appeared in the video’s for 1999, Little Red Corvette and Automatic but her debut album didn’t surface until 1987. The Family and The Revolution make appearances on the album with Prince providing the songs. It is very much a Prince album, and he features on backing vocals, but Jill’s performance stands up on it’s own and her voice really suits the tracks. Jill has spoken very positively about the whole experience of working with Prince and if you like that 80’s Prince sound it is well worth a listen and for big Prince fans its an essential if you can get it – mine is ripped from my vinyl copy!
Standout track : For Love
Aside from fancying Louise Nurding (now Redknapp), I remember Eternal as one of the most successful groups of the 90’s. With their debut album they had a string of hits and I had it on tape but finally picked it up on CD. Their blend of RnB and pop has that Britishness that always manages to stand out from American groups. I don’t know how well the sound translates to new ears some 20 years later as the distinctive 90’s beats and rhythms dominate this album, but it is still very listenable with some great songs and powerhouse vocal performances. If you like En Vogue or SWV then you are in the right place for Eternal. Following Louise’s departure they continued as a trio then eventually a duo, however it’s their debut album that finds a place in my collection.
Standout Track: Save Our Love
I was lucky enough to grab a ticket to see Jessie Ware perform at All Saints Church in Kingston, Surrey, as part of her promo tour for her new album Glasshouse. With only about a couple of hundred people it was a intimate setting with a stripped back band in a fabulous venue. I liked her debut album Devotion but never gave the follow up, Tough Love, as much of a listen. Her performance was fantastic! Its always great to see someone in this kind of setting where there is no place to hide and its down to them show what they can do, and she didn’t disappoint. She has a real soulful voice and delivers with emotion and depth. The new songs sounded great, so time for me to get the first two back into rotation and then check out Glasshouse. Lucky for you can see the gig here.
A few years ago one of my kids went to the music festival at Reading so I took a particular interest in the bands that were playing and watched the broadcasts on TV. Off the back of that I bought a few albums and one of them was Save Rock and Roll. In the main the rock/RnB sound encapsulates the reason I enjoyed their live performances but for me it starts on a high with The Phoenix and slowly winds down. By the end of the album I felt like i’d had enough. Not sure if it was the music or the vocal style, or maybe the presence of Elton John! While I like some of his work it kind of ends it on a low because I just don’t enjoy his collaborative work of recent years. Still a good album but glad it’s not longer than it is.
Standout Track : The Phoenix
When the record company heard the pseudo-psychedelic ATWIAD for the first time apparently they weren’t impressed. Where was Purple Rain Part 2? While still touring with Purple Rain Prince was writing and recording ATWIAD and as always moved in a different direction to its predecessor. When I think of Prince albums ATWIAD seems to sit quietly in between Purple Rain and Parade, not always springing to mind when browsing my collection but this doesn’t reflect the quality of the album. You have undoubtedly heard of the singles but what defines it is its exploration of different sounds, instrumentation and composition that would characterise at least the next two albums. Where previously Prince would do it all, this is his more co-operative period with the Revolution, Wendy and Lisa in particular. If you have heard Purple Rain and like musicians that don’t stand still then you have to move on to ATWIAD.
Standout track : Condition of the Heart
Finally got to see Haim live last night! To celebrate their new album they held a a special one-off gig at the Electric Ballroom in London, and it was fantastic! Definitely one of my favourite shows ever, and the album is pretty great too. It continues to blend indie rock, pop and RnB with their unique harmonies making a sound that is their own. I like a band whose music isn’t easily defined because you get interesting albums like this with tracks that mix up and cross genres. It means you get an album with a cohesive sound that you can identify without a bunch of same-sounding tracks. I also liked the breezy feel that their debut album had, maybe because of it’s sunshine Californian heritage, something that this album retains. Make sure you also listen to the percussion and melodies – just great!
Standout track: Walking Away
For me Stanley Road is a summer album. I don’t know why but it just sounds good in the sun, however there is a darker tone to the album that you can hear in some of the tracks. Paul Weller referred to this album as perfect, and its difficult to disagree with so many great songs and it’s hard to pick a favourite among them. The drumming is particularly excellent on tracks like Whirlpools’ End and the melancholy of You Do Something to Me betrays its love song disguise. The way Weller captures emotion in these songs is wonderful and shows how brilliant a song writer he is. I can’t believe it was released in 1995!
Standout track: Time Passes