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.
Before you have heard a note there is a lot to like about Dr. Feelgood. The band’s name for a start, as well as the names of the musicians themselves, Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, John B. Sparks and The Big Figure. If you have ever seen the Old Grey Whistle Test performances of the towering “Roxette” and “She Does It Right” Johnson’s choppy guitar licks and back and forth strut should be enough to get anyone interested. I finally got around to picking up this album and it doesn’t disappoint with it’s British take on RnB mixed with the pre-punk sound of the later 70’s. With everything else going on it could be easy to overlook Sparko’s bass but it really is great to listen to. The only track that doesn’t really do it for me is Boom Boom. Nothing can match the growl of John Lee Hookers original.
Standout track: She Does It Right
Guilty pleasure time! This album came out alongside a TV special parodying the comeback of an influential musician celebrated by the likes of Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson and the Bee Gees. At the time Bruce Willis was starring in the hit TV show Moonlighting which I was a big fan of so this CD was an easy purchase. Almost all RnB covers, Bruce’s vocals are pretty good and the 80’s re-imagining of these songs is pretty good musically too. I’m am pretty sure that most people will see this as a novelty but I think it is a fun album and an enjoyable listen. Some people get a bit snooty about this sort of thing, citing it as not being “real” music, but any music is worth a listen and you can take it or leave it. Who is anyone to dismiss what someone else enjoys? Embrace the cheese!
Standout track : Fun Time
Today I fancied listening to something a bit chilled so I dug out this album from the iPod archive. I’m pretty sure we have all bought albums on the strength of one track, and in this case it was The Finest because it features Alexander O’Neal and was produced by Jam and Lewis. It has that classic 80’s jazz funk/soul sound with deep bass lines and electronic drums which I would normally enjoy but I have to say I found this album a bit of a tough listen. I’m all for a bit of moodiness but for me many of the tracks edged too far into the dreary. The lead vocal is almost stand-offish and I can’t quite get the feeling behind it. Still if this sounds like your thing then give it a try, maybe it just wasn’t the right day for it.
Standout track: The Finest
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