Sunday, July 23, 2017

FANTASY PROJECT-The Album (2004)


My recent indulgence with all things Eurodance, Italo-disco and electronic/synthpop lately gave me the notion of reconnecting with the world of trance and techno music. When I realized that I had only heard the second album by the Austrian group that calls itself FANTASY PROJECT, I also realized that I had completely missed out on the group's very first album. So that became the source of my audio entertainment for about an hour on this Sunday night.....and entertaining it definitely was! The spacey, futuristic-sounding introductory segment instantly propelled me into that trancey state of mind; then a full-out, uninterrupted, energetic techno would follow thereafter! I like this Andreas Steinberger guy who serves as FANTASY PROJECT's lead vocalist; his airy, breezy vocals, which are often disguised with that cool, robotic digital effect, are a perfect compliment to the airy melodies and a perfect contrast against the hard, thumping rhythms. Found a favorite only minutes into the adventure with "Dam Dadi Doo". Now you know a song with a title like this can only mean pure bubblegum, and that's exactly what it is! The repetitive looping of the title lyrics and how he keeps repeating 'home, home' and 'beat, beat' in the verses ensures that you'll get addicted to all of the senseless fun! There's even a 5+ minute extended mix of it to keep the sticky sugar rush going even longer..... Jams that purposely intend to get you onto the trance club floor include "Way Of Life" and "Somebody" (actually, a bit of bubblegum on this one, too, with how he merrily sings about wanting to touch the girl's body and his deliveries of 'dance everybody, move it somebody'), as he directly motivates the listener with his encouraging words of getting up and dancing the night away. From "Crazy Baby" up until "Gimme Love", there's a noticeably more sunny glow to the production. The tonality beings to shift over to a more melancholy sound with "Never Stop", and continues on down through "Up And Away" (my second favorite, and it too has some bubblegum going on with Andreas merrily singing 'da da da di di di da da' at the end of every pass of the chorus), "The Only One" (something about the ultra-glitzy synthesizing against the heavy techno punch sparks me here) and "Tell Me" (one that I could almost tag as 'dream dance' with the way his soft and lush vocal delivery echoes into the senses), before shifting back to the sunny sounds with the proper concluding cut simply entitled "Sky". A very refreshing listen for me, considering I hadn't enjoyed much on the trance front lately; perhaps it's a sign that I should stay in the trance music zone for a while:

1. Intro
2. Crazy Baby
3. Dam Dadi Doo
4. Way Of Life
5. Take Me Away
6. Somebody
7. Gimme Love
8. Never Stop
9. Up And Away
10, Move It Up
11, The Only One
12, Tell Me
13, Sky
14, Crazy Baby (Andy Garcia vs. Virtual Boy Remix)
15, Dam Dadi Doo (Extended Mix)
16, Way Of Life (Extended Mix)
17, Take Me Away (Extended Mix)
18, Gimme Love (Extended Mix)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

EDEN's CRUSH-Popstars (2001)


Taking a break from my planned electronic/synthpop explorations to bring another fulfilled request to "The Music Spectrum"! Proof that I still like to show love for the artists featured on any and all of these televised music competition shows is right here with the first and only album by this five-piece bunch that called itself EDEN's CRUSH. Pop music lovers and girl group fans alike should definitely eat this one up; there are so many fun songs for your listening pleasure! The show kicks off with "What's Good For The Goose", a great opening jam that makes excellent use of the old, funny adage ' what's good for the goose is good for the gander ' to make their point. "Get Over Yourself" was one of their most recognized hits ('get over yourself—goodbye!', the punch line from the chorus, keeps running through my head now), and for the dance floor lovers, the 'Al B. Rich' remix I supplied is a bonus treat especially for you! "Anywhere But Here": a very nice, fluid groove on this one while the girls take you on an international joyride with the mentions about all of the places they'd like to go with their man for a private romantic escape: Paris, New York City, and even climbing over the Great Wall Of China just to be with him. "Love This Way" is a warming song for everyone, the message being that everybody wants to be in love. What allures me especially is the girls' collectively lofty, tender voices (I like the sweet spice they put on their delivery of 'passionate' in the chorus). And just as with "Get Over Yourself", I've provided a couple of cool remixes as bonus treats—the Freestyle-groovy 'Bass Mix' and the full-on Eurodancey 'DJ Skribble Mix'. Seems that Mary J. Blige wasn't the only one who didn't want any more drama in her life when she recorded her hit song back in the mid-90's. The EDEN's CRUSH girls have their own words to say about drama on Track #6 when they confess that the man is nothing but bad news and vow to live their life stress free—I know that's right! Then playing along the same 'no more drama' theme is the follow-up, "I Wanna Be Free", which is where my favorite lyrics on this whole album are found when the guest male rapper says 'might as well go on "Jerry Springer" and get it off the ringer' (I used to watch that crazy talk show; now there's some drama!) during the midway rap break. Someone will get their 'Music Surprise Of The Day' when they check out this album's eighth track: a modern-day pop cover of the 80's Sheila E. classic! For me, it's just another trip down the road of childhood nostalgia. The words to the memorable chorus so true (the lesson being that money can't really buy you love), and I always love that acapella delivery of ' without love, it ain't much '. Of course, I gotta give mention to "1,000 Words (Mil Palabras)", because it's a bilingual track sung primarily in my favorite foreign language! The first verse and first pass of the chorus are sung in English while the second verse and second pass of the chorus are done in Spanish, with the latter of the two languages taking the song the rest of the way through. Even more Spanish flavor on the next one, "Two Way" (though only with the spoken words that serve as the intro), then on "It Wasn't Me", which sounds like it wanted to explode into a full-out festive dance track with a Latin flavor. Well there's still the Spanish flavor and a nice mid-tempo beat, and that makes it fun enough, with the girls' cheeky declaration that they're innocent until proven guilty.adding a nice touch to the song's whole investigative theme. It served as this album's proper concluding piece, and I'll also conclude this review itself with a mention of it: "Promise Me"; bittersweet, mellow ballads that shake the emotions make for some beautiful listens, and this is certainly one of them:

1. What's Good 4 The Goose
2. Let Me Know
3. Get Over Yourself
4. Anywhere But Here
5. Love This Way
6. No Drama
7. I Wanna Be Free
8. Glamorous Life
9. 1,000 Words (Mil Palabras)
10, Two Way
11. It Wasn't Me
12. You Know I Can

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

13. Promise Me
14. Get Over Yourself (Al B. Rich X-Tended Mix)
15. Love This Way (Bass Mix)
16. Love This Way (DJ Skribble Mix)

Friday, July 21, 2017

ULTRAVOX-Ingenuity (1994)


Seems my mental digital jukebox was set for random play today; I was in the mood to listen to anything! A brief scan of some past listening recommendations given to me led to this British new wave act capturing my attention. That's when it occurred to me that much of ULTRAVOX's music remains uncharted by my ears, so I felt it was time to make them a part of my ever-so-changing listening lineup. As much of my music explorations have seen me venturing back into the 90's, I remained there with ULTRAVOX by checking out this :Ingenuity" album. Wasn't quite sure what to expect from it, but I at least knew the band was part of the New Romantic movement of the 80's, which would put them in the same camp as the likes of ABC, HUMAN LEAGUE, ALPHAVILLE and the American band THE ROMANTICS themselves. Except the opening title track, with its lovely spacey ambiance and groovy synthpop beat that instantly sparked my senses, was very unexpected, yet a very cool listen. Already had it pegged as a new addition to my 'Ambient Mix', even before the catchy hook—featuring the haunting, repeated delivery of 'ingenuity right now'—started to grow on me. As usual with these new wave acts, the actual meanings of a large fraction of these lyrics escaped me; second and third listens would be required for me to completely grasp what the songwriter is saying. Despite that, I still enjoyed some marvelous moments, particularly with the stunning power ballads—"Future Picture Forever". "Distance" (I found the lead guy's words of ' distance destroys all that's connected to me ' quite intriguing), "Who'll Save You?"—which all feature an entertaining show of intense, rock guitar riffs during their respective extended instrumental segments. An interesting yet coincidental twist for me, as before I selected this album for listening, I had been leaning on indulging in some heavy metal rock, which is something I hadn't enjoyed in a long minute. I'd get even more of the intense rock to satisfy my subconscious craving with "The Silent Cries" (another song whose lyrics intrigue; a warning about not leaving love behind and ignoring silent cries), "Give It All Back" and the perky, poppy number "A Way Out, A Way Through". Following the opening title track, the more synthpop side of the ULTRAVOX sound reveals itself only a couple other times—the energetic "There Goes A Beautiful World", plus the close-out all-instrumental dance rave that is "Majestic"; nevertheless, the trio makes for a nice contrast to the predominant alternative-style presentation of this album:

1. Ingenuity
2. There Goes A Beautiful World
3. Give It All Back
4. Future Picture Forever
5. The Silent Cries
6. Distance
7. Ideals
8. Who'll Save You?
9. A Way Out, A Way Through
10, Majestic

Thursday, July 20, 2017

BOYZONE-Said And Done (1995)


From the blazin' beats of BLAZIN' SQUAD I go to another squad of boys who sung to 'a different beat'—figuratively and literally, in fact. Something that had been on my music-listening agenda for months was at last fulfilled today when I treated myself to nearly two complete listens of BOYZONE's debut album. It really felt nice reconnecting with the younger incarnations of Ronan Keating and the late Stephen Gately and company, whom I had so often in the past got confused with fellow Irish boyband WESTLIFE (and I've still got some reconnecting to do with Mark Feehily and company as well). The near two complete listens almost happened because there are so many wonderful songs here, and they still sound as great to me as I remembered them! Standing as my #1 favorite is Track #3's "Love Me For A Reason", which is THE reason I had to have this album in the first place! The song is a lush masterpiece—seamlessly produced with an excellent chorus whose lyrics always stick to me: ' don't love me for fun girl, let me be the one girl, love me for a reason, let the reason be love '.Yep, you can bet "Love Me For A Reason" got played by me twice in the same sitting! I stopped there (if only to get my review completed), but I am sure I'll soon be giving the replay treatment to the opening dance cut, "Together" (a kind of a bubblegum Euro-house tune when taking into account the simple and sweet love lyrics, which makes it all the more fun to listen to!) and "So Good", my #2 favorite on this album because of everything going into the dance/pop beat, the delivery and the production quality that makes me feel so good! Some songs I hadn't heard by these boys in ages that are now being considered for new playlist additions: "Can't Stop Me" (a dreamy, Euro-house jam that I'm certain is being lead by Gately on vocals), "I'll Be There" (not a cover of THE JACKSON 5 classic, but very much a comforting love song with an almost majestic sound, thanks to the accompanying trumpets), "Key To My Life" (I keep getting drawn to these touching, mellow songs with the solid chorus hooks) and "Arms Of Mary" (an almost religious, hymnal vibe going on with this sad yet comforting piece). Thinking further about hymns and religion and such, there's quite a few other gems here that have a heavenly glow about them that delight my senses—the title track, for one, plus "Oh Carol" and "Coming Home Now"—while charming offerings like "If You Were Mine" and "Believe In Me" grow and grow on you until you are totally encapsulated by the music. I'm done with this particular review of BOYZONE, which shows there's still lot to be said about their early success:

1. Together
2. Coming Home Now
3. Love Me For A Reason
4. Oh Carol
5. When All Is Said And Done
6. So Good
7. Can't Stop Me
8. I'll Be There
9. Key To My Life
10. If You Were Mine
11. Arms Of Mary
12. Believe In Me
13. Father And Son

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

BLAZIN' SQUAD-Now Or Never (2003)


Back to the blazin' boybands and the blazin' beats of the British bunch that called itself BLAZIN' SQUAD; I'm just doing my part in keeping these older boybands from the 90's and early 2000's alive and well, even if the boys disbanded more than a decade ago. I was so ecstatic when I finally acquired their second album—which, unfortunately, would also be their final one before the inception of the spin-off group, FRIDAY HILL—and even more ecstatic once I got around to listening to it today! "Here 4 One": now THIS is is how you start off an album—bombastic beats that totally wake up the senses! I sure got a charge out of that one, as I did with the equally-bombastic cut, "Flip Reverse" ('wanna see you work it baby' is the main line they keep coming at you with here), which was like the wow thrill ride before the proper jam called "Ride" (and I got all sorts of thrills just out of the slight vintage flavor of the syncopated jazzy kick at the end of the chorus). Seems I cannot go through any album these days without at least one 'Music Surprise Of The Day' to rave about. My latest one came when I heard the familiar chords and structure to "Easy", the timeless popular radio soul classic by Lionel Richie and THE COMMODORES, on Track #7's "Stop"; it instantly put a big smile on my face, as does any song that samples a golden oldie from my music yesterdays. The album's second slow jam is super-chilled with a beautiful, mellow glow, one that'll have you singing along as they declare ' baby just stop what you're doing '. One of my favorite lines on the album can be found midway through during the rap break: ' forget drugs, you're my ecstasy '. As for the first slow jam, that comes way of "Thinking About You", which too is a beautifully mellow delight and contains some of the most charming and thoughtful words. But I like the boys best when they bring it hard and the club/ride vibe ignites the sparks, which they do to further perfection on the entertaining "Biggest Fan" (a fun one whose theme is a girl that's so hot that they'd pay to see her), "Shorty", "Baby It's The Weekend" and a new-found favorite, "Revolution", whose intense, edgy rock infusion with the boys' already in-your-face pop/rap style dazzled me so much that I had to play it twice! I've been getting attached to sunny songs with warming sounds and breezy rhythms lately, and there's a couple here that only add fuel to the fire. " We Just Be Dreamin' " is like the ultimate summer ride jam here where they, of course, have to rap about the' blazin' sun ' in the first verse while the guitar-driven concluding piece, "Life's A Struggle", shows the boys putting on a meaningful display with their sincere words about life being a struggle when you're all alone:

1. Here 4 One
2. Biggest Fan
3. Flip Reverse
4. Ride
5. Thinking About You
6. No Angels
7. Stop
8. Shorty
9. Revolution
10. Girls
11. Baby It's The Weekend
12. All We Wanna Do (Is Rap)
13. We Just Be Dreamin'
14. Keep On
15. Life's A Struggle

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BAD BOYS BLUE-Follow The Light (1999)


I followed my heart to finally do a feature presentation on my all-time favorite German dance group! Staying in tune with a lot the Italo-disco artists—and their related Eurodance cousins&mash;as of late, I treated myself to this trio's "Follow The Light", which is one of the albums in my BAD BOYS BLUE collection that I haven't heard as much as the others. In fact, in the hour-long plus joyride that these sixteen tracks took me on, I can honestly say only one of them sounded the least bit familiar: "I Can't Live". It's one off the group's many signature halfway Eurodance, mostly mid-tempo symthpop-arranged numbers that I've come to like, and the sunny air about the chords and the warming, unified harmony declaring the touching words contributing to the I-can't-live-without-your-love theme reminds me of another beautiful song crafted by this trio called "Lovers In The Sand". I'd completely forgotten about their groovy dance remake of THE DRIFTERS' classic, "Under The Boardwalk", which I didn't even recognize until I heard the chorus and the telling distinctive deep vocals delivering the title lyrics; always fun to hear these classics reinvented in a new Eurodance format. As for the other groovy dance thrillers, there's there's so many goodies to indulge in—the opening title track, "Thinking About You", "Back To The Future", "Listen To Your Heart", "I'll Be Around", "Sweet Love"—with my #1 favorite being "Hungry For Love". That one is performed in the classic Eurodance style with the rapping MC in the first couple of verses (the rap makes it especially fun in Verse 1 when he goes 'like Miss Jackson, I miss you much', as a cool tribute to one of Janet's 80's hits). and the main vocalist singing the chorus (a second cool tribute to LaBELLE's "Lady Marmalade" with the 'voulez vous coucher avec moi' lyrics). I also like all of the energetic ones whose sunny warmth just makes me feel happy all over: "Ride On A Star", "Love Is No Crime" (a rather dreamy, starry song that has a romantic, almost magical allure about it) and "Have You Ever Had A Love Like This?". Of course, this German trio had to record at least one song in their long and prosperous career with the word 'blue' in its title; on this album, that would be Trerack #10's "Baby Blue", which draws you in with the dreamy ambiance beneath the techie beat and grows on you quickly with their smooth collective voices singing 'I cry over you baby blue' over and over in the chorus. The song ends up coming off as having a very soothing, ethnic vibe that melts into the senses; I'd say it's super-worthy of it being recorded as an instrumental-only version:

1. Follow The Light
2. Thinking About You
3. When I Kiss You
4. I Can't Live
5. Under The Boardwalk
6. Back To The Future
7. Listen To Your Heart
8. Hungry For Love
9. Sweet Love
10. Baby Blue
11. Rhythm Of Rain
12. I'll Be Around
13. Ride On A Star
14. Love Is No Crime
15. Have You Ever Had A Love Like This?
16. Back To The Future (Level 1 Remix)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

David Lyme-Lady (1990)


It was back to exploring the Italo-disco sounds of the 80's and 90's for me today, and I went with a singer that came to my attention when one of his two albums released back in the 80's was requested not too long ago. David Lyme and I got formally acquainted on the second of those albums—a special bonus track Japanese edition of the 1988 original, in fact—and this new connection led me to having 45+ minutes of music thrills, plus a slew of new favorites to add to my ever-growing playlists. The opening track, "Blue Jean", is classic high-energy Italo-disco just the way I've come to love it, and it would set the stage for the rest of the energetic jams that were to follow. "Dancing In Japan" became a favorite because of its sunny, pleasant sound and the catchy chorus that goes something like 'oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, I'm dancing in Japan, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, they're singing Tokyo', with the slight Far Eastern accent of backing vocalists delivering those lyrics, coupled with the Far Eastern-inspired chords adding a nice touch to fit the theme of the song. "Never Say You Love Me": A very dancey jam that stands as another reason why it pays to check out these unknown artists from time to time; it gets extra praises from me because of its sweet, jazzy overtones, That same shimmery jazz element is what turns my #1 favorite, "Let Me Be Your Love", into the dance party that it is! It's also a celebration of love; so positive and uplifting are David's confident words of wanting to be the lady's man, with the best part being that powerful punch in the shouted declaration of ' don't you want me now? ' at the end of every pass of the chorus. Thought "Dolce Vita" would be the same song sung by fellow Italo-disco star, Gazebo, but again, it's a song that turns out to be totally different in its arrangement and lyrics. Still the classic feel-good Italo-disco tune that was a hit with me and my ears, especially with its happy sing-along chorus of 'uh-oh-uh-oh baby, do you wanna dance with me?' and the secondary chorus highlighted by the 'hey hey, dolce vita, how can I get you'. Catchy choruses—well that's the theme that reigns supreme all throughout this album, actually, and even the bonus track, "You & Me" (which is a great finish to this album!) plays its part in this as well, with the fun comparisons David makes the love between him and his lady like two kids looking for affection and companionship. But before that, my ears were dazzled by a couple of fine ballads: "Close Your Eyes" (starts off sad before evolving into a warming piece) and the very moving and emotional title track, which gets the sweet jazzing up treatment and becomes one of those starry, soft rock radio perfect gems, as I always like to call them:

1. Blue Jean
2. Lady
3. Dancing In Japan
4. Hit Me Gringo
5. Never Say You Love Me
6. Let Me Be Your Love
7. Dolce Vita
8. Close Your Eyes
9. You & Me

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MODERN TALKING-Alone: The 8th Album (1999)


Twelve, eleven, ten, nine, and now eight—so goes the fun album-listening countdown I had launched many months back with a compilation of greatest hits by this German duo. So here I am again, sparking more music conversation about my latest thrill ride with Thomas Anders and company. In some ways, it felt like I've listened to this album before—the duo's signature, bouncy synthpop style and catchy choruses that I've come to love being the most prominent source of the familiarity. The opener, "You Are Not Alone", contributes to that feeling all by itself (believe it was one of the hits on that aforementioned compilation, in fact), and it's one that I definitely adore! A sad song, given the theme of a man wanting a woman who's attached and unavailable, but then those sad songs with the sad melodies always capture my interest. There were a select group of tracks where it felt like the old Italo-disco/synthpop days of the 80's: "Don't Let Me Go", "Taxi Girl", "Can't Get Enough" and "Rouge Et Noir"—all of them super-catchy and featuring those classic lofty vocals that MODERN TALKING (and the alternate Dieter Bohlen project, BLUE SYSTEM) employ like no other within the Europop camp. My energetic feel-gooders of the day came by way of "It Hurts So Good" (there's just a bright, super-sweet sound, highlighted by the echoing woodwind piece that adds a soft, ambient touch, that makes me and my ears so happy here) and the disco-groovy sing-along that is "For Always And Ever". Something else familiar struck me about "I'll Never Give You Up"—not just the title being similar to the Rick Astley song by the shorter title, "Never Gonna Give You Up", -but the actual song structure, the chords and the way the title lyrics themselves are delivered in the opening movement. I know I've heard this beautiful song before; it was definitely a male pop singer performing it back in the early 90's, but my mind is currently drawing a blank. It's a guarantee on every MODERN TALKING album for there to be at least one charming, heart-warming romantic ballad that dazzles me. This time, I get treated to four of them: "Just Close Your Eyes", "All I Have" (quite an emotional performance this one is; I like the contrast of Thomas 's voice being barely a whisper one second, then rises in the moving chorus, with the spoken words at the end add a nice lasting touch), "How To Mend A Broken Heart" and "Don't Let Me Down". Also on the list of new-found favorites is "I'm So Much In Love", a mid-tempo and breezy mellow piece where the words of 'so much in love, can't live without you, always think of you' are some of the most finest words sung on this whole album:

1. You Are Not Alone
2. Sexy, Sexy Lover
3. I Can't Give You More
4. Just Close Your Eyes
5. Don't Let Me Go
6. I'm So Much In Love
7. Rouge Et Noir
8. All I Have
9. Can't Get Enough
10. Love Is Like A Rainbow
11. How You Mend A Broken Heart
12. It Hurts So Good
13. I'll Never Give You Up
14. Don't Let Me Down
15. Taxi Girl
16. For Always And Ever
17. Space Mix [feat. Eric Singleton]