The Lowdown - CD reviews

Archives of old reviews from 1997

All CD's reviewed by Glenn Hoskins & Barry Towler exclusively for RECORD CORNER, which is one of the leading soul shops in the world. These reviews are not featured in our printed issue.
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(Motown US CD)
1) My, My, My 2) Quiet Time To Play 3) There U Go 4) Lady Dujour 5) If You're Wondering 6) Having Illusions 7) Where Do We Go From Here (duet with STACY LATTISAW) 8) Rub You The Right Way (remix) 9) Fairweather Friend 10) Wrap My Body Tight 11) I Got You 12) Let's Get The Mood Right 13) Maybe 14) Give Love On Christmas Day (hidden bonus)
A Best of Johnny Gill? A very difficult task as any one of us would agree. Whatever can be included would, as a matter of course, not please everybody, but I have to say that Motown have done a fairly good job on this selection; a compilation that includes two new tracks. One of these is a rather unnecessary Christmas offering (as is the CD, I imagine!) and the other is a very well tailored down-tempo track, If You're Wondering, produced by Troy Taylor & the Characters. One imagines that it was an out-take from his last, superb, set.
For those of you who are playing 'catch up', this is a very good start: The man's most successful track, My My My is here in all it's refinement, as is the superior Jam & Lewis / Randy Ran composition, Lady Dujour, which I have always considered a vastly superior moment.
A surprising addition is the Pete Rock & CL Smooth remix of Rub You The Right Way, which was a monster dance tune in its day. For me, however, Johnny Gill is better suited to the more relaxed ballad or the better styled mid-tempo song, and there are enough of these on here to satisfy the need; Maybe and Fairweather Friend should suffice. These tracks are all very good, but are only tasters from his three Motown albums which are all still available - and harbour many more quality tunes which ought not be ignored. However, if money is tight then you won't go far wrong with this set.

(Mercury CD)
1) Anytime 2) Could 3) You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste Your Time) 4) Show Me The Way Back To Your Heart 5) Everytime We Say Goodbye 6) You Got The Bomb 7) Hold Me 8) The Only One For Me 9) Til I Get Over You 10) I Belong To You 11) Jam Knock 12) When The Chariot Comes
Brian McKnight's third album for Mercury records is something of a very mixed bag indeed. If asked to sum the album up, I would have to say that Anytime represents the very best and the very worst material that the man has ever put on disc.
I have held the man in such high esteem for his writing, production and musical talents, and so I was not too pleased when I noted that the set had far too much input from the likes of Sean "Puffy" Combes. This is beyond me, and I feel is a real shame, but it really must be said that this is still an unmissable set for the following four SELF PRODUCED tracks beginning with the title track, Anytime.
I would have to say that this is the best record that Brian has ever made and is an emotionally charged, heartfelt and synth laden track that leads to a wonderful synth climax; featuring a haunting synth backdrop. This is soul music at its very best - be sure about this!
As a follow-up track, Could is much more traditional with the horns, strings and vocals reminiscent of Take 6 at their best. The Only One For Me utilises McKnight's effortless piano playing and is yet another top quality ballad for those who prefer quality soul music. Finally, Till I Get Over You is another MONSTER and must not be missed if the quiet storm format is your cup of tea. The keyboards on this are almost off-key, and this quirkiness is very, very effective indeed. I heartily recommend this CD for the connoisseur, but I fear for the future quality output of this man.

Too Much Woman
(Virgin US CD)
1) Dawn 2) Morning 3) Actions (Speak Louder Than Words) 4) It's Your Life 5) Through It All 6) Dusk 7) Fire 8) Don't Wanna Stay 9) Too Much Woman 10) Better off without You 11) Wishing 12) Writing a Litter 13) Fire (4 Alarm Mix) 14) It's Morning... Again / Through It All
To say that this is a good CD is a bit of an understatement. There are not too many albums around today which you can simply pop into your CD player and just let it play, but this one which you can just put on and enjoy from start to finish.
The Lady has an excellent voice and is supported by an excellent producer in the shape of Scotland's very own Steve Harvey, and a whole caboodle of talented musicians and singers such as Gavin Christopher, Frank McComb, Billy Preston, Wayne Linsey and Bobby Watson. So, if you like your soul music with a definite '70s / early 80's flavour, with a dash of Lonnie Liston Smith circa Love Is the Answer or Dexter Wansel circa Life on Mars, with plenty of organ, moog, strings and a whole host of real live musical instruments, then you will absolutely adore this set!
I cannot pick out a single track for praise, as it really is that good! Listen to the acoustic Morning with its awesome Dexter Wansel-ish prelude complete with wah-wah guitar and you will be sold on it straight away. If you loved the very first Impromp2 CD back in 1995 (another Harvey production), and you love female vocals, then you can see what this set has to offer. Fire is a good example of this sort of mellow, laid back, fluid but funky style.
This is without a doubt another strong quality soul set for 1997. Let us hope that we get more of the same. SUPERB.

(Pure US CD)
1) It Ain't Easy 2) Touch Me in the Morning 3) I'm All Right 4) It's Not Over 5) My Baby 6) I Wouldn't Do That to You 7) Family 8) Father's Hands 9) Eye to Eye 10) My Baby 11) I Miss You
This lady is a new name on the scene, and is produced by Rodney Shelton. Vocally, Dalia is an interesting mix of Anita Baker and Helen Baylor. This is a quality soul set, and this fact is asserted in no certain terms on It Ain't Easy, Michael J. Powell style song that I wish was more prevalent in these times. It's Not Over is another quality slab of soul that must not be ignored and is a track that perfectly show-cases the vocal talents of this lady. In fact, a comparison could even be made with Toni Braxton on this track. On a more uptempo note is My Baby, which is very good indeed. The CD also features a House Mix, and I suggest that it is ignored at all costs! In complete contrast to that misdemeanour is the superb I Wouldn't Do That to You with its very nice synth introduction. The beat lifts again for the slightly poppy Family, which is a pleasant grower. Father's Hands owes more to the contemporary gospel scene with its socially conscious message and delivery. If this is not enough, we are treated to another goody in the shape of Eye to Eye. A new artist with some depth, maturity and class, with a CD that begs attention.

All That I Am
(Jive US/UK CD) 1) All the Things (Your Man Won't Do) 2) The Love Scene 3) Don't Wanna Be a Player 4) Good Girls 5) How Soon 6) Sanctified Girl (Can't Fight This Feeling) 7) All That I Am 8) No One Else Comes Close 9) Come Around 10) U Shoulda Told Me (U Had a Man) 11) Love Don't Make No Sense 12) No One Else Comes Close (unplugged)
Having detested the man's last set, I was more than pleasantly surprised with this set of quality soul cuts that, by and large, rest in a lowdown, sultry, downtempo groove. Certainly, the man has a superb voice; something I have never denied, but on this set he is being given the right production and material. The set kicks off as it means to go on - the gorgeous All the Things (Your Man Won't Do), taken from the Don't Be a Menace OST last year. The bump and grind continues with The Love Scene which is produced by Edwin Nicholas and written by Joylon Skinner. The guitar utilised in Good Girls is so like Craig T. Cooper that it is unbelievable. Onaje Allan Gumbs lends a hand on the warm '80s style Fender Rhodes. This track is perfect soul heaven, and proves to the diehards like myself that Joe is no lightweight or fly-by-night. Gerald Levert is at the helm on the easy How Soon. All That I Am flows magnificently with its strings and acoustic guitar. Love Don't Make No Sense has an early '80s feel to it. I shall definitely play this set to death!!!

Adriana Evans
1) Love Is All Around 2) Seein' Is Believing 3) Heaven 4) Reality 5) Hey Brother 6) Trippin' 7) I'll Be There 8) Love Me 9) Looking for Your Love 10) Swimming 11) Say You Won't 12) In the Sun
My word! 1997 is shaping up just fine! We start this month's Lowdown with THE new album release. Gosh, this is a real corker of an album! As with other albums mentioned recently, Adriana Evans provides us with a very fine mix of today's sound fused with 70's & 80's vibes. Of the same calibre as the Margi Coleman, Maxwell and Rahsaan Patterson albums, we find ourselves placing this in the CD player and just letting it ride on through to the very end. No fillers and no fuss, pure quality guaranteed. On the odd occasion she really does remind me of a nineties Jean Carn in her vocal styling which is definitely OK with yours truly. As for my favourite tracks, well look at the listing above and take your pick! A DEFINITE MUST.

Saturday Night
(Motown US/UK CD)
1) Request Line 2) Saturday Night (Featuring The LOX) 3) So Badd 4) Crush 5) This Song Is for You 6) Just Like That 7) Last Dance 8) Good Times 9) For the Longest Time 10) Rendez-vous 11) My Word Is Bond 12) Kindness for Granted 13) Temporary Thing 14) Confusion 15) Color 16) Piece It Together (Featuring Will Downing & Najee)
This month's "Lowdown" is full of surprise releases. None more so than this, the second (and FAR more superior) album for Zhane. In short, Motown's new broom has come up trumps with this collection of songs that will appeal to both the younger and the more `traditional' soul fan. Simply, an album of two halves: modern and mid-tempo and the more soulful, rich and fully orchestrated classic sound. Motown are on a winning streak with retro-orientated choices such as Request Line and Saturday Night on the one hand, and more some splendid mid-tempo steppers such as So Badd and Crush on the other. If you loved Rendezvous on the recent MoJazz sampler, then tracks 10 through to 16 will absolutely delight you. Real instruments, mature vocals and lasting appeal, a favourite of which has to be Confusion, which is BRILLIANT. This is an album that simply oozes quality.

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