Mint Condition From the Mint Factory (1993) ... Mint Condition is a band that cannot be put into any specific box. They are multi-genre. Funky. Jazzy. Soulful. Rocking. As a later album title would suggest, they are the 'definition of a band'. Their 1993 release, From the Mint factory stands the test of time as a GREAT album. The 62 minute master-work was released on Perspective Records, the house-label for Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The wicked slow-jam, "So Fine" showcases all that is good about Mint Condition; searing vocals & live drums by Stokely Williams, screaming and soulful guitars by O'Dell, and guest Foley (on lead bass), and an energy that is felt as well as heard. ...Sweet, soulful harmonies carry "Swingin" - while the infectious, Keri Lewis penned, "Good for Your Heart" percolates with Caribbean rhythms on top of 90's funk. "My High/Fidelity" is straight rock and roll with a funk break that would make the JBs proud. ..."Always" - showcases the vocal work of Stokely who can sometimes remind the listener of a jazz master vocalist like Al Jarreau with a bad, bad, band. From the Mint Factory
Prince and the Revolution - Parade (1986) ... Prince will appear on this list of GREAT albums more than any other artist. He is prolific beyond compare when it comes to creating music, and in our opinion many of Prince's seemingly under appreciated works are still better than what may be billed as the "best work" by a lesser talent. For us, Parade is the album that resonates the most as a Prince masterwork. Prince is equal parts funky-man, jazzy-man on this classic album. The music ranges from the pure pop of Kiss to the curiously funky bassline of I Wonder U. Parade was the first album where Prince used the full orchestra of Clare Fischer. The result gave Prince's funk, a fresh depth that made it sound "worldly". Fischer's strings lift songs to heights unattainable by synth. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman are credited as collaborators with Prince on the tune Mountains. ..."Kiss" was a massive seller - but the heart of the album lied in the groove of Girls & Boys, and New Position. Girls and Boys features horn work by Eric Leeds. The lovely instrumental - Venus Di Milo was a standout along with Sometimes It Snows in April. Parade: Music from the Motion Picture "Under the Cherry Moon" Soundtrack Edition by Prince & The Revolution (1990) Audio CD
Goapele "Change it All" (2005) - ... Commercial success never defines great art. In many cases, an album can be the victim of poor promotion, bad timing, or a myriad of other circumstances that prohibit it from selling millions. Goapele's Change it All should have sold millions in our opinion. Standout tracks include First Love, 4 AM, If We Knew, and Crushed Out, the latter named BasslineSpin.com's Slow Jam of the Year 2005. There are many aspects of Goapele's music that separate her from the crowd of rhythm and blues songstresses. First, and foremost, Goapele's lyrics are well written, well thought out, and often downright poetic. Musically, she is rooted in Oakland funk. She surrounds herself with soulful Bay Area players that complement perfectly. Listen to the bassline that Mike "Tiger" Aaberg plays on, the Goapele Co-produced, Crushed Out for an example of a bass-player establishing a nasty groove. John "Jubu" Smith provides guitar accents, while Jeff Bhasker adds strings that accentuate the hook. ... The "bridge" on 4 AM is nothing short of brilliant; a slow build up that takes the song back to it's chorus. Produced by Jeff Bhasker, 4 AM is yet another offering of Goapele's ability to be clever with lyrics. "Come inside, Ill keep you warm. Though it hurts me, leaves me torn", she laments. ...If We Knew is one of our all-time favorite songs. It builds to a harmonic vocal climax that never fails to give "chill bumps". I could write volumes about the greatness of Goapele and this album but you would never make it through 100 reviews if I did. Suffice it to say that Change It All is an album that has affected my life. It's that deep. Change It All
Tony! Toni! Tone'! "House of Music" (1996) While many may view Tony! Tone'! Toni! as hitting their stride with House of Music, the truth is - House of Music was the first great Raphael Saadiq album. Saadiq was not solo yet, but each of the standout tracks on House of Music are either written or co-written by the former Raphael Wiggins. From the undeniable funk of Let's Get Down (with DJ Quik), to the beautiful ballad Let Me Know featuring Chalmers "Spanky" Alford on guitar, this album is supremely soulful. Personal favorite tracks include: the Saadiq penned Top Notch, a slo-motion doo-wop-ish nod to Foothills Boulevard that meshes traditional soul with contemporary lyrics, and Don't Fall in Love, a Motown inspired joint that should have served as a beacon for where Saadiq was headed as a solo artist. While Saadiq, Dwayne Wiggins, and Timothy Christian Riley were the front-men of the group, Tony! Toni! Tone'! in reality included MANY fabulous musicians. Carl Wheeler, Kelvin Wooten, Elijah Baker, Clare Fischer, Sheila E, and her father Pete Escovedo all play on House of Music. House Of Music
D'Angelo "VooDoo" (2000) D'Angelo is a gifted soulful musician. He writes all his own tunes, and he oozes with soul - singing his truth despite the pain that accompanies said truth. His "Voodoo" release is a master work that anyone with a soul should dig. Layering his own euphoric vocals on top of each other, D'Angelo makes good use of all that Prince has taught new soul men. You feel his rage, and depth with each vocal performance. D'Angelo gives away, "Dirty is our secret" in the opening track, Playa Playa. Indeed, the Voodoo sound is what it implies; gritty, dimly lit, and brown; like a dark copper colored roux. …Devils Pie is a great song; a simple groove with a funk bass line, and a few handclaps, scratches, and horns. The brilliance is in the lyrics and delivery by D'Angelo. Co-written by D'Angelo, and DJ Premier, Devils Pie is about humans losing site of their principles and selling-out for money.
Fuck the slice, `want the pie. Why ask why, til we fry
Watch us all stand in line - For a slice of the Devil's Pie.
… (What the) Hell is this all about - Apocalypse ain't no doubt
Everybody's ho'ing out (For) All the loot, all the clout.
Roy Hargrove is a major player on this CD, as is ?uestlove from the Roots. Hargrove's smooth trumpet and flugel horn are flickering candles in the back. ?uestlove's drums offer a crisp hi-hat, and hard snare. All-time favorite guitar genius Spanky is at his best on Send it On. …One Mo Gin is a classic slow groove that hypnotizes with a repetitive Pino Palladino bass line, light keys, and D'Angelo's multi-tracked falsetto vocal. Yearning for one more (chance, night) with a lost love, D'Angelo sings a humble song to her that stands the test of time. Likewise, The Root, is a head nodding lament about a woman that "left a dirty stain in my heart". Charlie Hunter provides fantastic wandering bass, and guitar. Other standout tracks include Spanish Joint, GreatDayNDaMornin, and the popular Untitled (How Does it Feel). The latter was C0-written by Raphael Saadiq, and features a dream trio of D'Angelo, Saadiq, and Spanky. …To me, D'Angelo is the brightest star, post-Prince, that I've seen. He makes many acts of 1995-2000 seem very pedestrian. If you feel music and you don't yet have D'Angelo in your life, fix that now. Voodoo