October 19, 2021

Puff Daddy - Tribute To The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
Label Number: 78612-79097-2
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© 1997 Bad Boy Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release

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tags: puff daddy, tribute to the notorious big, 1997, flac,

Puff Daddy - Forever (1999)

*U.S.pressing.
 Contains 19 tracks total. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
Label Number: 78612-73033-2
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© 1999 Bad Boy Records
Forever Review by Keith Farley
It was never much of a contest, but with his second solo album, Puff Daddy retains his crown as the biggest ego in hip-hop, if not popular music. It's an arrogance that asserts itself in the over 20 pictures included in the album booklet (all with different poses and outfits) and in the opening track -- "Forever (Intro)" -- that updates listeners with all the sordid details of Puffy's personal life. With all this ego strutting around, Puffy's sizable production talents have consistently been underrated. The truth is, he's been one of the best hip-hop producers of the '90s, creator of countless solid party jams, heavy on the groove and quite creative for their crossover potential. Though most of the tracks on Forever are co-productions with young lieutenants from his Bad Boy organization, Puffy's productions shine through. And he's downplayed sampling obvious pop hits for the main groove of his songs, perhaps a response to the constant criticism of hip-hop fans. Puffy's also a better rapper than he used to be, almost up to the level of the MC superstars guesting here. There are no tracks as propulsive as the hits from No Way Out ("It's All About the Benjamins," "Been Around the World"), and the ballad track "Best Friend," which samples Christopher Cross' "Sailing," is a lame rehash of the Biggie tribute "I'll Be Missing You." The final track (and first single), the Public Enemy-sampling "P.E. 2000," is an apt metaphor for Puff Daddy's second album; it's a solid production, not quite as exciting as it should be, informed by a mindset that uses hip-hop as a ladder to pop success and wealth.

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tags: puff daddy, forever, 1999, flac,

Just-Ice - VII (1998)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: WARCD-279
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© 1998 Warlock Records
VII Review by Garth Cartwright
This is the last recorded effort of Just-Ice (although he appears to take around three years between albums). Still, it's nothing to get excited about -- Just-Ice is still full of piss and swagger but he's never developed into a storyteller or rhyme cruncher of real interest and the hardcore raps on offer here come from a man who helped invent the gangsta style but now sounds desperately out of time. As ever, he's backed by beats-by-numbers and his label obviously didn't want to spend money on samples, as the music here is, for the most part, colorless. Considering that Just-Ice's former producer Kurtis Mantronic also appears to be on the unemployment line these days, perhaps someone could engineer a reunion. It's worked for old rockers so why not old rappers?

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tags: just ice, vii, 1998, flac,

Guru - Jazzmatazz, Volume 4: The Hip-Hop Jazz Messenger: Back To The Future (2007)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Label Number: SGR007
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© 2007 7 Grand Records
Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger: Back to the Future Review by Marisa Brown
Although Guru's been putting out new editions in his Jazzmatazz series for almost 15 years now, none of the releases has gotten quite the same amount of acclaim as 1993's Vol. 1, which was one of the first examples, and certainly the best, of how actual live jazz could be used and mixed with hip-hop. He collected a wide selection of players and vocalists and ended up with what has been one of the most respected rap albums ever, with a trans-genre appeal that's been hard to match. Vol. 4 continues in this direction, though more often than not the jazzy horn breaks and piano grooves are replaced with more contemporary sounding beats. This isn't to say that the production's not good here (it's done entirely by a very skillful Solar), but it ventures into more straightforward hip-hop territory than most of the other volumes did. "Kissed the World," a witty anti-Bush track, uses a poppy piano line and synth strings, while "Stand Up (Somethings'll Never Change)" features Damien Marley and mixes Afro drum rhythms with Marley's reggae call. "Follow the Signs" is more guitar-based than any other song, and "Connection" has a smooth R&B feel. Guru, of course, holds his own on the mic, and though his lyrics do tend to veer towards the typical braggadocio, he has enough history behind him, as well as some pretty good lines ("I serve a rapper like an ace from Agassi,") he spits on "Infinite," which features Blackalicious' Gift of Gab and is one of the best tracks on the entire album as he employs insightful social commentary to back these statements up. Jazzmatazz is the MC's baby, and at this point is funded by him and his company, 7 Grand Records, but he doesn't let this take him overboard. He's clearly dedicated to it, yes, but he's experienced and talented enough to keep it from being a project of indulgence, using outside help (besides Gab and Marley, Common and David Sanborn, among others, also show up here) to keep the ideas and sounds interesting to all those -- listeners included -- involved, and making, ultimately, for a successful accomplishment.

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tags: guru, jazzmatazz volume 4, vol 4, 2007, flac,

Keith Sweat - Didn't See Me Coming (2000)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
Label Number: 62515-2
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© 2000 Elektra Records
Didn't See Me Coming Review by Ed Hogan
When Keith Sweat first appeared, some folks didn't know what to make of him because of his unique style. Like Teddy Riley, Sweat was a pioneer of new jack, the genre that helped lay the foundation for the R&B/hip-hop and street music of the '90s. On his first album of the 21st century, Didn't See Me Coming, the singer showcases his versatility and adaptability. The sinewy "Whatcha Like" seductively slinks along. The softly chugging "Real Man" has Sweat singing to a woman who's out to get his ends that "you wouldn't know a real man if he was staring in your face." "Caught Up" is a vintage Keith Sweat slow jam with its "I was played" theme and its on this track the singer's vocal maturity is probably most apparent. Sweat supplies the album with some of his trademark "beggin'" songs in "Only Wanna Please You" and "Why U Treat Me So Cold." Lil Mo shares vocals with the singer on the "lonely superstar" duet ballad, "I'll Trade (A Million Bucks)." Sweat duets with David Hollister on the "money can't buy ya love"-themed "Don't Have Me." After five platinum albums (three of which went multi-platinum), two gold singles (four number one R&B, two Top Ten pop), and this fine addition, those who didn't see Keith Sweat coming will have "to recognize."

tags: keith sweat, didn't see me coming, 2000, flac,

Vitamin C - More (Promo CD) (2000)

*Promotional disc. 
Features the album in its entirety. 
A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop
Label Number: 62584-2
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© 2000 Elektra
More Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Vitamin C's first album was pitched directly at junior-high and high-school kids, to the point that its breakthrough single, "Graduation (Friends Forever)," was pumped full of yearbook clichés. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that she wanted to spice up her image with her second album, More, adding a little more sex and sophistication -- two things that are only appropriate for a singer closing in on 30. While the title implies this is another ride on the teen pop merry-go-round, More winds up having more style and substance than its predecessor. Vitamin C isn't afraid to be either slyly witty or to celebrate her new wave roots, not just on the cover of the Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like," but in the general frothy, synthesized approach of the entire album (highlighted by the near-robotic vocals on "She Talks About Love"). Much of this music is lightweight, but deliberately so, and, at its best, such as "Dangerous Girl," its bright, shiny attitude is utterly giddy. Vitamin C isn't content on making effervescent, featherweight pop singles; she wants to sex it up a bit, vamping on occasion (such as on the lead single, "The Itch"), and, with "Sex Has Come Between Us," she gives into a platonic friendship turned romantic (unlike Britney, who just teased on "Oops! I Did It Again"). There's no mistaking this for anything other than a dance-pop record, yet it's made by an artist that is (thankfully) a little too old for teen pop. She's in on the joke, playing with the conventions, adding a touch more wit, both in the music and lyrics, as well as more classicist pop songcraft. That doesn't mean that this is as purely pop as Fountains of Wayne, but it's easy to see this becoming a guilty pleasure for that group's fans. And they may even wind up embracing its knowing approach to teen pop more than teens themselves.

tags: vitamin c, more, promo, 2000, flac,

Various Artists - Nutty Professor II: The Klumps - Soundtrack (2000)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop, R&B
Label Number: 314 542 522-2
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© 2000 Def Jam/Def Soul
Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Review by MacKenzie Wilson
Four years after his eponymous The Nutty Professor, Eddie Murphy gets even more hilarious on the sequel The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. The original soundtrack was brief enough to keep the fun around, especially with tracks from Warren G. and Montell Jordan, but the second installment gets raunchy. Aside from the sweet upbeat R&B track from Janet Jackson ("It Doesn't Really Matter"), this album is heavy with gangsta rappers and their brash attitudes to boot. Songs from Jay Z., DMX, and Eminem call for a rollicking good time, and female rappers such as Eve also keep the party rolling. But it's too harsh for the comedic aspect. More appropriately, LL Cool J keeps things clean on "Snippets."

tags: various artists, nutty professor 2 the klumps soundtrack, ost, 2000, flac,

Various Artists - Moulin Rouge (Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film) (2001)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop, Classical, Stage & Screen
Label Number: 06949 3035 2
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© 2001 Interscope/Bazmark/Fox Music
Moulin Rouge [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] Review by Brad Kohlenstein
At the very least, director Baz Luhrmann has created something different here. His modern-day musical weaves new cover versions of songs from the past three decades into one story about a brothel in turn of the century Paris. Its an odd combination to begin with, and the soundtrack itself bounces back and forth between very hip, modern tracks from artists at the top of their game and big Broadway-style ballads from the cast of the film. Some of the most well-respected names in music signed on for the project, including Beck, Bono, Timbaland, and David Bowie. Fatboy Slim created a "Can Can" for the next generation with "Because We Can," and Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Pink, and Mya teamed up for a surefire hit with their naughtier version of Patti Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." In stark contrast to these edgy tracks, the album spends the rest of its time on love songs from Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. They perform big-voiced, orchestra-backed versions of sentimental favorites like Elton John's "Your Song." The "Elephant Love Medley" strings together some of pop's sappiest hits, including "Up Where We Belong," "One More Night," and "I Will Always Love You." Perhaps to many people's surprise, Kidman and McGregor can really sing, and maybe in a different environment it would be easier to take these songs seriously, but standing here outside the context of the film and next to Beck covering David Bowie, they seem more comic than creative.

tags: various artists, moulin rouge music from baz luhrmanns film, soundtrack ost, 2001, flac,

October 18, 2021

Precious Metal - Right Here, Right Now (1985)

*Photos of the record are included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Glam Metal, Hard Rock
Label Number: 826 146-1 M-1
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© 1985 Mercury Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: precious metal, right here right now, 1985, flac,

Haven - Between The Senses (2002) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Alternative Rock
Style: Britpop
Label Number: 7243 8 12836 2 2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 2002 Virgin Records
Melodically sweet like Coldplay and StarsailorHaven was a critic's darling among the British press in early 2002. The glossy dream pop mix found on their debut album, Between the Senses, was fresh and tangible. Ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr produced Haven's 12 penned tracks, setting the band up for a simple introduction. Subtle electronics and textured acoustic guitars fill the album's depictions of forlorn love, spiritual comfort, and slanted optimism. Frontman Gary Briggs is a heart-rending crooner. His lyrics are traumatic in spots, but always yearning for peace of mind. He's stunning on the eerily beautiful "Out of Reach." "I Need Someone" and "Lately" are warm and inviting with guitarist Nat Wason's easy playing style, but the psychedelic punk romps of "Let It Live" and "Beautiful Thing" are infectiously loud and brazen. Haven looks inside themselves on this album. A group of lads in their early twenties go up against monotonous social conformities, and Marr allowed them to make their visions reality. Between the Senses rests with honesty and a tenderness similar to the likes of the Verve, but without pretense. An underlying sadness bleeds as well.

tags: haven, between the senses, 2002, flac,

Giant - Last of The Runaways (1989)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: CD 5272

© 1989 A&M Records
Truly a band out of time, Giant might have sold millions of records during the heyday of album-oriented rock in the early '80s, but their bright melodies and clean production values sounded completely unfashionable by 1989 standards. Strong opener "I'm a Believer" hints at but doesn't betray the band's Christian beliefs and leads the way into such solid arena rock anthems as "Innocent Days" and "Hold Back the Night" and gorgeous power ballads like "It Takes Two" and "I'll See You in My Dreams." The latter did manage to briefly crack the Top 20, but with other tracks such as "I Can't Get Close to You" and "No Way Out" veering dangerously close to Loverboy territory, this is hardly a perfect album. The band members' utter lack of image (all were rather faceless ex-session musicians) didn't help either, and Giant would only manage to struggle through one more album before calling it a day.

tags: giant, last of the runaways, 1989, flac,

Cold Sweat - Break Out (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: MCAD-6410

© 1990 MCA Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: cold sweat, break out, 1990, flac,

Jeff Paris - Lucky This Time (1993) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: NTHEN 6.
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1993 Now & Then
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: jeff paris, lucky this time, 1993, flac,

Daz Dillinger - R.A.W. (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap
Label Number: 80265 71000 2 3

© 2000 DPG Recordz
After Daz Dillinger's Death Row debut, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, was greeted by an indifferent audience despite being a quality West Coast release, the rapper/producer returned in mid-2000 with R.A.W. on his own Dogg Pound Records label. Aesthetically similar to his days with Death Row, R.A.W. should please anyone who misses the mid-'90s G-funk sound, particularly Dillinger's more acclaimed work: tha Dogg Pound's Dogg FoodSnoop Dogg's Tha Doggfather, and 2Pac's All Eyez on MeKurupt plays a big role here, as does Soopafly, another of Dillinger's peers from the Death Row days; other guests include Mac ShawnTray Deee, and Lil' C-Style. "What It Is" stands out on the album, mostly because Daz speaks up about his bitter feelings toward Death Row and, surprisingly, his cousin Snoop Dogg. "Who's Knocking at My Door" also stands out with a great beat, and "I'd Rather Lie to You" finds the rapper tackling some serious issues. Overall, this album is hurt by its lack of major-label polish and also from its compiled feel. Mostly because of these reasons, and also because Daz isn't one of the West Coast's best rappers, this album isn't as great as it could be. As might be expected, the production is the album's most notable feature, making R.A.W. worth seeking out if you are a fan of Dillinger's trademark West Coast beats. And finally, though the album isn't as well-crafted as Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back, it does find a more mature Daz, which is a welcome change over the theatrical Death Row posing that hampers his mid-'90s work.

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tags: daz dillinger, raw, 2000, flac,

October 17, 2021

Jeff Paris - Race To Paradise (1986)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 826 648-1

© 1986 Mercury Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: jeff paris, race to paradise, 1986, flac,

Backstreet Girls - Mental Shakedown (1989) ☠

Country: Norway
Language: English
Genre: Glam Metal, Hard Rock
Label Number: 838 746-2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1989 Mercury Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: backstreet girls, mental shakedown, 1989, flac,

Saraya - Saraya (1989)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 837 764-2

© 1989 Polydor Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: saraya, saraya album, 1989, flac,

Electric Angels - Electric Angels (1990) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 7 82064-2
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1990 Atlantic Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: electric angels, electric angels album, 1990, flac,

Riverdogs - Riverdogs (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: 466848 2

© 1990 Epic Records
*No professional reviews are available for this release.

tags: riverdogs, riverdogs album, river dogs, 1990, flac,

Giant - Time To Burn (1992)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: EK 48509

© 1992 Epic Records
Giant's second effort, 1991's Time to Burn is another excellent, melodic, hard rock album in the vein of Foreigner and Journey, but with the added sting of Dan Huff's incredible chops and blinding technique (especially on the title track). The rest of the band provides equally impressive musicianship throughout, and one is left with the feeling that this record would have been a monster smash had it been released a decade earlier. Though devout Christians, the members of Giant don't let their beliefs interfere with the music, and songs like "Chained," "Stay," "Without You," and "I'll Be There (When It's Over)" possess fantastic melodies, hooks, and singalong choruses. The band also achieves near-perfection on heart-rending ballads such as "Now Until Forever" and the stunning "Lost in Paradise."

tags: giant, time to burn, 1992, flac,

Lucifer's Friend - I'm Just a Rock 'N' Roll Singer (1973)

*German first pressing on CD. 
Contains 8 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: PMS 7042-WP

© 1973-1997 Repertoire Records
On their third album, Lucifer's Friend took a new tack: instead of being a progressive band or a hard rock band, they decided to incorporate both styles into a more ambitious sound that also worked in elements of soul and jazz. The resulting album, I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, lacks the coherent flow that defines a good album but offers an array of tuneful, well-crafted tracks nonetheless. By this time, the band had learned to make their songwriting the focus of each track and tamed the instrumental soloing that overwhelmed Where the Groupies Killed the Blues. As a result, the tracks are listener friendly, yet have their own distinctive feel; a notable example is "Groovin' Stone," a song that was their most straightforward hard rock song to date, yet also offered a number of interesting keyboard and percussive shadings that the listener wouldn't normally expect from such a tune. Other standouts include "Blind Freedom," a jazzy tune that features strong harmonies (all overdubbed by lead vocalist John Lawton) plus some serpentine electric piano work from Peter Hecht, and the title track, a tongue-in-cheek sendup of rock & roll life that combines an old fashioned rock & roll melody with a giant wall of sound production (complete with a Blood Sweat and Tears-style horn section). The downside of I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer is that it tries out so many different musical elements out that it feels more like a compilation of songs than a real album. It might also annoy some prog-rock fans with the overt pop leanings of tracks like "Groovin' Stone" and the title track. Despite these caveats, this is a polished and listener friendly album that will entertain anyone interested in Lucifer's Friend.

tags: lucifers friend, im just a rock n roll singer, 1973, flac,

Lucifer's Friend - Banquet (1974) ☠

*German first pressing on CD. 
Contains 5 tracks total.
Country: Germany
Language: English
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label Number: IMS 7017
☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 1974-1994 Repertoire Records
On Banquet, Lucifer's Friend finally pulled together the many different elements to their sound (prog, soul, jazz, hard rock) into one cohesive and totally distinctive style. This time out, the primary focus of the album is epic prog numbers with complex instrumentation that go through a variety of surprising and ambitious changes in their arrangements. The standout example is the opening track, "Spanish Galleon": this pirate-themed epic starts with a Latin-flavored rock groove, that is given further power by the addition of horns, segues into a lyrical, pirate-themed song section that climaxes with a rousing chorus, takes a left turn into an instrumental portion studded with jazzy solos, and then finishes with a stirring reprise of the song section. The other prog numbers continue in a similar vein, reaching heights of almost orchestral complexity, but working in enough hooks and solid songcraft into the compositions to keep the listener hooked. Another standout in this arena is "Sorrow," a keyboard-based epic that features a lovely midsection where a keyboard solo is accompanied by a lush string arrangement. Banquet also balances out these epics with a pair of shorter, poppier songs that still manage to show off the band's firepower and complexity in their tighter format; the best is "Dirty Old Town," the closing ballad that builds to a jazzy, horn-powered chorus. All in all, Banquet is a fine, underrated prog outing and is worthy of rediscovery by art-rock fanatics. It's an ideal introduction to the sound of Lucifer's Friend.

tags: lucifers friend, banquet, 1974, flac,