October 31, 2017

Halford - Metal God Essentials Vol.1 (Limited Edition) (2007)

*U.K. release. Contains a second disc with 4 bonus tracks.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Heavy Metal
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© 2007 Metal God Entertainment
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
While he'll always be known first and foremost as the prototypical heavy metal frontman of Judas Priest, Rob Halford spent much of the '90s away from the group (before returning in the early 21st century). During this time, the singer certainly didn't go silent, as he launched several projects -- the Pantera-esque Fight, the Nine Inch Nails-esque Two, and ultimately, a return to his Priest roots, Halford. The 16-track compilation, 2007's Metal God Essentials, Vol. 1, contains highlights from two of these three Halford-led groups (Two is the only project nowhere to be found here). But this is not a straight-ahead best-of set, as the majority of the tracks from the Fight era ("Into the Pit," "Nailed to the Gun," "War of Words") are demo recordings. And while another demo, "Silent Screams," shows the metal god in a tranquil mood, the majority of the tracks here are good old-fashioned, speaker melting metal, as evidenced by the inclusion of such ditties as "Made in Hell," "Golgotha," and "Locked and Loaded." Also included is a pair of all-new Halford tracks, "Forgotten Generation" and "Drop Out" (which serves as a sneak peak of the forthcoming Halford release).

tags: halford, metal god essentials vol 1, 2007, limited edition, flac,

Boyz II Men - Cooleyhighharmony (1991) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1991 Motown Records
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
No mere breakthrough, 1991's Cooleyhighharmony was one of the decade's biggest debuts, setting Boyz II Men well on their path to becoming what the RIAA certified the most successful R&B group of all time. Their sound, dubbed "hip-hop doo-wop" and aided in large part by the productions and arrangements of Dallas Austin, was a shrewd and flexible mix of contemporary and throwback elements. Fully exploiting the members' stunning vocal chops on ballads as a close harmony group, while hardly washed out when matched with densely layered upbeat material (new jack swing was still in full flight), the group put a mature collegiate spin on what were, at the time, the last two New Edition albums, updating the techniques reminiscent of the doo wop covered on Under the Blue Moon within a set that was as modern-sounding as the singles off Heart Break. It contains that rare mix of hot singles with several album cuts that could have just as easily been hits, the ultimate measure of a release that is both commercially and creatively successful. While the album was carried by four Top Ten R&B singles, two of which -- the swinging, anthemic "Motownphilly" and an a cappella version of the Cooley High soundtrack's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," the tear duct activator of 1991/1992 -- went Top Five on the pop chart, there is substantial depth. The non-single highlights include the sweet slow jam "This Is My Heart," sonically somewhere between Gwen Guthrie's "Outside in the Rain" and an organic Babyface ballad, and the frantic new jack swinger "Under Pressure," perhaps too much like "Motownphilly" or Dallas Austin's most chaotic Bomb Squad-inspired productions. In its original ten-song form, in fact, Cooleyhighharmony is a brisk 40-minute set built for front-to-back listening, though the sequencing is more natural with the "adagio" and "allegro" halves switched up. For many of those responsible for its multi-platinum status, it is the album of the early '90s, "Uhh Ahh"'s amusing libidinal melisma notwithstanding.

tags: boyz ii men, cooleyhighharmony, coolie high harmony, 1991, flac,

Boyz II Men - Evolution (1997) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1997 Motown Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Evolution is supposed to capture Boyz II Men in full maturity, but it sounds surprisingly similar to their blockbuster II. Like that album, Evolution relies on ballads, downplaying the group's dance-pop side. There are still several up-tempo numbers on the record, but it's clear that the group and their producers were more concerned with smooth ballads like "4 Seasons of Loneliness" and "A Song for Mama," which they deliver with typical grace. However, Boyz II Men's signature sound is beginning to sound like a formula, especially since the group fails to offer any new twists on their trademark hip-hop doo wop. There's enough strong material on Evolution to satisfy Boyz II Men's large fan base, but they will truly need to evolve on their fourth album in order to stay viable.

tags: boyz ii men, evolution, 1997, flac,

Boyz II Men - Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (2007)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2007 Decca, UMTV
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Three years after the all-covers Throwback -- a release that included some pleasantly surprising choices for new looks, like One Way's "Cutie Pie" and Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do for Love" -- Boyz II Men reappear with yet another covers affair. As indicated by the title, the trio changes its focus to Motown for a set that ranges thematically and chronologically from the Temptations' "Just My Imagination" to Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" to the Commodores' "Easy" -- and, as something of a sly acknowledgment that they were once on Motown themselves, they close out the set with an a cappella version of "End of the Road" (featuring Brian McKnight). Their backing is mostly all-star caliber, including the Dap-Kings Horns, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, percussionist Luis Conte, and string arranger Larry Gold. The material tends to work best when they sound relatively relaxed, as opposed to when it is obvious that they are trying very hard to honor the originals while being over-demonstrative with their obviously gifted voices. It's not that the disc won't please fans, because it likely will, despite Boyz II Men's continued shortage of new songs; but it's nearly impossible at this point to add anything to the likes of "It's the Same Old Song," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," or "Money (That's What I Want)" -- no matter how well they are handled.

tags: boyz ii men, motown a journey through hitsville usa, flac, 2007,

Boyz II Men - Full Circle (2002)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2002 Artista Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Boyz II Men grew up with 2000's Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, providing a really fine, mature urban soul album, but not many noticed, so it was time for another new start in 2002. They left Motown and signed with Arista, where Antonio "L.A." Reid had successfully set up shop, breaking new acts and re-establishing old ones -- with the latter clearly in mind when he executive produced Boyz II Men's Full Circle, with the Boyz handling production duties. Everybody involved apparently decided that the best way to bring the boyz into the 2000s is by hedging their bets: offering a little of the stilted, early-'80s funk-influenced hip-hop that marked modern soul, while offering a lot of adult contemporary balladry. Although the group doesn't delve too hard into funk, it still doesn't mesh particularly well together, especially since the material, while well-sung as ever, isn't particularly distinguished. That doesn't mean it's bad -- the album is pleasant enough as it spins -- but it's simply not that memorable, which is quite a disappointment after the very, very nice Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya.

tags: boyz ii men, full circle, 2002, flac,

Boyz II Men - II (1994) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1994 Motown Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With their second album, II, Boyz II Men assured their place at the top of the charts, as well as history. "I'll Make Love to You," the album's first single, stayed on the top of the charts for over two months, only to be unseated by "On Bended Knee," the album's second single. Not surprisingly, II is a carefully constructed crowd pleaser, accentuating all of the finest moments from their hit debut. While there are some high-energy dance tracks, the album's main strength is its slower numbers, where the group's vocals soar.

tags: boyz ii men, ii, II, 2, 1994, flac,

Boyz II Men - Love (2009)

*European release. Contains 1 bonus track. 13 tracks total.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2009 Decca
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
The title of Boyz II Men’s third consecutive covers album is only partially indicative. The love songs covered on this disc span several decades and styles, unlike Throwback (‘70s and early-‘80s funk and soul) and Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (self-explanatory), both of which were more focused thematically. What ties these songs together is that they are love songs, and nothing else. That early-‘60s R&B (Sam Cooke’s “Cupid”), late-‘90s country (Lonestar’s “Amazed”), and early-‘80s rock (Journey’s “Open Arms,” a choice likely influenced by producer Randy Jackson) are all part of the mix only hints at the randomness of the selections. Despite the range of the sources, Boyz II Men tie it all together, nearly to a fault. The group makes the occasional modification to the originals, like the ticking-clock vocal effect on Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”; otherwise, if you know the originals, and you know Boyz II Men, you can play these versions in your head without having heard them.

tags: boyz ii men, love, 2009, flac,

Boyz II Men - Throwback (2004)

*Also known as "Throwback Vol. 1"
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2004 Koch Records
AllMusic Review by Rob Theakston
In the careers of nearly all adult contemporary artists, there is almost an unspoken, obligatory feeling that compels them to pay homage to their roots and inspirations by issuing covers albums. Sometimes these approaches work wonders for a career (case in point: the rejuvenation of Michael McDonald's career courtesy of a record chock-full of Motown covers, which was the defibrillator to an otherwise pulseless career), and sometimes they don't. Thankfully, the Boyz get it right most of the time on Throwback, but not without some setbacks. The reverence that the Boyz show here is evident by their sincere performances and track selection, which obviously pay homage to the radio and records they grew up with (which is self-evident thanks to the title). However, it's the production that is the dragging anchor keeping this album from really setting sail the way it begs to. Resorting to formulaic cookie-cutter R&B beats and production deters from the group's biggest strength: their voices. Of course, there are exceptions from time to time: an all-acoustic delivery of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," the Philly soul goodness of Teddy Pendergrass' "Close the Door," and a surprisingly faithful arrangement of the Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New" all bring their true talents to the forefront. The vocals are just as sharp as ever, especially on their stirring interpretations of Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile" and "Human Nature." It's not a watershed moment in their catalog, but for those die-hard fans who simply love the group, it's an engaging listen and a charming audio yearbook.

tags: boyz ii men, throwback, throwback vol 1, 2004, flac,

Boyz II Men - Twenty (2011)

*Contains 2 discs.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
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© 2011 MSM/Benchmark
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
Disc one of Twenty constitutes Boyz II Men's first full-length set of original material since 2002’s Full Circle, an album released just prior to the departure of bass vocalist Michael McCary. The title here isn’t the only manner in which the group acknowledges its longevity. They work with past collaborators such as Tim & Bob, Teddy Riley, and Babyface, each of whom either produces or co-produces three tracks. Rather than attempt to compete with younger acts on the charts, they largely stick to their tried and true approach and appeal to their longtime listeners. Some of the slower songs get a little raunchy, but most of them -- highlighted by “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” featuring Charlie Wilson -- switch between romantic pleading and uplifting/inspirational modes. It’s their most enjoyable work since 2000’s Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya. On the second disc, Boyz II Men cover themselves. In some cases, the new looks at their hits are closer to re-creations than reinterpretations, with only slight variations on the vocal and instrumental arrangements. That Boyz II Men still have it, both individually and collectively, is undeniable; their group harmonies sound as easy as ever. That’s what they had over most contemporary R&B acts in 1991, and that's what they have over all of them in 2011.

tags: boyz ii men, twenty, 2011, flac,

October 30, 2017

The Beatles - 1 (2000) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Rock
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☠: Selected by Buccaneer
© 2000 Capitol Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Apparently, there was a gap in the Beatles' catalog, after all -- all the big hits weren't on one tidy, single-disc compilation. It's not the kind of gap you'd necessarily notice -- it's kind of like realizing you don't have a pair of navy blue dress socks -- but it was a gap all the same, so the group released The Beatles 1 late in 2000, coinciding with the publication of their official autobiography, the puzzlingly titled Anthology. The idea behind this compilation is to have all the number one singles the Beatles had, either in the U.K. or U.S., on one disc, and that's pretty much what this generous 27-track collection is. It's easy, nay, necessary, to quibble with a couple of the judgment calls -- look, "Please Please Me" should be here instead of "From Me to You," and it's unforgivable to bypass "Strawberry Fields Forever" (kick out "Yellow Submarine" or "Eleanor Rigby") -- but there's still no question that this is all great music, and there is a bit of a rush hearing all these dazzling songs follow one after another. If there's any complaint, it's that even if it's nice to have something like this, it's not really essential. There's really no reason for anyone who owns all the records to get this too -- if you've lived happily without the red or blue albums, you'll live without this. But, if you give this to any six or seven year old, they'll be a pop fan, even fanatic, for life. And that's reason enough for it to exist.

tags: the beatles, 1, 2000, flac,

Special Ed - Legal (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1990 Profile Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
If you asked most hip-hoppers of the late '80s or early '90s what main the difference between East Coast and West Coast rappers was, they would have explained that while West Coast rappers were primarily concerned with beats and lyrics, the top priority of East Coast rappers was their rapping technique. Having interesting lyrics <|>a la Ice-T and Ice Cube or impressive tracks a la Dr. Dre would get you respect in L.A., San Diego or Oakland, but if you were an aspiring MC in Queens, Philadelphia or Atlantic City, the best way to earn the respect of your homeboys and homegirls was showing off your flow or rhyming technique. Around 1989-91, Special Ed was among the East Coast's most respected rappers, and the thing that earned him so much respect was the type of excellent technique he brings to his second album, Legal (so named because he had turned 18). Produced by Hitman Howie Tee, the main purpose of this CD is showing off Ed's rapping skills--and, to be sure, they're quite solid. That said, the album's best moments come when he tells some type of story instead of simply boasting and displaying his technique. "Livin' Like a Star" and "The Mission" demonstrate that the Flatbush, Brooklyn native can be a funny and clever storyteller when he puts his mind to it; the problem is that he doesn't do nearly enough storytelling. This is a generally likable effort, although it certainly isn't without its limitations.

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Special Ed - Revelations (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1995 Profile Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Five years passed between Special Ed's sophomore effort, Legal, and his third album, Revelations. The Brooklyn native was 23 when this CD came out, and the hip-hop landscape had gone through its share of changes since Ed's emergence as a teenager in the late 1980s. So the rapper adjusted his flow to appeal to 1995 tastes, but he was still quite recognizable as Special Ed -- and he was still a technique-oriented boasting rapper first and foremost. Boasting, in fact, is about all he does on Revelations. But as clever as many of his boasts are, hearing nothing but bragging can wear thin after awhile. A few songs into the album, you're admiring Ed's flow but wishing he would talk about something other than how great a rapper he is and how inferior rival MCs are. And after over an hour of hearing nothing but boasting and nothing but technique, you're painfully aware of how limited this approach can be. Revelations isn't a bad album by any means, but it could have used some variety.

tags: special ed, revelations, 1995, flac,

Special Ed - Youngest In Charge (1989)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1989 Profile Records
AllMusic Review by M.F. DiBella
In 1989, at the tender age of 16, Brooklynite Special Ed burst on the scene with enough talent and swagger to stake his claim among hip-hop's big boys. For Special Ed, MC stands for master of cleverness, and Youngest in Charge is replete with it. The gifted manchild boasts a versatile repertoire, using various lyrical styles and rhymes spiked with punchlines and metaphors that indicate wisdom beyond his 16 years. The meat of the album lies in its first three tracks. The opening cut, "Taxing," is Ed's coming-out party as he kicks entertaining verses over a slickly produced, squealing guitar-riff-laced track produced by Howie Tee. The following track is a masterpiece, Ed's claim to hip-hop immortality, "I Got It Made." It's four-plus minutes of artful arrogance, an instant hip-hop classic and anthem for all precocious hip-hop-heads of the era. To round out the trio comes "I'm the Magnificent," a continuation of Ed's bragging rights over a sample from "Shantytown" (off Jimmy Cliff's The Harder They Come soundtrack). Because the first three tracks are so stellar, the rest of the album seems to be something of an afterthought; however, the remainder of the album does contain a few jewels. "The Bush," Ed's ode to his stomping grounds of Flatbush, features a sample of Al Green's "Love and Happiness," while "Think About It" is Ed's warning to those who wish to test his supremacy on the mic. On "Heds and Dreds," Ed flips a dancehall cadence to show his West Indian heritage. Youngest in Charge is a delightful release from a young hip-hop pioneer, a demonstration of the Edenic age of hip-hop when youthful exuberance and expression were highly valued.

tags: special ed, youngest in charge, 1989, flac,

October 29, 2017

Jay-Z - Vol. 3... Life & Times of S. Carter (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1999 Roc-A-Fella Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
After the crossover success of 1998's Hard Knock Life (complete with highly publicized samples from Annie), Jay-Z returned to the streets on his fourth proper album overall, 1999's Life and Times of S. Carter. A set of hard-hitting tracks with some of the best rhymes of Jay-Z's career, the album is much more invigorating than its predecessor, and almost as consistently entertaining as his best album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. As good as his rapping has become, the production here plays a large part as well. Befitting his superstar status, Jay-Z boasts the cream of hip-hop producers: Timbaland (four tracks total), DJ Premier, Swizz Beatz, and Rockwilder. DJ Premier's "So Ghetto," Timbaland's "Snoopy Track" (with Juvenile), and DJ Clue's "Pop 4 Roc" are innovative tracks that push the rhymes along but never intrude too much on Jay-Z's own flow. If this album doesn't quite make it up to Jay-Z's best, though, it's the fault of a few overblown productions, like "Dope Man" and "Things That U Do" (with Mariah Carey).

tags: jay z, jay-z, vol 3 life and times of s carter, 1999, life & times,

Y&T - Facemelter (2010)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 2010 Meanstreak Music Co.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
That's one serious title Y&T have come up with for their 12th studio album overall, eh? It's hard to believe it's been 13 years since this California-based melodic metal outfit last issued an all-new studio recording, but longtime fans will agree it's better late then never -- especially after hearing 2010's Facemelter. There may be only two members still on board from the group's early- to mid-‘80s peak (that would be original members singer/guitarist Dave Meniketti and bassist Phil Kennemore), but with hair metal bands from the aforementioned era experiencing a serious resurgence in the early 21st century, the Y&T chaps couldn't have picked a better time to enter a recording studio once more. And instead of tinkering with their sound, Y&T have created an album that is an exact replica sonically of such popular releases as 1983's Mean Streak and 1984's In Rock We Trust (which just happen to be the group's best-selling albums). Yearning for the tough yet melodic sound that Y&T helped popularize way back when? You're in luck throughout Facemelter -- especially on such standouts as "On with the Show," "Shine On," and "Wild Child," all of which would have fit perfectly on the two aforementioned albums, and gloriously feature Meniketti's Sammy Hagar-esque vocals. And like all mainstream metal acts from the ‘80s, there's the obligatory sappy power ballad included as well -- "If You Want Me." It sounds like absolutely no time has passed from Y&T's mid-‘80s peak to Facemelter, which leads you to wonder...have Y&T discovered a heavy metal time machine?

tags: y & t, y&t, facemelter, 2010, flac, face melter,

Def Leppard - Retro Active (1993)

*Compilation featuring outtakes and leftover tracks.

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1993 Mercury Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Retro Active is a collection of outtakes and leftovers spanning Def Leppard's entire career. Kicking off the disc, "Desert Song" and "Fractured Love" are two of its most distinctive tracks, harkening back to the band's early (pre-success) days with their rough power chords. After paying homage to some of their heroes with a set of covers (Sweet's "Action" and Mick Ronson's "Only After Dark"), the band tackles a couple of solid, but hardly groundbreaking ballads -- "Two Steps Behind" and "Miss You in a Heartbeat" -- before stretching out (with mixed results) on the folky "From the Inside." Taken from the Hysteria sessions, the classy "I Wanna Be Your Hero" is another pleasant surprise, and the band reaches all the way back to the beginning by re-recording their first demo "Ride into the Sun." Overall, this is an interesting release which marks the end of a long chapter in the band's history, following the death of guitarist and guiding force Steve Clark. While casual fans might find it confusing, Leppard fanatics will revel in its diversity and informative liner notes.

tags: def leppard, retro active, 1993, flac,

October 28, 2017

Various Artists - B.O.S.S. (Boss of Scandalz Strategyz) Vol. 1 (1999)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Fran├žais)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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                *****
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© 1999 Epic Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

tags: boss, b.o.s.s., boss of scandalouz strategyz vol 1, 1999, flac,

Y&T - Yesterday And Today (1976)

*Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1976-1992 Mondo Records Corporation
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Y&T - Struck Down (1978)

Original first pressing on C.D.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1978-1992 Mondo Records Corporation
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Struck Down was Yesterday & Today's second long-player, and their last release prior to changing their name to Y&T in the early '80s. And though not as consistent as the band's rock-solid debut two years earlier, it too collects a wealth of enjoyable material performed by an already very confident and mature band. Most noticeable of all, Struck Down is astoundingly heavy for its time, with high-energy cuts like the title track, "Road," and "Dreams of Egypt" packing loads of guts and swagger and evincing a bite which aptly captures the band's legendary live power onto vinyl. A few pedestrian moments, including the cheesy shuffle "Nasty Sadie," the rather one-dimensional "I'm Lost," and the psychedelic anachronism "Stargazer" keep this from being a fully satisfactory set, but they certainly could have done a lot worse.

tags: y&t, y & t, struck down, 1978, flac,

Y&T - Contagious (1987)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock, Glam Metal
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© 1987 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
After years of professional frustration with little to show for their efforts, Y&T parted with longtime label A&M to seek out pop-metal salvation at the hands of A&R guru John Kalodner and the red-hot Geffen Records. But although 1987's Contagious was given the same Kalodner treatment (party lyrics, gang vocals, synthesizer splashes, sugar-coated guitar riffs, etc.) which led to Aerosmith's miraculous comeback the same year, Dave Meniketti and crew would have no such luck. From the very first "hey!" which launches the bombastic title track (a barely disguised rehash of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer"), Contagious is your textbook example of sleek, over-produced '80s pop-metal: all fluff and frilly shirts, no substance. Mid-paced melodic rockers like "L.A. Rocks" and "The Kid Goes Crazy" peddle their numbskull choruses ad nausea, to the point of embarrassment, actually. It may have worked for any number of lesser hair bands with prettier faces, but not for Y&T, who also managed to alienate whatever was left of their original audience in the process. And even though they would take another stab at it with the somewhat improved Ten, Contagious effectively signaled Y&T's death knell.

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Y&T - Ten (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
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© 1990 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
By the time Y&T released Ten in 1990, they were well past their prime, but they at least had the chance of riding the tail-end of the hair metal era. However, Ten just didn't deliver the goods. "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" has a good riff, but much of the record lacks a strong hook -- it's just well-produced, slick mainstream metal without much style or flair. It's no surprise that the group packed it in (albeit temporarily) shortly after the release of Ten.

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Fabolous - Street Dreams (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap, Gangsta Rap
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© 2003 Desert Storm/Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by John Bush
His first record was the hottest rap debut of 2001 (despite an ominous release date: 9/11), and Fabolous consolidated his commercial clout, if not his artistic importance, with a safe sophomore record called Street Dreams. There's little doubt that Fabolous has rapping talents to match his name, with the smoothest flow of any East Coaster and dozens of great ideas. To capitalize on what made Ghetto Fabolous such a big hit, Street Dreams has plenty of club tracks ("Can't Let You Go," and "Trade It All, Pt. 2" featuring P. Diddy) and a few that advertise his hardcore credentials ("Not Give a F***," "Up on Things" featuring Snoop Dogg, "Keepin It Gangsta" with Styles and Jadakiss). Elsewhere he dismisses a raft of female admirers ("Call Me," "Into You" featuring Ashanti) and shows a level of general disinterest to rival anyone with a major-label deal. One of the singles, "This Is My Party," is one of the worst tracks on the album, a lame mid-tempo grind with a one-note chorus featuring Fabolous intoning "This is my party, so get fly if you like to" over and over. The productions are much better than the songs, with good work coming from Tone & Poke, Timbaland, and executive producers DJ Clue and Duro.

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Fabolous - Ghetto Fabolous (2001)

*European release. Contains 2 bonus tracks.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap, Gangsta Rap
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© 2001 Desert Storm/Elektra Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
From out of nowhere, Fabolous swooped onto the hip-hop scene in summer 2001 with this big-money debut album and a sure-fire hit ("Can't Deny It"). It also didn't hurt that Fabolous' rhymes happen to fit right in the with the zeitgeist of the moment, exhibiting somewhat of an East Coast variation of the bling bling style synonymous with Southern rap. Besides Jay-Z's occasional departure into materialism and/or hedonism à la "I Just Wanna Love U," the East Coast didn't really have a young, icy player -- at least not since the popular downfall of Bad Boy following the Notorious B.I.G.'s death. So if all this sounds a bit calculated, that's probably because it is. The flagship for DJ Clue's Desert Storm label, Fabolous is targeted at a specific niche, and he's well positioned. You know this before even hearing the music, just by glancing over the credits: big-money, of-the-moment producers like the Neptunes, Rockwilder, and Timbaland drop beats, and big-name, all-over-the-airwaves rappers/vocalists like Ja Rule, Lil' Mo, Jagged Edge, and Nate Dogg contribute some hooks -- these are can't-miss artists capable of propelling an unknown like Fabolous to overnight stardom. And that's exactly how it worked, thanks to the Rick Rock-produced, Nate Dogg-graced "Can't Deny It," a song that conveniently lifts a trademark 2Pac line for its hook ("I can't deny it, I'm a f*ckin' ridah," from "Ambitionz as a Ridah"). As calculated as it may be, it's an irresistible hook; unfortunately, the remainder of the album isn't nearly as alluring.

tags: fabolous, ghetto fabolous, 2001, flac,