April 30, 2018

En Vogue - Born To Sing (1990)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1990 Atlantic Records
AllMusic Review by Jose F. Promis
The '80s produced countless "three girl and a drum machine"-type acts, but 1990 produced the trendsetting quartet En Vogue (courtesy of producers Thomas McElroy and Denzil Foster), who, with their individual vocal skills, sophisticated sense of fashion, sultry videos, and smart singles, went on to become one of the decade's most successful and influential acts. The album that started it all was Born to Sing, which scored two pop hits and two more R&B hits. First and foremost is "Hold On," a cool, shuffling, timeless hip-hop R&B track which peaked at number two on the pop charts and showcased the girls' effortless harmonies. "Lies," which alternated lead vocalists (and featured a rap courtesy of Debbie T.), managed to crack the Top 40 while proving that all members of the quartet were equally adept at handling lead vocals. The biting "You Don't Have to Worry" and the sensual "Don't Go" both scored high on the R&B charts without becoming pop hits. Other highlights include the funky new jill swing track "Strange" and their one-minute version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (which should have been a full-length recording). There are a couple of duds, including "Part of Me," "Just Can't Stay Away," and the CD bonus track, "Waitin' on You," but overall this album is a winner, and was just a preview of the massive success they would achieve with 1992's Funky Divas.

tags: en vogue, born to sing, 1990, flac,

En Vogue - Funky Divas (1992)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1992 EastWest Records America
AllMusic Review by Jose F. Promis
The 1990s were a time when hip-hop infused with R&B became pop music, and at the forefront of this movement was En Vogue. Their most commercially and critically successful album, Funky Divas, stands as one of the best pop/R&B albums to emerge from that time, incorporating soul, hip-hop, pop, dance, and rock to create one of the era's most diverse, dazzling, and exciting pieces of work. The album, which is basically free of filler, scored no less than five hit singles, three of which became Top Ten pop hits. Additionally, several other album tracks became dance hits and received considerable airplay as well. These include the unstoppable "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)," which combined perfect harmonies, street sass, and 1990s female assertion to create one of the biggest hits of 1992, as well as a catch phrase which became ubiquitous in popular culture. Other hits include their sophisticated, shimmering Top Ten remake of "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," a ghetto love fable initially popularized by Aretha Franklin, the doo wop good-feelin' "Give It Up Turn It Loose," the jazzy "Love Don't Love You," and the hard rock smash "Free Your Mind." The last was a hit which, following the summer of the Los Angeles riots, struck a chord with national audiences by coaxing people to let down their guards about racism and prejudice. Other highlights include the great opener "This Is Your Life," the hip-hop tracks "Hip Hop Lover" and "It Ain't Over Till the Fat Lady Sings," the house track "What Is Love," the sexy, Middle Eastern-influenced "Desire," and their wonderful, should-have-been-a-hit version of Curtis Mayfield's "Hooked on Your Love." Combining sass, elegance, and class with amazing vocals and perfect production, this delightful set stands as one of the 1990s definitive pop albums.

tags: en vogue, funky divas, 1992, flac,

En Vogue - EV3 (1997)⚓

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1997 EastWest Records America
AllMusic Review by Leo Stanley
The sound of En Vogue isn't greatly affected by the departure of Dawn Robinson for their third album, EV3, since the group's harmonies remain remarkably supple and soulful. Instead, the group are hurt by its selection of producers and songwriters. En Vogue have decided to work with Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy only occasionally on EV3, choosing to hire such professional songwriters and producers as Babyface, David Foster, Diane Warren and Ivan Matias, who arranged their hit single "Don't Let Go (Love)." At times, these pairings work: Babyface's "Whatever" is funkier than his previous work, and Matias brings a gospel-drenched sensibility to his songs. In the cases of Warren and Foster, they reshape En Vogue as an adult contemporary band, sapping the group of any of their energy or style. Still, there are enough strong moments scattered throughout the album to make it worth the wait.

tags: en vogue, ev3, 1997, flac,

Michel'le - Hung Jury (1998) ☠

Country: U.S.A
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)
☠: Selected by Lass
© 1998 Death Row Records
AllMusic Review by Jose F. Promis
It took Michel'le nearly a decade to release a follow-up to her hit-laden self-titled debut, and the results on Hung Jury are pleasant, but never really equal her previous heights. To begin with, nothing on this album is as immediate or memorable as "No More Lies" or "Something In My Heart." The title track is catchy, but is weighted down by banal lyrics like "I like to freak seven days a week." "Crazy" comes off as a somewhat tepid update of her hit "Nicety," and some of the other tracks, such as "Wasted My Tyme" and the fun "Tonight Is," sound as though they came straight from 1989. Some songs do manage to hold their own, such as "Can I Get a Witness," the aforementioned "Tonight Is," and "Here 4 U" (the album's best track), but some fall downright flat, such as "No Where 2 Run." Although this album is not without merit, it seems as though Michel'le ran out of steam somewhere between 1990 and 1998.

tags: michelle, michel'le, hung jury, 1998, flac,

April 29, 2018

Vixen - Tangerine (1998)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock, Grunge
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1998 CMC International
AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny
Eight long years after Rev It Up, Vixen return with a recording of all new material dubbed Tangerine. In the interim, the group's pop-metal sound has changed only imperceptibly, so if you liked Vixen before, Tangerine will be right up your alley; if you didn't, this new record will do nothing to change your mind.

tags: vixen, tangerine, tangerine album, 1998, flac,

Dark Sun Riders ft. Brother J. - Seeds of Evolution (Promo C.D.) (1996)

*Promo disc. A hole is punched through the bar code on the back. Front cover has the "For promotional use only" notice. A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1996 Island Records
AllMusic Review by Daevid Jehnzen
Former X-clan member Brother J leads Dark Sun Riders, a hip-hop group that isn't is militant as his former outfit. That doesn't mean he's abandoned politics, however -- he's just become more skillful and subtle with his lyrics. His new-found maturity is evident throughout Dark Sun Riders' debut album, Seeds of Evolution. A raw, funky and soulful collection, the album has its weak spots, but it delivers enough deep grooves and inventive rhymes to make it a satisfying listen.

tags: dark sun riders, seeds of evolution, 1996, flac, dark sun riders featuring brother j, darksun riders,

Defari - Focused Daily (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1999 Tommy Boy Records
AllMusic Review by Craig Robert Smith
With a day job as an Inglewood, CA high school teacher, and with a Master's degree from Columbia University, Defari Herut (aka Duane Johnson) defines the term "hip-hop scholar." His straightforward rhyming style emphasizes positivity, and on "Never Lose Touch," he even gives thanks to his mother in the chorus. Although overly employing braggadocio tactics in dissing lesser rappers, his clever verses ("lyrics shine time after time, brighter than briquettes") on tunes like "Likwit Connection" make up for the shortfall.

tags: defari, focused daily, 1999, flac,

Europe - Start From The Dark (2004)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2004 Friday Music
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
They're baaack! Nearly a decade-and-a-half has passed since we last heard from one of hair metal's leading bands, Europe, and the group has returned with Start from the Dark. While the group has earned a bit of a bad rap over the years (their keyboard-heavy tale of Armageddon, "The Final Countdown," was voted one of the 'Most Awesomely Bad Songs of All Time' on VH1), there's no denying that under all the pretty boy good looks and pop hooks, Europe was a talented band -- especially when compared to the other similar acts of the era. Europe's latest sees the group toughen up their sound a bit (especially when compared to their aforementioned Final Countdown era), as guitarist John Norum's heavy riffs serve as the main focal point, not keyboards, especially on such tracks as "Got to Have Faith" and the title track. In fact, even when the band takes the volume down a notch, as on "Reason," they wisely no longer try to heighten the 'syrup factor' with keyboards. Fans longing for Europe's return should enjoy Start From the Dark, even if their sound may be a bit heavier nowadays.

tags: europe, start from the dark, 2004, flac,

Europe - Secret Society (2006)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2006 T&T Sanctuary Records
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
When you think of '80s pop/prog-rockers Europe, arena-worthy singalongs (à la "The Final Countdown"), and tear-inducing power ballads (à la "Carrie") immediately come to mind. But with the group's 2006 effort, Secret Society (their second since reuniting in the early 21st century), Europe has endured a total musical makeover. In place of their once glossy pop production is a much more heavy sound, while the once overtly melodic vocals of Joey Tempest have toughened up considerably, and guitarist John Norum's once shredding leads have been considerably scaled back. Led Zeppelin is obviously a major influence on the album-opening title track, while cuts such as "Love Is Not the Enemy" and "Let the Children Play" feature some unmistakably nu-metal riffs. And Europe certainly receive credit for producing and writing the album entirely on their own -- as they're one of the few '80s-era rock veterans who did not have to ask for assistance from outside help to reinvent and update their sound. As evidenced by Secret Society, Europe have succeeded in creating an album that faithfully reflects the sound of rock radio circa 2006.

tags: europe, secret society, 2006, flac,

Europe - Last Look At Eden (2009)

Country: Sweden
Language: English
Genre: Hard Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2009 Ear Music
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
You can always count on good ol' Europe to supply grandiose and bombastic rock of the highest order (did any song score higher on the "arena rock-o-meter" than "The Final Countdown" back in the '80s?). After reuniting for good in the early 21st century, the group -- which is still led by one-time "golden god" vocalist Joey Tempest -- has been issuing albums on a regular basis, and 2009 saw their third disc since reuniting, Last Look at Eden. The "anticipation" builds with a string-heavy "Prelude" before leading into the epic Zeppelin-meets-symphony rock of the title track. Elsewhere, you'll find songs that sound like they could have been plucked off of a modern-day Whitesnake album ("Gonna Get Ready"), the obligatory sappy power ballad ("New Love in Town"), and Zeppelin-like grooves that would make Kingdom Come green with envy ("Mojito Girl," "Only Young Twice," "U Devil U," etc.). Last Look at Eden sounds exactly as you would picture a Europe album to be in 2009 -- for better of for worse.

tags: europe, last look at eden, 2009, flac,

April 28, 2018

Various Artists - Don't Be a Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood: The Soundtrack (1996)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop, R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1996 Island Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Don't Be a Menace to South Central While You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood is a silly spoof of black urban dramas of the 1990s, like Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, and Juice. Appropriately, the soundtrack is a slightly off-center collection of hip-hop and rap-influenced R&B. Not all of the soundtrack works -- it's too long, for one thing, and there are too many mediocre cuts -- but the songs that are good are first-rate, particularly Ghostface Killah's first solo track. It's just a shame there aren't more than a handful of good songs.

tags: various artists, dont be a menace to south central while drinking your juice in the hood, soundtrack, dont be a menace soundtrack, ost, 1996, flac,

Raekwon - Immobilarity (1999)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1999 Loud Records
AllMusic Review by Keith Farley
It's a rare Wu-Tang solo album that doesn't bear the stamp of the collective's production mastermind, RZA, to some extent, and Raekwon's second full-length is no different. Except for the fact that RZA doesn't actually appear on Immobilarity, the paranoid synth-strings and soundtrack feel he pioneered on Wu-Tang's Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers and Forever are all over this album. The producers, including Raekwon's American Cream Team, Infinite Arkatechz, and Six July Productions, give Immobilarity the same sounds RZA gave to Raekwon's first album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Though few rappers are more entitled to the sound than Raekwon, most of these songs just don't contribute to the lyrical concerns or delivery (a notable exception is "Sneakers," the only track produced by Pete Rock). And since the album's success depends wholly on Raekwon himself, it's almost impossible for him to trump the excellence of his first album.

tags: raekwon, immobilarity, 1999, flac,

Eve - Ruff Ryders' First Lady (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Gangsta Rap, Pop Rap
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1999 Ruff Ryders/Interscope Records
AllMusic Review by Theresa E. LaVeck
The full title of Eve's full-length debut is Let There Be Eve...Ruff Ryders' First Lady for a reason. The Philadelphia rapper sets out to prove she's earned her place in the Ruff Ryders crew, matching rhymes, raunch, and rounds with the hardest hardass. Minimal beats laced with synthesized strings and keyboards back traditional hip-hop brag fests like "Let's Talk About." Eve shows up guests Drag-on, DMX, and others with boasts of sexual prowess, withering insults to inadequately endowed brothers, and violent sister-centered anthems like "My Bitches." A few short skits offer snapshots of Eve's beloved hometown. The irresistible party anthem "We on That Shit!," reminiscent of Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage," chronicles a night of clubbing and rounds out the street picture. "Ain't Got No Dough," a fabulous collaboration with Missy Elliott, is a fiery bridge between street-centered raps and the more interesting tracks. Purring and pissed, it's an edgier alternative to TLC's hit "No Scrubs." Eve's conviction and passion make her noticeable no matter what the subject, but she truly stands out when the stories become personal, examining the cost of the hard life she champions in other songs. "Love Is Blind" is a painful look at domestic violence. Self-respect and positivity are the moral of "Heaven Only Knows." Both tracks are backed by beautiful arrangements with acoustic guitar and lush vocals. Eve maintains her hardcore image in these tracks, but with a subtle vulnerability that promise lots of interesting things to come from this Philly prodigy.

tags: eve, ruff ryders first lady, 1999, flac,

April 26, 2018

Cyndi Lauper - True Colors (1986)

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1986 Portrait
AllMusic Review by Eugene Chadbourne
There were a few years in the mid-'80s when one couldn't go out for a cup of coffee without encountering Cyndi Lauper in one form or another. Her videos were playing constantly on MTV, her music was everywhere on the radio, and, best of all, children were even dressing up as Cyndi for Halloween. In retrospect, it was a Lauper-ish time but it was all over quite quickly; in fact, the period in the ultra-limelight didn't even span the period covered by two album releases, which means that this follow-up to her smash debut album was relegated to the also-ran pile, with sad results such as only one sort-of hit single (the title track) and nobody apparently interested in imitating the skirt she wore on the back cover photo, which seems like it is made of slashed-up concert posters. Kind of a shame since so much love and attention went into this album. Guest stars and high-dollar session musicians abound, including other '80s icons such as the Bangles and the manic Pee Wee Herman, who provides a great little answering-machine bit at the end of "911." Lauper is a fantastic vocalist, meaning that any record producer worth hiring would be happy to dream up endless settings for her. This album is nothing if not ambitious, and some of the stretches really pay off, such as the ultimately endearing cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Other aspects date badly. For example, highly reverberated and artificial sounding drums and keyboards were really popular at the time, but a vocalist with a clear voice such as Lauper sounds much better in the context of real instruments with their warmer sounds. When it comes to tunes such as the nice Cajun number "The Faraway Nearby," drums should have been turned way down and other instrumental colors brought up. Despite these sorts of problems, there really wasn't that much music recorded by this artist during her most popular period, so fans will no doubt want to own it all.

tags: cyndi lauper, true colors, 1986, flac,

Eternal - Before The Rain (1997)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1997 EMI Records/1st Avenue
Reviewed by Andrew Martin for Pop Rescue.com
This 12-track album opens with what is technically the second single Don’t You Love Me. It’s a slick, soulful track, although reminds me a fair bit of M People‘s cover of Don’t Look Any Further. It has an orchestral feeling with its soaring strings and percussion as Easther’s vocals take lead. This is a really nice track.
Next up is THAT song… the third single and their big, sole number one, I Wanna Be The Only One with BeBe Winans, who has written and worked with Eternal since their first album. This is a Bebe Winans co-written song, with legendary songwriter and producer Rhett Lawrence (Melanie C, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey amongst many). The song soars vocally, with both Eternal and Bebe really shining, adding in pop and gospel styles. This is epic, and rightly scored them a UK number one.
Next up is How More Tears, which by contrast is a slow RnB ballad. This song gently builds up from vocals, to adding in beats, synth, bass, and vocal harmonies. It’s a lovely sit-on-a-stool-and-sing-in-a-spotlight song, but one that could have easily have vocally been swapped with Whitney or Mariah, without anyone noticing. This was planned to be the fourth UK single, but was (thankfully) shelved when the Greatest Hits album came along.
This is followed by Grace Under Pressure, again with strings making it a beautifully lavish sounding song – with cellos, percussion, harps etc all swooping throughout the track. Backing vocals come from The East London Gospel Choir, who give a perfect contrast to Eternal. Not unlike Don’t You Love Me, this song’s lyrics focus on struggling to live.
Disney provide Eternal with the lead single from this album – and one that features Eric Clapton delivering a wonderfully intricate guitar section. The song, Someday, comes from the 1996 film The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Again, this song could easily have been by Mariah Carey, but I’m glad that Eternal got it. The downside being is that it’s predictably orchestral and slow – predictable from a Disney theme song, and they get a crappy video with sentimental cartoon characters in it. The song was produced by Simon Climie of 80s band Climie Fisher.
The pace picks up for sixth track Think Of Me, which is a mid-tempo RnB track featuring rapper Basil Reynolds. There’s some wonderfully warm vocals here, set against the hard beats. It’s pretty catchy, but definitely album territory.
Up next, is Promises, which is another mid-tempo track, with a lovely bass line, but it’s quite a muted track. Despite that, its chorus is fairly catchy, in a slow catchy way. Again, definitely album territory.
K√©ll√© gets lead vocals on her co-written track I’m Still Crying, and it feels like a totally different artist. Whilst it’s still undoubtedly Eternal, her vocals stand out here – much deeper and not quite as strong as those of Easther.
K√©ll√© continues on the mic and co-writer duties, with a breathy vocal on All My Love. Sounding not unlike the previous song, but a slightly catchier and stronger song. Still, this was her final Eternal lead track.
What Do You Mean When You Say is a semi-Christmas-sounding ballad, complete with sleigh bells, but it turns out to just be a slightly nauseating ballad instead.
Up next is Why Am I Waiting, which is a great bass-driven track, that reminds at times a bit of Love Tried To Welcome Me from Madonna‘s 1994 Bedtime Stories album. Eternal get some wonderful vocals here. I think that this should have been a single, and that the dreary Disney fuelled Someday should have been pushed out of this album.
The album closes with the acoustic guitar and piano led It’s Never Too Late (Interlude) – a short track allowing Eternal to thank their God, and reminding everyone that they should adopt him too because it’s never too late. I’ll pass thanks.
This would be the group’s final album as a trio, and I think that it is pretty much on par with their previous album Power Of A Woman from 1995, which like this, had some real highs, but also some pretty boring medium to low tracks. Eternal do ballads well, but they also do belting tracks well too (not least because of their vocal range), so I get sad when I find that an album is packed with paint-by-numbers slow songs.
A 16-track version of the album was released in Japan, and it bore two different singles: Finally, and Think About Me.

tags: eternal, before the rain, 1997, flac,

Eternal - Power of a Woman (1995)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1995 EMI Records/1st Avenue
Reviewed by Andrew Martin for Pop Rescue.com
This is their first album after the departure of Louise, who went on to pursue a solo career. There is a noticeable more RnB feel to this one.
Eternal have writing credits on four of the thirteen tracks on this album, with BeBe Winans returning again for a writer credit (still yet to record ~that~ song with them).
Title track Power Of A Woman opens this album, and it’s the perfect start for a new album, and a new Eternal. The production is slick, and it’s clear here that despite being reduced in number, the group are stronger than ever.
Second single I Am Blessed follows – with beautiful vocals and warm strings. This is a sit-on-a-stool-and-sway song of almost Whitney Houston proportions.
Next up is Good Thing, the group’s third single. This album version is a pretty chilled out version. The single was clearly remixed and made to feel a bit more up-beat. This reminds me of some of the tracks on Madonna‘s Bedtime Stories album, which had been released the previous year. 
Fourth track Telling You Now is a slow, rich production, giving Easther the perfect platform to showcase her vocals. Unsurprisingly, Eternal have the lead writing credit for this song, but it is clearly an album-only track.
Next track, Hurry Up, is a more up-tempo track. Again, this is another Eternal lead writing credit, but it is also amongst the ranks of the album’s title track, and would also sit well alongside the single version of Good Thing, but sadly it didn’t get a release.
The group cover Bob Marley for the sixth track – Redemption Song. I’m not sure why they bothered, or quite what the shouting near the end is. It’s not a very interesting interpretation.
Speaking of which, seventh track It Will Never End is a pretty twee, slow ballad. This track is pure Celine Dion and Mariah Carey ballad territory, complete with key change just when you hoped it would end. It was co-written and co-produced by Bebe Winans. Hopefully it will end, and this track should have been the final one.
Thankfully, the pace recovers and Who Are You? comes along. This was released as a single in Japan only, but really should have been released in the UK too. It’s a great little 90s pop track, and should have displaced the UK’s single release of next track Secrets.
Your Smile is an okay track but it definitely feels like another album-only filler track.
11th track Don’t Make Me Wait might be another slower track, but it does at least feel up-tempo, and along the same lines as the singles.
Penultimate track Up To You continues the up-beat sound, and also reminds you that ‘Eternal’s in the house’. This, along with Don’t Make Me Wait, could easily have been singles.
The album closes with Faith In Love. Again, Eternal have lead writing credits. The track contains rich vocal harmonies, a strong beat, and even some radio samples.
Power Of A Woman is an ‘okay’ second album. It stands perfectly alongside their 1993 debut Always & Forever, but it doesn’t really build upon that. There are some good songs, but at least two of the singles were edited for release. This album also went on to be released with a 6 track remix album alongside it (which I rescued independently, and will probably review as well).

tags: eternal, power of a woman, 1995, flac,

Cyndi Lauper - Sisters of Avalon (1996)

*U.S. pressing. Contains 13 tracks total. A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1996-1997 Epic, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Cyndi Lauper made a valiant effort to jump start her career with the varied and eclectic Sisters of Avalon. Working with producer Mark Saunders, Lauper attempts to work worldbeat, adult alternative, and even trip-hop influences into her trademark adult contemporary pop, and while the results aren't always successful, the record is the most intriguing and rewarding album she made since True Colors.

tags: cyndi lauper, sisters of avalon, 1996, flac,

Zebrahead - Waste of Mind (1998)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Punk Rock
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1998 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Jason D. Taylor
Zebrahead's mixture of happy-go-lucky hip-hop drenched with rambunctious pop/rock is quite a formidable adversary, as listening to Waste of Mind it is nearly impossible not to enjoy the songs, even if you find yourself in the darkest of moods. These five young men have seemingly created their own distinct sound amidst hundreds of bland rap/rock knock-offs, and find that their greatest weapon of all is the ability to convey positive thoughts through their music. Waste of Mind never once steers towards the depressing tones that have catapulted many rock bands to stardom during the '90s; instead, every chord emitted from the album savagely strikes for the hidden child inside all of us. One of the most memorable aspects of Waste of Mind are its delightfully catchy melodies. Songs like "The Real Me," "Someday," and "Bootylicious Vinyl" excel at entertaining the listener, feeding off from casual pop references while continuously rocking throughout. Zebrahead do lack much substance, as most of the songs contained within this 14 track release are borderline silly, and lyrically the group aim more for goofiness than trying to cover serious issues. Zebrahead capture the essence of rock entertainment, and if you're looking for an album that focuses on putting a smile on the listener's face, Waste of Mind should be a consideration

tags: zebrahead, zebra head, waste of mind, 1998, flac,

Zebrahead - Playmate of The Year (2000)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Punk
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2000 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Having failed to score commercially with their debut album Waste of Mind, Zebrahead returns two years later with more of the same, which is to say fast-paced hard rock on which Justin Mauriello's male adolescent musings are augmented by Ali Tabatabaee's aggressive raps. At their best, on the title song (sort of a musical version of a Farrelly Brothers movie in under three minutes), the group approaches the sound of Cheap Trick, with their shimmering guitar lines, furious rhythm playing, and Mauriello's self-deprecating, humorous lyrics. A few other songs, notably "The Hell That Is My Life" and "Wasted," are almost as effective, but much of Zebrahead's music is too busy for its own good, and when they attempt social commentary on "What's Goin' On?" (where have we seen that title before?) the results are embarrassing, while as a change of pace like "Livin' Libido Loco" is more reminiscent of Barry Manilow than Ricky Martin. The hidden track at the end of the album is a prank call made by Mauriello to Sony Music in which he impersonates his mother and demands to know when he is going to start seeing some money from his record contract. It may indicate the band will pack it in unless Playmate of the Year breaks through, but even with a tie-in to Playboy magazine that still seems like a long shot.

tags: zebrahead, zebra head, playmate of the year, 2000, flac,

Zebrahead - MFZB (2003)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Punk
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 2003 Columbia Records
Reviewed by Stewart Dowouis for Punk News.org
I can see it now. Review after review will inevitably dismiss the new Zebrahead album (yes, I still call 'em albums), MFZB, as another piece of emotionless garbage by yet another group of trend-hopping, cash hungry, fauxhawk/trucker's mesh hats wearing wannabees. The unfortunate thing about that, however, is that this band is truly amazing. Those who are quick to throw this one in the trash bin are definately depriving themselves of something really special.
Yeah, I know the scene is beginning to overexpose and homogenize a once vibrant and exciting genre of rock music, namely emocore/post-hardcore/pop punk, with countless clone bands like Story Of The Year and Hidden In Plain View and The Starting Line, but if we can for a minute, let's suspend those preconceived notions and take a look at this record.
Those of you who experienced the same sense of musical disarray that I did in the late '90s may remember zebrahead as the band with the cliche' hip hop styled verses, but incredibly bright and ridiculously insane catchy choruses. During a time when bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, Lit, Blink 182, Limp Bizkit and Korn all melded together into one giant, bland, pop musical experience (not taking anything away from those bands individually), Zebrahead showed signs of genius. Yes, they lacked a certain degree of individuality at that time, but they more than made up for it with their dynamic sense of harmony, musicianship and songwriting skills. These guys command their individual instruments and compose some of the most awe inspiring melodies in rock today.
Four years since their last full length release, they return with MFZB, 15 tracks of growth and creative maturity unmatched by most current 'major label' bands. By toning down the "hip hop" thing a bit without completely selling that aspect of their sound out, they've fashioned together 15 songs that come across with the same speed and intensity of the most pop "punk" punk bands out there these days AND the crisp choruses of classic bands like Boston and Def Leppard. Those of you who write music know just how difficult a combo like this can be to pull off successfully. Not only did Zebrahead do it here on this record, but they pulled it off in mindblowing fashion. It's hard to hold what they lack slightly in the originality department against a group that's just so damn talented.
Songs like 'Type A' would give NOFX a run for their money. The chorus to 'Into You' would leave Christopher Cross scratching his head in disbelief. LL Cool J would be jealous of their "flow."
This record also pulls off politically themed songs without alienating listeners who may not be all that concerned with the current mess created by the Bush administration. There are plenty of tracks on MFZB that deal with heartbreak and self reflection like 'The Set-Up' to match the politically charged (yet mild in content) messages of others like 'Rescue Me' and 'Strength,' a song that I personally think should be the liberal anthem of '04. Simply put, there is a little something here for all of us. It is the perfect capsulation of this moment in rock music history. Unless you're a maniacal punk purist (unfortunately, most of you probably are) I'd suggest that you give it a shot. I promise you that you will not be disappointed. Don't be afraid of the whole hip hop thing. This time around the rap parts are much more rock than "gangsta"; much more Rage Against The Machine/Red Hot Chili Peppers than Limp Bizkit/Linkin Park. I think they've finally found their sound by melding all of these different influences together in one smoothly flowing package. Nothing on this album sounds forced. Every single moment of it sounds energetic and sincere. It's scary to imagine how much better these guys will get with each passing album.

tags: zebrahead, zebra head, mfzb, 2003, flac,

Eternal - Always & Forever (1993)⚓

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1993-1994 EMI Records/1st Avenue
AllMusic Review by Ron Wynn
Eternal, another entry in the growing ranks of female quartets, don't just blur the line between modern urban music and contemporary gospel; they almost obliterate it on this debut session, whose corps of producers and writers includes Bebe Winans. Rather than dividing or obscuring the lyrical focus and having listeners wondering who the object of their love is from song to song, Eternal simply splits the menu between praise/religious cuts and straight, sizzling love tunes. They move from a blistering remake of "Let's Stay Together" or "Sweet Funky Thing" to the equally vigorous "Amazing Grace" or "Just A Step From Heaven." These women have great voices, but there's something a bit unsettling about the move from the bedroom to the altar on the same session.

tags: eternal, always and forever, 1993, flac,

Mary J. Blige - Share My World (1997)⚓

*A photo of the disc is included in the RAR file.
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: R&B
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1997 MCA Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
The hype that surrounded Mary J. Blige in the beginning was simply ridiculous. When What's the 411? was released in 1992, she was exalted as "the new Chaka Khan"-- a definite exaggeration, considering how uneven that debut album was. But Blige did show promise, and by the time she recorded her third album, Share My World, she had developed into a fairly convincing soul/urban singer. Her strongest and most confident effort up to that point, Share had much more character, personality, and honesty than most of the assembly line fare dominating urban radio in 1997. For all their slickness, emotive cuts like "Get to Know You Better," "Love Is All We Need," and "Keep Your Head" left no doubt that Blige was indeed a singer of depth and substance. Although high tech, the production of everyone from R. Kelly (with whom she duets on the inviting "It's On") and Babyface to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis doesn't come across as forced or robotic, but, in fact, is impressively organic. With Share My World, Blige definitely arrived.

tags: mary j blige, share my world, 1997, flac,

April 25, 2018

Ultravox - Ultravox! (1977)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave
.FLAC via Mega (Link)
.AAC 256 kbps via Mega (Link)


© 1977-1992 Island Masters, Island Records
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
Depeche Mode claimed to be punks with synthesizers, but it was Ultravox! who first showed the kind of dangerous rhythms that keyboards could create. The quintet certainly had their antecedents -- Hawkwind, Roxy Music, and Kraftwerk to name but a few, but still it was the group's 1977 eponymous debut's grandeur (courtesy of producer Eno), wrapped in the ravaged moods and lyrical themes of collapse and decay that transported '70s rock from the bloated pastures of the past to the futuristic dystopias predicted by punk. Epic tales of alienation, disillusion, and disintegration reflected the contemporary holocaust of Britain's collapse, while accurately prophesying the dance through society's cemetery and the graveyards of empires that were to be the Thatcher/Reagan years. "Satday Night in the City of the Dead," "Wide Boys," "The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned," "Dangerous Rhythm," and "Slip Away" all simultaneously bemoaned and celebrated the destruction of Western culture while swaggering boldly through the wreckage; "I Want to Be a Machine" and "My Sex" warned of and yearned for technology's triumph. And it was these apposites and didactic emotions that so pierced the zeitgeist of the day, and kicked open a whole new world of synthesized music. Dangerous rhythms indeed.

tags: ultravox, ultravox album, ultravox!, 1977, flac,