poniedziałek, 2 maja 2011

Izabela Trojanowska - Iza - 1980

my rating: 4/5
"Iza" is a debut album of polish singer Izabela Trojanowska. The album, released in 1980 is probably the best new wave album ever released here in this period. Trojanowska had her unique style and look. The first release of "Iza" was limited to 50000 copies only - Poland was behind the Iron Curtain back then, and there was not enough materials to produce any more units of the album. Also - music from the western Europe and USA was not promoted here. 
To understand the unique quality of this album you have to understand the political situation of Poland back in the early 1980's. In 1981, the tanks and other military machines fullfiled the polish streets. And again, anything from more civilizated countries like UK, France or USA was treated like a "devil-work" and the goverment tried to ban it.
The song which is opening the album - "Tyle samo prawd ile klamstw" is one of her biggest hits. The song is about Izabela's way to find an universal formula for the life, she sings that the same amount of truth and lies rules her life. The song has an extremely good production (as for Poland back then!), and the musical background is just a magic for me.  The song overally is very catchy. and it's funny how you can easily relate to it even 30 years later. Next song, a little bit more raw, titled "Nic za Nic", speaks about the power of money. Isn't it truth that you can't get almost anything in this world for free? The song has a very simple and catchy (again!) beat, and it's easily one my favourite songs on the album. I also love her mega-hit "Wszystko czego dziś chcę" (All that I want today). It's just a classic here in Poland. But to be honest, the most interesting song out there, is the final one on the album, "Jestem Twoim grzechem". Wow, the musical arrangement is just fascinating. It reminds me some Nina Hagen's slow-cosmic-songs, but in a different, polish way.

The album is really good, but I think that you have to be a polish speaking person to like it. Our language is quite hard, and it seems a little bit strange for the english speaking people. But you can always try it, didn't you?


niedziela, 1 maja 2011

Diana Ross - Workin' Overtime - 1989

my rating: 2.5/5

Workin' Overtime is probably the biggest flop in entire Ross' career. The album was an attempt to introduce Diana to the youth audience. The singer paired again with Nile Rogers, a producer who introduced Ross to a disco music 9 years earlier, producing her best-selling album to date -  "Diana". This time, the formula seemed to be the same - Ross wanted to record a contemporary modern album again  But unfortunately, "Workin' Overtime" is much weaker than "Diana". The album charted veeeery low, becoming her lowest-charting release in entire solo career. The album have some stronger points, but generally - new jack swing is not fitting the Supreme-Girl voice at all. Even Donna Summer's album "Mistaken Identity" (also a new jack swing project) released in 1991 was much better than Ross' one (the fact is that Summer release was a flop too).

The first release from the album was the single "Workin' Overtime". The song became a Top 5 R'n'B hit, but it didn't helped the album to chart higher. The rest of the singles - "Bottom Line", "This House" and "Paradise", are (as for me) the best songs on the album, although they didn't raised the albums popularity. Only "Goin' Through The Motions" is probably a wasted-minor-hit. The fact is that the songs are produced very well, but most of them aren't catchy at all. After my first listening-session with this album, only the previously metioned singles caught my attention.

I think that Miss Ross made a huge mistake with releasing this album. It seems to be a desperate move to regain her the fame from the late 70's / early 80's, and a legendary singer like her shouldn't try that hard. Ross have a huge fan-audience and she should stay stuck to it. If you haven't heard any Diana Ross' solo work (where have you been?), you shouldn't start with this one. It's easily my least-favourite Diana's album.



poniedziałek, 14 lutego 2011

Jackie Ross - Full Bloom - 1965

 my rating: 3.5/5

Jackie Ross had her moments of fame in the middle 1960's, when she scored a top 10 hit with the 'Selfish One' song. I've got this rare album recently, and to be honest - I though that it's gonna be another Motown-inspired album, which brings nothing interesting. But after all, it's a very interessting position. Of course it sounds like a Motown release but it's better produced than some of the The Supremes' ones. Musically the album is very fresh and easy-listening. The musicians are not reapeating the same tracks in every song. Also, Jackies' voice is quite interesting. Very sweet but also a little bit raspy at the same time. It was her first album for the Chess Records, but also - her last one ever.

The album starts with the biggest hit of her career 'Selfish One'. It's funny how even teenage-pop songs were attention-worthy back then. Why those times are gone? The song is amazingly easy to listen, with a wonderful drums and piano background. Also, the following song "Everything But Love" kept my ear on itself - the raspy side of  Jackie's voice is clearly hearable here and it's sounds purely fantastic. There's is nothing to change in it. The same is with the songs 'I've Got The Style' and "Haste Makes Waste" - they are typical 60's pop/soul songs, but Ross' unique way of interpretation and her interesting voice makes these songs so good.
But 'Full Bloom' has it's softer and slower side too. The first ballad is Ross' rendition of 'Summertime' - it's easily one of the strongest points of her release: The musical side of the song is just mesmerizing and Ross' soft singing style makes it a unforgettable composition. And the last song on the album, called 'Misty' which is perfectly closing the whole record... I always want to listen more and more to this production, and the album is still growing in me.
To be honest with you: rest of the songs aren't bad, but they haven't captured my heart as much as the mentioned ones.

Overally, I thoroughly recommend  this album not only to Jackie Ross' fans, but also to everyone who likes the Motown-inspired productions, and 1960's soul of course.

niedziela, 13 lutego 2011

Nina Hagen - NunSexMonkRock - 1982

 my rating: 5/5

Nina Hagen released this interesting album in 1982. It was her first solo effort, after two more punk-oriented records she did with her band as "Nina Hagen Band". She moved to United States, after her residence in (formerly) East Berlin, Poland, and West Germany. It was also her first english album, as she did her previous ones in her native German language. Although, she is known for mixing several languages in one song.

The album is actually a mix of punk, opera, funk and reggae. Her songs speaks about religion, Soviet Union, masturbation, UFOs and about herself. It's one of those records that you usually love or hate after listening to it. I guess that you can't stay netrual to it. I fell in love with it instantly after my first listening session in april 2010.

The first song on the album, the great 'Antiworld' is also one of the greatest songs in entire Nina's career.
And as far as I'm concerned, it's also her first song about Jesus, The Holy Bible, and Devil. The song is very good produced and it sounds very fresh even today. And Nina's opera-trained voice is captured ultimately good. After an almost-5-minute session with 'Antiworld', the music is getting louder and louder, and then the silence comes...quite nice feeling, isn't it? We can here some whistling in the background, which means that 'Smack Jack' is coming ahead. The song is sang in a typical Nina-Hagen-strange-manner, but it captures an universal Anti-drug message (remember! Smack ist dreck, stop it oder verreck) which makes it an another good point of the record. Then we have 'Taitschi-Tarot'. Is it a song? I wouldn't say so. It's more like a Mantra or something. In my opinion, the weakest point of the whole long-play. But hey! There comes the most eargasmic and ultimate NunSexMonkRock experience for me! typical rock-song 'Dread Love', 'Future Is Now', almost psychedelic 'Dr. Art', crazy 'Iki Maska', very raw 'Born in XiXax' and my favourite ones: 'Cosma Shiva' dedicated to Nina's daughter Cosma Shiva Hagen born in 1981 and 'UFO'. All those songs are just incredibly fantastic, they are showing the unique, crazy and quite scary view of Nina's world, her own place on this planet and her belief. 

Unlike her later releases such as 'Angstlos' from 1983 or 'Nina Hagen in Ekstase' from 1985, you won't find here any disco-oriented songs and any other 70's-mainstream-related things here. Also the synthesizers aren't overused. All we got here is some good post-punk-avant-garde music, with some guitars, drums and some mysterious synths in the background. Actually it's Nina Hagens singin' style what makes this album such a interesting position in any music lover collection.

Whitney Houston - My Love Is Your Love - 1998

Whitney Houston is, without any doubt, one of the biggest stars in the showbusiness ever.
Recently, we heard a lot about her drug addiction problems, and her unfortunate marriage with Bobby Brown. Before it all hapenned in her life, she was critically acclaimed singer - her biggest atribute was her angelic and powerful voice. The first album that I decided to review is her 1998 release - 'My Love Is Your Love'. In  my opinion it's one of her greatest releases in her career, and the last one (till today) which is really worth-listening-to.

 my rating: 4.5/5

 Whitney wanted to release her first 'The Greatest Hits' compilation back in 1998, but the material that she prepared was enough to release it as an independent album.'My Love Is Your Love' was recorded only in a week, but the results of this short recording process are just wonderful.

The album containts 13 songs (their overall lenght is more than 60 minutes!)  recorded in the most fashionable style back then. A lot of teen singers were recording similar albums, but most of them are not worthy to spent your time on. This one is completely different.

The first song on the release is her ultimate hit 'It's Not Right, But It's Okay' - actually I think that it's one of the weakest positions on the album. I don't know why. The unsetlled-rhythm of the verses  is not fitting my taste at all. Next songs are much better - 'Heartbreak Hotel' - a collaboration with Faith Evans and Kelly Price and the title track "My Love Is Your Love" are a perfect examples of how the R'nB looked like  back then. Both vocally and musically the songs are perfectly made, and their light  and friendly 'flow' always takes me back to the late 90's. The same thing is with the songs: "If I Told You That" which amazingly captures Houston's voice (of course not in a way that "Greatest Love Of All" or "I Will Always Love You" did, but it's very good too), 'I Was Made To Love Him' - a cover of Stevie Wonders song, and with her mega hit "I Learned From The Best". Also, Whitney's collaborations with Missy Elliot are worth our attention - almost 7-minute song "Oh Yes" and "In My Business". Missy is extremely good as a producer and a text writer. Another good points of the album are - without any doubt - the ballads. Whitney  Houston was always unbeatable in them: IMO too-cheesy "When You Believe" with Mariah Carey (it's quite funny that the song made the fans of both stars even more hating themselves), "Until You Come Back" and my favourite one - "You'll Never Stand Alone".
I have to say, that it's really hard for me to tell you something about the songs "I Bow Out" and "Get It Back". I never liked them too much. Esspecialy, when I'm listening to "I Bow Out" I feel that it's just a  typical 'filler' in there. All in all - the album is wonderfully produced. Whitney Houston's voice is very clear and powerful here, and the songs stands the test of time quite good.

It's quite sad that we can't expect another album like that... from Miss Houston of course!