MUSIC REVIEWS
by: Francis Tanneur
Opinions expressed are those of the individual writer for informational purpose
only. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or viewpoints of
Freestyle Music.Com.

Contact Francis Tanneur at:francistanneur@hotmail.com

MUSIC REVIEWS # 18
(January / February / March  2002)

Score:
No Stars: Useless
1 star: Poor
2 stars: Average
3 stars: Good
4 stars: Excellent
5 stars: Masterpiece

 

COLLAGE: “Tonight” (CD single) ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 2 stars (Budz mixes)
Score: No stars (other mixes)
 

Even if his American career seems to be frozen since the release of his single “Angel” on Metropolitan Recording Corporation (in 1999), it’s a completely different matter in Germany. Last year, Collage has released an album (on ZYX Music) “Collage chapter 3…2001 (Appendix A)”, and a single “Tonight” of which it’s the first extract. 

If the album is unbearable to listen to, this single draws its interest exclusively from the work done by Johnny Budz on the “Budz radio & club” and the “Instrumental” mix. Through the use of a half Breakbeat, half Electro beat enveloped in a lively and nice melody, Johnny Budz insufflates to Adam Marano’s voice (a little bit bawling and noisy in my opinion) a supplementary energy. Otherwise, it is prejudicial that these versions be so close from CC Lemonhead’s style from the track “Could this be real” by Star (out on Nebulous Records in 2001). If you have time, listen to both versions and artists at the same time, you’ll see the similarity of some effects is glaringly obvious!

As for the three other versions (a radio, club and an instrumental mix), Adam Marano signs them. Personally, the style that mixes without enthusiasm a New School and a Groovy beat to a Progressive Freestyle sound, leaves me completely indifferent. It looks too much like the old productions he did on Viper Records…definitively not my cup of tea!

 

DAFT PUNK: “Harder better faster stronger” (CD single) DELABEL / VIRGIN SA  [France]Score: 4 stars (Breakers break remix)
Score: 2 stars (other mixes)
 

This single from the most famous “Parisian Electronic music buffs” (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel) marries once again some sounds and genres from different horizons. But so much Funky! The “album version” is oriented to the Disco style (with an Electro session), the “Neptune remix” (by two producers who have notably worked with Mary J. Blidge and Kelis) is dedicated to the Soul/Funky genres, while the “Peter Heller stylus mix” is distinguishable from other versions by a House music beat that allies Tribal sonorities.

All these interesting versions are accompanied by some vocoders “à la Zapp”. 

But it’s the Electro Freestyle version (“Breakers break remix”) composed by Dominique Torti that interests us and outweighs all other mixes…it is so captivating and irresistible.

For this young French remixer of 31 years old, his version is a superb fairy tale. In fact, when he decides to remix this track it’s first of all for his own pleasure (he adores Daft Punk). Then, he sends HIS version to Daft Punk’s manager “Pedro Winter”. A few days later, Thomas Bangalter (from Daft Punk) listens to his demo and he decides to include the version on the CD and vinyl single edition. The rest is history…

Otherwise, Dominique Torti is not a novice in the business. He started professionally in the music in 1989 on the French radio “Skyrock” in the radio show “Skydance” animated by RLP (Robert Lee Provencal). He mainly worked on the mixes entitled “Skymixes”. Then, he did a brief sojourn on “Fun radio” before settling himself on “Europe 2” since 1993 as a Radio Producer and Editor. He also worked alone with artists/bands as Fidelfatti, Black Box, Alex Gopher, Mozesli or he collaborated with Dimitri From Paris on some tracks from Atmosfear, The Cardigans and Dimitri.

But his style of predilection remains the Electro, and in particular for some “living legends” as Afrika Bambaataa, Arthur Baker, John Robbie to name a few. His main and first passion is for the edits especially for these “public idols” (expression from Dominique Torti) as The Latin Rascals, Omar Santana, Carlos Berrios and Chep Nunez who pushed him to persevere in this domain and to become what he is today: a pure fan and talented specialist of edits.

This “Breaker break remix” uses an Electro beat and is composed of multiple edit sessions sometimes incredible in the length of their conception. Dominique Torti’s mix can be considered as a jewel in the genre. His creative style will remind you the one of other remixers previously named in this article. Assuredly, a supplementary guarantee of quality! 

You have to hear this single harder, better, faster and stronger. Now, everything is said!!!

 

DAVID GUETTA FEATURING CHRIS WILLIS: “Just a little more love” (CD single) VIRGIN SA  [France]
Score: 4 stars
 

As many Deejays who began their own career in the Eighties (he started in 1980 at the tender age of 13 years old), all through his teenage years David Guetta enjoyed listening to and spinning some genres as Disco, Funk, Electro Funk, and then, House music. 

You can see by yourself that this first single reflects all his musical influences.

The first two versions (the “Electro Maxi” & “Edit”) used the sample of “Al-naafiyish (the soul)” (distributed in 1983 by the New York label Cutting Records). Originally interpreted by Hashim, this track remains one of the Electro classics and one of the biggest hits of the Eighties. David Guetta has nevertheless accelerated the Electro beat and mixed it with a faster Dance rhythm beat. And the two other versions are a tasty mix of two styles: Garage and Disco.

All the versions are proposed with the formidable voice of Chris Willis. This artist hails from Nashville and he sings mainly Gospel). 

Parallel to his DJ’s passion, David Guetta has been in the Nineties a promoter for the “Folies Pigalle” and then, artistic director for the “Queen” (two famous clubs well known from the Parisian night birds). Later he will open the “Bataclan” and he will musically transform “Le Palace” (unfortunately closed since the end of the Nineties) with his wife Cathy.

And since the Nineties, Cathy and David Guetta are the happy owners of one of the most famous and trendy nightclubs in Paris called informally “Les Bains”. It’s certainly at the “Bains” that you could meet David Guetta because he continues to spin music from time to time while preparing his first album at the same time. 

This first single from David Guetta is very successful. You have to do one thing: “Buy it”!

 

EL SHOW DEL FREDDY LOPEZ: “Estilo libre, la nueva generacion” (CD compilation) E.L.I. RECORDS / FEVER RECORDS / WARLOCK RECORDS  [USA]
Score: 3 stars
 

This compilation from E.L.I. Records (Estilo Libre Records) gives you the opportunity to discover old Freestyle jams (Chrissy I-Eece “Love desire”, Lisette Melendez “Time passes by” and Saint “I need”) but especially some new songs, for most of them, produced and remixed by the “New York duet” Willie Valentin and Artie Rodriguez. 

On the whole, the titles are pretty well successful, even if my heart goes definitively to the superb Old School Latin Freestyle tracks “Amiga” by Arlene and Chrissy I-eece (an impressive and seductive duet) and “You are the one for me” by Joey Santana. 

It is otherwise a bit regrettable that we can only find 6 new songs. In the future, it would be preferable to see more novelties in the compilation. But this compilation deserves the detour!

 

EURO FREESTYLE INVASION (CD medley) SPG MUSIC PRODUCTIONS LTD  [Canada]
Score: No stars
 

A bunch of Canadian Freestylers risks to be lost by the title of the compilations that they could find in their country. But hey, I’m here, to put you back in the right track!

Contrarily to the “EuroFreestyle vol.1 compilation (distributed by Ventura International Records, Inc.) which proposed you Freestyle productions from Germany, this medley from Tony Monaco mixes Euro Dance and Trance with Freestyle music. 

Except for the excellent Trance track “Turn the tide” by Sylver and the three good Freestyle titles (Kathy Phillips “I wish” [by the Odeon Records crew], Freida “Promise to stay” and the classic “Spring love” by Stevie B) the other 16 songs appear insipid. Some of them are simply pitiful and appalling. Some songs and artists (Becca “Come and get my love”, Diana “Running on empty”, Intonation Feat. Joee “Almost suicide”, Gitta Vs Rozalla “Everybody turning back”, Solid Base “Push it”) use an unbearable, useless, and old-fashioned Euro Dance style, passed into disuse since a while in Europe. Please stop this massacre!!! 

Believe me or not, the invasion of this compilation should be brief! Don’t buy it, it’s simply a pure waste of money and very painful to listen to.

 

FORD FEATURING NOEL: “Will I find true love” (CD single) NEBULOUS RECORDS  [USA]
Score: 1 star
 

It should be one of the most awaited come back of the year 2001, finally, in my eyes, it’s one of the biggest disappointment. I even asked myself if it was the same Noel, this great singer who offered us such wonderful Freestyle hits as “Like a child”, Silent morning”, “Change”, “Out of time”… because his voice is so unrecognizable and tampered with. 

I have been plunged in doubt for a little moment, but I have to face the truth: it was Noel Pagan! 

This CD contains 11 versions in some completely different genres (Freestyle, Latin House, Trance, Breakbeat and 2-Step). He called Adam Marano (Freestyle and 2-step mixes), Edie Arroyo (Latin House music) and especially the “Trance Commander” (Ford) for the…Trance versions of course! Whatever the genre or the producer/remixer, none of the mixes (except maybe for the “MDMA Severe breakmix”) managed to convince me or speak to me. Those mixes are so disappointing! Really, that seriously lacks efficacy, originality and conviction. 

Hmmmm, what a disappointment!

 

FREESTYLE FEVER’S DIVAS VOL.1 (CD medley) FEVER RECORDS / WARLOCK RECORDS  [USA]
Score: 3 stars
 

This French proverb is well known: “ It’s in the old pots that we make the best soup”. 

Johnny Budz, from KTU Radio perfectly understood it. For his first official realization, he prepared us an exquisite soup composed exclusively of Latin Hip-Hop classics. Oops, I should use the term “Latin Hip-Hop ingredients”!!! 

Distributed by Fever Records, we could have expected to see in this medley just some titles from Sal Abbatiello’s label. Wrong! On the contrary, more than half of the hits come from other record companies. You’ll (re) discover with pleasure some great and famous Freestyle anthems as “All & All” by Joyce Sims, “Show me” by The Cover Girls, “Why you wanna go” by Fascination, “Notice me” by Sandee, “Together forever” by Lisette Melendez, “Change on me” by Cynthia, “Come into my arms” by Judy Torres, “Please don’t go” by Nayobe, “You said you loved me” by Safire, “Someone to hold” by April, “When the pieces fall” by Yolanda Milla, “Let me go” by Jeme and “Take me in your arms” by Lil’ Suzy. To conclude, Johnny Budz composed a radio version (Super Mega Mix) of 6’37 minute of the megamix. 

Over a total length of 68’08, Johnny Budz mixes this medley with seriousness, sobriety and efficacy. The kind of medleys that could set your parties on fire or that could become “Saturday’s night fever” at home every day!

 

FREESTYLE PROJECT: “Music for my soul” [remixes 2001] (CD single) MNF RECORDS / ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 3 stars
 

These remixes are better than those released in 1998. We could even go further and say that they are more entertaining! 

Three new mixes are included in this CD (the “New Club mix, the “New Instrumental mix and the “Short cut” version). Except for the “Extended mix”, the other versions (the “Radio mix” and the “Vocoder mix”) from the first edition are also available. That will allow you to see the changes. 

Contrarily to the 1998 versions, these remixed versions highlight the vocoders and the Electro beat (no more Planet Rock beat this time… good!). The male rap has been plainly and simply deleted, honestly it’s a good decision. The rapper was not good and slowed the song down. 

This title has gotten a musical lifting that definitely appears as a serious advantage for a new career! This is now the time to appreciate it at its face value.

 

FREESTYLE PROJECT: “Spinning da wheels” (CD album) MNF RECORDS / ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 3 stars
 

This third full-length album from Steven Maverick (a.k.a. Freestyle Project) gathers 17 tracks and three remixes. It contains titles from Freestyle Project as a group (“Get up and party”, “Pump this party” & “Gotta feel da groove”) and others as producers/remixers (“Do what ever u want”, “Time don’t fool”, “Night a day” & “Celebrate da summertime”).

But this time, you also see a bigger number of tracks from other producers as Michael Baur the man behind The Freestyle Crew (“Let’s jam tonight”), Heinz Drexel (“Freestyle in da house” by Freakstyle & “N.Y. City Beats” by N.Y. City Beats) and one of the producers who starts to make a name in Freestyle music: Marco Sandner (Anthony Norris it’s him!). Besides, it’s Marco Sandner who gratifies us with the three best gems from this album with “Just 4 you”, and especially the two songs from Martina Wörle (what a sublime voice!): “All I want is you” and “Sudden end” (most particularly for the catchy chorus). However, the title “Funk beat” is disastrous because of a pitiful male rap. 

It’s not a chance if all those producers are reunited on this CD; their own styles and productions (except for a few exceptions) are very close from the Freestyle project’s style. It will certainly give you the impression to hear the same thing! 

Even if this album doesn’t shine by its originality, it nevertheless remains a real pleasure to listen to because there is undeniably some very good productions. 

Every new album from Freestyle Project allows to discover most of their new productions, if not it would be very difficult for most of the fans to follow the entire actuality of this band, which realizes, produces, remixes so many artists and titles every year.

 

FREESTYLE VOL.15 (CD compilation) ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: No stars
 

For this fifteenth edition, ZYX Music still takes a disagreeable pleasure in offering to the Freestylers the same old thing (old track or remakes) and some productions (in their big majority) of poor quality or already out on some other labels and compilations. 

I really don’t understand the goal of this series of compilation, if it’s just to take the Freestylers for jerks! However, some fans could be tempted by this series of CDs, for the simple reason that they are supposed to gather the local German production of our days.

Unfortunately, this is not the cream of the cream, which is contained on this CD. Don’t count on me to describe the content, It will be a waste of time for me and you! 

Besides, I think the best thing to do is to voluntarily avoid to speak about this series of compilations distributed by ZYX Music… until a potential awakening. Frankly, I don’t believe it!

 

STEVIE B: “Freestyle hitmix” / “Crying out” (CD single) SOUNDLAND PRODUCTIONS / SPV  [Germany]
Score: No stars
 

Please, I request all your attention! This CD is a rip-off important enough to denounce and especially to reprimand. I think, the time for Stevie B has come to take his own career back in hands, because in Germany some people have no respect for his public image and don’t do anything worthy with his classics. 

Of course, that does not affect my interest and my passion for this great and talented singer, but this CD remains a disgraceful and ignominious joke for the fans. Instead of a “Freestyle hitmix”, what is proposed to us in this medley are three really screwed up, mixed ballads (“Prayer”, “Waiting for your love” and “Dream about you”). Also, the “DJ remix” of “Crying out” is simply the original version available on the two Stevie B’s album: “Funky Melody” (1994) and “Waiting for your love” (1996). This self-styled remixed version is very easy to do: as an intro, you insert the sound of a stormy shower and after that you put the song. What an easy remix isn’t it?  

With this kind of shameful production, some labels are not afraid to ridicule themselves and offense the reputation of some artists. Shame on you! 

AVOID BUYING AND SUPPORTING THIS GARBAGE!

 

TKA: “Forever” (CD album) TOMMY BOY SILVER  [USA]
Score: No stars
 

The new TKA album is certainly the most terrible Freestyle surprise of the year 2001, especially for those (as myself) following the career of this legendary Freestyle band between the 80/90’s and that expected a lot from this come back. 

Long announced (more than one year ago) on the Internet as an album destined to the Freestyle fans, the departure of Joey Gardner’s producer (who has contributed to a lot of their successes) of the project maybe pushed TKA towards some new musical horizons. This choice appears respectable but could be a grave mistake for their career. The future will tell us! 

First of all, this new CD from TKA is not Freestyle. This new album is just an nth and insipid product from a Boys band! It’s hard to say, but unfortunately this is the bad impression that TKA gives us throughout the 12 titles (+ a Spanish version of “Feel the music”). 

All the new songs are not originals and they seriously lack creativity…whatever the genre. There are three Disco House tracks “Feel the music”, “Better than the rest” et “Move out the way” that we’ll ignore rapidly (they are so boring and have a taste of “Deja vu”!). It’s not necessary to linger on the numerous Ballads either especially when the singers of TKA play the “Latin lovers” (for instance, Enrique Iglesias) with titles as “U don’t feel it” or “One day u”, or when they try the R&B genre with “Love conquers all”, “Say the word” or “In and out”. It must be the use of the guitar that intensifies this “Latin lovers’ song” side! 

Concerning the two Freestyle songs “When will I C U” and “In a manner”, they are disappointing, but not for the same reasons. Before opting for “Feel the music”, “When will I C U” should be the first single. This single was released more than one year ago on a limited promo 12” vinyl edition (for a privileged few) but in a club version totally different and better than the one proposed in this album. This version offered an Electro beat (including the “Play at your own risk” sample of Planet Patrol) and vocal performances worthy of TKA, and especially from Kayel. This is unfortunately not the case in this 2001 version. As for the “In a manner” track, the melody is quite successful but the deep voice and the monotonous Freestyle genre oscillate nevertheless between Pop and Variety. It’s really not convincing.

The only interesting song is “Sexual fantasy” composed by the Aria Records team (Tony G. from Nu-Image and Pompeo Messano). A nice Breakbeat and Groovy track containing a beautiful melody (very Trancey in its conception) and a catchy chorus. 

As I said I really respect their choice, even if I don’t approve it. But the thing I can’t accept is the mediocrity of this album. The result and their music are simply insignificant and unforgivable. What a waste! 

Please guys, go back to Freestyle music, a style where you excelled!

 

VLA: “You are the one” (CD single) CAPTAIN RECORDS  [Canada]
Score: 3 stars (other versions)
Score: 1 star (Echo Test remixes)
 

It’s been 5 years since we were without news from Vincent Vella (Mr. VLA). Even so, this artist from Toronto gratified us of two superb Freestyle gems “I gave my heart” (1995) and “Sweet lil’ lady rockin’ your body” (1996) already both distributed on Jiries Arbid’s label (Captain Records). 

This new single is really enthusiastic. VLA still possesses this languorous and calm voice, and sings with such energy whatever the genres. My favorite mixes go to the “Radio mix” whose New School style is very fast and lively and to the “Extended mix” which is slower but where you can find the same keys and effects. Besides, those different versions resemble each other.

Only the Echo Test (Joey Ragona) versions differ and hint, because of its style to Progressive Freestyle, including some Trancey keys. Personally, these versions didn’t convince me. The style is not interesting to tell you the truth! 

One last little thing that displeased me is the introduction of a Dance Music beat (Euro Dance) on these different Freestyle mixes. Of course, that will allow you to appreciate the beautiful voice of Liana Primerano, but otherwise, I think this genre is really boring and outdated.  

Even if I am touchy on some musical choices, this new single is good. Don’t hesitate to be a part of the crew and welcome aboard the vessel, his Captain Jiries Arbid and his young ship’s boy Vincent V. will offer you a nice and entertaining crossing in their Freestyle world!!!  

 

My Top 5
(12”, tape & CD singles) 

1] Nu Image: “I’ll always love you” Aria Records [USA]
2] Daft Punk: “Harder better faster stronger” (Breakers break remix) Virgin [France]
3] David Guetta Featuring Chris Willis: “Just a little more love” (Elektro maxi) Virgin SA [France]
4] Freestyle Project: “Music for my soul 2001” (New club mix) MNF Records / ZYX Music [Germany]
5] VLA: “You are the one” Captain Records [Canada]
 

My Top 5
(Compilations & medleys) 

1] DMA Dance Best of Freestyle File volume 1 (medley) Tantrum Music, Inc. [USA]
2] Stylin’ Free Presents Metropolitan’s Ladies Of Freestyle Vol.1, 2, & 3 (medleys) Metropolitan Recording Corporation [USA]
3] Bad Boy Joe Presents The Best Of Freestyle Megamix Vol.2 (medley) What If Productions / E-Lastik Recordings, Inc. [USA]

4] Freestyle Parade 2K1: “Freestyle for the 21st Century CD 2 of 2” (compilation) Artistik Recordings [USA]
5] Freestyle Fever’s Divas vol.1 (medley) Fever Records / Warlock Records [USA]
 

My Top 5
(Albums) 

1] Elissa: “I can’t stop - Freestyle hits” Ti Amo Records [Canada]
2] Flying Steps: “b-town” Dance Street Gmbh / JetSet / ZYX Music [Germany]
3] Safire: “Bringing back the groove” Globestar Records [USA]
4] Freestyle Project: “spinning da wheels” MNF Records / ZYX Music [Germany]
5] - NONE -

 

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