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 # 19
(April / May / June 2002)

Score:
No Stars: Useless
1 star: Poor

2 stars: Average
3 stars: Good
4 stars: Excellent
5 stars: Masterpiece

 NOTE: As you did notice, since last year my column is published every three months. Unfortunately, it’s due to the lack of new and interesting Freestyle releases. I shall return to a two months publication when the Freestyle actuality is denser and more captivating. Thanks for understanding my decision. Keep the Freestyle vibe alive!

Freestylely yours,
Francis Tanneur
 

 

ABY FORMER LEAD SINGER OF TKA AND & MORE GREATEST HITS (CD compilation) EMPIRE MUSIC WERKS / HOT JWP MUSIC  [USA]
Score: 4 stars

This is a “Greatest hits” that will ravish the amateurs of this band from the 80/90s and those who didn’t have the luck to discover this great singer when he was the lead vocal of TKA.

He presents us with reworked versions or remakes of some tracks by TKA, even the titles interpreted by Kayel. Aby possesses a wonderful voice, but my preference goes to Kayel’s voice for the tracks he re-sung. However, don’t misunderstand what I said, the vocal and musical work on each song is magnificent. Aby did a great job with the help of Adam Marano! You will appreciate once again “One way love” (the first TKA single), “Come and get my love”, “X-ray vision”, “Scars of love”, “Louder than love” and maybe (it’s not my case!) the 2-step mix of “Maria”.

His remakes don’t only concern TKA, because he also decided to sing the three And More singles (“Materialistic girl”, “You never find another love” and “Soul on fire”) originally sung by Frank Malave & Wilfredo Delvalle and also the song “Lover” (sung by Tony Moran) and “Why’d you quit on me” (interpreted by Bernardo). As a bonus, he offers us three new exciting singles: “In the name of love”, “On my mind” and “Runnin’ in circles”.

This CD that seems to be a last-ditch battle of Aby for the Freestyle world (he is now part of the band Tru Voices) is to acquire absolutely. A must-have in your collection, assuredly! 

ADAM MARANO FEAT. DENINE & COLLAGE: “The greatest hits” (CD compilation) EMPIRE MUSIC WERKS / HOT JWP MUSIC / BMG DISTRIBUTION  [USA]
Score: 1 star

After more than a decade in the Freestyle business, it’s nevertheless the first compilation dedicated to Adam Marano…but produced by Adam Marano! You are better served by yourself.

The 18 tracks proposed on this CD present a tiny part of the work of this Freestyle music icon who produces, arranges, composes, writes and sings.

This compilation gathers most of his Freestyle successes as a producer and also as a singer, more particularly with Denine (“All cried out” & “Love of lifetime” [in duet with Collage], “I remember you”), Collage (“I’ll be loving you”, “Diana”, [in duet with Denine], “My love” and “Gangster of love”), Stephanie Marano (“Symphony of love” & “I’ll be there for you”) and with TPE (“Then came you”, “Forever and a day” & “Dance with me”). There is also 1 AM “Jocelyn”, the remake of “One way love” by A’Klan (Aby & Adam Marano), Shayme “Summer night with you”, a vocodorised family duet between Adam and Stephanie Marano “Seduction”, and Sergio “In and out”.

Only 4 titles are not Freestyle: the ballad “All cried out”, the Dance/House version of “Summer night with you”, the Euro Dance mix “Love of a lifetime” and the Dance title “Seduction”.

It’s true that, in the nineties Adam Marano used to be one of most prolific producers (as mentioned inside the CD)…maybe we should interpret the “prolific” word with its face value and in his right context! In fact, even if Adam Marano gained his glorious days as a member of TPE & Collage or in producing dozens of singles and artists on his own label Viper Records or on O.S.F. Records, nevertheless, only a few of his productions really spoke to me. I have been rapidly irritated to listen to the same sound and style over and over again. When we speak about the “Viper sound” it’s not a guarantee of quality! Even if I loved a few titles from this label I renounced quickly because the songs resembled each other. For years, he stayed in a same style that indirectly damaged his career and reputation, and my interest to his productions diminished to disappear and reappear from time to time with a few titles (from Jenni, Rockell…) and some rare productions from Germany. Besides, since 2 or 3 years, Germany seems to have been his second sanctuary, where many productions flourish, especially under the banner of Collage or Mr. Bass Feat. Streetstyler (the worse thing he did in music) or by working with Johnny O.

I know that this compilation will certainly please many Freestylers. Personally, I tried to remain objective and conciliating, but even if I took a real pleasure in listening again to TPE and some other tracks (“I’ll be loving you”, “In and out love” and “I’ll be there for you”), I can say that this compilation didn’t appeal to me and appear more as a nth “Viper Greatest hits”. I think it’s becoming urgent for Adam Marano to renew his style and create new sounds. Maybe his work in Germany will help him! 

APOLLO: “More than freestyle” (CD album) ROMEO ENTERTAINMENT  [Germany]
Score: No stars

The musical history of Apollo began in 1998 with “Say that you love me”, a personal remake of “Spring love” interpreted by Stevie B., sung in English and Greek. Nevertheless, their German career really started two years after, with the single “Say you will”.

Apollo also marks the association of different producers and local singers, whose main envy was to offer different kinds of music, but mainly to privilege Freestyle music. Under the leadership of Apollo founder Tanassi Kouloudis and the producer Theo “T.C.” Chalkias, this first album from the band proposes 12 titles (8 Freestyle songs) and also a remixed version of “Say that you love me”.
After a painful first listening, there is not really originality and musical variety (except for the poor Dance song “He makes me crazy” which marries Dance and Oriental sounds). On the contrary we feel trapped with boring songs and we can note a lack of tact in their musical and vocal choices. Some songs as the Trinere’s remake “Can’t stop the beat” and “Tonight” are musically successful but vocally unbearable. The major problem of this LP is the presence of off-key singers, and undeniably they don’t have anything to do with this business. This flagrant lack of “real singers” is prejudicial and a serious nuisance to the SERIOUSNESS of this album. Some of them (unbeknownst to them!) are hilarious to listen to!

There are too many awful remakes! Over the 5 reprises (Dance or Freestyle music), only the Freestyle remake of “Don’t make me wait” (originally sung by Bomb The Bass) draws your attention. Mary Gee doesn’t have the same powerful vocals as Loraine!

The other problem is the weakness and the lack of serious of the production. I know it’s very difficult for an artist or a producer to read this kind of review, but believe me, it’s even more difficult for me to digest the fact that I spent money on such a horrible CD. One of the worst album of the year 2002! 

EMANUEL: “Vandall boy style” (CD album) LUNA RECORDS  [USA]
Score: 1 star

Perhaps many of you will find my words harsh, but I’m still wondering what is the interest in producing the album of a singer who definitively doesn’t possess any voice and sings out of tune?

It’s all the more disappointing because when you discover this album you will see that it contains very well produced, arranged and composed tracks. How can we stay indifferent to such  beautiful melodies the living proof of which are the two remakes “In the air” (originally sung by Phil Collins) and “Crying over you” (originally sung by Soavé) or some other the songs as “Is it true” and “Don’t tear me apart”? Musically, those songs are successful and full of energy contrary to Emanuel’s vocal performance that appear most of the time insipid, inconsistent, and that seriously lacks of expression and emotion. For instance, “I cryed” and the bonus remix “Is it true” are the perfect examples of my words as for the irregularity of Emanuel’s vocals.

This album is really a disappointment. 

FREESTYLE MAXIMIX VOL.2 (CD single / medley) TRENDLINE RECORDS / DMG / SONY MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 3 stars

The particularity of this medley (only available on the German market) is to mix a majority of artists/bands and tracks – more or less recent- out on the North Continent (Christine Turner “Lost in love”, The KromOzone Project “Energy”, Intonation feat. Joee “Died in your arms”, Teaz II Pleaz “I know U know” and Serrani “Til the end of the time”) to some pure German products  as Free Team “Keep me”, MC. G. Gabriel “Fantasy”, Gina Dee “I’m waiting” and Chicco “Freestyle hit mix”.

The productions from these both continents marry together pretty well. It’s normal! Especially when I tell you that this CD compiled mainly titles composed on a Planet Rock beat. Only the tracks from Teaz II Pleaz (Old School Freestyle) and the one of Serrani (Progressive Freestyle) offer different sonorities.

The medley is pretty well remixed by DJ Diavolo and should interest many Freestylers insofar as the songs are in general of good quality. 

FREESTYLE PROJECT: “Baby baby baby” (CD single) MNF RECORDS / ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 2 stars

This new single from Freestyle Project is in the same tradition (a little bit too bad!) as their preceding titles. The “Club mix” and the “Short cut” version mix vocoders (sometimes inaudible), Rap sessions, few scratches and powerful keys, to a lively female chorus that makes the charm of this track. As for the “Extactic melody remix”, it privileges the melody and the keys and highlights the Planet Rock beat but with a more Electro Funk consonance. It’s besides the most successful mix.

This song will seduce the B-boys and B-girls and the Freestyle Project ‘s fans without any problem, because they are legion in Germany and in Canada. So, “rock your body” as this band loves to repeat  in most of their songs! 

FREESTYLE VOL.16 (CD compilation) ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: No stars

There is something wrong with ZYX Music offices, that offers in this sixteenth edition a plethora of pathetic tracks and some of the songs are pitiful (the useless remix of “Let the music play” of Shannon, “Euro Palace magic” of DJ Sequenza Presents Euro Palace Project, “B-Unitor 2” of Flying Steps, “Sunglasses at night” of Tiga & Zyntherius, “Shake that thang” of B.V.S.M.P., “Get off” of Mr. Bass feat. Streetstyler, “Tainted love” of Jon K, “Arabic test” of Gino X and “Don’t walk away” of Salvina).

Other songs were released more than a decade ago as “In the bottle” by C.O.D. & “Spring love” by Stevie B. Who cares about these songs anymore? Two other titles are more than fair as “Tonight” of Collage and “You take me higher” by Tamilda D.

So If I count well, you just have two titles “Music for my soul 2001” by Freestyle Project and “Promise to stay” by Freida for the menu, a meager feast, especially if you feel very hungry about new stuff.

Is this CD is worth buying? My response will be this : “NOOOOOOOOOOOOPE”!!!!! 

IMPORT JAMS (CD compilation) 888 ENTERTAINMENT  [USA]
Score: 3 stars (for the Freestyle tracks)
Score: 1 star (for the other Dance tracks)

I was expecting many things from this compilation. Why? Because most of the tracks were produced and remixed by a well-know personality from the Bay area that I like very much and whose musical career I carefully follow: Lenny “Linus” Douglas.

First of all, I was hoping more Freestyle tracks on this compilation. Over the 15 titles, there are only 5 Freestyle productions + the Breakbeat remix (by Lenny Douglas) of “Love goes on” by Natalise that could nevertheless be considered as Freestyle. Most of the titles are Euro Dance or Trance except for the superb and exciting Funky/Disco song from Malyssa “Tonight”. Even if I’m a Trance Music buff, the American Trance is not the same as in Europe and particularly as concerns the melodies and keys that I found uninteresting and antiquated here. Only the instrumental track from LPZ Project “Angels cry” (by Pete Zavala & Lenny Douglas) is really entertaining and successful.

As for the Freestyle titles, you will see the classic of M:G “Sweet honesty” and Kaila Yu “More and more”, two pure products from the West Coast. But especially, you will note the good song “Love goes on” by Natalise whose two remixes (one by Chris Carter & Chris Debol and the other one by Lenny Douglas) are captivating. Difficult to make a choice! You will also note the two slow & cool titles of One Vo1ce; the voice sounds oddly as Buffy’s. It’s maybe the reason why I have a soft spot for this group.

So, to sum up, this CD has doubly disappointed me. There are only a few Freestyle productions (especially from Lenny “Linus” Douglas) and the Dance/Trance tracks from Lenny Douglas are not very captivating. However, the Freestyle products should interest the West Coast Freestyle amateurs and the people who love this genre of Freestyle. 

LIL SUZY: “The greatest hits” (CD compilation) EMPIRE MUSIC WERKS / HOT JWP MUSIC / BMG DISTRIBUTION   [USA]
Score: 3 stars

I’m sure it’s not necessarily to introduce you to this diva who largely contributed to the fame of Freestyle music since her first hit “Randy” in 1988, on Fever Records.

Throughout her life she has released many, hits especially on High Power Records but also on Metropolitan Recording Corporation. Most of them are finally gathered on this compilation. You will take delight in listening once more to her Freestyle anthems as “Take me in your arms” (certainly her biggest success), “Promise me”, “Now and forever”, “Love can’t wait”, “Real love”, “You’re the only one”. Or you could appreciate her recent tracks (released a few years ago) as “Just can’t get over you”, “Can’t get you out of my mind”, “Memories”. But also a couple of Dance/Euro productions as “When I fall in love”, “Turn the beat around” & “Every time I dream”, a R&B ballad “Paradise”, the groovy song “I still love you” and three new songs “Sweet lies”, “So lonely”, “Back in your arms” (a duet with Adam Marano).

In my opinion, it’s in the Old School Freestyle genre that she excels the best. I did less enjoy her last songs, and I particularly disliked her Euro Dance period (her voice isn’t suited with the style). Even if I didn’t appreciated a few titles (you will tell me that you can’t please everybody) her compilation deserves all your attention. Some songs have also been reworked (different melodies and sounds). And I don’t know why, but my little finger tells me that this CD is the last production under the name of Lil Suzy.

In a near future, Suzanne Casale will be the name she’ll use. Because the teenager we used to know…has now become a lady.

I wish Lil Suzy good luck under her new artist name, er! I mean Suzanne Casale!!! 

100% FREESTYLE VOL.2 (CD compilation) TRENDLINE RECORDS / DMG / SONY MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 2 stars

This compilation is undeniably less good and exciting than the previous one. There are too many songs with the Planet Rock beat and we have the bad impression to hear over and over again the same thing. The production of some titles is mediocre, and I really don’t understand why the labels persists in signing and distribute singers and groups who don’t know how to sing (LFG, Free Team, Dr. Love, Modify) and do the same music as their neighbors?

Hopefully, there are good tracks as “Daydream” by Body Base (good to see him back!), “Fall in love” by Kira K, “Music for my soul 2001” by Freestyle Project, “King of rock” by Flying Steps and “Baila (dance with me)” by Stevie B.

I wish that the third comp will contain a better selection, a bigger musical and vocal diversity. 

STONAY: “Around you” (CD single) SHIFT MUSIC & MEDIA / ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: 2 stars

Musically speaking, Stonay has been going around in circles since few songs whether in solo or in duet (with Elios). I very much like this singer, but his last tracks sound the same in my opinion.

The magic takes less and less. It would be better to ask Stonay, and his producer Kalvin Madison to change and renew themselves. It’s never good to bury yourself in the same vocal and musical style title after title!

This third solo single remains low-grade quality stuff on this side of the superb “Hold me tight” or of “Waiting” to which the style is much too similar. Disappointing! Time has really come for a change guys…

THUMPIN FREESTYLE QUICK MIXX # 3 (CD medley) THUMP RECORDS / UNIVERSAL MUSIC AND VIDEO DISTRIBUTION  [USA]
Score: No stars

Thump Records label seems not to possess the same definition as me about what Freestyle music is! Maybe this music has so much evolved these lasts past years that I didn’t notice such a musical change? No no no, it’s because I have lived these last years on a desert island with my old collection of vinyl records from the nineties!!! Nah, in fact, this CD is a joke…as simple as that!

Over the 13 titles available in this medley, only 5 tracks are Freestyle. I should say Progressive Freestyle. And I’m sorry to reveal you this, but the productions brought to you are not the best ones. Just see by yourself the content of this CD: except for the excellent “Do you miss me” by Jocelyn Enriquez, I don’t much like the songs as “Set u free” by Planet Soul, “Release me” by Angelina, “I do both (Jay and Jane)” by La Rissa and “Stay in love” by Mona Q. The other titles from Tonasia, Shannon, Sa-Fire, C&D Project, David Morales, Angel Clivilles and Paradigm are oriented to Dance or House or Hi Energy…This CD is not Freestyle, as you can expect when you see such a long and big list of Freestyle names!

For those of you who discovered and appreciated the first two Freestyle megamixes fabulously remixed and edited by Albert Cabrera, ignore this Dance music medley (remixed by Chris “The Greek” Panaghi). This has nothing to do with Freestyle music, and honestly Chris Panaghi’s work is less elaborated and outstanding than Albert Cabrera. Now everything is said!

Without knowing it, Thump records has maybe struck a bad blow to the reputation of this series of medleys, which are to this day one of the best series of Freestyle megamixes produced and out. What an added disappointment!!! 

THE STAR MEGAMIXES (CD compilation) MNF RECORDS / ZYX MUSIC  [Germany]
Score: No star

MNF Records and ZYX Music have already released a bunch of megamixes on singles, now, they decided to compile them. Hmmmm…This decision should provoke buyers a little stupor, especially for those who acquired each medley on single!

However, these same buyers could be consoled “in part” when they know that those megamixes are available in their original radio versions. And for those who haven’t already bought them, you have to know that most of the medleys are not well remixed or that they are not interesting.

I strongly suggest you to wait a little bit if you want to buy those medleys, I don’t know why, but these two labels are capable of promoting, in a near future, a second volume with, this time the extended versions of those medleys. Who knows!!! 

WILDSTYLE FREESTYLE VOLUME ONE – COLLECTOR’S EDITION (CD medley) MASTERMIXX ENTERTAINMENT / MIXEDMUSIC.COM  [USA]
Score: 2 stars

I don’t know if I am the only one to think…that “The mixtress” is certainly the most talented female DJ in Freestyle music! We may, or may not, like her selection of tunes, but everybody will be agree with me: her medleys are always professionally remixed.

Contrarily to her previous megamixes of the “Fierce Freestyle Classics” series, this time “The Mixtress” has privileged the local productions and singers from the Bay area (from Timmy T., Buffy, Steelo, Alexis, Linda Low, Yolanda, Kenny Moulton to Julissa). Unfortunately, the track selection is not always enthusiastic. There are of course some excellent songs and classics from the region, but also some never-before-released tracks that appear very fair or simply not good.

Even if “The Mixtress” did her best to give this medley a more attractive perspective (the bonus beats and the mix between songs are excellent), we have to recognize that many of the productions are simply plain, and they seriously miss rhythm. A better diversity of Freestyle styles, even from the Bay area, would be better suited. Something to mull over, perhaps? 

 

My Top 5
(12”, tape & CD singles) 

1] Nu Image: “I’ll always love you” Aria Records [USA] 

2] Christina Marie: “Turning away” (VR’s Freestyle mix) Vazram Records [USA]

3] David Guetta Featuring Chris Willis: “Just a little more love” (Elektro maxi) Virgin SA [France]

4] Daft Punk: “Harder better faster stronger” (Breakers break remix) Virgin [France]

5] Freestyle Project: “Music for my soul 2001” (New club mix) MNF Records / ZYX Music [Germany]

 

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 Fever’s Divas vol.1 (medley) Fever Records / Warlock Records [USA]

5] -  

 

My Top 5
(Albums) 

1] Aby: “The Greatest hits” Empire Music Werks / Hot JWP Music [USA] 

2] Lil Suzy: “The greatest hits” Empire Music Werks / Hot JWP Music / BMG Music USA]

3] Flying Steps: “b-town” Dance Street Gmbh / JetSet / ZYX Music [Germany]

[4] Safire: “Bringing back the groove” Globestar Records [USA]

5] Freestyle Project: “spinning da wheels” MNF Records / ZYX Music [Germany]

 

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