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


ISSUE # 26

(April / May & June 2004)

 

Score:

No Stars: Useless

1 star: Poor

2 stars: Average

3 stars: Good

4 stars: Excellent

5 stars: Masterpiece

 

ASHLEY: “Here we are” / “When’s it all gonna end?” (Bonus Track) (CD single)

STERLING RECORDS  [USA]

Score: 4 stars

 

Their first partnership on the song “When’s it all gonna end” was already very fruitful and enthusiastic. It seems that singer Ashley (Leslie Ruscito) and producer Edwin Ramos Jr. decided not to say goodbye! They come back with a new track “Here we are” that should jig up and down more than one Freestyler; it’s a very danceable Old School Freestyle’s gem.

 

Really, this CD single fills me with joy for many reasons. They didn’t skimp on the versions: nine mixes for “Here we are” plus a bonus track “When’s it all gonna end?” for a total of 44 minutes and 19 seconds of music. WOW! Besides, the versions are interesting and pretty different from one to another. The “Radio edit” and especially the “Extended club” quickly became my favorite ones because the Old School Freestyle’s genre allied to a beautiful steady and melancholic voice should wreak havoc among the Freestyle population!

The “Freestek mix” is also delightful. This is imputable to the successful musical choice. It combines a sort of pretty fast and powerful New School beat (we can even speak about Breakbeat) to some keys whose melodic flights are close to Ambient, Chill Out or Trance genres. As for the six other mixes, they put the emphasis on Ashley’s vocals. But it depends on the mix sometimes it’s the drums or the keys which are highlighted.

Whatever the mixes, we can notice a lot of emotion on Ashley’s way of singing. It’s normal because this song magnificently co-written by Edwin Ramos Jr. is dedicated to a tiny 4-year-old tot (his nephew Benett Delaney Sullivan) who was struck down by a terrible disease: Leukemia. Moreover, a part of the sale of this CD single will go to the Leukemia Foundation.

 

So you do a good deed and you do something good for yourself too. This single is the best one that Ashley has offered us! A great pleasure to listen to…

 

We needed to wait 11 years to appreciate a second single from Ashley released on maxi CD / 12” single. Contrarily to “Don’t let me go” (distributed by Nightmare Records), this single “Here we are” benefits from a larger amount of copies, so don’t wait till this terrific product is out of print!

 

 

AYNA: “Free” (CD album)

AYNA MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT  [USA]

Score: 1 star

 

In spite of a certain “euphoria” aroused by his 2 previous singles “Aunque sea la ultima vez” (on E.L.I. Records) and especially “Day to night” (available on “Evolution of Dance” compilation on Bigtime! Entertainment LLC), her fist full-length album disappointed me… terribly.

 

First of all, this album only contains two songs truly Freestyle: “Day to night” which is undeniably her best and most splendid title (produced by Edwin Ramos Jr.) and “Dreams come & go” (produced by Willie “Valentin” Rivera) that offers a slow New School Freestyle beat and Euro Dance keys; the result is dissimilar and plain. There is also “Already over” (produced by Pompeo “Nu Image” Messano) that mixes Freestyle music elements to a Euro Dance beat and chorus particularly indigestible.

My main problem with this album comes from her intention to enlarge her musical audience as much as possible with a multitude of styles, most of the time oriented to Dance Music. Except for the pleasant ballad “Free”, the R&B title “Give me music” (choruses from Aby) or the Latin Dance song “Do you think”, her album proposes over and over this Euro Dance’s style totally unbearable and obsolete. You even feel dumb-founded by the poor quality of those Euro Dance songs. You also notice an asperity in her manner to sing which really amazed me. The title “With you I’m born again” is an example not to be followed. Aby and Ayna sing so much out of tune that I remained without voice. It’s incredible and particularly inexcusable from Aby, one of the most beautiful Freestyle voices.

 

For her second album it would be profitable if this singer improved her voice, and gave us some Freestyle or Dance Music tunes better worked and more eclectic as far as the sound is concerned.

 

 

B-BOY TRONIK: “I am your DJ” (CD Album)

CD LAND [Russia]

Score: 2 stars

 

Over 3 years this band has released three albums. Maybe they should start thinking to slow a little bit the cadence?

 

Upon first listening, I agreed about the fact that this group confined itself in an Electro Freestyle genre “a la Flying Steps”. In the majority of tracks we find a Planet Rock or an Electro beat. But nevertheless, what differs B-Boy Tronik’s style from the German band it’s that a plethora of titles are bursting with interesting effects or/and successful melodies, not all the time very well exploited in my opinion. It’s difficult to be entirely satisfied of a title!

I loved those tracks especially for the harmony and melodic ambiance (“Body rockin’”, “Breakdance galaxy”, “Shining Star”, “Electro Jam”, “King of streets”), but there is always something wrong that comes titillating my ears as for instance some inaudible vocoders or Progressive tonalities too much present and less attractive to listen to. It’s also the same feeling when you listen to some tracks sounding like Flying Steps (“Break it down”, “Let the music take control”, “Can’t get out of my mind”, “Melody and the beat” and “Make a miracle”).

 

My big disappointment about this album, is it can not be denied that B-Boy Tronik abounds with ideas but it never managed to use them all judiciously. One thing is for sure: they should avoid to reiterate Flying Steps’ style. I personally love that style but it can be also deadly dull sometimes! This group should take care about the work on their vocoders (for the reasons I explained above) and develop a better job on the melodies often already very inspired. Maybe they should visit some genres as Breakbeat, Electro Trance and Trance music.

 

 

DANA RAYNE: “Object of desire” (CD single)

NEXT PLATEAU ENTERTAINMENT / ULTRA RECORDS  [USA]

Score: 2 stars

 

This is definitely not the kind of track that I’d endlessly listen to. But otherwise I can say that Dana Rayne sings efficaciously and the mixes available on this CD are far from being uninteresting. Except for the “Valentin radio edit” which mixes some Euro Dance & some Hi NRG that appears quickly overwhelming with mediocrity.

 

Joe Grandberg’s version (“Hyperspace Breakbeat radio”) goes more to Breakbeat and Funky sounds than Freestyle music. But I could understand that some of you consider that mix as Freestyle. Honestly, the version is okay but pretty plain too. Indeed the best mix, Freestyle this time, is from Johnny Budz that I considered more lively and rhythmical. The only reproach I could make to Johnny Budz is that I know he is more of a remixer than a keyboard player but he should focus his work on the melody. Johnny Budz, one day, I would love to hear from you a melody that gets me high!

 

I don’t know if this CD single will become an “object of desire” for Freestyle buffs, but you should take a look, maybe you’ll be surprised?

 

DOMINATRIX: “The Dominatrix sleeps tonight” (12” vinyl)

INTERNATIONAL DJ GIGOLO RECORDS  [Germany]

Score: 3 stars

 

Less than 20 years after his first release (1984), this Electro Funk’s anthem is out again last year on maxi vinyl with two exclusive remixes.

 

The A side contains the three original mixes (“Original”, “Chants” & “Beat me”). As for the B side it offers two new 2003 versions: “The “Black Strobe remix” sounds like a Miami Dance sound of the 80’s. It is very close to the “Original mix” including more modern sounds as for instance some Progressive elements. All the people who adore that type of sound should irresistibly be overcome by this remix. While the “Terranova remix” is more oriented to a Breakbeat / Breaks’s style, punctuated from time to time by an electric guitar a little bit too aggressive for my own taste. It’s less successful!

 

This 12” vinyl record permits you to get the original versions for an excellent quality recording. Collectors, take out your wallet…

 

 

FREESTYLE HEAVEN VOL.5 (CD medley)

SPG MUSIC LTD  [Canada]

Score: No stars

 

Has SPG Music reached the bottom to propose such a pitiful and poor medley?

 

It’s pretty true that Canada (as Germany) mostly live by the Euro Freestyle’s genre! With this medley you have the disagreeable sensation to listen over and over to the same thing (and I’m staying polite!). You put a Planet Rock beat to the majority of tracks and you “offer” plainly the same stupid, ugly and boring keys that pollute all those titles. And some people try to mix Electro with Club Trance or Euro Dance. Of course, it’s often a fiasco!

 

Only a few tracks and artists get out pretty well of this musical slump: Joe “Better than you”, Ceres “Show me your love”, Malyssa “Reminisce” and Elissa “What about me” (an Yvonne’s remake).

 

Only 4 “just about ok” tracks over 16, every single fan can legitimately ignore this awful medley. The mediocrity of the songs vies with the dead loss of mixer DJ Marky D’s work. Remember his name for his incompetence and apathy to know how to mix at least two songs. A real massacre!

 

We better understand the decline of Freestyle music when we can see that this insignificant CD is still commercialized. 

 

HANNAH-ROSE: “Dreaming” (CD single)

ROBBINS ENTERTAINMENT LLC  [USA]

Score: 2 stars

 

This type of song constantly brings with it its share of polemics, and more particularly when you speak about Freestyle music. Because this genre is between 
different musical styles (Breaks, Breakbeat, Electro and Freestyle).
 
It’s important to indicate that 7 over 9 mixes are destined to an audience that mainly appreciates Dance Music (“Radio mix”), or/and Club Trance (“Original mix”), 
or/and Progressive House: the two mixes by Giuseppe D and especially the three versions “(Radio” + “Club” + “Dub”) by The Passengerz (Omar Galeano, Sean Gill & Josh Harris) should satisfy them.
As for Progressive sound, you can talk about it in the two “KJ” mixes, but this time it concerns Freestyle music. 
The two versions (“DJ JK’s Breaks radio edit” + “Club mix”) marry Breaks and Progressive Freestyle sounds, and especially this Acid Bass line that composed 
(or polluted for others!) a bunch of West Coast Freestyle and Texas tracks from the middle to the end of the 90s. You can notice some sounds from K5’s album 
(released in 1997); Kevin “KJ” Shiver was one of the members/producers of that band already distributed by Robbins Entertainment. Also, the voice is sometimes 
so modified that you can wonder if it’s the singer or the computer that “sings”!
 
 In the end, it’s truly dreary and without pretension. That goes without saying that after two or three listening you tire easily! 

JOEE: “A decade of dance” (CD compilation + Bonus DVD)

SPG MUSIC LTD  [Canada]

Score: 1 star (Dance songs)

Score: 3 stars (Freestyle songs)

 

Even if Joe DeSimone got his fame in 1994/1995 with the superb Freestyle hit “Died in your arms” he nevertheless opted for a Dance Music career. Most of his tracks out over 9 years of career were oriented to different kinds of Dance Music (Euro Dance & Hi-NRG).

On this compilation, you will find a majority of singles (sometimes available in extended version) mainly available on two albums (“Just a taste” on Ti Amo Records and “Joe” on Erotico Music).

 

This Dance Music style that Joe is fond of lets me personally indifferent. Sincerely, I only appreciate Joe as a Freestyle singer and notably for his voice. So I won’t say anything about his Dance Music tunes, definitely not my cup of tea!

 

Over 17 tracks available on this compilation ere featured his main Freestyle tracks “Died in your arms”, “Nothing to you” & “Need you in my life”. The titles “Feel it in the air” (Stevie P’s remix combines Freestyle and Euro Dance elements) and the Progressive Freestyle song “Holding on”. These two tracks are not the best!

I was glad to discover two new and successful tracks: “Precious heart” is a free interpretation of two Pop hits (“Never tears us apart” by INXS and “Strange love” by Depeche Mode) and “Better than” that appears as his greatest Freestyle song.

 

On the second CD, which is in reality a DVD, you can watch four music videos: “Sunshine”, “Arriba”, “If I could” and “Do you right”. It also contains some extracts taken at Partymania’s live concert at The Docks Entertainment on March 2002 (length: 11’35).

 

This double disc is mainly recommended to the fans who love him as a Dance Music recording artist, and not only for his Freestyle jams.

 

 

KINGS & QUEENS OF FREESTYLE PRESENTS VOL.2 (DVD)

URBAN WORKS ENTERTAINMENT / PHAT JOYNTZ / VENTURA DISTRIBUTION  [USA]

Score: 2 stars

 

This is the same concept as for volume 1. This time, 5 recording artists and 1 band are interviewed by Galley Alexander: Nayobe (11’30), Cynthia (11’22), TKA (6’17), Judy Torres (16’29), Lil’ Suzy (11’21) and Stevie B (18’41).

Otherwise, this second volume is less entertaining than volume 1.

 

It’s not the fault of the interviewees (even if the questions and the answers are not always interesting) but mostly because of the material’s poverty.

You can only be sad by the Nayobe’s documentary; there is no interview of the artist. Amazing! There is only a long interview of Sal Abbatiello, a short one of Andy Panda (I adore his passionate way of talking about Freestyle) and two music videos of “Please don’t go” and “Second chance for love”. To compensate for this void, the music video of “Second chance for love” is practically presented in its entirety. The TKA’s report is distressing due to the short time (only 6 minutes) dedicated to this legendary group and due to the lack of materials; only the same extracts from the video “Louder than love”. It’s very redundant. The only member to express himself is Kayel, but it’s short, as are the interventions of Sal Abbatiello, Andy Panda and Carlos Berrios. It’s the same thing for Lil’ Suzy: only one music video “Take me in your arms”, and an interview from Lil’ Suzy. Even if Sal Abbatiello launched her career, it would be interesting to see some other important producers as Tony “Dr. Edit” Garcia and Victor Franco who truly contributed to Suzanne Casale’s fame. Was this new documentary about Stevie B necessary? Don’t misunderstand my point, I like this singer, but he already benefits from a DVD completely dedicated to his career. Otherwise, the main interest of this report is the exclusive interview (it’s very rare) of Larry Moelis, the owner of LMR Records.

I found Judy Torres’s interview very entertaining. She speaks about the business seriously and sincerely, and she relates us some interesting anecdotes on some songs she sung. Too bad that the report is not punctuated with music videos or live performance footages. This is not the case for Cynthia, there is an interview (at Roxy club) and some short extracts of live performances for two songs “Change on me” and “Thief of hearts” interrupted by two interviews of Judy Torres and Sal Abbatiello.

 

It is said on the packaging of this DVD that “this collection is a must-have for any dance music fan”. You can think that, but personally this series won’t remain in my memory, even if as a Freestyle buff I appreciate the effort!

 

Also, a reflection for some next Freestyle documentaries (whatever the distributor or the producer): the interest of the interview is to put in exergue the interviewee, not the interviewer! And please have some raw materials, it will definitely look more serious. Thank you.

 

 

LIV (Life in intense volume): “Journey of love” (CD single)

ULTRA RECORDS  [USA]

Score: 3 stars

 

Even if it’s destined to Dance Music lovers (the 4 mixes are all good), this single has everything that a Freestyler could wish for, especially if you like the marriage between genres. Throughout two mixes (“South Beats radio” + “South Beats extended”), you must admit that West Coast Freestyle and Dance Music can get on well. The rhythm is solid and firm thanks to a fast rhythm beat and to the melody (keys and effects are Trance). And to female singer Natasha Tabandera who possesses a beautiful way of singing that confers to the song a certain sensuality and warmth, in the end it is very agreeable.

 

It results in a single musically intelligent and flattering which it is preferable to listen to “intensely”, whatever your musical predilection.

 

 

FREESTYLE MAXIMIX VOL.3 (CD single / medley)

MIAMI BASS RECORDS / DMG / SONY MUSIC  [Germany]

Score: 1 star

 

As for his preceding medley, this mix is composed of Planet Rock productions (except for the Old School Freestyle track by Hiram D. “Make you mine”): Mr. Summerjam “I just called (to say I love you)”, Stevie B and Alexia Phillips : “If you leave me now”, MC.G. Gabriel “Depends of you”, Lana “Don’t ever leave me”, Emanuel “You’re my angel”, Thiago Derucio “Next to you”, VLA “You are the one” and Ceres “Open your eyes”.

 

Once again, DJ Diavolo mixed it without overexerting himself! His new medley (length: 12’09) contains nine titles (6 are from Canada, 1 from the United States and 2 from Germany) that come directly from Miami Bass Records catalogue. A catalogue that seriously starts to fill out…internationally speaking!

 

One last thing, for volume 4, it would be great to see a greater diversity of Freestyle styles and a better mixing of tracks.

 

 

NU IMAGE: “The album” (2 CD set album)

ARIA RECORDS  [USA]

Score: 3 stars

 

12 years of waiting before listening to the anticipated debut album of this band that first started with two members (Tony G & Tyree Hernandez) to finish as a threesome with the coming in 2001 of Victor Zapata. With only three singles, Nu Image has already left its mark in the Freestyle industry: the terrific single “Tears in my eyes” [1992] then “Sounds of love” [1995] both distributed by Funkee Records, and lastly the great single “I’ll always love you” [2002] on Aria Records.

This album was much expected by many fans for about 2 years. But will the fans massively buy this first full-length album? Yes, maybe!

 

After a first listening of these 26 tracks (20 songs plus 5 remixes of “I’ll always love you” plus one revisited remix of “Tears in my eyes”) it is noticeable that most of the tracks sound the same. Whatever the song, the musical and vocal construction is often the same. That disappointed me a little bit. Producer Pompeo Messano used over and over the same artifices and technical effects as the recurrent use of the same synths and drums and some melodies close to the Trance genre. Of course, it’s also his signature (I am one of his fans!) but honestly I have to confess it, it’s too much repetitive.

When you go thru this report, it will be unfair to say that this album has no interest, it’s really not the case. Because if all the albums (18 Freestyle songs over 20) out this last decade had this level of quality, believe me, Freestyle music wouldn’t be where it is now! Most of the songs are greatly written and interpreted. And Tony G. possesses one of the most moving and powerful voice. His voice changed incredibly since his first steps in Freestyle with “Tears in my eyes”. When you listen to the original mix of this song (unfortunately not available on this album) and the two new versions, you hear a bloody difference! Besides, the 2004 versions are better vocally and musically too. It’s also one of my favorite songs with “I’ll always love you”, “What I have found”, “Your my angel”, “Memories”, “Theres no love”, “It’s not right” and “If it’s love”.

A special mention to the beautiful non-Freestyle song “Thank you” wonderfully sung, and a nice present to the fans.

 

On the second disc, you will find five remixes of the single “I’ll always love you”. Only the “Freaktranz remix” by Pompeo Messano and the brilliant multi-edited version by Patrice “edits junkie” Enjelvin talked to me! The three other mixes didn’t convince me except for the Dance Music mix by Riccardo Piparo that is not bad at all!

 

This is definitely an album that doesn’t deserve to be ignored or roughly ill-treated as I saw on some Internet sites. On the contrary it needs your encouragements. And the best encouragements is to buy it...it’s as simple as that.

 

 

100% Freestyle vol.5 (CD compilation)

MIAMI BASS RECORDS / DMG / SONY MUSIC  [Germany]

Score: 3 stars

 

Contrarily to the two previous compilations of this series, it is pleasant to notice the global quality of the tracks compiled on this new CD. But we still regret the fly-by-night production on some titles.

It’s mainly for vocal reasons as for instance on those titles: Reza “Nothing at all”, Southern Cut “Keep it on”, Latin Destiny “The night”, Instant Illusion “Tell me why” and Eye ][ Eye feat. Infinite Reminisce “We’re meant to be”. It’s especially embarrassing because the musical partition (melody + rhythm beat) of those tracks are often successful. I won’t talk about the disastrous song “Freestyle party” by Freebase…it’s really awful to listen to.

Musically speaking, we can only be moderately keen on (but not totally disappointed either!) by these tracks like Freestyle Allstars [Reza, C.J, Elissa & Maurizio] “Freestyle for life”, DJ Sally B “When I see you” and Olga “Do you want me”. As for M-Tracker “Rock your body” and Electronic Masters “Rock 2 da beat”, these two songs are too common, but not bad at all!

This CD also contains many good and new tracks, sometimes captivating as the remarkable song by Richie Santiago “Black rose of love”, a “young” American of 30 living in Germany. Produced by Theo “T.C.” Chalkias (Apollo), the New School style is enthusiastic and his way of singing is really lively and contagious. THE good surprise of this compilation, undeniably! Free System is one of the rare German bands to propose from time to time some Old School Freestyle songs. This 2004 version of “Little love” is fully satisfying. The other good song is “My one true love” by Eye ][ Eye feat. Infinite Reminisce, even if we could hope for a more powerful and regular female backup.

I don’t feel the need to introduce you to Zoe “Live without U” and Maurizio “Only in my dreams”. Their two Old School Freestyle tracks are really exciting to hear.

 

I know, I’m too demanding but I have to admit that this volume 5 deserves the detour. It is also reassuring to see that the label has selected a more musical eclecticism (Electro Freestyle, Euro Freestyle, New School & Old School Freestyle) for this compilation instead of sinking into these eternal Planet Rock sounds!

 

 

 Top 5

(12” & CD singles)

 

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

 

2] Nina Martinez : “Gimme just 1 night” Bigtime! Entertainment [USA]

 

3]Jennifer Glass: “Dreamin’” (Christian Dio Magical mix) Power Jamm

    Productions / Caliber Records [USA

 

4] Ashley: “Here we are”  Sterling Records [USA]

 

5] Joe: “Better than you” SPG Music LTD / DEP [Canada]

 

My Top 5

(Compilations & medleys)

 

1] Evolution of dance (compilation) Bigtime! Entertainment LLC [USA]

 

2] Freestyle Best Extended versions vols. 1 & 2 (compilation - 2 CD Set) Cutting

    Records [USA]

 

3] Jose Melendez Presents Freestyle Lost &Found (compilation) Mastermixx

     Entertainment / MixedMusic.com [USA]

 

4] Divas of Freestyle (medleys – 2 CD set) UBL Recordings LLC [USA]

 

5] 100% Freestyle Vol.5 (compilation) Miami Bass Records / DMG/ Sony Music

     [Germany]

My Top 5

(Albums)

 

1] Nu Image: “The Album” Aria Records [USA]

 

2] NONE

 

3] NONE

 

4] NONE

 

5] NONE