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MUSIC REVIEWS # 4
JOEY ACUNA: "If this is love" (CD single) JGM RECORDS
Score: 2 stars
Sam Maxion is a man with flair! Producing and remixing of this teenagers first single, he surely knows he has bet on the right horse.
Nevertheless, "If this is love" is, in the end, a little disappointment! The reason is clear: on one side, youve got this Progressive Freestyle sound without any originality (sounds and effects way too obvious), dispassionated lyrics and chorus, and an familiar Electro beat far too fast than most of the past productions. On the other side, Joey Acunas languorous and young voice is the main attraction of the song.
If, all in all, the single is fair, its got its charms. Lets hope this young artist will always be that well supported by such a prominent producer and that he wont be forgotten, as was Angelos "Dont keep me holding on", which is the worst example to follow. Work and tough mind are surely his best weapons!
STEVIE B: "Freestyle then and now" (CD compilation) DANCE 2000 RECORDS / 805 MUSIC COMPANY
Score: 3 stars
The first question on ones mind after listening to this CD is: what can possibly be the reason behind the simultaneous release of this compilation and the "Right here, right now!" album? The compilation hosts only four never-heard-before tracks (two Freestyle songs, one Dance music and a ballad) and the rest of the track list is seven songs from the album. Whats the story?
More than the obvious marketing aspect, we can surely point out that this compilation is of excellent standing and the never-before-heard-titles will surely draw lots of Freestylers to their ranks. I dont know for you, but I fell for it. And you know why? Ive got a crush on Stevie B...
MARCOS B: "When you go" (CD album) KNOWLEDGE ES POWER RECORDS
Score: 3 stars
Marcos B did quite a buzz in 1997, with his splendid Latin Hip-Hop single "Endless night" (no, this is NOT a cover of Cynthias classic!) and his new album is sure to rock your CD player in the next few weeks.
Youll probably fall in love for the Freestyle titles ("When you go", "Porque te vas", the quite necessary "Endless night"), whove got the particular singularity of combining an Old School rhythm beat (or Planet Rock) with some West Coast driven sound effects: the Marcus Bs touch originality! Youll also be amazed by the power of his superb voice and the quality of the other songs, from quite different musical backgrounds (Dance music, Ballad, Deep House music ).
An album to discover, just for the talent!
FREESTYLE VOL.8 (CD compilation) ZYX MUSIC (Germany)
Score: 4 stars
Each new volume is eagerly awaited by fans all over the world. Why? Because, as usual, the fine connoisseurs of ZYX MUSIC has concocted a deep and rich selection.
Even if the German tendency is driven towards Electro Funk, we can surely see that Old School Freestyle is returning by the great door, with such known and loved artists as Stevie B, Cynthia, Timmy T, Lil Suzy, Afrika Bambaataa, Rockell, all responding present on this compilation, with more or less recent titles. No need to know that, with buying this CD, one can see that the German production has nothing to envy the Canadian or U.S. one!
All this compilation is dually considered as a collector. Pretty rare to find (its mostly due to the German market), its also brilliant. Be quick: the last ones wont last long.
FREESTYLE MANIA: "Eastcoast meets West" (CD compilation) ARTISTIK RECORDS / DMD ENTERTAINMENT, INC
Score: 1 star
What really bothers me with this new Willie Valentin Rivera compilation, is that its never, ever, enthusiastic enough to be interesting. Lack of creativity, ill-freshness of the production,disturbing feeling of always listening to the same style. Its a shame to see that some melodies, rather well made, are pinned down by awful voices or copycat rhythm beats. You want proof? Just listen to one right after another, to all the compilations produced by this VIP (on ARTISTIK RECORDS, A.V.P RECORDS, etc.): sure, this guy doesnt know how to regenerate himself!
Producing is good, but being creative and fresh is better. Freestyle mania is just another compilation for Willie Valentin Rivera, but its one too much for the Freestyle fan that I am....
THE PERFECT BEATS VOL. 1, 2, 3 & 4: "new york electro hip-hop + underground dance classics 1980-1985" (CDs compilations) TIMBER! RECORDS / TOMMY BOY MUSIC
Score: 4 stars
Happy owner of TIMBER! RECORDS, Joey Gardner is also well known and renown for his passion and his knowledge of everything concerning music in general and Freestyle in particular (whatever the style concerned).
After the brilliant "Freestyle greatest beats: the complete collection" (which remains undoubtedly a reference). It is simply impossible to ignore these 4 CDs on which are gathered some 60 tracks, which made and always make the fame and the happiness of dance floors amateurs from all around the world! All major styles representing the very soul of Dance music are featured here (Latin Hip-Hop, Electro Funk, Soul & Funk music, Disco ).
You will discover or appreciate again titles (in extended version for some of them) as rare as Heaven 17 "Let me go", Jenny Burton "Remember what you like", Rockers Revenge "Walking on sunshine", Yello "Bostich", Peech Boys "Dont make me wait", Level 42 "Starchild", Newcleus "Automan", James Brown "Give it up turn it loose", Herman Kelly
+ Life "Dance to the drummers beat"
Also to match Latin Hip-Hoppers and Electro Funkers tastes some titles as: The Aleems "Release yourself", Krafterwerk "Trans europe express", Afrika Bambaataa "Planet Rock / Renegades of funk / Looking for the perfect beat", New Order "Confusion", Xena "On the upside", Hashim "Al Naafiysh (the soul)", Chaka Khan "My love is alive", Strafe "Set it off", Carol Lynn Townes "99 ½" and of course classics from Shannon, Jay Novell, Freeze, Tina B, Planet Patrol, etc. To put it in a nutshell, Dance music lovers will find enough to get stuffed.
As far as I am concerned, i am already impatient to listen to the selection Joey Gardner is preparing for the 1985-90 period. "The perfect beats" will likely be a good way to continue the excellent "Freestyle greatest beats" until the year 2000
M:G: "Make a little noise" (CD album) CLASSIFIED RECORDS
Score: 1 star
For many people, M:G (a.k.a. Maribel Gonzalez) is the new Freestyle rising star. After listening to her album several times, i still wonder why everybody is so enthusiastic about her.Her voice turns out to be insufferable (there isnt almost any change in tone in spite of different rhythm beats). Moreover, her style is almost a copycat of Buffys, with much less talent! Except for some tracks ("What do you remember", "Keep doing what youre doing" and "No one knows"), it will bore you to death.
ASHA: "Love conquers all" (12 inch) ROBBINS ENTERTAINMENT LLC
Score: 1 star
Unfortunately, there isnt much to say about this extremely disappointing piece, but spare your money for something else!
In spite of a booming pleasant voice, "Love conquers all" is not very spirited. Its certainly to be accounted for a very classical beat, quite old-fashioned, and a no-less classical sample of Jive Rhythm Tracks "122 BPM", way too much used, much too often (its dawn boring in the end!). There are also two small Raga pieces (yeah, read my lips, i say Raga!) quite disgusting and mediocre!
You wont ever be taken into this plain production which seriously lacks energy and a captivating melody, and, in the end its a dispiriting and banal music feat. The first wrong step for that label, which had made us used to better things. What a mess!
DIVINE: "Lately" (12 inch) RED ANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC / BMG MUSIC
Score: 3 stars
First "Lately" was a great R & B song with a mid tempo surrounded by sensuous voices endowed of a rare quality.
In this double pack, we are given Dance remixes in which the producer / mixer Jonathan Peter has succeeded in mixing with some ease a Dance / House rhythm with the Soul / R & B voices of this charming threesome. But as far as the two Freestyle mixes (a radio and maxi version) by Cibola productions, we couldnt be as confident.
In the end, Steve and Charles Chavez, with the help of Noel Sucede (Haus-A-Holics) have successfully managed to mix a Freestyle sound to with three R & B voices. The rhythm beat is much faster than on their recent productions ("Without you" of George Lamond, "Get into the rhythm" by Jocelyn Enriquez, etc.) and, fortunately, there arent any sound FX (as in Progressive Freestyle). They have bet on the vocal organs of the threesome, and it aint a bad call!
Without knowing it, they have probably invented a new genre: Freestyle R & B! A relaxing and pleasant genre to listen to.
DA FELLAZ: "Where does that leave us" (CD single) ODYSSEY RECORDS / ZMR MANAGEMENT & PRODUCTION LLC
Score: 4 stars
Whats the secret to become a mythic band of Freestyle music in a single song? The answer is to simply be the creator of the project.
Sure, it may sound over-enthusiastic from me, but I can only admit that Da Fellaz has spawned a pure Freestyle jewel, the kind of which Id like to listen to more often way more often! Especially the Freestyle mix which is an anthem to Latin Hip-Hop sound, and the terrific mix entitled Next Episode that give us extraordinary edit sequences and cuts carefully composed by Javier "Dr. Javi" Ayala (the producer of "Dr. Javi Freestyle & Dance vol.1" compilation on HI & LOW FREQUENCY RECORDS / HOT PRODUCTIONS, INC). The other musical trends of Freestyle are also well present through the Radio mix (New School sound), Planet mix (Planet Rock beat) and Friday mix (Dance music). This later being the most unsuccessful.
But the piece is also to be underlined for the impressive vocal quality of the band members, for the beauty of the lyrics, the wonderful choruses, the fantastic synths, flooding the versions one after the other. A title thatll be shining like a sun over the entire Freestyle scene and that will monopolize radio playlists and DJs turntables in the Clubs.
I cant wait till the "Night & Day" album release, that would allow Da Fellaz to climb the steps of stardom in a faster way. Thats all the best I can wish to this fabulous band, cause they deserve it!
FREEKSTYLE: "Dont stop the rock 2000" (CD single) PHAT CAT RECORDS / AMPLE ENTERTAINMENT
Score: 3 stars
In 1988, Pretty Tony Butler produced this song by Freestyle band on JAM PACKED RECORDS (then on PANDISC CORPORATION in 1989). It was justly considered to be by many as a landmark of the Electro movement (Debbie Deb and Hashim among others, it reminds you of something, doesnt it?). For some times, a new enthusiasm has been developing for this musical style (especially in Germany).
At the dawn of the new millenium, the PHAT CAT RECORDS team has then decided to give a second chance to that single released a few months ago in complete indifference (on NÜ GRÜV RECORDS & PRODUCTIONS label) and re-release this great gem. A very smart initiative indeed, as it includes new versions thatll keep you dancin all night long. Itd be a shame to miss it!
FREESTYLE ATTACK VOL.1 (CD compilation) MAINFOLD MUSIC RECORDS / ZYX MUSIC (Germany)
Score: 3 stars
Except for "Electronic love", "Check your body" and "Famous Freestyle cuts already available on the compilation Dance Planet part 2 (also distributed by MAINFOLD MUSIC RECORDS label), all the other productions are gonna bring a pint of fresh blood to the German production. Every new compilation is much awaited and carefully listened to by Freestylers, just to know whether the trend is Electro Funk.
No doubt that Freestyle Attack vol.1 confirms the musical preference of that country since out of the 18 titles on that CD, more than 50% are in the Electro trend, when they arent even Planet Rock. There are only very few Old School songs, and no New School or Progressive Freestyle. This only emphasizes their love for this Freestyle style.
It can be noted that German artists always create splendid melodies and perhaps the greatest synths, even though the song is a mess. They involve themselves wholeheartedly, and some American producers should take example.
SAVOUR: "Un nuevo comienso" (CD album) BRANDO BOY LATINO, INC
Score: 1 star
Undoubtedly, this album is for the Spanish community. The interior sleeve is in Spanish and 7 of the 11 titles are in that language too.
It sounds then strange when you hear 3 English songs, among which the great "Dont take your love away" and "Where do I belong" that introduced them to Freestyle amateurs.In a nutshell, this album is definitely not for Freestylers. So, stop selling them for what its not, cause it looks like an inaccurate ad!