|Saturday, October 6, 2001||
The smoothest of smooth operators, you know exactly what to expect from Mariah Carey. After being titled as the biggest-selling female artiste of the ’90s, Mariah unleashes her much-awaited album and soundtrack to compliment her first movie Glitter. A homage to ’80’s dance and R&B grooves, this is one of her finest albums so far. Mariah’s voice is immaculate, powerful and naunced. She soars on the thumping covers of Indeep’s Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (featuring DJ Clue, Busta Rhymes and New Jack) and Cherelle’s synth-soaked love song I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On. Prominent producers such as Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Damizza (producer of Crybaby from her Rainbow LP), DJ Clue (co-producer of the smash hit Heartbreaker) and others, take Glitter to new musical heights, through the mind of Carey’s troubled character ‘Billie’, in the movie version. Set in New York city, the film features Cameo-sampled Loverboy sounds that appear more vibrant than it initially did on radio. Carey puts her stamp on other nostalgic tracks in her own trademark five-octave-range style, including Don’t Stop, an uptempo version of the party classic Funkin’ For Jamaica, featuring Busta Rhymes and newcomer Fabulous. Carey gets into the mid-base groove with Ja Rule and Nate Dogg on the chiller If We and with Eric Benett on the provocative Want You. Surfing a loop of Cameo’s 1987 hit Candy, Mariah collaborated with Cameo’s very own Thomas Jenkins and Larry Blackmon for this electrifying remake.
An enjoyable experience — Mariah, shine on!
Steve Vai - Alive In An Ultraworld (Sony Music) ***
As rock virtuosity goes, Steve Vai is widely acknowledged as leader of the six-string-magic that also includes Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani. Steve manages to control the head-spinning guitar gymnastics with varied emotions. During his teenage apprenticeship with Frank Zappa or while performing high-profile stints with Dave Lee Roth and Whitesnake, Steve always stole the show for his technical ability and dexterity. Here, Steve has come-up with an ambitious concept for the follow-up to his 1999 album The Ultra Zone. Probably the most adventurous and unique live project to date, the tour comprised compositions that related to different countries he performed in. Alive In An Ultra World is a realisation of this visionary concept. Written, recorded and rehearsed during Steve’s 32- country tour, the double-CD album reflects elements of traditional music of the different countries. What makes the album even more unique is that all 15 tracks here were improvised in as little as 10 minutes at soundcheck sessions. Even after incorporating the ethnic modalities into the tracks, the music does not lose the Vai effect. The militaristic march of Giant Balls Of Gold (song for Poland) reflects the emotions of its proud people. The Black Forest (song for Germany) was recorded in Scotland, with studio overdubs added later. Blood & Glory (song for the UK) has a majestic feel to it, that sounds real British. The selling point here ranges from the bold The Power Of Bombos (song for Greece) to the anthemic Incarnation (song for Spain) to the mellow track Burning Rain (song for Japan). The result is overwhelming, but even at its most extravagant, Alive In An Ultra World is tasteful and that’s what makes the record a treasure for hard-rock fanatics.
Usher - 8701 (BMG Crescendo) **
It is Atlanta-born Raymond Usher’s ability to craft richly textured rhythm epics that shot him to stardom. Since Usher’s multiplatinum sophomore disc My Way parked itself onto the charts with the inescapable singles Nice & Slow and You Make Me Wanna, he assumed the title of ‘Loverboy of R&B’. He has been living up to this title throughout his career, and does it yet again on his third album 8701— a classy, seductive affair, masterminded by Usher, Antonio ‘LA’ Reid and Jermaine Dupri. This album showcases his all-new updated sound in which he attempts to deal with adult matters first and finally ends up talking about the same girl-boy stuff. He starts off with a romantic note U Remind Me. I Don’t Know takes a hip-hop turn with contribution from P. Diddy. Usher’s conceited vibrato gains momentum on songs such as the Neptunes-produced jam You Don’t Have To Call and the peppy If I Want To. But the real headliners arrive when Usher teams up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for soul- stirring ballads like Can U Help Me. There are some percolating tunes like I Can’t Let U Go that make good use of Usher’s vocal talents. Throughout you have to remind yourself that Usher is just in his early twenties, exhibiting a maturity that belies his age. 8701 is this season’s must-have accessory.
Now That’s What I
Call Music 7
The seventh in the series of top-tracking compilations, it strikes a good balance between pop radio played-to-death singles, R&B standouts and straight-up rock chart stormers. Smartly programmed and laden with hits from the first half of 2001, this album is a more-than-agreeable summer party soundtrack. Moving from the up-tempo Janet Jackson’s All For You to the draggy MLTR’s Blue Night ballad, this album is one of the strongest Nows yet. The biggest moments here come in the form of Ronan Keating’s Let Love Be Your Energy by, Backstreet Boys’ More Than That , U2’s Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, Nelly Furtado’s I’m Like A Bird, Geri Halliwell’s It’s Raining Men and Coldplay’s Don’t Panic. With the high-quality likes of Britney Spears’ Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know, N’Sync’s I’ll Never Stop and Daft Punk’s One More Time, the compilation is bound to be a sell-out. Following the Now-ideology of ‘saving the rock for the last’, this album too concludes with the ever rockin’ burner Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit. A collectors’ item.
Album of the month
Back in the late ’80s, Tiffany was just chirping her way to the top of the charts, with covers of The Beatles’ I Saw Him Standing There and Tommy James’ I Think We’re Alone Now. A decade after the meteoric overnight fame and a fall that happened just as suddenly, Tiffany is back. Instead of following the current musical trends with her fellow pop alumni Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight, Tiffany has successfully transformed her sound from cheesy synthesiser pop to sophisticated adult rock. It sure is a surprise, as nobody could associate words like mature, artful, experimental, innovative and substantial with the then teeny icon. The new Tiffany bears no resemblance to the lollipop-image of her prior incarnation. The new album The Color Of Silence is extravagant and unbridled, flaunting good ideas parked into electric rock rhythms and passionate ballads. The songs on the album, seven of which Tiffany co-wrote, display an adult sense of tunefulness and emotional resonance. The lead-off single from the album is Open My Eyes, which introduces itself as a guitar-strumming ballad before exploding into one of the most flavourful and hard-edged poppy tracks. Tiffany teams up with rapper Krazie Bone for the fun track I’m Not Sleepy. She continues her similar catchy charm on the rocker Good Enough For Me. The swirling Middle Eastern-influenced Silence and the rock-running-amok Piss You Off reminds you of Alanis Morisette’s early years in the music industry. If Only is a gentle radio friendly track that runs a blatant crash course on suicidal tendency. The slashing energy of Cinnamon and punchy rhythms of Butterfly and Christening speak of a fully positive and confident vision. Gone are the If Love Is Blind days. Expect to find lyrics like "Too bad if you think I’m leaving/ who cares if you hate my dog/ maybe I’ll get another...." An album for everyone — a must buy.
— Saurabh & Gaurav