|Saturday, December 22, 2001||
After a six-year absence from the music circuit, Michael makes a triumphant comeback with the rightly titled Invincible. His peek of pop occurred with successful albums like Thriller and Bad. The majestic disco of early albums like Off The Wall later gave way to the bombastic Dangerous. Invincible doesnít merely boast past glories; the sound is upgraded and splits between scratchy funk workouts and midtempo ballads that might have appeared as Badís Side B. The album is primarily produced by Jersey Rodney Jerkins and Jacko and swiftly pulls in Teddy Riley, R.Kelly and Babyface. Invincible showcases Michaelís trademark staccato and falsetto-accented vocal style, which is in a great form, especially on the piano-rich first single You Rock My World and the lush ballad Butterflies. Here he is driven by a desire to prove himself, so he keeps his focus sharp, creating a sparkling, post hip-hop update of Off The Wall. Michael manages to pull out all the stops here, whether recruiting Carlos Santana to contribute with some fireworks to the Latin slow-burn of Whatever Happens or spicing up the opener Unbreakable with a posthumous rap from the Notorious B.I.G. Elsewhere, comedian Chris Tucker lends some high speed patter to the groovy You Rock My World, while gospel icon Andrae Crouch and his choir provide harmonic wonders to the magical Speech. Unfortunately, the album seems to be stretched, losing the energy halfway through, as it turns to a series of rants about Privacy or a never-ending stretch of songs about The Lost Children. But Michael neednít worry. The album has plenty of chart-topping potential. Invincible? For sure.
Lenny Kravitz óLenny
In the past decade Lenny Kravitz has grown from an underground cult icon to a worldwide rockstar. Since his 1989 debut Let Love Rule, Lenny has well categorised his music into raw, raucous rockers (Are You Gonna Go My Way) and slow, romantic ballads (It Ainít Over Till Itís Over). Kravitz is one of those rare artists who chose to illustrate their own music style and make their own rules. Although Lenny has always played multiple instruments on his albums, here he takes it to the limit, contributing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards; singing, arranging, writing and producing, and aptly titled it Lenny. Packed with hard rock and ballads, Lenny kicks off with the blistering Battlefield of Love, with effortless vibe and an indelible, radio-friendly hook. Kravitzís unique style has brought him many a chart hits, and this bunch offers another hits-in-the-making deal. Even a serious track like Believe In Me is injected with a street savvy sound. Lenny is at his best when leaning into crunchy, riff-packed rockers like the Bad Company/ Led Zeppelin influenced I Could Fall In Love and Dig In, full of fatty beats and fuzz distortion. Kravitz bursts out the acoustics on A Million Miles Away. Then God Save Us All features a smile-inducing vocoder solo straight out of Peter Framptonís book of tricks. Yesterday Is Gone is a finely crafted tune on its own. Believe Me is a slappy ballad with strings and a techno beat. Thereafter Lenny completely breaks away from the rock íní roll flow and settles down with Pay To Play. Bank Robber Man drives off with the slick monster riffs. Worth the wait.
Revival ó The Chronicle Vol.1
Very few bands in rock íní roll history have been able to put together songs that were both works of art and appreciated by the masses. Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of them. Its music is rife with country, rockabilly and R&B influences, a combination that produced several hit singles ó most of which are present on this collection. Chronicle Vol.1 contains every one of Creedenceís original 20 hit singles, which makes it one of the best and most intelligently programmed single-disc anthology albums ever. The CD moves in chronological order, starting with the ace covers Susie Q and I Put A Spell On You, recorded when the band had just started. Then it roars through the classics starting with Proud Mary and ending with another ace cover I Heard It Through The Grapevine, that were all released in a two-year period from 1968. Itís a lean, concise collection that tells you everything you need to know about Creedence Clearwater Revival. All of these songs are staples of classic rock and prove that John Fogerty was a master songwriter who could be compared to Paul McCartney / John Lennon. The compilation finishes with a quartet of fine singles that were highlights from the bandís not so successful final albums. Rarely has a greatest hits collection been so well assembled.
The Golden Years ó
This is an excellent budget-line collection, offering a strong selection of 17 original hits, grouped by a specific decade. The Golden Years concentrates on the hits from the í80s, tossing a few rock favourites from the latter half of the decade, just for good measure. The selection of songs is terrific, albeit a little predictable. Among the highlights on the compilation are Nothingís Gonna Change My Love For You by Glenn Medeiros, Say You Say Me by Lionel Richie, Smooth Operator performed by Sade, Cyndi Lauperís True Colors, Out Of Touch by Daryl Hall and John Oates, Mr Misterís Kyrie, Everybody Wants To Rule The World performed by Tears For Fears and Culture Clubís Karma Chameleon. The heavier side of the album comes in the form of Carrie by Europe, These Dreams by Heart, Survivorís The Search Is Over and I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner.
A collectorís item indeed.
Album of the month
Queen ó Greatest
On November 24, 1991, the big disease with the little name took the queen out of the Queen. The bandís last album Innuendo had been recorded on borrowed time. It bore what would be their final single The Show Must Go On. The Queen carried on bravely. They recorded the Made In Heaven album with Freddieís ghost and played the stodgy, all-star tribute concert at Wembley. But it was clear that Freddieís death put the tin hat on Queenís 21-year old career. It is true that Freddie Mercury was Queen, and vice versa. One of the greatest bands of the í70s, Queen artists were pioneers who took rock music beyond mere songs, into an expression, an art form. Itís hard to replace Freddie but thanks to such albums that still keep his flame burning bright. While the Greatest Hits, Vol.2 was re-sequenced and released as Classic Queen in the USA in 1992, this album features all of the bandís European hits from 1982 to 1991. Since 1981ís Greatest Hits went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all times in their homeland, the band has racked up enough hits to warrant a follow-up 20 years later. While Queen hits from their era may not be as stellar as their í70sí predecessors, they were all still very compelling rock compositions. Tracks such as Radio Ga Ga, Friends Will Be Friends, I Want To Break Free and Iím Going Slightly Mad show that the band could still compose great anthems, while the hard rockers I Want It All, One Vision, Hammer To Fall and Headlong keep their long-time fans satisfied. Also included are a few of the bandís more epic compositions ó Innuendo, A Kind Of Magic, The Miracle and Who Wants To Live Forever. May the king rest in peace.
ó Saurabh & Gaurav