Chante Moore tackles love with the zeal of a schoolgirl in her latest album. "Exposed" features the stuttering rhythms, silky smooth vocals, and contemporary hip-hop soul grooves that are so prevalent among She'kspere's proteges.
K-Ci & JoJo
Half of Jodeci, K-Ci and JoJo continue to demonstrate their loverman steelo on "X." Once again, they show off the emotive midnight balladry that makes the ladies swoon.
With a gorgeous voice and an inventive way with words, India.Arie's brand of acoustic soul is sure to charm many. She's a full grown woman who isn't afraid of telling it like it is. Armed with a guitar and a heartful of honesty, Arie's music is like fresh air.
Jaheim's thugged-out aesthetic stands in contrast to his smooth, gorgeous R&B vocals. Recalling the likes of Donny Hathaway and Teddy Pendergrass, Jaheim is the latest of a new crop of singers modernizing traditional R&B, and still showing some soul.
FREE DIGITAL MUSIC
Mary J. Blige's voyage from hip-hop to old-school 1970s soul reaches a peak when she grabs hold of Duke Ellington's classic tune, "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear from Me." She hits the gut with broad-toned vocal embraces, pushing every aspect of Duke's tune to the fore. It swings, sways, and slams at once. Download "Do Nothing..." from "Red Hot + Indigo," a Red Hot benefit CD for AIDS awareness and relief.
More on Red Hot downloads, CDs, and AIDS awareness
Go to all R&B/Soul downloads
"Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds Vol. 1"
Jill Scott's debut, "Who Is Jill Scott?" is a musical revelation. With a gorgeous voice, and the soul of a poet, she's done much to enrich the neo-soul scene. Add to that the fact that she does things on her own terms, refusing to be constrained by contemporary R&B's restrictions on femininity, and her success is revolutionary. Her Grammy nomination is gratifying in the way that Lauryn Hill's success has been. See complete list of Grammy Nominees
FRESH OUT THE BOX
Singer Johnnie Taylor passed away in early 2000, and this "Lifetime" box set celebrates his sizeable contribution to soul music. He went from gospel belter to pop smoothie in his lifetime, and the collection illustrates his musical transition creatively, showing that even in his disco years, the soul of the church never left his voice.
"The Stax Story" is, in many ways, the story of soul. The Memphis label's roster included the likes of Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T and the MGs and the Bar-Kay's, all of whom created stomping, raucous music. With a sound that was clearly rooted in gospel but had a strut to it that's seldom seen in the church, Stax's musicians tore the roof off of gospel. This compilation is an excellent introduction to the label's influence on the genre, and is a must for any soul fan.
Browse Box Sets http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/291920/ncdn">...browse here.
A great companion to"The Stax Story" box set, "Sweet Soul Music" chronicles the rise and fall of Memphis' famed Stax record label. Author Peter Guralnick delves into the lives of individual stars like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, but he also looks at the racial dynamics that lead to the demise of the label. The book also includes a comprehensive discography, a great guide for anyone interested in deliving deeper into soul.
The "Voodoo" worked. Most of us knew that already, but it's exciting to see the Academy honoring D'Angelo's visionary sophomore set, instead of the R&B-by-the-numbers schlock that dominates urban charts. In addition to D'Angelo's two wins, more conventional acts like Toni Braxton and Destiny's Child were honored, and Jill Scott's luminous debut was ignored. Here are the winners of the 43rd Grammy Awards, along with our thoughts (and, where we disagree with the Academy's choices, our own picks).
BEST FEMALE R&B VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"He Wasn't Man Enough": This may as well be the "Jennifer Lopez Award for tasteless near-nudity." Braxton's "The Heat" is very little fun: it's a melodramatic, ballad-loaded album. But with this win, Braxton proves once again that in a skimpy dress (Braxton wore a Band-Aid to the ceremony), a diva becomes unstoppable. "He Wasn't Man Enough" is as close as the professional emoter's CD gets to danceable, and it's a capable enough commercial single. Fortunately, the light beat prevents Braxton from getting into her usual vocal histrionics. Now, if only she could find a decent stylist.
"Romeo Must Die: The Album [Edited Version] [SOUNDTRACK]" Various Artists - Soundtracks
"Try Again" by Aaliyah: This song starts with Timbaland invoking the spirit of master rapper Rakim, and never lets up. Though Aaliyah's sweet vocals don't have the power of Jill Scott's gorgeous voice, they accentuate the beautiful beat well. It's vintage Timbaland, a minimalist blend of hi-hats and bass-in-your-face that adds up to much more than the sum of its parts. The R&B song of the year.
BEST MALE R&B VOCAL PERFORMANCE
"Voodoo [PA] [EXPLICIT LYRICS]"
"Untitled (How Does It Feel)": D'Angelo's voice should share this Grammy with those abs, which figured so prominently in the video that made the song huge. "Untitled" is a gorgeous, shimmery song that collapses ordinary radio-song conventions, lacking the synthesized bump and hustle of most current R&B. Very much a Prince tribute, it stands far beyond the nominated pack of soundalike crooners (who have talent but little vision) and lewd panty-raiders.
It's agreed: "Untitled" is the best of the bunch.
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL
"The Writing's On The Wall"
"Say My Name": With the effervescent energy that typifies all of Destiny's Child's songs, this ode to relationship paranoia is a lot of fun, and a lot of finger-wagging. Producer Shek'spere's stuttering Timbaland-lite works well with the girls' vocal aerobics.
"The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book"
"911" feat. Mary J. Blige: This achingly beautiful story of lovesickness was one of the nicest surprises of the year, so much more interesting than Destiny's Child's danceable ditty. The winning combination of Wyclef's reggae-inflected singing voice and the raw power of Mary J. with a low-slung acoustic melody captures the sweet agony of the heart.
BEST R&B SONG
"The Writing's On The Wall"
"Say My Name" by Destiny's Child: This may not be the best R&B song of the year (that would be Aaliyah's "Try Again," Jill Scott's "A Long Walk" or Next's "Wifey") but it is fun, and out of the slim pickings nominated, it's as good a choice as any.
The list of nominees in this category ignored most of the best R&B of the year. "Say My Name" is as good as anything else in this myopic list.
BEST TRADITIONAL R&B ALBUM
While only one of the Temptations' original members continues in the group, it seems that the Academy's reflex urge to give the group the award without hearing the album got the better of them. It's flaccid pseudo-soul.
"Gotta Get The Groove Back"
Johnnie Taylor's death in 2000 is a major loss for the soul world. His 1999 album, "Gotta Get the Groove Back," demonstrates a more original approach to soulful material than the rest of this pack's schlocky balladry.
GRAMMY NOMINEE COLLECTION
"Grammy Nominees 2001: R&B/Rap [PA] [EXPLICIT LYRICS]"
In its own words, the Recording Academy is "a visionary group of music professionals and label executives." Unfortunately, as is made painfully obvious by this uninventive Grammy R&B/Rap Nominees 2001 collection, the Academy's collective eyesight is myopic. If you're a fan of mainstream R&B and rap, though, all the usual chart-topping suspects are here. And not much else.
"Been a Long Time"
Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon have continued to work together since the death of Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1990, first in the band Arc Angels, then with David Grissom for the subsequent Storyville. Now, they've joined forces with a virtual who's who of contemporary blues to lay down a compelling mix of new material and creative covers, like that of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll," that would do the old master proud. Featuring contributions from, among others, Dr. John, Susan Tedeschi, Jonny Lang, Willie Nelson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and fellow Arc Angels Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall III, it's more of an event than a record, with chops to match.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Thanks to his razor-sharp licks and classic blues swagger, Stevie Ray Vaughan's legend grows deeper with every new generation of guitar lovers. Vaughan's distinctive voice and masterly playing borrow from all over the blues map, as the four-disc "SRV" proves. Here, he dips into the work of Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, brother Jimmie Vaughan, and others. Vaughan's a sorely missed figure in the blues world, and his fans will happily bask in this posthumous collection of SRV's incendiary guitar work and soulful artistry.
"Matriarch of the Blues"
One of the greatest voices in blues music history is back, wrapping her deep, growling voice around an eclectic mix of standards and cover songs. Dripping with life's hope, despair, and eventual hard-won wisdom, Etta James's sound has a unique power that nevertheless sounds universal. Her latest, featuring translations of songs from the Rolling Stones, Otis Redding, and Bob Dylan, shows off her diversity as a singer, while showcasing the things that have kept her fans in ecstasy for the last 40 years.
Wielding his slide guitar with the virtuosity of Ry Cooder and the raw, beer-bottle bliss of Louisiana's zydeco tradition, Sonny Landreth takes an atmospheric walk through the music of the bayou in "Levee Town." Still, his is a distinctive sound, untethered by the bonds of his previous work with luminaries like Clifton Chenier and John Hiatt. Featuring vocal support from Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Warnes, as well as from Hiatt himself, this record hastens the day when Landreth's personal legend becomes formidable in its own right.
"Back to the Blues"
A retrospective of sorts, culling tracks from her early days along with outtakes from the wonderfully expressive "Love Comin' Down" record released earlier this year, Foley's latest is an unexpected treat. Showing off her progression as an artist, from green soul singer to confident blueswoman, it's a record that is as illuminating about the progression of an artist as it is a joy to listen to in its own right.
EDITOR'S CHOICE: "O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?"
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
A roots music wonder, the soundtrack for the new Coen brothers film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" captures the hard times endured by its protagonists via an intoxicating blend of gospel, folk, and classic blues. Guest stars like Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris perform traditional material alongside such old-timers as the Fairfield Four, weaving a spell of rootsy, Depression-era brilliance.
W.C. HANDY AWARDS: NOMINEES ANNOUNCED!
The esteemed Dr. John will be doing the presenting, while nominated artists like Shemekia Copeland and Rod Piazza will be doing the sweating at the 2001 W.C. Handy Blues Awards. The ceremony goes down May 24 at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis. Take a look at the entire list of nominees, and keep checking the Blues page at Amazon.com for updates and featured award categories:
W.C. Handy Award Nominations:
Blues Page at Amazon.com:
TWO TREATS FROM VANGUARD
The ultrasmooth Mississippi John Hurt and the effervescent Buddy Guy get treated nicely on Vanguard's complete studio recordings series, as both Hurt and Guy get their own three-disc retrospective. With beautifully remastered tracks littering the playlists, the talents of these superlative bluesmen have rarely been better presented.
Mississippi John Hurt:
ARHOOLIE RECORDS: CHRIS STRACHWITZ'S ROOTS MUSIC ODYSSEY
With the recent release of Arhoolie Records' 40th Anniversary Collection, it's time to appreciate the work of Chris Strachwitz, Arhoolie's founder and tireless seeker of fantastic, undiscovered roots music. Amazon.com contributor Don McLeese explores Strachwitz's wanderlust in our article about this determined musical purist.
Arhoolie's Roots Music Tourist:
No flavor of the month, Sade always does her own thing, which is fortunate because her supple soul-pop transcends trends. Her older albums continue to sound great, and her new collection, "Lovers Rock" proves that her elegant vocal style is timeless.
"A Collection of His Greatest Hits"
Babyface's impact on R&B in the late '80s and early '90s cannot be underestimated. His work, both as a producer and an artist in his own right, defined the genre. This collection includes many of his smooth, persuasive classics.
"Save the Last Dance Soundtrack"
A "Footloose" for the new millennium, this movie has a bangin' soundtrack to match its theme. Including great tracks by Donell Jones, Lucy Pearl, and Q-Tip, it's perfect fuel for everybody to get their groove on.
Young Philadelphia neo-soulsmith Musiq Soulchild adds his voice to the R&B scene with his sweet jams and laid-back vibe. Working with some of D'Angelo's producers, Musiq creates a similarly sensual musical atmosphere.
IT'S CRIMINAL: GREAT MUSIC, NO AIRPLAY
"Best By Far"
Omar, a British soul singer, has one of the fullest voices in the business. "Best By Far" is a great introduction to his style and proves that, though he's little known stateside, his work deserves to sit next to that of such luminaries as D'Angelo and Jill Scott. It is beautiful and sincere, with appropriate bittersweet touches and shimmering musical details.
"Love in Stereo"
Rahsaan Patterson's "Love in Stereo" is a beautiful example of modern soul music. Building on the strong foundation of his self-titled debut, "Love in Stereo" was both the most exhilarating and overlooked R&B release of 1999. Loaded with Patterson's luscious tenor and fat, funky beats, this perfectly titled album is true R&B.
ENCHANTED EVENINGS: ETTA JAMES, BARRY WHITE
This stunning debut showcases Etta James at her finest. Her potent voice expresses all kinds of love--from the fiery, fierce kind to the sweet, slow-burning variety. And these lovely arrangements match her gusto supremely. This is perfect music for romancing.
"The Ultimate Collection"
Collecting hits from 1973's "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Baby" to last year's "Staying Power," Barry White's "The Ultimate Collection" is indeed the finest set of his music around. This two-CD set features 30 tracks and demonstrates the strength of this seduction master's sound over nearly 30 years.
ARTIST ESSENTIALS: MICHAEL JACKSON
In the late '70s and early '80s, Michael Jackson was a musical magician. After a great career with the Jackson 5, he proved his mettle as a soloist. He was able to bridge the gap between pop and R&B with amazing style and grace. Both "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" are classics: with the help of producer Quincy Jones, Jackson created soulful, danceable pop that still sounds great today. And the innovative, zombie-filled video for "Thriller" was one of the first by a black artist to get into heavy rotation on MTV. Both albums are chock-full of timeless danceable hits. Check out http://www.amazon.com/michael-jackson-essentials-rb/acousticdigestmu"> ~ more
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS: BRAND NEW HEAVIES, RACHELLE FERRELL
Brand New Heavies
Since the late '80s, British crew the Brand New Heavies have been cooking up a sultry stew of modern funk and soul. On "Trunk Funk Classics," a recent compilation of their greatest hits, the Heavies prove that their brand of acid jazz has staying power. "Saturday Nite" features rapper extraordinaire Mos Def, and it's a great testament to their fab flavor. Download it for free from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/526230/acousticdigestmu"> ~ more
"I Forgive You"
Rachelle Ferrell's acrobatic voice is easily one of the most impressive in both R&B and jazz today: she's proved her chops in both genres. On "Individuality (Can I Be Me)" she makes modern soul her own, creating organic rhythms that set off her gorgeous vocal stylings. "I Forgive You" is a powerful song of liberation, from pain and from the desire for revenge. It demonstrates Ferrell's amazing capacity to express emotion. Download it for free from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/525370/acousticdigestmu"> ~ more
USED AND COLLECTIBLE CDS IN AMAZON.COM MUSIC
Here's some great news for anyone interested in used and collectible CDs: The Amazon.com Music store now showcases these items on detail pages for new CDs. If a Marketplace seller has a particular CD available in used and/or collectible condition, you'll see a box on that CD's detail page. Listed along with each used or collectible copy of an item will be the name and a rating for each seller, helping you to make an informed purchasing decision--and all these items are Amazon.com Payments enabled, so you can safely and securely purchase them with a credit card. Read our page announcing this new option, then visit the Amazon.com Music store and explore! http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/subst/help/sdp-buyer-how-it-works.html/acousticdigestmu"> ~ more
If D'Angelo seemed like the savior of soul music before, "Voodoo" has cemented his messianic status. But the influence of his intoxicating 1995 debut, "Brown Sugar," continues to be felt throughout the soul scene, from Stephen Simmonds to Dwayne Wiggins. D'Angelo's groundbreaking back-to-the-future approach is also palpable in the dreamy, funky work of newcomer Jill Scott and in Amel Larrieux's jazz-laced swing. This top 10 list includes many brave newcomers, and among these diverse artists the common denominators are sincerity, soul, and vision.
Risk is conspicuously absent from much of R&B, but D'Angelo's "Voodoo" is a gutsy, risk-taking affair, one that challenges the current shape of the genre. Instead of cloaking himself in designer masculinity, D'Angelo reveals himself. He gets naked, body and soul, and his emotions--love, lust, longing--burst messily from these songs' seams. Rejecting the three-minute pop song format, he creates an addictive, cohesive collection that deserves to be played front to back. And to craft his sweltering organic sound, D'Angelo uses analog instruments, not the digital ones that dominate R&B. "Voodoo" is the best kind of black magic.
2. "Who Is Jill Scott?"
Philly Renaissance woman Jill Scott achieved underground notoriety for writing the hook on the Roots' lovely "You Got Me." But that glimpse of her talent did nothing to prepare us for her succulent debut album. Genuinely dreamy, "Who Is Jill Scott?" injects a level of poeticism into the soul scene that has heretofore been MIA. Scott's wordplay captures the ooh, the aah, the amazement of love. And her beautiful voice, which evokes Sarah Vaughan's range and soul, pushes the luscious lyrics to full throttle. Add organic, swinging musical arrangements, and you have the best debut of the year.
3. "Spirit Tales"
With his North American debut, Swede Stephen Simmonds proves that soul is international. He destabilizes the R&B macho-man norm with his tentative, wistful longing. And though Simmonds is clearly enthralled with greats like Stevie Wonder, he adds his own stamp of vulnerability to the mix. Perhaps his European provenance has contributed to his open-minded musical sensibility (something clearly lacking in American R&B): he plays subtly with percussive possibilities on songs like the drum & bass-laced "I Can't Do That." His passionate "Spirit Tales" provides a great window into the great unexplored potential of R&B.
4. "Eyes Never Lie"
Tony! Toni! Tone! alumnus Dwayne Wiggins debuts with an honest, laid-back release that showcases both his guitar prowess and his silken voice. The ache in his voice recalls Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," personalizing political pain and social ills. Wiggins's heartfelt lyrics, which deal with love, indignation, and freedom, mesh with Spanish guitars and organic percussion to great effect. And though he isn't the most poetic songwriter, Wiggins is certainly adding to the musical canon by taking neo-soul further into the acoustic realm.
5. "Nothing but Your Love"
Toshi Kubota, an established Japanese pop star, grew up loving soul greats such as Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. On this collection, his influences mesh beautifully with a modern sensibility, proving once again that soul has no borders. With sweltering, groovy arrangements and a deft sense of timing, Kubota wraps his sweet falsetto around the beat in style. With its dirty funk undertone and Kubota's sly sense of humor, "Nothing but Your Love" is an excellent addition to the neo-soul canon.
6. "Love and Basketball: Music from the Motion Picture"
It's fitting that one of the most intelligent, unusual romances in years should have such a great soundtrack. With a nice selection of hip-hop and nostalgic R&B tracks (from MC Lyte to Al Green), this collection also includes choice cuts from soon-to-be stars. Rising star Bilal's luscious "Soul Sista," Lucy Pearl's fabulous party tune, "Dance Tonight," and Black Eyed Peas' and Les Nubians' "Complete Beloved" keep the collection fresh and prescient. Perfect mood music.
7. "Infinite Possibilities"
Ex-Groove Theory singer Amel Larrieux adds another musical dimension to the soul scene with her solo debut. Her voice--jazz-trained, elegant, and supple--plays perfectly over intelligent, creative arrangements that include Middle Eastern, Latin, and funk grooves. Larrieux's sassy, beguiling scats are as welcome as her sweet sorrow, and "Infinite Possibilities" certainly makes a case for itself.
8. "Bamboozled: Music From The Motion Picture"
Spike Lee is probably the only movie director capable of motivating the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder to produce some of the best music they have created in years. But his potent satire, "Bamboozled," addresses issues of African American representation in pop culture that are particularly salient in the rap and R&B scenes. Tapping into the concerns of the protest soul scene of the '70s, Lee hits a nerve that certainly resonates with these two soul geniuses. Intelligent neo-soul stars like Angie Stone and Erykah Badu add their own interpretations of the subject matter, building a bridge between the old and new schools of "trouble on the brain" soul. Powerful music for a powerful movie.
With "Emotional," Carl Thomas achieves the unlikely: an album that creates a much-needed truce in the R&B battle of the sexes. Most crooners are so concerned with seduction that they lose their male audience, and the guy-groups that keep the men happy often do so by bashing females. Thomas does neither--he simply expresses his own emotions through intelligent, well-written tracks and his beautiful voice. "Emotional" establishes Thomas as a gorgeous and bold voice to be reckoned with.
10. "Jazzmatazz III: Streetsoul"
With his third "Jazzmatazz" collection, Guru taps into the finest of neo-soul talents, effortlessly bridging the worlds of R&B and rap. With excellent, diverse musical arrangements and some of the best voices in the business, including Les Nubians, Macy Gray, and Erykah Badu, "Streetsoul" has the best kind of supple soul vibe. It's a heartfelt collection that features Guru himself delving into matters of the heart in his straightforward, intelligent raps. Heart and soul.
AMAZON.COM'S BEST OF 2000
Explore the year's best music from across all genres by visiting Amazon.com's Best of 2000 page. You'll find our customers' favorite CDs, our editors' favorite CDs, artists of the year, and more. Visit our page at:
reviews excerpted are copyright © 2001 amazon.com & associate ncdn and CDnow, TowerRecords, Barnes & Nobel associates