April 19, 2018

Madonna - Erotica (1992)

Country: U.S.A
Genre: Pop
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© 1992 Maverick, Sire, Warner Bros. Records
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
While it didn't set the charts on fire like her previous albums, the ambitious Erotica contains some of Madonna's best and most accomplished music (including the hit singles "Deeper and Deeper" and "Rain"), even if it runs a bit long.

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Ultravox - Revelation (1993)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop
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© 1993 Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin
AllMusic Review by Aaron Badgley
After Ultravox dissolved in 1988 following the very disappointing album U-Vox, Billy Currie created two very interesting and good solo albums. But, in an attempt to revive his career, he teamed up with relatively unknown guitarist/vocalist Tony Fenelle and first created a new version of the classic Ultravox song "Vienna ("Vienna '92") and then created this album with co-producer Rod Gammons. Quite frankly it is not very good. The songs are predictable and in terms of melody offer few if any surprises or thrills. While it is always nice to hear Currie on violin or viola, it is not enough to sustain this whole album. While he does not try to copy Ultravox's classic sound, he does try to be contemporary, which leads one to very dated music. Fenelle's vocals are weak and the lyrics are juvenile at times. This album is a real shame. Had he not used the name Ultravox, it would earn a high grade, but the fact is that he did attempt to attract fans with this cardboard cutout of a once brilliant band.

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Cha Cha - Dear Diary (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
Style: Pop Rap
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© 1999 Epic Records
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Cha Cha may be 18, but she is not innocent. Frequently referring to herself as a "broad, " the rapper fills her rhymes with the usual boasting and belligerence during the first half of her debut album, then, about halfway through, perhaps inspired by such guest rappers as Trick Daddy, Juvenile, Jim Crow, Ja Rule, Memphis Bleek, Bareda, and Black Child, takes a left turn into gangsta style. At that point, the obscenities start to fly as fast as the rhymes and the bullets. "Set It Off," an account of an armed robbery, even ends with Cha Cha dead of a gunshot wound. Amazingly, the album does not have a parental advisory notice.

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Ideal J - Le Combat Continue (1998)

Country: France
Language: French (Le Français)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1998 Arsenal, Barclay Records
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Buckshot - The BDI Thug (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1999 Duck Down Records
AllMusic Review by Keith Farley
Buckshot, the head rapper from Black Moon, issued this solo debut in late 1999. Similar to the lo-fi Wu-Tang aesthetic of Black Moon's War Zone, The BDI Thug has productions by Boogie Brown, Lord Jamar, DJ Akshun, and Just Blaze, among others. Buckshot's rapping is understated (even when his material isn't), and The BDI Thug holds up much better than listeners would expect from a solo album.

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April 18, 2018

Phantom Blue - Built To Perform (1993)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
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© 1993 Geffen Records
AllMusic Review by Vincent Jeffries
Boasting impressive performances and arrangements, Built to Perform could be the most instrumentally accomplished all-female melodic hard rock recording ever. After Phantom Blue caused quite a buzz with their 1989 eponymous debut, this follow-up was delayed years, causing the band to loose all commercial momentum as their '80s style had become a hopeless joke to many in the music industry. Vocalist Gigi Hangach is a near-virtuoso in her demanding genre; a technical master with command of raspy and clean phrases. Michelle Meldrum's guitar work is also first-rate, as her chops compare favorable to the monster guest soloists Marty Freidman and John Norum. Despite punchy production courtesy of Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth, Loudness), Kim Nielson's drumming comes off a little soft. While distracting, the average rhythm work isn't enough to sink Phantom Blue, but their limited writing abilities just about ruins things. Other than the remarkable "Time to Run," all the instrumental fire is suffocated by listless material. While Phantom Blue's vocal and guitar dexterity is impressive, the weak songwriting on Built to Perform leaves the record appropriate only for listeners deeply into obscure '80s melodic rock

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Doppelkopf - Von Abseits (1999)

Country: Germany
Language: German (Deutsch)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1999 Hong Kong Recordings GBR
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Mountain Brothers - Self: Volume 1 (1999)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1999 Pimpstrut Records
AllMusic Review by Matt Conaway
The 3-man tag-team triumvirate of Chops, Peril-L, and Styles gained national notoriety after winning Sprite's "Rhymes From The Mind" contest back in 1996. The buzz from that contest lead to their subsequent signing with Ruffhouse and stellar singles "Paperchase," and "5 Elements." After promptly getting the run around from Ruffhouse they decided to go for self (no pun intended) and continued to diligently pursue their dreams. Reppin illadelph to the fullest they're jazzy, laid back live instrumentation sound will undoubtedly be compared to the Roots sound. However, they should not be labeled as they come extra original, carving out their own unique place in the city of brotherly love.
In a classic example of less is more, Chops cleverly weaves synthesizers, horns, and tingling plush keyboard melodies, bringing the producer back to the forefront. Samples are non-existent as they stretch musical boundaries, bringing the antidote for those of us who have had it up to here with today's stagnant hip-hop atmosphere. Musically this trio is all about bringing the glory days of hip-hop full circle, as they reach out to the purist of B-Boys & Girls of the world. One of their most appealing features is they bring lyrics that are easy to identify with. In a refreshing change of pace they realize that not everyone is driving around in flashy whips, or flossing tailor-made iced-out jewelry. Firmly entrenched in reality, they spend a great deal of time discussing the daily grind all of us are subject too. From hating our day jobs, to trying to find our place as individuals in a world so pre-occupied with the almighty Benjamin. With definite crowd pleasers like "Paperchase," "Things To Do," "Whiplash" and the futuristic intergalactic flavor of "Galaxies: The Next Level," the MBs bring forth enough stellar material to make anyone a believer.
The MBs refuse to let this industry push them to the back and their career is definitely on the rise. If you have been sleeping its time to wake up, because the MBs have indeed arrived.

tags: mountain brothers, self volume 1, vol 1, 1999, flac,

Kinderzimmer Productions - Im Auftrag Ewiger Jugend Und Glückseligkeit (1996)

Country: Germany
Language: German (Deutsch)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1996 Kinderzimmer Recordings
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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Kinderzimmer Productions - Die Erste (1998)

Country: Germany
Language: German (Deutsch)
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 1998 Kinderzimmer Recordings
*No professional reviews available for this release.

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April 17, 2018

Ultravox - Vienna (1980)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
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© 1980-1983 Chrysalis ‎Records
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
With the departure of vocalist John Foxx and guitarist Robin Simon behind them, Vienna kicked off Ultravox's second phase with former Rich Kids vocalist Midge Ure at the helm. Trading Foxx's glam rock stance for Ure's aristocratic delivery, Vienna recasts the band as a melodramatic synth pop chamber ensemble with most of the group doubling on traditional string quartet instruments and the synthesizers often serving to emulate an orchestra. It was a bold move that took awhile to pay off (the first two singles, "Sleepwalk" and "Passing Strangers," went unnoticed), but when the monolithic title track was released, the Ure lineup became the band's most identifiable one almost overnight. The simple and instantly recognizable drumbeat of "Vienna" proved infectious, taking the single to the top of the charts in the U.K. and making an impression in a new wave-apprehensive America. Drummer Warren Cann's monotone narration on "Mr X" and the frantic ride that is "Western Promise" give the album just enough diversity and showcase the rest of the group on an Ure-heavy album. There are plenty of pretentious and pompous moments at which Foxx-era purists cringe, but taken as a snooty rebellion against the guitar-heavy climate of the late '70s, they're ignorable. Returning producer Conny Plank's style adapted well to the new group, pitting the stark and the lush against one another. Add Anton Corbijn's photography and Peter Saville's smart cover design and all the ingredients for an early-'80s classic are there. A few albums later, it would all seem like a fluke, but on Vienna, all the pieces come together.

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Ultravox - Rage In Eden (1981) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1981-1987 Chrysalis Records
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
Following on from the success of Vienna, Ultravox cemented their position as a New Romantic phenomenon with their follow-up, 1981's Rage in Eden. The martial beats and political undertones of "The Thin Wall" single acted as a potent taster for the album, to be joined in the U.K. Top 20 by the even more powerful message of "The Voice." The latter song opened the album, but nothing that followed equaled its strength, its sequencing a flaw in an otherwise excellent set. That said, propulsive numbers like "We Stand Alone" and "I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)," the rebellious angst of "Accent on Youth," the exotic strains of "Stranger Within," and the haunting "Your Name Has Slipped My Mind Again" all contained their own power. And even if the instrumental "The Ascent" harkened back to "Vienna," it was obvious that with Eden, Ultravox was climbing to grand new heights.

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Ultravox - Quartet (1982)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
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© 1982-1983 Chrysalis Records
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
With the successes of Vienna and its follow-up, Rage in Eden, Ultravox's position in the music scene was unassailable, further fortified by frontman Midge Ure's foray into solo-dom with the summer 1982 hit cover of the Walker Brothers' "No Regrets." The band's "Reap the Wild Wind" followed it up the U.K. chart that fall, a taster for the band's sixth album. And what a portentous taste it was. While "Wind" buffeted and whooshed once again around nostalgia for a past never lived, "Hymn" (its melody lifted from "Mourning Star" by Ure's last band, the Zones) wrestled with faith in a faithless age and prayed its way up the chart later that fall, while the dirge "Visions in Blue" saw the spring caught in its icy grip. But it was the fourth song spun off the album, "We Came to Dance," that best defined the overall themes of the set. Having helped create a movement renowned for its fashion victims and superficiality, Ultravox recoiled from the Frankenstein they'd birthed. "The Song (We Go)" may have been a cry of welcome, but both "Dance" and "Serenade" make clear the music scene's terrifying capacity to unleash both Dionysian abandon and militaristic conformity. "When the Scream Subsides" further fuels the album's existential angst, which reaches its emotional nadir on the suicidal "Cut and Run." With their toe-tapping rhythms, billowing synths, and rousing melodies, one is often tempted to ignore the darkness of Ultravox's themes, but with Quartet, the band deliberately made that nigh on impossible.

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Ultravox - Lament (1984)

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: New Wave, Synth Pop
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© 1984 Chrysalis Records
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
As the title suggests, Ultravox were in a gray mood as they launched into their seventh studio LP, their previous existential angst now pooling around personal anguish. The album's title track was a study in languorous melancholy, where the emotional pain lingered on and on. And why would it ever dissipate, when romance is forever doomed, as "When the Time Comes" exquisitely illustrated? Even "One Small Day," the most musically celebratory song on the set, battles depression but dismally loses the war. No wonder Ultravox were so keen to escape far into the past, with "Man of Two Worlds" taking them back to the gloriously romanticized days of the Celts. The modern world, in contrast, was filled with terrors, both emotional ("A Friend I Call Desire") and global. There was the omnipresent yellow peril to fear; but if "White China" warned of the dangers of creeping communism, the nation sworn to protect its citizens from a Stalinistic embrace proves just as nefarious on "Heart of the Country." Each side is as bad as the other, together threatening the globe with annihilation, with the mini-epic "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" poignantly pointing out the richness of life the world's leaders hold so carelessly in their hands. This was to be Ultravox's final album, at least in this form, and in many ways, the set was the band's perfect epitaph, as lavish musically as it was desolate thematically.

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Ultravox - U-Vox (1986) ☠

Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Pop Rock, Synth Pop
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1986 Chrysalis Records
AllMusic Review by Alex Ogg
Featuring new drummer Mark Brzezicki (formerly of Big Country), the prosaically titled U-Vox offered more of the same from these by-now-redundant synth stylists. The one exception was the single "All Fall Down," a slightly more imaginative variant on the formula. (The other two singles drawn from the album, "Same Old Story" and "All in One Day," were shallow echoes of the band's earlier releases.) "All Fall Down" was to prove their final chart entry.

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April 16, 2018

Tad - Live Alien Broadcasts (1994)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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© 1994 Futurist
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Like the vast majority of Seattle bands signed by major labels during the music industry's mad rush to mine the city's every last nugget of grunge gold, local scene veterans Tad were one-and-done with Warner Bros. following the relative commercial failure of 1993's Inhaler album. No one was shocked; the members of Tad never were, and, to their credit, they never tried to be Top 40 material. Instead, being grounded, blue-collar work-ethic types, vocalist/guitarist Tad Doyle, guitarist Gary Thorstensen, bassist Kurt Danielson, and drummer Josh Sinder seemed to just take it all in stride, dusted themselves off, and looked ahead. However, first they had to fulfill an old contractual obligation with the independent Futurist label, so a session was booked at Heart's Bad Animals studio where the band knocked out a selection of old and unreleased tunes -- live. The results became 1994's Live Alien Broadcasts: now a frequently forgotten footnote in the band's career boasting roughed-up versions of four Inhaler cuts, two from 8-Way Santa, and four mostly forgettable, previously unreleased outtakes that did little to enhance the album's collectible status -- even after it went out of print just a few years later. Nevertheless, Tad moved on and managed to produce a final, proper studio album in 1995's Infrared Riding Hood, before bowing out for good.

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Tad - Infrared Riding Hood (1995)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Grunge
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© 1995 EastWest Records America
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia
Tad's last fart, 1995's Infrared Riding Hood, improbably saw the Seattle grunge stalwarts scoring their second major label contract, but then failing yet again to seize the opportunity to follow in the platinum workboots of the genre's "big four" (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam). Mind you, it wasn't for lack of trying, since the new material reflected a similar tack as its 1993 predecessor, Inhaler, in attempting to wipe some blood and gristle off the band's vicious sonic template. But while these more pronounced contrasts between light and dark actually did work out on a few cuts (namely "Bullhorn" and "Bludge"), many others (such as "Ictus," "Red Eye Angel," and "Dementia") sounded forced and unconvincing -- as well as disturbingly derivative of Irish alt-metallers Therapy? Another grouping slowed down the tempo with varying results: "Thistle Suit" merely repeated the game but unfulfilling hybridization cited above, while the exceptionally sludgy "Emotional Cockroach" delivered a secondhand Melvins imitation, but the misleadingly named "Weakling" nearly got the balance right. Then Tad really overstayed their welcome by jamming about four songs too many toward the end of Infrared Riding Hood -- an all too typical fallacy of the CD era. And all these efforts were ultimately for naught, since Tad wound up rudely dropped by EastWest and broke up soon after this release, their caustic grunge stylings having proved far too unsavory for the flannel-toting mainstream to stomach.

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Britny Fox - Britny Fox (1988) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Glam Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1988 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Jeremy Ulrey
One of the brighter debuts to emerge in the late '80s, Britny Fox established themselves early on as hard-hitting contenders, only to expose a glass jaw in subsequent bouts. Often labeled clones of sister band Cinderella (whence they got their image, guitar player, and record contract), the quartet overcame expectations by filling their first album with song after song of top-flight '80s glam, marred only slightly by the cliché-ridden lyrics. The boys each play to their strengths here, which results in killer riffs and licks from Michael Kelly Smith and impassioned howling from Dizzy Dean Davidson. On later platters, they would overextend their talents and become just another struggling bar band, so enjoy the chemistry while it's still there. Among the many highlights are "Long Way to Love," "Girlschool," and a cover of Slade's "Gudbuy t'Jane."

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Britny Fox - Boys In Heat (1989) ☠

 Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Glam Metal
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1989 Columbia Records
AllMusic Review by Jeremy Ulrey
Despite the title, the boys seemed to have cooled off substantially since their scorching debut. Dizzy Dean's attempts at singing straight on the majority of these tunes rob the band of its raw edge, and the ultra-clean acoustic guitars backing many of the midtempo tracks are too clearly derived from Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Unfortunately, the band tames its strip club mentality for a more mature outlook on relationships, only to find they have nothing to say on the subject. The saving grace of Boys in Heat is the first side, which fires on all cylinders and rarely misses. It's the second half that threatens to sink the ship, with very few of the throwaway tunes holding any water whatsoever. Not a total wash-up, but indicative of the lack of quality control which would soon tank the genre.

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Britny Fox - Bite Down Hard (1991) ☠

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Glam Metal, Hard Rock
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☠: Selected by Lass
© 1991 EastWest Records America
AllMusic Review by Jeremy Ulrey
Having replaced lagging talent Dizzy Dean Davison with soundalike vocalist Tommy Paris, Britny Fox find themselves back in the running. Unfortunately, they're still not fated to bring home the trophy, as their renewed enthusiasm is offset to a large degree by their out-of-shape songwriting. Melodically, songs such as "Louder" and "Over and Out" carry the torch better than anything since the first album, but elsewhere the vocals are left to carry the hooks while the guitars coast on power chord cruise control. Another complaint: sexual innuendo only works when it's clever, which leaves hormone rockers like "Shot from My Gun" coming off as cheap crotch grabbers. There are guest appearances by Zakk Wylde and Rikki Rockett, but you'll need a doctorate in Hollywood Glam to recognize their contributions to this lukewarm affair.

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