Enrique Iglesias: Enrique (1999 Interscope/Universal)
|Like his famous father, Julio Iglesias, Enrique has everything one needs to become a superstar: a great voice, charme and last but not least his good looks that allows him to conquer millions of (mostly female) fans. But like his father, he is exposed to the same dangers and temptations. You cannot (or at least should not) sing latin songs with English lyrics. The Bossa Nova CDs by Ella Fitzgerald and other greats show the awful result of such an experiment. Enrique Iglesias' song Rhythm Divine on his new CD Enrique is another bad example. The Spanish version of Rhythm Divine, Ritmo Total, sounds much better than the English one. Does he have to win the American market at any price? Such a song is worst when bilingual, Spanish-English, because you realize immediately how good a track it could have been if he had just stuck to Spanish lyrics. Fortunately, Rhythm Divine is the exception on Enrique. Be with you and especially Sad Eyes, written by Bruce Springsteen, are pop songs composed for English lyrics and Enrique Iglesias knows how to give them a tender touch. Sad Eyes is simply perfect and will surely resist time. On Enrique, there are also wonderful Latin heart-breaking ballades like Mas Es Amar. You are right, that is Sad Eyes, just with Spanish lyrics. There are exceptions, some songs sound great even when translated. An even brighter future lies ahead of Enrique Iglesias - and he has already sold over 15 million CDs worldwide! Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.|
Prince (Symbol, The Artist): Rave un2 the Joy fantastic (1999 BMG/Artista 07822-14624-2)
|Prince (Symbol or The Artist, you name him) hasn't convinced very much in recent years. For his new album Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, he has signed an agreement with Artista (BMG) and this seems to give him back the artistic freedom he was looking for. Guest stars like Sheryl Crow (Baby Knows) and former James Brown saxophone player Maceo Parker (Strange But True), who adds his hard-edged groove, help to create a first class album that contains mostly sweet, romantic or blue ballades like Tangerine, Man'O'War, I Love You But I Dont't Trust You Anymore or Silly Game. In The Greatest Romance Ever Sold, he partly recycles an old tune, but in general, he successfully revives his sound of the 80s. As always, Prince - who plays a dozen instruments - is somewhere between plastic and great art. You simply cannot imitate his mix of funk, soul and pop. On Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic, Prince even adds some reggae flavour (The Sun, The Moon & Stars). Since his debut in 1978 (For You), the son of jazz pianist John Nelson has proven he is a cutting edge artist.|
|Jacques Brel: Ballades Et Mots D'Amour (1999 Barclay/Universal
543 151 2)
Each and every country has developped his own musical style, adapted to its language. Unfortunately, with the success of pop and rock music, almost only English songs have a chance to succed. Pop and rock in other languages often sounds funny, odd or is even inaudible. Not that there are no good musicians outside the USA, GB and Ireland, but rock and pop are musical styles only perfectly adapted to the English language. Today, almost only Spanish and Portuguese music can compete with English. A few decades ago, French songs, too, were worldwide recognized. The tradition and success of French chansons was based on a musical style adapted to its language. Besides artists like Edith Piaf (1915-63) or Georges Brassens (1921-81), Jacques Brel (1929-78) was one of its most famous representatives. He was born in Brussels, Belgium, and started his career 1953 in Paris. He wrote and composed most of his songs by himself. The new double CD Jacques Brel: Ballades Et Mots D'Amour contains thirty of his best chansons recorded between 1957 (Heureux) and 1977 (La ville s'endormait). It also includes Amsterdam (1964), Brel's most famous song about sailors and prostitutes in the Dutch port of Amsterdam. Although Jacques Brel himself didn't like it that much, it is undoubtedly, together with Quand on n'a que l'amour, Le Plat Pays, Les Bonbons or Ne me quitte pas among his best songs. So if you don't know Jacques Brel yet, a capital crime, or if you're just looking for a collection of his best chansons, now you have the chance to do so.
Led Zeppelin: Early Days. The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume One
(1999, Atlantic 7567-83268-2)
The music of Led Zeppelin, the heavy metal rock band, is in sound and lyrics the expression of frustration, anger and revolt of the generation of the late 60s and early 70s, a period closely tied to "Vietnam". On the CD Early Days you find rock classics like Rock and Roll or The Battle of Evermore. Last but not least, there is of course the over eight minute-long hymn of the era, Stairway To Heaven. Founded in 1968, Led Zeppelin were also very controversial since they (and especially their manager Peter Grant) were among the first to go into the fan article business. They became one of the economically most successful bands. The booklet of the Early Days CD is illustrated with Led Zeppelin photos from 1969 to 1973. Unfortunately, Atlantic forgot to add the recording dates of the different tracks and a biography of the group. Hopefully, we will find that in volume two.
The Bloodhound Gang: Hooray For Boobies (1999, Geffen Records) Get it from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
One of the most aggressive and successful groups of the moment is the Bloodhound Gang. During their live acts, they distinguish themselves not only by their lyrics, but also by spitting and poking. Are they the expression of today's generation's revolt against political correctness? Maybe. Despite explicit content, parts of their lyrics testify of higher education. Their constant primitive reference to sex let's me come to the conclusion that the Bloodhound Gang reflects the state of mind of a lot of teenies. For other age groups, they are quite annoying. Their music is a mix of rock, punk, hardcore, hip-hop and pop elements. Not too bad after all, sometimes even clever, above average.
No. 1, December 1999
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