Paris Hilton – Paris (2006)

As everybody knows, Paris Hilton is famous simply for existing. Even before she was a household name the heiress to the Hilton hotel fortune was famous in certain circles, partially because of her pedigree, partially because she was at every exclusive party, partially because of her very name, an instantly memorable and malleable moniker that spawned T-shirts (“Paris Hilton Is Burning”) and gossip websites alike. All this hipster activity was bound to spill over into the mainstream and it did in a spectacular fashion in 2003 when she and Nicole Richie — her best friend for life circa 2003 — starred in the reality series The Simple Life, which saw the two pampered socialites attempting to fit into the real world of Wal-Marts and roadhouse saloons. Just before the series hit the airwaves, a sex tape of Paris with her ex-boyfriend Rick Solomon was leaked to the Internet and the resulting media hoopla of the show and the porn made Paris a bona fide celebrity. Pretty soon, she was everywhere and she began dabbling in almost every part of the entertainment industry, from film to fashion. What all these projects had in common is that they all featured Paris as Paris — even when she was getting whacked in House of Wax, she wasn’t really playing a character — and in all of them her presence never matched her persona, which always was more compelling as seen through the prism of tabloids. She seemed destined to never deliver any project that would justify her fame, and it certainly seemed that the album that she spent two years recording would not be the project that would be a flat-out success — that prolonged gestation for a pop album nearly guarantees trouble of some kind.

Amazingly, that long-to-materialize album (it’s hard to call it highly anticipated) turns out to be shockingly good — and not just according to a grading curve for actors-turned-singers. After all, Paris was never an actress to begin with; she was a media creation who peddled the same image to a number of different formats, and it just so happens that her sexy, spoiled, shallow act is perfectly suited for bubblegum pop. Of course, it helps that she has a crack team of professionals supporting her on Paris, chief among them songwriter Kara DioGuardi and producer/co-writer Scott Storch, who is name-dropped on the first song, “Turn It Up,” and leaves a heavy imprint on the rest of the record, producing just over half of it and serving as one of the executive producers along with Tom Whalley and Paris herself. They come up with a sound that’s casually modern and retro with enough heft in its rhythms to sound good at clubs, yet it’s designed to be heard outdoors on the sunniest day of the summer. This is exceedingly light music, as sweet and bubbly as a wine spritzer, yet it isn’t so frothy that it floats away. Like the best lightweight pop, Paris retains its sense of fun through repeated listens, long past the point that the novelty of Paris Hilton releasing a good album has worn off.

Make no mistake, Paris is a very good pop album, at times deliberately reminiscent of Blondie, Madonna, and Gwen Stefani, yet having its own distinct character — namely, Paris’ persona, which is shamelessly shallow and devoid of any depth. Where that might be irritating within a movie or within pop culture at large, when placed in a shiny, hooky dance-pop album it works splendidly, particularly because the songs are strong and Storch and company know how to keep things light — and everybody involved knows that it’s fun to play around with Paris’ image, no matter if it’s her murmuring “that’s hot” at the beginning of the record or covering Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” or writing about her feud with Nicole Ritchie on the delightful “Jealousy.” But for as much as Paris is about Paris, she doesn’t necessarily stand out here; her voice — which is almost certainly auto-tuned and tweaked by a computer, yet it’s nevertheless appealing, more so than Britney Spears’ often awkward squawk — may blend into the production, yet that actually helps the recordings since it emphasizes the melodies above everything else. And there are some irresistible melodies here: the breezy “Stars Are Blind,” the gilded rush of “I Want You” driven by a “Grease” sample, the sweet “Time After Time” rewrite “Heartbeat,” and the great power pop of “Screwed,” for starters.

Yes, there is no denying that this is a pure piece of product, but it is indeed pure as product. Paris makes no apologies for being mass-market pop, but everybody involved made sure that this was well-constructed mass-market pop. It may not bear the mark of an auteur the way Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics does, but it never feels tossed-off, and track-for-track it’s more fun than anything released by Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, and a lot fresher, too. It’s easy to hate Paris Hilton — lord knows that she and her friends like Brandon Davis are walking advertisements against the repeal of the estate tax — but any pop fan who listens to Paris with an open mind will find that it’s nothing but fun.

Tracklist

1. Turn It Up – 3:12
Written-By – Jeff Bowden, Paris Hilton, Penelope Magnet, Scott Storch

2. Fightin’ Over Me – 4:01
Featuring, Written-By – Fat Joe, Jadakiss
Written-By – Alonzo Jackson, Paris Hilton, Penelope Magnet, Scott Storch, Taura Jackson

3. Stars Are Blind – 3:56
Co-producer, Written-By – Sheppard Solomon,
Producer, Written-By – Fernando Garibay
Written-By – Ralph McCarthy

4. I Want You – 3:12
Producer, Written-By – Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem
Written-By – Barry Gibb, Evan Kidd Bogart, Kara DioGuardi

5. Jealousy – 3:40
Written-By – Kara DioGuardi, Paris Hilton, Scott Storch

6. Heartbeat – 3:43
Written By – Scott Storch
Written-By – Billy Steinberg, Josh Alexander

7. Nothing In This World – 3:10
Producer, Written-By – Dr. Luke
Written-By – Sheppard Solomon

8. Screwed – 3:41
Producer – Rob Cavallo
Producer, Written-By – Greg Wells, Kara DioGuardi

9. Not Leaving Without You – 3:35
Producer, Written-By – Greg Wells, Kara DioGuardi
Written-By – Paris Hilton

10. Turn You On – 3:06
Written-By – Alonzo Jackson, Courtney Triggs, Paris Hilton, Scott Storch, Taura Jackson

11. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy – 4:34
Written-By – Carmine Appice, Duane Hitchings, Rod Stewart

Additional notes
“I Want You” contains a sample of “Grease” performed by Frankie Valli.
“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” is a cover version of “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” performed by Rod Stewart.

Performers
Paris Hilton – vocals
Fat Joe – vocals
Jadakiss – vocals
Penelope Magnet – backing vocals
Pooh Bear – backing vocals
Taura “Aura” Jackson – backing vocals
Jennifer Karr – backing vocals
Kara DioGuardi – backing vocals
Keely Pressly – backing vocals
Niki Haris – backing vocals
Aaron “Franchise” Fishbein – guitar
Coley Read – guitar
Gabriel – guitar
Ed Calle – saxophone
Black Violin – strings
Eric Jorgensen – trombone
Lee Thornburg – trumpet
Dr. Luke – various instruments

Production
Paris Hilton – executive producer
Scott Storch – executive producer, producer
Tom Whalley – executive producer
J.R. Rotem – producer, mixing
Dr. Luke – producer
Greg Wells – producer
Rob Cavallo – producer
Fernando Garibay – producer, programming, engineer
Alonzo Jackson – producer
Penelope Magnet – producer
Taura “Aura” Jackson – producer
Sheppard Solomon – producer
Jennifer Karr – arrangement
Kara DioGuardi – arrangement, producer
Chris “Crown-One” Brown – engineer
Conrad Golding – engineer
Eric Weaver – engineer, recording
Nikolas “Niko Don” Marzouca – engineer
Wayne “The Brain” Allison – engineer
John Hanes – engineer (ProTools)
Aniella Gottwald – assistant engineer
Tony Maserati – mixing
Neeraj Khajanchi – assistant mix engineer
Serban Ghenea – mixing
Tim Roberts – assistant mix engineer
Jake Davies – recording
Matt Beckley – recording
Chris Steffen – recording
Michael Lattanzi – recording
Brian Gardner – mastering
Jeff Aldrich – A&R
Jeffrey Kent Ayeroff – art direction
Matt Taylor – art direction, design
Anthony Mandler – photography
James White – photography

Notes
Released: August 22, 2006
Recorded: 2004–06
Genre: Pop
Length: 39:50

Label – Warner Bros. Records

Chris Hillman – Clear Sailin´ (1977)

Christopher “Chris” Hillman (born December 4, 1944) is an American musician. He was one of the original members of The Byrds, which in 1965 included Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby and Michael Clarke. With frequent collaborator Gram Parsons, Hillman was a key figure in the development of country rock, defining the genre through his work with The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas and the country-rock group Desert Rose Band.

This compelling entry in Chris Hillman’s interesting musical journey is seen as peculiar by most critics. The session players chosen for Hillman’s second solo outing were Loggins & Messina’s backing band, musicians in need of work because their bosses had just split. Though some have called the end result too slick for a purist musician like Hillman, the pairing ended up being a great one. The L&M players were terrific instrumentalists, capable of long jams in a live setting but with tight chops in the studio, and that must have appealed to a bluegrass head-cutter like Hillman. Plus, with country-rock pioneer Messina, they had already fused country, folk and R&B–a combination stirringly perfected by Hillman with the Flying Burrito Brothers–but to much greater commercial acclaim. Thus these guys were ahead of the game when Hillman brought in his material of mostly originals and co-writes for the 70s SoCal treatment. Given the material, the result is extremely energetic, with a fuller, brighter sound than its predecessor “Slippin’ Away.” Hillman doesn’t speak much about this album, as if he agrees with the critics, but he performs on it as if he’s having a rollicking great time. He always was a “band guy,” and he seems comfortable in the driver’s seat with his peers here. Granted, there are some weak songs, but none are throwaways, and his heart seems to be in it all, even the odd choice of covers by Smoky Robinson and Carole Bayer Sager. The music holds up easily today, contrary to some critical claims (compare it for yourself to Loggins and Messina’s records). It’s more than just solid music, still able to entertain as it did when it was released. Maybe the arrangements were too slick to suit Hillman’s tastes today, or maybe he didn’t like the windbreaker he had to wear for the cover shot. But at the time, artists like him had to elbow for airtime against the Eagles, Ronstadt and others who carried the “country rock” torch he had helped light a decade earlier.

Tracklist

1. “Nothing Get’s Through” (Written-By – Chris Hillman, Peter Knobler) – 4:26
2. “Fallen Favorite” (Written-By – Chris Hillman, Peter Knobler) – 3:33
3. “Quits” (Written-By – Danny O’Keefe) – 3:25
4. “Hot Dusty Roads” (Written-By – Chris Hillman, Peter Knobler) – 3:06
5. “Heartbreaker” (Written-By – Carole Bayer Sager, David Wolfert) – 5:22
6. “Played the Fool” (Written-By – Chris Hillman, Dan McCorison) – 3:59
7. “Lucky in Love” (Written-By – Chris Hillman, Peter Knobler) – 2:36
8. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” (Written-By – Chris Hillman) – 4:29
9. “Ain’t That Peculiar” (Written-By – Marvin Tarplin, Robert Rogers, William “Smokey” Robinson, Warren Moore) – 2:46
10. “Clear Sailin'” (Written-By – Chris Hillman, Richard Marx, Rick Roberts) – 4:31

Credits

Backing Vocals – Tim Schmit
Bass, Vocals – Larry Sims
Drums – Merel Bregante
Keyboards, Pedal Steel Guitar, Synthesizer – Skip Edwards
Lead Guitar – Jock Bartley (track: 6), John Brennan
Percussion – Bobby LaKind (track: 6), Joe Lala
Tambourine – Michael Clarke (track: 10)
Violin, Viola, Saxophone, Recorder – Al Garth
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Chris Hillman
Vocals, Rhythm Guitar – Richard Marx

Production

Produced by Jim Mason of Free Flow Productions, Inc.
Recorded at Davlen Sound Studios & Village Recorders, Los Angeles, California Recording
Engineers: Tom Knox, David Ruffo & Paul Dobbe
Assisted by Robert Shames & Lon Neuman
Remix Engineer: Alex Kazanegras at Haji Sound
Mastered by Bernie Grundman at A&M Recording Studios

Notes
Released: 1977
Genre: Country Rock
Duration: 38:13

Label – Asylum Records

The High & Mighty – Home Field Advantage (1999)

The High & Mighty is an American hip hop duo from Philadelphia, composed of rapper Mr. Eon (“The High”, b. Erik Meltzer) and music producer DJ Mighty Mi (“The Mighty”, b. Milo Berger).

Their commercial debut was in 1999 on the underground rap label Rawkus with their album, Home Field Advantage, featuring rappers, such as Mos Def, Kool Keith, What? What?, Cage, Pharoahe Monch, Evidence of Dilated Peoples, Defari and Eminem. They later left Rawkus, distributing the records issued by their own record company Eastern Conference Records via Landspeed Records. They also established a group called Smut Peddlers with Cage and published an album called Porn Again.

Home Field Advantage is Mr. Eon’s and DJ Mighty Mi’s first full-length album, and it’s solid. Songs like “Top Prospects” and “B-Boy Document ’99” will please many fans of East Coast hip-hop. Unfortunately, other songs like “Hot Spittable,” “Weed, and “The Meaning” are kind of boring and seem to be missing something. One thing this album isn’t missing is guests. High & Mighty are joined by Pharoahe Monch, Evidence, Defari, Mos Def, Mad Skillz, Eminem, Cage, Kool Keith, and more. Most tracks have one or two guest helping High & Mighty out. While the people that they get are good, it would be nice to hear more songs with just Eon. Also, after hearing the intro, “Tip Off Time,” it makes you want another track just of Mighty Mi rocking the turntables.

Tracklist

1. “Tip Off Time” (Intro)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 1:30
2. “Dirty Decibels” (featuring Pharoahe Monch)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:53
3. “Top Prospects” (featuring Defari and Evidence)  (The Alchemist) – 3:45
4. “Dick Starbuck “Porno Detective””  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:44
5. “B-Boy Document ’99” (featuring Mad Skillz and Mos Def)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:54
6. “The Last Hit” (featuring Eminem)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 4:19
7. “Ay Yo” (skit) – 0:26
8. “Hot Spittable”  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 4:05
9. “The Meaning”  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 4:07
10. “In-Outs” (featuring Cage)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:41
11. “Papers Please” (skit) – 0:45
12. “Shaquan & Eon” (featuring Mad Skillz)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:58
13. “The Half” Reef – 3:56
14. “Hands On Experience, Pt. II” (featuring Bobbito García, Kool Keith and What? What?)  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 5:01
15. “Weed” Reef – 3:30
16. “Newman” (skit) – 1:12
17. “Open Mic Night” (Remix featuring Thirstin Howl III and Wordsworth)  (The Alchemist) – 3:41
18. “Mind, Soul & Body”  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:40
19. “Friendly Game of Football”  (DJ Mighty Mi) – 3:08

Personnel
Credits adapted from liner notes.
Mr. Eon – performer, writer, executive producer
DJ Mighty Mi – producer, writer, executive producer, mixing
The Alchemist – producer, mixing
What? What? – performer, writer
Kool Keith – performer, writer
Bobbito Garcia – performer, writer
Rob “Reef” Tewlow – additional programming, drum programming
Lord Sear – beatbox
Mark Ronson – additional programming
DJ EV – turntables
Rashida Jones – additional vocals
She Speaks – additional vocals
DJ Sebb – turntables
Vere Isaacs – bass
DJ Daze – turntables
Elliott Thomas – mix engineer
Kieran Walsh – mix engineer
Nobody – art direction, graphic design
A.S.1. – graphic design

Notes
Released: August 24, 1999
Recorded: 1998–1999
Genre: Hip Hop
Length: 62:15

Label – Rawkus Records

(Hed) Planet Earth – Broke (2000)

(hed)pe’s debut outing, their self-titled Jive debut, bloomed during the years when fans and record labels first began noticing that this rap and metal fusion was a readily marketable commodity, and though as an album it was only average in sales, the band rapidly gathered a dedicated cult who found inspiration and a unique perspective in the group’s music. When the time came for (hed)pe to enter the studio once again and begin setting the groundwork for what would become their follow-up album, 2000’s Broke, they found themselves emerging as one of the premiere rapcore groups in the United States while remaining quite underground, relating to groups such as Limp Bizkit and Incubus, who had begun finding acceptance on the national platform. Broke is essentially (hed)pe’s answer to mainstream radio appeal, finding the California quintet modernizing their sound for mass acceptance while still retaining the spark that made their debut so independently accepted.
From the rabid lyrical attack of vocalist Jahred and the Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray on “Killing Time” to the laid-back, thought-provoking beats of “Jesus (of Nazareth),” (hed)pe still proves beyond a shadow of a doubt they remember their roots; overall, Broke is the album that should have pushed these men to the forefront of the genre, yet didn’t. Much of the group’s intensity was lost on Broke, which opted for slick production and mundane verse/chorus/verse formatting rather then continuing to blaze a path as the hip-hop-influenced hardcore band (hed)pe’s debut album proudly announced they were.
Despite this drawback, Broke is a much more accessible album for interested fans, and even features a few respectable guest appearances from System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian and Kittie frontwoman Morgan Lander on “Feel Good.” “Crazy Legs” attempts to skirt the line between pure street rap and gritty crossover, yet fails due to its inept lyrical content. “I Got You,” with its thunderous bass thump and gritty guitars, stands out as one of the album’s best songs, as Jahred alters between a remarkably relaxed tone to a more intense bellowing that does the rapcore scene supreme justice in merging the two musical styles into one cohesive unit of sound. Likewise, “Boom (How You Like That)” displays a hip-hop signature, biting other songs’ recognizable lyrics with references to the green leaf and kinky sex. (hed)pe also moves to the other end of the musical spectrum on Broke’s closing track, “The Meadow,” abandoning the aggressive guitar riffs and instead toying with acoustic guitar melodies and saccharine-sweet programming.
Jahred opens up and finds his more soulful side, and this revealing aspect ends the album on a high note. Broke may have not found as much success in the competitive mainstream market as some would have liked, and even despite its distinct departure from the group’s debut, it is an album that shows more vision than other rap-tinged rock albums to come out in 2000.

Tracklist

1.  “Killing Time”  (Geer/Shaine/Young) – 3:55
2.  “Waiting to Die”  (featuring East Bay Ray)  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos) – 3:15
3.  “Feel Good”  (featuring Serj Tankian and Morgan Lander)  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos) – 4:15
4.  “Bartender”  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos/Fekaris/Zesses) – 4:01
5.  “Crazy Legs”  (Geer/Shaine/Young) – 4:04
6.  “Pac Bell”  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos/Young/Vaught/Boyce) – 4:54
7.  “I Got You”  (Geer/Shaine/Young) – 3:44
8.  “Boom (How You Like That)”  (Geer/Shaine/Boyce) – 3:56
9.  “Swan Dive”  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos) – 3:35
10.  “Stevie”  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos) – 3:32
11.  “Jesus (of Nazareth)”  (Geer/Shaine/Young) – 5:35
12.  “The Meadow (Special Like You)”  (Geer/Shaine/Benekos) – 9:31
13.  “Bad Dream” – 3:51  Japanese edition bonus track

Sp.e.cial Disc For First Edition Only
1.  Serpent Boy (Rock Da Beat Mix) – 3:35
2.  Darky (Machine Mix) – 5:37
3.  Epilogue – 3:25
4.  Serpent Boy (Rock Da Beat Mix – Instrumetal) – 3:35
5.  Darky (Machine Mix – Instrumental) – 5:34

Personnel

Jahred aka M.C.U.D. aka Paulo Sergio — vocals
Wesstyle — guitars
Chad aka Chizad — guitars
DJ Product © 1969 — turntables
B.C. aka B.C. The Mizak Diza — drums and percussion
Mawk — bass

Companies, etc.

Mastered At – Sterling Sound
Mixed At – The Hit Factory
Recorded At – Sweet Tea
Recorded At – The Machine Shop, Hoboken, NJ
Recorded At – The Hit Factory
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Zomba Recording Corporation
Copyright (c) – Zomba Recording Corporation

Credits

Art Direction, Design – Elisa Garcia
Engineer – Richard Hasal
Engineer [Assistant] – Rob Cooper
Mastered By – George Marino
Mixed By – John Goodmanson (tracks: 1 to 5, 7, 8, 10 to 12), Machine (7) (tracks: 6, 9), Steve Thompson (tracks: 1 to 5, 7, 8, 10 to 12)
Music By – BC Beats (tracks: 6), Chizad (tracks: 2 to 4, 6, 9, 10, 12), DJ Product (tracks: 6, 8), M.C.U.D., Mawk (tracks: 1, 5 to 7, 11), Wesstyle
Photography By [Band], Illustration [Cover Photo Illustration] – Clay Patrick McBride
Photography By [Cover & Back Photos] – Eric Harsen
Producer – Machine
Programmed By – Clinton Bradley, Jahred, Machine, Mawk, Westyle

Notes
Released: May 22, 2000
Genre: Nu metal, rap rock, rapcore
Length: 75:59

Label – Jive Records

Daryl Hall – Soul Alone (1993)

Soul Alone is a 1993 album by Daryl Hall released on Epic Records. Distinct from the sound of Daryl’s successful duo Hall & Oates, this album features a more soulful and jazzy feel. However, Epic failed to find a marketing niche for Hall’s new sound, and the album was not a commercial success. Soul Alone featured singer Mariah Carey and producer/multi-instrumentalist Walter Afanasieff as composers. One single was released from the album, the track “I’m in a Philly Mood”.

Released ten years after Hall & Oates’ heyday and seven after Daryl Hall’s last solo venture, 3 Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine, Soul Alone finds Hall on unsure ground. It had been only three years since he had seen the upper reaches of the charts, yet it felt like much more time had passed since he had truly reigned over mainstream pop/rock. From the sounds of Soul Alone, he longed for those days, but not as much as longed for his youth in Philadelphia, and with it, the Philly soul and folk-rock that was so close to his heart. As a result, the album is lost in limbo between affectionate homages to years past and a need to regain his status as a hitmaker. Not surprisingly, it’s the homages that hold up, largely because they give Hall a chance to shine as a songsmith and a vocalist. The other material largely sounds forced, although there are glimmers of brilliance every now and then. Mostly, Soul Alone — like his two previous solo ventures, which arrived at similar lulls in Hall & Oates’ career — is interesting as a chapter in Hall’s life, in the way it reflects where he was psychologically and musically at that point in time. Which means, of course, that it’s primarily of interest to any listener who has followed him long enough to recognize that.

The Japanese version of the album came with an extra 12th track, “I’ve Finally Seen The Light.”
Songwriter Janna Allen, who co-composed “Written In Stone” (the only song on the album Hall didn’t have a hand in writing), died two weeks before the album’s release. In addition to being a longtime musical collaborator of Hall’s, she was the sister of his longtime girlfriend Sara Allen.

Tracklist

1.  “Power of Seduction”  (Hall, Moreland, Smith) – 5:50
2.  “This Time”  (Hall, Sara Allen, Moreland, Smith) – 4:58
3.  “Love Revelation”  (Hall, Moreland, Smith, Alan Gorrie) – 4:35
4.  “I’m in a Philly Mood”  (Hall, Moreland, Smith, Gorrie) – 5:15
5.  “Borderline”  (Hall, L. Flagbe, Michael Peden) – 6:16
6.  “Stop Loving Me, Stop Loving You”  (Marvin Gaye, Hall, S. Allen) – 4:41
7.  “Help Me Find a Way to Your Heart  (Hall, Moreland, Smith, Gorrie, Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff) – 4:50
8.  “Send Me”  (Hall, Moreland, Smith, Gorrie) – 4:55
9.  “Wildfire”  (Hall, Moreland, Smith, S. Allen) – 4:58
10.  “Money Changes Everything”  (Hall, Gorrie) – 4:51
11.  “Written in Stone”  (Janna Allen, S. Dubin, Kevin Savigar) – 5:02
12.  “I’ve Finally Seen the Light”  (Japan only Bonus Track) – 5:18

Production
Produced by Daryl Hall, Peter Lord Moreland, Michael Peden & V. Jeffrey Smith
Engineers: Paul Max Bloom, Martin Hayles, Yan Meemi, David Morales, Peter Moshay, Michael Peden, John Poppo
Assistant Engineers: Paul Max Bloom, Yan Meemi
Mixing: David Morales, Michael Peden, John Poppo
Mastering: Vladimir Meller

Personnel
Daryl Hall: keyboards, lead & backing vocals
Bernard Davis, Trevor Murrell: drums
Miles Bould: percussion
Frank Ricotti: vibraphone
Bob Bitsand, Alan Gorrie, Rich Tancredi: bass guitar
Tommy Eyre, Eric Kupper, Peter “Ski” Schwartz, Alec Shantzis: keyboards
Peter Lord Moreland: keyboards, arrangements, backing vocals
Terry Burrus: acoustic piano
“Tag”: guitars
V. Jeffrey Smith: electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, bass guitar, synth bass, saxophone, backing vocals
Tom “T-Bone” Wolk: acoustic & electric guitars, bass guitar
Charles DeChant: saxophone
Phillip Todd: flute, saxophone, EWI programming
Peter Moshay, Mel Wesson: programming
The London Session Orchestra: strings
Strings composed & arranged by Nick Ingman, Arif Mardin & Joe Mardin
Gavyn Wright: conductor
Lorna Bannon, Alan Gorrie, Tee Green, Lorraine McIntosh, Sandra St. Victor: backing vocals

Notes
Released: September 7, 1993
Recorded: 1993
Genre: Rock, Pop, Soul
Length: 61:35

Label – Epic Records

Head Automatica – Decadence (2004)

Head Automatica is an American rock band from Long Island, New York fronted by Daryl Palumbo (also of Glassjaw).

Head Automatica is the somewhat unlikely pairing of Glassjaw screamer Daryl Palumbo with gonzo beatmaker Dan the Automator. The collaboration rocks a brazenly superficial sound on Decadence, drawing freely from furiously en vogue dance-punk, assemblist modern rock, and bits and pieces of the Def Jux crew’s underground aesthetic. The result is not 100 percent consistent, and occasionally skates right past irony and straight into empty-headed pomposity. But in its best moments, Decadence is a dizzy paint shaker, as garish and morally bankrupt as you want your art sleaze to be. (Pink Grease fans, take note.) For Head Automatica, Palumbo’s plastic man Mike Patton yowl has been tuned down, doused in cheapie cologne, and sent out on to the mirrored dancefloor in search of coquettish dance-punk groupies. His wingman is Automator, who enjoys punching up Automatica’s live instrument complement (including organ, guitar, and drums) with big beat sequences and processed back-alley pigments. “Brooklyn Is Burning” cuts bumpy dollar store disco under a crackling sample suggestive of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” while “Please Please Please [Young Hollywood]” channels Duran Duran straight west to the steamy pavement of L.A. and fluorescent fabric reflecting in Silverlake swimming pools. For whatever reason, Rancid’s Tim Armstrong contributes vocals to the frenetically distorted “Dance Party Plus”; the cut aims for that Hullabaloo in Hell, satyr-sock-hop-feel popularized by Queens of the Stone Age. Elsewhere, Automator’s spooky processing guides the deconstructed verses of “King Caesar.” But its chorus is too calculated, offering catchy gibberish over a loping drum track and simplistic instrumentation. The song ends up as filler, since unlike Decadence’s stronger moments, it never challenges the inherent emptiness of this non-genre. It doesn’t revel in the ribald and XXX; it stops unwisely at Shifty territory. “I Shot William H. Macy,” too, makes a two-tiered titular reference but forgets to make the song more than an overdriven guitar riff. Decadence works when it forgets about everything but effectively filling up the next five minutes of your house party. The rest of time it’s as vacant as last year’s cool club.

Tracklist

1. “At the Speed of a Yellow Bullet” – 2:14
2. “Brooklyn Is Burning” – 3:54
3. “Beating Heart Baby” – 3:23
4. “Please Please Please (Young Hollywood)” – 4:08
5. “King Caesar” – 3:54
6. “The Razor” – 3:30
7. “Dance Party Plus” – 3:21
8. “Disco Hades II” – 3:57
9. “Solid Gold Telephone” – 2:23
10. “Head Automatica Soundsystem” – 3:35
11. “I Shot William H. Macy” – 3:17

Personnel
Daryl Palumbo – vocals, guitar
Larry Gorman – drums
Craig Bonich – guitar
Jarvis Morgan Holden – bass
Jim Greer – keyboards
Brandon Arnovick – guitar
Sherri DuPree – additional vocals on “Dance Party Plus”
Stacy DuPree – additional vocals on “Dance Party Plus”
Tim Armstrong – additional vocals on “Dance Party Plus”
Cage – phone call (hidden track)
Dan The Automator – production, programming
Howard Benson – production, mixing
Dave Sardy – mixing
Rich Costey – mixing

Notes
Released: 17 August 2004
Genre: Dance-punkalternative, rockindie, rockpower, popnew wave
Duration: 37:45

Label – Warner Bros. Records

Ben Harper And The Innocent Criminals – Lifeline (2007)

Lifeline is an album by Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals. It was recorded in Paris in the fall of 2006 after the lengthy European leg of the Both Sides of the Gun tour. Harper and the Innocent Criminals wrote the tracks while on tour and would rehearse the songs during sound checks while at each venue. Recorded in only seven days on analog, the album was released on August 28, 2007

As it’s played out on his recordings, the very gift that has been such a boon to Ben Harper has also been his bane: his musical restlessness and the wide range of styles he seems to employ. It’s obvious, and has been since his sophomore offering, Fight for Your Mind, that Harper is not only a master guitarist but a fine songwriter and a great showman. He’s been under the sway of legends like Marley, Hendrix, Dylan, Redding, and to a lesser extent, Havens. On his recordings he’s wrapped them all up together continually, creating an identity forged on that diversity. That said, as a result, the albums have often suffered. In a live context that shape-shifting mélange can be — and more often than not is — seamless and utterly exciting. In the studio it doesn’t gel so easily. His last studio record, Both Sides of the Gun in 2006, attempted a narrower, albeit mellower focus; but he spread it over two discs! The desire to concentrate on a single identity — as a singer/songwriter — resulted in a less than optimal, sometimes even boring, result; a single disc would have been more easily swallowed. Perhaps this is why his most satisfying and consistent offering is arguably his collaboration with the Blind Boys of Alabama on There Will Be a Light from 2004 — until now.
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals entered Gang Studio in Paris in November of 2006, immediately after finishing a nine-month world tour that ended with eight weeks in Europe. They loaded in their gear, rehearsed, and recorded directly to analog tape — i.e., without the aid of computers or Pro Tools — and mixed in seven days. The result is a deeply focused, loose, and laid-back record that is musically compelling and deeply soulful, and contains some of Harper’s finest songs to date. At this time, the Innocent Criminals are drummer Oliver Charles, percussionist Leon Mobley, Juan Nelson on bass, guitarist Michael Ward, and Jason Yates plays keyboards, with a pair of backing vocalists, Michelle Haynes and Rovleta Fraser. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, this is a brief record for Harper, but it serves him well. The music is a seamless meld of soulful folk, gospel, countryish rock, and blues. The operative genre here, however, is the rootsy soul that Harper could always sing, and Ward’s fills along with the electric Wurlitzer, acoustic pianos, and Hammond B-3 employed by Yates make it all swing, while the steady yet slippery percussion roots the music deeply in the groove, which is mellow but tough.
The proof begins on “Fight Outta You,” the album’s opening track. Harper’s acoustic plays the first couple of bars before the rest of the band kicks in, establishing a country-soul feel. His lyrics are uplifting, full of determination and hope. This is underscored by the next number, “In the Colors,” which bleeds Southern soul and a killer reggae bassline bubbling underneath. The theme of hope is right there, propping the first track by underscoring in poetic terms the true, just, and beautiful. “Fool for a Lonesome Train,” a backwoods country-rock tune, is maybe the strongest cut on the set; its high lonesome sound is borne out not just in the grain of Harper’s vocal but by the band’s unobtrusive yet utterly engaging support. The lyrics are there; they have the wild and restless in them but it takes a group effort to make restraint an art, underscoring the blood and sinew in Harper’s words. That’s not to say there are no “rockers” on the set. “Needed You Tonight” comes right out of the shouting gospel and electric blues with electric guitars blazing; it alternates its dynamic between that vibe and sweet soul. “Having Wings” is a gorgeous follow-up, with acoustic piano and electric guitars flowing under Harper’s voice.
“Say You Will” is a seriously uptempo gospel shouter, but far more carnal. It’s an ass-shaker with smoking piano and percussion work and lots of breakbeats tossed in by Charles; that backing chorus takes it out of Sunday morning and places it in the heart of Saturday night. “Put It on Me” is more of a guitar take on the same kind of music. With the chorus and those six-strings all edgy and loose, it’s funky, dirty, and gets very close to nasty. “Heart of Matters” gets back to back-porch soul before giving way to a Weissenborn guitar solo on “Paris Sunrise #7,” before closing with the lone acoustic guitar and vocal ballad on the title cut. The set could have gone out on one of the more uptempo tunes after the instrumental, but it’s a small complaint in this mix. Whether or not you prefer the rowdier version of Harper and his band, it is inarguable that this recording is a concentrated effort coming down on the side of a couple of musical notions that weave together artfully and meaningfully. This is a very informal-sounding record, and one that feels comfortable in showing its unvarnished side, its seams. And given that it was recorded completely in analog, fans would be well advised to pick up vinyl copies as well and compare the two; the prediction is most likely the vinyl sounds fuller and warmer.

Tracklist

1. “Fight Outta You” – 4:10
2. “In the Colors” – 2:57
3. “Fool for a Lonesome Train” – 3:30
4. “Needed You Tonight” – 2:46
5. “Having Wings” – 3:27
6. “Say You Will” – 2:58
7. “Younger Than Today” – 3:24
8. “Put It on Me” – 3:30
9. “Heart of Matters” – 4:31
10. “Paris Sunrise #7” – 5:17
11. “Lifeline” – 4:28

All songs written by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, except “Paris Sunrise #7” and “Lifeline” written by Ben Harper.

Musicians
Ben Harper – guitars, vocals
Juan Nelson – bass
Oliver Charles – drums
Michael Ward – guitar
Jason Yates – keyboards
Leon Mobley – percussion
Michelle Haynes, Rovleta Fraser – backing vocals
Producer – Ben Harper

Notes
Released: August 28, 2007
Recorded: Gang Studios, Paris
Genre: Rock, blues rock, pop rock, alternative rock, rhythm and blues, folk rock
Length: 40:54

Label – Virgin Records

Frankie Crocker’s Heart And Soul Orchestra – Presents The Disco Suite Symphony No.1 In Rhythm And Excellence (1976)

Frankie “Hollywood” Crocker (December 18, 1937, Buffalo, New York – October 21, 2000, aged 62 North Miami Beach, Florida) was an American, New York radio DJ.

According to popeducation.org, Crocker began his career in Buffalo at the AM Soul powerhouse WUFO (also the home to future greats Gerry Bledsoe, Eddie O’Jay, Herb Hamlett, Gary Byrd and Chucky T) before moving to Manhattan, where he first worked for Soul station WWRL and later top-40 WMCA in 1969. He then worked for WBLS-FM as program director, taking that station to the top of the ratings during the late 1970s and pioneering the radio format now known as urban contemporary. He sometimes called himself the “Chief Rocker”, and he was as well known for his boastful on-air patter as for his off-air flamboyance.

The Heart And Sould Orchestra was Frankie Crocker’s side project. As his formidable reputation grew, Crocker was offered different opportunites. He appeared in the movies Cleopatra Jones and Five on the Black Hand Side. He released two disco-oriented albums on Casablanca Records as Frankie Crocker’s Heart and Soul Orchestra — The Heart and Soul Orchestra, Love in C Minor, and Disco Suite Symphony No. 1 in Rhythm and Excellence. Later he hosted NBC TV’s Friday Night Videos, was one of the first video DJs on cable channel VH1, had his own syndicated radio show, Classic Soul Countdown, and worked at WRKS-New York. His skills led to him programming and/or working at KUTE, Los Angeles, WGCI and WNUA, Chicago, and WKKS, St. Louis.The DJ/programmer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the age of 63, Frankie Crocker died from pancreatic cancer in Miami, FL, on October 21, 2000. 

Tracklist

A1. “Poincianna” (Written-By – Bernier, Simon) – 9:03
A2. “Friendly Persuasion” (Written-By – Tiomkin, Webster) – 6:15

B1. “I Can’t Get Started” (Written-By – Gershwin, Duke) – 6:48
B2. “The Very Thought Of You” (Written-By – Noble) – 7:05

C1. “Skylark” (Written-By – Carmichael, Mercer) – 6:54
C2. “Flamingo” (Written-By – Anderson, Grouya) – 5:45

D1. “Be My Love” (Written-By – Brodszky, Cahn) – 6:25
D2. “Moonlight In Vermont” (Written-By – Blackburn, Sueffdors) – 6:09

Companies, etc.

Manufactured By – Casablanca Records, Inc.
Distributed By – Casablanca Records, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Casablanca Records, Inc.
Recorded At – Record Plant, Los Angeles
Recorded At – Total Experience Studios
Mixed At – ABC Recording Studios
Mixed At – Total Experience Studios
Mastered At – Allen Zentz Mastering
Designed At – Gribbitt!

Credits

Arranged By [Strings, Horns] – Gene Page
Art Direction, Design – Gribbitt!, Henry Vizcarra
Bass – Welton Gite, Willie Weeks
Cello [Celli] – Douglas Davis, Gloria Strassner, Harry Shultz, Jesse Ehrlich
Clavinet – Nimrod Lumpkin
Concertmaster – Harry Bluestone
Copyist [Music Preparation] – George Annis
Drums – James Gatson*, Richard Schlosser (tracks: D2)
Engineer – Bruce Hensal, Doug Ryder, F. Byron Clark, Mike Stone, Ron Nevison, Steve Pouliot
Engineer [Mixing] – Barney Perkins (tracks: A2 to C1, D1, D2), Bob Hughes (tracks: A1, C2)
French Horn – Arthur Maebe, Claude Sherry, Dave Duke, Gail Robinson, George Hyde, James Decker, Robert Henderson
Guitar – Bobby Womack (tracks: D2), Charles Fullillve (tracks: D2), Melvin “Wah Wah” Ragin
Harp – Gayle Levant, Stella Castellucci
Mastered By – Allen Zentz
Photography By – Ron Slenzak
Piano – Billy Mitchell, Truman Thomas (tracks: D2)
Piano, Clavinet – Sonny Burke
Producer – Frankie Crocker
Trumpet – Jack Laubah, Paul Hubinon, Warren Luening
Viola – Alexander Neiman, Gareth Nuttycombe
Violin – Anatol Kminsky, Assa Drori, Bernard Kundell, Bonnie Douglas, Henry Roth, Jack Shulman, Marshall Sosson, Murray Adler, Nathan Ross, Paul Shure, Robert Lipsett, Robert Sushel, Ronald Folsom, Sheldon Sanov, Stanley Plummer
Woodwind – Ernie Watts

Notes
Released: 1976
Recorded at The Record Plant West & The Total Experience Recording Studio.
Mixed at ABC Recording Studio & The Total Experience Recording Studio, except A1, C2 mixed at The Total Experience Recording Studio
Location of Photography: Charles Burke Showroom, Los Angeles
Genre: Funk / Soul
Duration: 56:37

Label – Casablanca Records

Donny Hathaway – In Performance (1980)

Donny Edward Hathaway (October 1, 1945 – January 13, 1979) was an American jazz, blues, soul and gospel singer, songwriter, arranger and pianist. Hathaway signed with Atlantic Records in 1969 and with his first single for the Atco label, “The Ghetto”, in early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine “marked him as a major new force in soul music.”

At the height of his career Hathaway was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was known to not take his prescribed medication regularly enough to properly control his symptoms. On January 13, 1979, Hathaway’s body was found outside the luxury hotel Essex House in New York City; his death was ruled a suicide.

Though largely revered for his studio recordings, it was on-stage that Donny Hathaway truly became a giant diamond in a sea of gems. Much like his excellent 1972 Live recording and the stellar 2004 These Songs for You, Live!, In Performance features Hathaway taking his audience to church in a way that can only be described as unique, as he truly had an individual stage presence that few others could hope to rival. In Performance isn’t necessarily better than those aforementioned excellent records, but it complements them extremely well, with gritty versions of “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” leading the charge. As usual, Hathaway’s delivery is electric and as sincere as a soul artist could possibly get. In Performance’s sole flaw is its length. When the audience applause from the finale, “Sack Full of Dreams,” has faded, one is likely to find that the 40 minutes spent listening wasn’t nearly enough — a testament to how potent and powerful Hathaway was in his prime.

Tracklist

A1. “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”  (Weldon Irvine / Nina Simone) – 8:23
A2. “A Song for You”  (Leon Russell) – 5:54
A3. “Nu-Po”  (Donny Hathaway) – 7:06

B1. “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”  (Al Kooper) – 5:57
B2. “We Need You Right Now”  (Donny Hathaway) – 7:56
B3. “Sack Full of Dreams”  (Gary McFarland / Louis Savary) – 5:34

Companies, etc.

Pressed By – Jugoton – ULS 783
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Atlantic Recording Corporation
Copyright (c) – Atlantic Recording Corporation
Recorded At – Troubadour, Los Angeles
Recorded At – The Bitter End Cafe
Recorded At – Carnegie Hall
Printed By – Interprogres, Zagreb

Credits
Bass – Bessie Saunders (tracks: A3), Willie Weeks
Congas – Leslie Carter* (tracks: A3), Earl Derouen
Drums – Fred White, John Susswell (tracks: A3)
Edited By – Bobby Warner
Engineer – Ray Thompson
Guitar – Cornell Dupree (tracks: B1), Gil Silva (tracks: A3), Mike Howard, Phil Upchurch
Lead Vocals – Donny Hathaway
Organ – Richard Tee (tracks: B1)
Piano – Donny Hathaway
Producer – Arif Mardin
Producer [Assistant] – Cengiz Yaltkaya
Remix – Jimmy Douglass

Notes
Release Date: 1980
Recording Location, Bitter End, NY, Carnegie Hall, NY, Troubador, Los Angeles, CA
Duration: 40:50
Genre: R&B
Styles: Chicago Soul

Label – Atlantic Records

Steve Gibbons Band – Down In The Bunker (1978)

Steve Gibbons (born 13 July 1941) is an English singer-songwriter, musician, composer, and record producer. Gibbons’ music career spans more than 50 years.

Sometimes referred to as Birmingham, England’s answer to Bob Seger, with his working-class rock & roll and tough, British wit, Steve Gibbons’ first two releases for MCA were hit-and-miss affairs which garnered him a U.K. hit with Chuck Berry’s “Tulane,” as well as a fan base that included members of the Who. This would have undoubtedly been enough on which to build a journeyman career, but with his fourth record, Down in the Bunker, there seems to be a shift in attitude — from the choice to use David Bowie and T. Rex producer Tony Visconti on down to Gibbons’ new appearance (from bearded, long-haired, leather-clad rocker to clean-shaven, nattily attired bandleader) — that takes things to a new level. And while there’s still a bit of Gibbons and company’s former rock & roll swagger, there’s also an understated intelligence that had been suggested in the past, but is truly evident here. Musically and vocally, Down in the Bunker shows obvious American influences, but lyrically Gibbons’ songs touch on questions of class, race, sexual orientation, and trends, with a decidedly British bent. Tracks like “No Spitting on the Bus” and “Down in the City” paint a picture of urban life in England, ranging from its most mundane to its very edge, while “Mary Ain’t Goin’ Home” is a thoughtful yet never heavy-handed look at race and love. Elsewhere, two of the record’s best tracks, the mythical “Big J.C.” and the strange postwar golf amalgam of the title cut, suggest certain periods but also seem to defy a definite stamp of time, much like the record’s post-pub rock rock & roll. “Big J.C.” hints at the Old West without necessarily committing, while “Down in the Bunker” has a more ominous, futuristic, and militaristic feel that seems almost Orwellian at times. Compared with Down in the Bunker, Gibbons’ first two major-label studio efforts seem like merely promising indicators of a career that don’t really prepare you for what’s to come. Reissued on CD in 2000 by Road Goes on Forever, this is the best, most consistently satisfying album of Steve Gibbons’ career, as well as one of the highlights of British rock & roll in the late ’70s.

Tracklist

1.  No Spitting On The Bus – 3:31
2.  Any Road Up – 3:35
3.  Down In The Bunker – 5:26
4.  Big J.C. – 4:09
5.  Mary Ain’t Goin’ Home – 2:51
6.  Down In The City – 3:40
7.  Let’s Do It Again – 3:37
8.  Eddy Vortex – 2:56
9.  Chelita – 3:18
10.  When You Get Outside – 3:10
11.  Grace – 3:10
12.  Tulane – 2:57
13.  Gold Coast – 3:34
14.  Body Talk – 2:36
15.  Let Me Go – 3:54
16.  Satisfying Moves – 4:02
17.  I Am Here – 3:37
18.  Great Escape – 4:29
19.  Get Up And Dance – 3:31

All tracks composed by Steve Gibbons

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Deutsche Grammophon GmbH
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Goldhawke Productions Ltd.
Copyright (c) – Polydor Ltd.
Printed By – Gerhard Kaiser GmbH
Pressed By – Phonodisc GmbH
Lacquer Cut At – Phonodisc GmbH

Credits
Drums, Percussion – Bob Lamb
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Trevor Burton
Electric Guitar, Electric Piano, Backing Vocals, Bass, Synthesizer [Moog], Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Twelve-String Guitar [Electric] – Bob Wilson
Fiddle, Backing Vocals, Lap Steel Guitar – Dave Carroll
Producer – Tony Visconti
Recorder – Tony Visconti
Saxophone – Nick Pentelow
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Steve Gibbons
Written-By – Steve Gibbons

Notes
Released:  1978
Genre:  BluesRock, Rock And Roll
Duration:  1:08:12

Label – Polydor Records