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Reviews Written by
k. lane "jester1436" (Florida, USA)

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In The Zone
In The Zone
Price: CDN$ 8.00
61 used & new from CDN$ 0.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Intoxication, Feb. 6 2004
This review is from: In The Zone (Audio CD)
Here's something for Brit bashers and tabloid reporters to think about. She's still here. Yep! And she's enjoying fabulous success with this, her fourth and possibly best yet, album. I'm sure it's a surprise to some, but they'll just have to cope with it. People can call her talent into question all they like, but it won't stop her from being an incredibly capable pop performer. She doesn't need to wail like a banshee a la Christina to be able to craft excellent pop tracks like the ones on this album.
In fact, the current top 40 smash 'Toxic' blows away almost every Britney and Christina single. It's sheer pop perfection in under three and a half minutes. The first single 'Me Against The Music', of course, isn't nearly as good the current one. Madonna's guest vocal did have a hint of desperation about it, but it provided both with a top 40 hit, and is availble on here in both original and remix versions.
Britney does appeal to the current formula to making a hit single on '(I Got That) Boom Boom' featuring the Ying Yang Twins and the R.Kelly penned 'Outrageous', but neither should make an appearance on the charts, as they are most definitely the worst pair of tracks on this record. Shockingly, Britney's usual weak point with creating dull ballads doesn't really hit hard on this album, with 'Everytime' providing an actually worthwhile listen.
While that track is sweet, Britney's best tracks are made for dancing and grinding. The Kylie Minogue inspired 'Breathe On Me' is a sexy dance pop number that needs to be a future single. The funky 'Showdown' is also a big personal favorite. I also like the slinky Moby produced 'Early Mornin' quite a bit. Suprisingly, the self pleasure themed 'Touch Of My Hand' proves to be a solid track.
The rest of the album contains the same quality expected from Britney as one of pop music's premier starlets - catchy and well crafted. Britney has long since moved beyond the label of being 'Today's Debbie Gibson', and with more records like this she'll be deserving of a title more like 'Tomorrow's Madonna'.

Offered by ABAK TECH
Price: CDN$ 18.99
19 used & new from CDN$ 1.28

2.0 out of 5 stars No Longer Immature, But Not Full Grown, Nov. 26 2003
This review is from: Mh (Audio CD)
Stepping out the shadow of Batman and IMX, Marques Houston isn't exactly the standard fair I'd go for when buying an album. I don't generally have a taste for modern R&B males beyond maybe Usher and if you want to really stretch it, Justin Timberlake. This album is quite generic of the genre and sounds like a fusion of the afformentioned Mr. Raymond and IMX's little brother group B2K. This isn't exactly bad, much to my absolute surprise.
The song that originally caught me for this album was actually the flop first single, the painfully devoted 'That Girl'. The track is something I imagine would be at home on any Usher album. 'Clubbin', the second single and only top 40 hit so far for Marques, didn't grab me as quickly. I'm thinking it's likely due to the highly overrated R.Kelly working the production and throwing his vocals on in the background. Anyway, this shortcoming was easily overcome, and I now think 'Clubbin' is probably the strongest track available here. The third single 'Pop That Booty' is painful though, with the constant chants of "pied, pied, pied piper" and Jermaine Dupri's miserable guest rap.
Further exploration of the album leads to territory that's been covered countless times before - love lost ballads and mid-tempo thumpers. Marques has a pretty good voice, but the material is just so generic. The songs are nice, but they aren't anything that would set the charts on fire. Also, the pair of remixes stuck on at the end could easily be dropped, as they add nothing to the total vibe of the album.

Offered by village_music_world-usa
Price: CDN$ 12.41
10 used & new from CDN$ 0.64

4.0 out of 5 stars A Taste Of 'Becstacy', Nov. 26 2003
This review is from: Becstasy (Audio CD)
Becky Baeling has become somewhat of a mini-superstar on the American club scene this past year, thanks in no small part to having dancefloor filling hits with 'If You Love Me' and 'Getaway'. Initially, this actually turned me off, because club divas tend to be, for a lack of a more descriptive word, dull. Great vocalists perhaps, but quite dull. So I passed judgement without actually hearing any of her songs.
Then I heard 'Getaway', which reminded me of UK pop tart Sarah Whatmore's debut track 'When I Lost You' and some of Aussie star Kylie Minogue's best disco pop singles. Not only was she a talented vocalist, but she actually managed to produce a genuinely good pop tune. It lacked mainstream success however, something that was also absent from Becky's debut single 'If You Love Me', which is present here in an album version and a Tony Moran/Mac Quayle mix edit. These are two of the strongest tracks obviously.
For her third and final single from this album, Becky stepped back in time and remade the Belinda Carlisle classic 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth'. However, I think it made a poor choice as both an album track and single. Though vocally strong, the generic dance production drains the track of it's special zing. It has also been covered several times recently anyway. A better choice as third single would have been Becky's down and dirty remake of Karissa Noel's single 'Corrupt', which is on fire. Other single worthy tracks include the not quite anthemic 'I Snapped' and the bitchy camp of 'Diva'.
All together, 'Becstacy' makes for a very solid debut from a talented woman. It's a shame Universal doesn't have a desire to further promote the project, which almost seems dead on arrival as far as pop chart promo is concerned. Hopefully her club success will allow for future album releases, because I'm sure Ms. Baeling has quite a bit more to say.

Very Best of Cher
Very Best of Cher
Price: CDN$ 17.22
41 used & new from CDN$ 10.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Turning Back Time, May 10 2003
This review is from: Very Best of Cher (Audio CD)
A pillar of pop culture since the 60s, Cher has had many compilations released over the years in her name, but none were as definitive as this 2003 release 'The Very Best Of Cher'. Gathering songs from every era, from her days as duet partner to Sonny Bono to her recent role as club music queen, this collection is the perfect sampler of Cher hits for the casual fan and a perfect starter for new fans.
The album opener is Cher's number one dance smash 'Believe', from her 1998 album of the same name. Other cuts present from that album are diva anthems 'Strong Enough' and 'All Or Nothing'. Her most recent studio album 'Living Proof' yields the powerful 'Song For The Lonely' and the Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins remix of 'Different Kind Of Love Song'. Her mid-90s club classic 'One By One', remixed by the notorious Junior Vasquez, is also featured.
Some of her best rock pop hits from the late 80s into the early 90s also put on a good show here, the most easily recognized being the Diane Warren penned power pop of 'If I Could Turn Back Time'. The hits 'Just Like Jesse James' and 'Save Up All Your Tears' also feature the words of Ms. Warren. Michael Bolton turned out the suprisingly excellent 'I Found Someone' for Cher, while she duets with Peter Cetera on the ballad 'After All'. 'Heart Of Stone' proves to be another strong rocker, as this era for Cher closes with her infectious take on the classic 'The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)'.
In the early 70s, Cher released three of her all time best singles - 'Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves', 'Half-Breed', and 'Dark Lady'. Incredibly catchy with an interesting story behind each track, all three went to number one on the Billboard chart. In the late 70s she mounted the first of many comebacks however, this time with a disco record called 'Take Me Home'. This record was a top ten hit, and was more recently reworked by British pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor into her solo debut single 'Take Me Home (A Girl Like Me)'.
Cher started her career as singing partner and wife to the late Sonny Bono, creating the undeniable classics 'I Got You Babe' and 'The Beat Goes On', both of which are featured here. While she sang with Sonny, she did manage to do a few solo songs as well, two of which make the cut here - 'All I Really Wanna Do' and 'Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)'. An excellent beginning to an epic music career.
Widely varied and always good, Cher is perhaps the only star who could been called the Queen of Pop before the likes of Madonna made her appearance in the 80s. Truly a musical original, and this album illustrates that perfectly. A must buy!

Ultimate High
Ultimate High
Price: CDN$ 15.45
29 used & new from CDN$ 5.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Really Blowing My Mind, May 9 2003
This review is from: Ultimate High (Audio CD)
Stunning. That's all I have to say about this little overlooked nugget of pop genius. From the bouncing opening cut and second single 'Beautiful You' to the mellow closer 'What I've Found', Carly Hennessy released an album that should have been the pop chart revelation of the year 2001, but instead was criminally ignored, and from what I can tell, lost her recording contract, after her debut single 'I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind' failed to set Europe's charts on fire last year.
The album itself is the child of former New Radicals Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois, with their lyrics and production present on every track. Personally, I think this is some of their best work behind the scenes, easily blowing previous Alexander produced acts like Ronan Keating out of the water. Carly's vocals are great, and combined with the excellent New Radicals, the album just amazes.
The singles are what originally drew me to Ms. Hennessy, the first being the extremely infectious 'I'm Gonna Blow Your Mind', a powerful chorus and her vocal made this a perfect pop single. The joyous follow up track, 'Beautiful You', is nothing less than brilliant, a lively proclamation of love that never fails to make me smile when I hear it.
Carly's album is much more than just those two singles, however. Uptempo album cuts like 'You'll Never Meet God (If You Break My Heart)' and 'Get You Off' are cut from the same cloth as the singles, and are just as good too. She can also work a ballad or two, the stunning 'Surface Wound' and 'Rip In Heaven', being some of the slower highlights.
One of the best songs here, 'Just Missed The Train', was originally performed by Danielle Brisebois herself, and sounds excellent here. American Idol Kelly Clarkson has also released the song on her new album, which could mean this deserving song could have another chance at hit status.
A really good album. A really, really good album even, it's such a shame it was so ignored, and Carly will never get the chance to really show people what she's got. Maybe she'll release a second album someday, but if not, this excellent pop record is something to definitely be proud of, a huge smash or not.

Price: CDN$ 9.69
119 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Just A Little Bit Of 'Faith', Dec 31 2002
This review is from: Faith (Audio CD)
Ah, Faith Hill, one of the most standout of country's ladies for quite awhile now. This album, 'Faith', began her incredible rise to full fledged pop diva, thanks in no small part to the infectious crossover record 'This Kiss', and the heartbreaking ballad 'Let Me Let Go'. The former of which still notches up a good bit of radio airplay every now and again.
It's obvious with this assortment of songs, that Faith is a pop singer in a country star's body. Alot like Olivia Newton-John, a sweet voiced blonde crossover queen. I don't see why she gets so much flack for it either, the tunes are excellent and the vocals are always perfect.
All the songs on this release prove to be strong, energetic rockers like 'The Secret Of Life', 'Me', and 'The Hard Way' are mixed in with warm ballads like 'You Give Me Love', 'Love Ain't Like That', 'My Wild Frontier', and the Diane Warren penned Tim McGraw duet 'Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me'. My absolute favorite cut is a ballad I mentioned earlier, 'Let Me Let Go'. Such a killer song that one.
The album closes with a tune pulled from the pen of none other than Sheryl Crow called 'Somebody Stand By Me'. The perfect tune to exit with, it leaves you wanting more Faith. If you're really hungry for more, pick-up this album's two smash follow-ups - 'Breathe' and 'Cry'. Both continue taking Faith down a pop road she chartered here, and like this release, they are excellent. Truly the princess of country pop.

Don't Stop Movin
Don't Stop Movin
Offered by MidwestMediaOverstock
Price: CDN$ 20.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 5.87

5.0 out of 5 stars The S Club Keep On Movin', Dec 31 2002
This review is from: Don't Stop Movin (Audio CD)
Well, it took them long enough it seems. After finally making their crossover with the big ballad 'Never Had A Dream Come True' from their album '7', the group practically vanished from the pop music scene here in the states. However, back at home in Britain, they released four smash singles, two albums, and lost member Paul Cattermole.
Finally clearing up some space in their busy schedule, the Club have put out a brand-new American album, mashed together from their previous two British releases 'Sunshine' and 'Seeing Double'. Other acts have done this sort of thing before, including Robbie Williams, Backstreet Boys, and Steps.
The lead single then, is the title cut 'Don't Stop Movin'', which is perhaps one of the group's biggest singles internationally. This is taken from their third actual album 'Sunshine', which also had the tracks 'You', 'Have You Ever', 'Show Me Your Colours', 'Sunshine', and 'Dance, Dance, Dance'. From that album, the tracks 'You' and 'Have You Ever' were released as singles. The former track is an S Club throwback, pulling at their older tunes like 'Reach' and 'Bring It All Back'. The latter is cut from the very same cloth as their only US hit 'Never Had A Dream'. My personal favorite of the 'Sunshine' recordings is the Rachel Stevens led tune 'Show Me Your Colours' with it's smooth soul feeling and pop sensibility.
Obviously, the next batch of tracks would be from their fourth album then. This album seems to have had a bigger jump into even better pop tunes than before, especially disco flavored pop. So far that album has only had one single released, a 'Don't Stop' copycat tune called 'Alive'. It's an excellent tune. All the tracks from the 'Seeing Double' album are pure pop genius, including 'Whole Lotta Nothin'', 'Do It Till We Drop', 'Gangsta Love', 'Dance', 'The Greatest', 'Who Do You Think You Are?', and 'Straight From The Heart'. All of these tracks are really good.
Now do the S Club have a chance of recapturing Billboard chart success? I don't know, the American chart is fickle, and pretty unwelcome to this pure level of pop, but it'd be nice to see them be more than one-hit wonders here. Especially when they have songs as good as these.

Price: CDN$ 10.98
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4.0 out of 5 stars "From Boston To Brooklyn" or "How To Make A Dance Single", Dec 30 2002
This review is from: Amanda (Audio CD)
Ah, yet another infectious dance release from the club appreciating Tommy Boy label. The first single by an act called the Brooklyn Queens, it features as the main single for Vic Latino's 80's dance compilation "80's Now!". It's a storming cut, quite fun and catchy, but how much thought was put into it. From how I look at it, there was plenty.
Thought #1 - Hey! DJ Sammy just did a massive chart crossover with a Bryan Adams song from the 80's! Let's do the same thing, with a song by, ummmm, BOSTON! Yeah, Boston, we'll do Boston.
Thought #2 - Daniel Bedingfield just did a big dance crossover single too. I know, why don't we ditch the trance and make an androgynous 2-step remix the main version too!
Thought #3 - Lesbians will stir up some chart scandal. Look at t.A.T.u., they had a dance smash with their forbidden love tune, why not switch the Boston song to something just as exciting.
Thought #4 - That electro sound is really big at the moment too, why don't we stick an electro mix edit on the single to make people think we're down with it, but not so down with it that we're following a fad.
Alright, that WAS a bit harsh, but it's generally true here. It's an awesome tune, great selection of mixes, but all the elements of it have been pulled off before by other artists, be it Russian lesbian lolitas or a guy who recorded an international smash in his bed room. They DID do a good job though, so I can't fault them too much for unoriginality. Fun.

Offered by MidwestMediaOverstock
Price: CDN$ 19.99
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.87

2.0 out of 5 stars 'Caught' Out There, Dec 29 2002
This review is from: A1 (Audio CD)
Debuting with a collection of seven songs, a1 made a lame attempt at making themselves big here in the United States. The seven tracks, pulled from their three previously issued international albums - 'Here We Come', 'The A List', and 'Make It Good', are pretty much a mixed bag.
Three tracks are solid. I'll give these boys that, they can produce some nice pop tunes. The two opening cuts, 'Caught In The Middle' and 'Make It Good', are both highlights. The former was a single release, but failed to set the charts ablaze. The other track that works well is the album closing 'Same Old Brand New You'. It's boy band pop at it's finest.
The other four tracks are an entirely different story, however. They're dull. Very dull. Bland pop ballads that any act could have sung, quite honestly. That leaves the album with a poor ratio of three to four. Four duds heavily outweigh the three good tunes.
Sadly, this band won't have another chance to break America. The third a1 album flopped quite badly over in Britain, leading to the group's break-up and the loss of their recording deal. To bad, I guess, but if this is all they wanted show us, maybe they didn't deserve to break in over here. Unexciting.

Twisted Angel
Twisted Angel
Price: CDN$ 23.72
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.64

5.0 out of 5 stars Getting It 'Twisted', Dec 27 2002
This review is from: Twisted Angel (Audio CD)
LeAnn Rimes has always been considered a country crossover artist. Her string of smash pop singles include the beautiful 'How Do I Live' and the Britney-esque 'Can't Fight The Moonlight'. This album is LeAnn's genuine pop coming out though. She is a little bit of country and a whole lot of pop.
The album is opened by the first single, an independent ladies pop anthem called 'Life Goes On'. The next single is the sexually charged 'Tic Toc', in which the once innocent starlet pants about the pleasures of the climax. It's hard to believe this is the same girl that crooned beloved country tunes just a few years ago.
Those faint elements of country are present though, especially on the track 'Wound Up', which is pretty much a country tune with pop style production. Other musical flavors are sampled too, a distinctly Britney Spears sounding track called 'Trouble With Goodbye' bounces by quite nicely, and is followed by one of many ballads, .... Other pleasant enough ballads are 'The Safest Place', 'No Way Out', 'Love Is An Army', and 'You Made Me Find Myself'. My favorite ballad though, is the sultry 'Review My Kisses'. The track 'Suddenly' is a nice little pop rock attempt.
She trys to rock and rub the blues on to her title cut, but it's not very successful. It's not an album strong point. Another weaker song is the rather boring 'Sign Of Life', which just moves along to a meaningless finish. A track to skip.
Past the few dodgy album tracks, this is an excellent pop record, and a very accomplished release for Ms. Rimes. It should be pretty interesting where she takes her career after this release.

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