Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009 Recommendations...So Far

Okay, there's been a load of new album releases to hit the markets in the last few weeks and even though I cannot review everything that comes out, I decided to leave a few remarks and comments about a few mentions here at the PRAYZE Report. And because I am an avid lover of my soul and R&B (distant cousins of gospel) and a little bit of everything else, I'm going to bring them to attention here as well.


Tortured Soul
Did You Miss Me
(TSCT Records/Columbia)

I was brought to attention to this group when they added me as a friend on MySpace. I never heard of them before, and just like most groups and artists that add you on those online network communities, I didn't pay them much attention. But I decided to check them out before I added them and was instantly hooked to their soulful stew of house and R&B. They even bring together the classic Motown percussion sounds on the Hitsville title track. "Did You Miss Me" brightens up with the "Baby Love" handclaps and reminiscent guitar drives along with the cool, sexy vocals of Chrisitan Urich. It's almost like a Robin Thicke/John Legend (a la Once Again) but with a glorious polished sound that blends the guitar work of Chic and the just-as-fascinating Euro/Italio synth disco sounds of Change. "In My Fantasy" sweetly blends disco joys into their '80s galactic echoes. Dance floors should light up on their upbeat offerings, which dominate the course of the project. Other standouts include "Special Lady," the clever '80s vibes of the instrumental "In Motion" and the soft lounge/dance strobes of "Time to Make Up Your Mind." If you are fans of the rich soul of House producers Masters at Work and you love the mix of live instrumentation with clever electronic advancements, you won't have a problem at all digging into this mesmerizing musical experience. Definitely one of the most creative works in dance-meet-soul music since Chic's Risque'. Did You Miss Me must be really making noise since it's practically hard to find online and in US stores. Most online stores are sold out. Good look finding a hard copy.

And what are others saying:
"It is a disc that gets better with each listening, as both the group's musicianship and the natural irresistibly of the songs provide 2009's first great gift to the club scene...and to quite a few home stereos too." -

"Tortured Soul's way of working within a house learned club ready vibe while still bringing it out into more of song based, kind of blue eyed soul realm is pretty much unrivaled -- and this set is a masterful example." - Dusty Groove America


Various Artists
Now That's What I Call Motown


Jamming the best of Motown into one disc is probably the hardest musical task to the human mind, but the folks at Universal-EMI try their hardest to make the event possible for their ever-popular Now series. And why not, Now has delivered compilations for almost ever genre and music style possible since its creation. And since the musical legacy of Motown has become the greatest and most celebrated chapter in the history of America's 20th century music, giving birth to music legends like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the Temptations, why not give them a piece of the Now franchise. In time for the 50th anniversary of Motown's first hit "Money (That's What I Want)" from Barrett Strong, this compilation neatly packages 25 of Motown's best from the Marvelettes "Please Mr. Postman" to Rick James' "Super Freak" from the 1981 LP Street Songs. With only 90 minutes, it's extremely difficult to smash Motown's discography into an introductory CD, but this one is probably the best place to start and you get more bang for your buck. Sure, people will complain when they see only three Holland/Dozier/Holland selections on board and may even quibble when they see certain Motown stars (Spinners, Thelma Houston, Boyz II Men, Debarge, a solo Lionel Richie) omitted from the super list, but what is presented is probably the very best singles one can recall firstly from the Motown library. Marvin Gaye's pivotal "What's Going On" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" are historic and are represented, along with the Temps' "My Girl" and Mary Wells' "My Guy" (both penned by Smokey Robinson). Rounding out the set are clever offerings like Diana Ross' "Upside Down," the highly-forgotten Edwin Starr protest song 'War," Gladys Knight's "Neither One of Us" and the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." If you just need one disc to introduce the Motown story, look no further.

Now That's What I Call Motown! landed at #13 on the Billboard 200 in January 2009.

Kudos to ThinkTank Marketing.

And what are others saying:
"...this volume of the Now series is one of many decent single-disc introductions to the label." -


Israel Houghton
The Power of One

(Integrity Music/Colubmia)

Don't get it twisted, this is not his first solo project. But judging from the potency of the cuts offered on The Power of One, this remains his best. Energetic funk inspired from Prince's hymnal captures the grooves of "Saved By Grace," while the upbeat reggae/hip-hop bounce of "Just Wanna Say" sounds as big as anything Houghton has ever put out, even with New Breed. The Mary Mary collaboration on "Every Prayer" is the album's definite ballad, while Houghton submerges into newer and comfortable styles with the reggae-styled "Surely Goodness," the pop-friendly vibes of "Moving Forward" and the U2/John Mayer-tinged "Sing (Redemption's Song)." Amazingly, there's more gospel to chew on this release...even if the worship offerings are fewer on this round. The lyrics, still strong in their design, are more inspirational and universal, which might give Houghton an advantage on mainstream radio. With these grooves and innovative breaks into Houghton's worship system, it's hard to deny his place in today's music scene.

I'm still wrestling with Integrity Music's failure of sending me a press kit or CD for review. When it comes to Israel & New Breed, "I gitz no love."

The Power of One debuted at #1 on both Christian Albums and Gospel Albums charts and also #34 on the Billboard 200.

To read the album review, click here:

And what are others saying:
"When music and musicianship are this worshipful, virtuoso, and varied, it's easy to get caught up, kick back, and join the praise." -

Tortured Soul [Press]
Tortured Soul []
Motown 50 [Official Website]
Israel Houghton - The Power of One: Album Review []

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