Friday, July 1, 2011

We're Still Friends

Jealous Guy

Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)

Songs of The Day

We're Still Friends:  This is a Hathaway original, and I must say it's quite the tune.  By far the sexiest groove of the album, and that's much thanks to the guitar.  Great dynamics in the groove.  It's got a great build up, and then settles nicely in the verses.  Surprise, surprise - Donny sounds amazing.  How could you not love him?  Great guitar solo by Cornell Dupree, nice n sultry.  Love the call and response going on between Donny and the Cornell towards the end.  The way this song grooves out is really great.  Great tune.

Jealous Guy:  I think this song might be my favorite on the album.  It's got a more up beat, happy, kind of saloon-like groove (though the lyrics don't reflect that) and the melody Donny's got going on plays with it perfectly.  There's an even balance between groove and melody that really allows you to pay attention to both simultaneously.  Willie Weeks is holdin that bass down! Goes to show that sometimes you just need the roots to hold it down.  Man, the runs Donny had - impeccable.  He really was a gem, it's sad that he wasn't around long enough to bless us with more of his talents.

Voices Inside (Everything is Everything):  Donny closes out this album with a second instrumental to show off the great band he had.  Though I like the first instrumental, "The Ghetto," better, it's still mad funky.  Donny had some serious skills on the keys, and it's great that he got to show that off along with his unbelievable voice.  It's got a great bass line throughout, Weeks holdin it down yet again.  Great guitar and bass solos.  Solid ending to an amazing album.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

You've Got a Friend

Little Ghetto Boy

Songs of The Day

You've Got a Friend:  Well some ladies are very excited when Mr. Hathaway starts this song - there is quite the holler in the beginning.  Love that Donny shows off his upper range in this one.  He's got a great vibrato, it's subtle and used appropriately.  Too often you hear singers who just overuse their vibrato.  I always remember what my dad tells me - "it's an effect" - and Donny knows that.  I love that he gets the audience to sing the chorus while he just does little trills.  I've got audience participation ingrained in my brain, and I love hearing it used.  Not enough performers do that.  Great cover of an already classic tune.

Little Ghetto Boy:  I feel funny reviewing this tune seeing as it will be the second time I'll be writing about it (first being week 2 on The Roots and John Legend's Wake Up!)  This is a great tune.  I love this simple start that gets you soley focusing on Donny's voice, which in his lower register sounds so lovely and sultry.  Such a sweet piano trill in the beginning of the verse, and I love the bass line.  Such a great song, and great to hear another amazing version of it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's Goin On

The Ghetto

Hey Girl

Songs of The Day

*this is my 300th post.  Woot woot!

What's Goin On:  This is a great cover to an already amazing tune.  Donny sure knows how to do songs justice!  I love the slightly funkier groove he puts on this one, it's got a nice upbeat feel that gets you moving.  Donny's voice is really impeccable.  The tone, the quality, the inflictions, everything about it is wonderful.  I like how where in the original there are vocal echoes ("brother," "what's goin on?") the guitar plays the response.  Love this cover.  This is a great way to start of the album.

The Ghetto:  This is an all instrumental tune, and I like that Donny gives the band (and himself on keys) and chance to really show off their skills.  Love that this track starts out with the audience participating in claps, which later turn to soul claps (for those that don't know, soul clap = double time, or twice as fast).  This groove has got a great latin vibe to it that I dig.  Donny really shows his piano skills on this, his solo is pretty incredible.  Some of the vocal trills he sings remind me a lot of Stevie, it would have been great if they'd gotten to work on a full length project together.  And that percussion solo - oooooweee!  Earl DeRouen, you are one funky, funky man.  There's a cool play with meter coming out of the percussion solo back into the groove that's really funky.  Love that Donny gets the audience incorporated again with the "talking bout the ghetto" line.  Great tune.

Hey Girl:  There's a great seamless transition into this song - dig. it.  Love the bossa groove going on in the drums - it adds a light, summer-y feel to the tune.  Donny's tone on this is, surprise, wonderful.  He plays a lot with his lower register, which is really sultry and enticing.  Great chord structure on this tune.  I really like the slight build up before the 2nd verse, and then it's brought down oh so smoothly before Donny enters again.  Some of the chords towards the end remind me of something Steely Dan would play - I can get down with that.  Really dig the deceptive ending.  Really great track.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Album Factoids


Released: 1972
Genre: R&B
Label: Atlantic
Producers: Arif Mardin (side one & two), Jerry Wexler (side two)

Week 39: Donny Hathaway

Holy moly, one more week of 30s!  How fitting seeing that I chose this week's album in honor of my brother, Taylor's 30th birthday today.  He's been saying for quite some time that I should review this album, and now it's time.  Donny Hathaway has one of the best voices that has ever graced this planet, but somehow I've missed listening to an album of his.  I've seen his sister, Layla, sing in concert before, and she definitely got some of those chops.  It's unfortunate that such a gift had to be lost so soon (he committed suicide at age 34 in 1979).  Won't be surprised if I do some crying this week...

This Weeks Album...

mmm, Donny.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Final Grade: A-

Great rap album we've got here, but I'm not surprised seeing as it's been dubbed a classic.  You can hear Nas' age in his voice, but his lyrics speak far beyond that.  It's evident that he went through some struggles to make it big, and boy have they paid off!  It's unfortunate that this kind of poetry isn't found in today's popular rap music.  Instead all you hear about are bitches & hoes, money & cars, and other lame shit.  Great beats on this one as well, the only was I wasn't crazy about was "It Ain't Hard to Tell," but I still thought it was decent.  The reason for the "minus" next to the A is because I didn't feel like Nas covered a variety of topics, all of the songs were generally about the same thing - growing up in the hood and getting out.  Granted, you write about what you know, which I can't hate on, but I'm sure there are a few other topics he could have covered.  That aside, this is a great rap album, a great hip hop album, and just a great album overall.  Definitely gonna get some play over the summer/forever.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One Love

One Time 4 Your Mind


It Ain't Hard to Tell

Songs of The Day

One Love:  This is another track I'd heard before, but not enough times to really pay attention.  I love the marimba sample on this beat - sickness.  And upright bass??  Oh, I can get down!  I like that the hook is just "one love" - it's nice and simple and doesn't clutter the tune.  Though it's mainly about incarceration, the lyrical content does seem to have an uplifting undertone, and I like that.  Favorite line: "Sometimes I sit back with a buddha sack/ Mind's in another world thinking how can we exist through the facts."

One Time 4 Your Mind:  Another cool beat.  I dig the simplicity of the drum beat especially.  Cool bass too.  Though there's not one particular line that sticks out to me, I dig the lyrical content of the tune, because I know what it's like to find an escape from the outside world through words.  Nas' flow is pretty ridiculous, definitely a great rapper.

Represent:  Are these bells that are being sampled?  I can't really tell, but I like what ever they are.  Dig that the beat slightly switches up for the hook, it keeps a nice consistency to the groove.  Pretty much the same lyrical content as the majority of the tunes, but Nas' flow is so tight that I can't really hate.  Favorite line:  "Could use a gun, son, but fuck bein the wanted man/ But if I hit rock bottom then I'ma be the son of Sam."

It Ain't Hard to Tell:  Do I hear a lil Michael Jackson "Human Nature" sample goin on here?  I do indeed - I like it!  I don't know how much I like it in the hook with all of the other samples though, they don't seem to fit right, and also sound a little cluttered.  I like the switch up in lyrical content here!  All about his rap and lyrical skills on this one, and as a final song, that topic seems very appropriate.  Favorite line:  "Cause in my physical, I can express through song/ Delete stress like Motrin, then extend strong."