US version includes one exclusive 'hidden' bonus track, 'You Know I'm No Good' (featuring Ghostface Killah). 'Back to Black' is the second album from London-based chanteuse Amy Winehouse. Although her 2003 debut was a success, her rowdy offstage behavior became the focus of tabloids and critics instead of the music. Because of this, Winehouse stepped out of the spotlight and concentrated on putting the focus back on her music. Three years later, her sophomore release has surprised critics and excited her fanbase. Combining a strong, Jazzy vocal style with often frank lyrical content recounting tales of love and loss, Winehouse is a truly talented songwriter with a good ear for melody, making this album an essential purchase. Includes the single 'Rehab'. Universal. 2007.
Manufacturer: Universal Republic
Brand: Umgd/Universal Records
US version includes one exclusive 'hidden' bonus track, 'You Know I'm No Good' (featuring Ghostface Killah). 'Back To Black' is the second album from London-based chanteuse Amy Winehouse. Although her 2003 debut was a success, her rowdy offstage behavior became the focus of tabloids and critics instead of the music. Because of this, Winehouse stepped out of the spotlight and concentrated on putting the focus back on her music. Three years later, her sophomore release has surprised critics and excited her fanbase. Combining a strong, Jazzy vocal style with often frank lyrical content recounting tales of love and loss, Winehouse is a truly talented songwriter with a good ear for melody, making this album an essential purchase. Includes the single 'Rehab'. Universal. 2007. Amy Winehouse's second album, Back to Black, is one of the finest soul albums, British or otherwise, to come out for years. Frank, her first album, was a sparse and stripped-down affair; Back to Black, meanwhile, is neither of these things. This time around, she's taken her inspiration from some of the classic 1960's girl groups like the Supremes and the Shangri-Las, a sound particularly suited to her textured vocal delivery, while adding a contemporary songwriting sensibility. With the help of producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, "Rehab" becomes a gospel-tinged stomp, while the title track (and album highlight) is a heartbreaking musical tribute to Phil Spector, with it's echoey bass drum, rhythmic piano, chimes, saxophone and close harmonies. Best of all, though, is the fact that Back to Black bucks the current trend in R&B by being unabashedly grown-up in both style and content. Winehouse's lyrics deal with relationships from a grown-up perspective, and are honest, direct and, often, complicated: on "You Know I'm No Good", she's unapologetic about her unfaithfulness. But she can also be witty, as on "Me & Mrs Jones" when she berates a boyfriend with "You made me miss the Slick Rick gig". Back to Black is a refreshingly mature soul album, the...
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
awesome debut The first solo album by the Fugees' most distinctive voice quickly wipes away the pretensions of so many current hip-hoppers' discs. It does so by both engaging their widescreen ethos--"To Zion," with its martial drums and gospel choir, is as epic a production as has been heard in 1998's pop music--and speaking the plain truth. Reminiscent in its scope of nothing so much as Aretha's early-'70s Spirit in the Dark and Young, Gifted and Black, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill also easily earns its late-'90s place next to Erykah Badu's Baduizm. Even more personal, if hardly any more political, than cohort Wyclef Jean's Carnival, Miseducation focuses equally on her life (especially the birth of her child) and social concerns about the present and future. Its often quiet surface, if anything, lends intensity. "Everything you drop is so tired," she scolds artistically dead-ended rappers on "Superstar"; if more artists shared her vision, occasional eccentricities and bottom-line talent, she wouldn't have to complain. --Rickey Wright
Featuring the debut of Prince's first band -the Revolution, PURPLE RAIN was a concerted effort to court rock audiences. The results were overwhelmingly positive, spawning two number-1 hits When Doves Cry and Let's Go Crazy. The critics raved over the album while its music dominated the airwaves during 1983 and 1984.Certified at 13 million units by the RIAA. (2/01) Maybe this music by Prince & the Revolution will never quite sound as, well, revolutionary as it did in 1984 (and nothing else has ever sounded like the extraordinary cooing and fluttering of "When Doves Cry"), but it's a pop landmark in Prince's Artist-ic career. The hit movie was really just a big-screen showcase for Prince to perform these songs (some of them in tear-the-roof-off "live" versions set in a Minneapolis club). I don't know why that warped sermonette introduces "Let's Go Crazy" (one thing you've got to love about Prince: he's always been weird), but somehow I'm glad it's there. Other highlights include the sexual scorcher "Darling Nikki" (with its crazy backwards coda) and that anthemic title tune. Don't you miss Wendy and Lisa, too? --Jim Emerson
Manufacturer: New Elektra
Calling all doo - wops & hooligans! Experience the widely anticipated debut album from hitmaker Bruno Mars. Includes 'Just The Way You Are,' 'Grenade,' 'Count On Me,' and more. For more information visit brunomars.com
Double vinyl LP pressing. 2014 release, the third album from the rapper. The album was named after his childhood home address 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Produced by J. Cole with guest producers Elite, Ron Gilmore, Tray Samuels, DJ Dahl, Illmind, Cardiak, CritCal, Vinylz, Organized Noize and Jproof. Cole calls out white rappers Justin Timberlake, Eminem and Macklemore on the track "Fire Squad" hinting "history repeats itself" ala the Elvis rip-off controversy in the '50s.
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Brand: Sbme/Zomba Label Group
Includes four new tracks including the "My Boo" duet with Alicia Keys! A CD is always more compelling when you know it's lifted from the artist's autobiography, and that's certainly the case with Confession, Usher's first record since 2001's 8701. The Atlanta singer's string of hits over the past decade have been decidedly PG-13 rated, almost veering towards teen pop, but he's changed all that on this co-produced offering, which he claims is "the real him." It would be too simplistic to just brand this record a break-up record, chronicling his public split with TLC's Rozonda "Chili" Thomas; it is that, but so much more. It would be more accurate to call this Usher's coming of age record, bridging the gap from boy to man, as he navigates the emotional fallout from the disintegration of his relationship, and the events that led up to it--real or imagined. But other than a guilty conscience, it seems unclear why Usher feels compelled to disgorge his secret life, as he documents his infidelities, transgressions, and emotional perfidy in the album's prodigious twenty one songs, that range from insinuating sultry R&B grooves to the decidedly crunky "Yeah," which pairs an insistent keyboard romp with Lil' Jon's assertive beats, and Ludacris' rather humid rhymes. --Jaan Uhelszki
Tyrese Gibson - the man of all media!!His new release The Black Rose is a follow up to his successful 2011 release Open Invitation which featured the smash hit single Stay which remained a number #1 single for 11 consecutive weeks on the Billboards UAC chart; as well as hit singles Best of Me and Nothing on You both of which hit the Top 5 at Urban AC radio. Open Invitation earned Tyrese a Soul Train Award for Best R&B Song, Stay , and a 2012 Grammy Nomination for Best R&B Album.