Songs in the Key of Life (1976) was the highest high point of Stevie Wonder's career. More sprawling than Innervisions and Talking Book, this two-LP-plus-EP was also less of a consistent stunner than either of those masterworks. That Songs retains an enormous amount of visionary relevance, though, is demonstrated not only in Coolio's borrowing of "Pastime Paradise" as a template for "Gangsta's Paradise," but in the cold-as-ice synthesized string quartet of "Village Ghetto Land." This is Stevie, so naturally that cut's anger is balanced by the ultra-buoyant "I Wish," "Sir Duke," and "Another Star." The 2000 reissue boasts radically improved remastered sound. --Rickey Wright
Stevie's first career-spanning, single-CD collection, featuring 21 hits from 1963's Fingertips Part 2 to 1985's Part-Time Lover ! And featured in between: the rare 45 version of You Are the Sunshine of My Life; I Was Made to Love Her; For Once in My Life; Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours; Superstition; Higher Ground; Living for the City; Boogie on Reggae Woman; Sir Duke; I Wish; Master Blaster (Jammin'); That Girl; I Just Called to Say I Love You; Hey Love , and more. A 16-page booklet puts Stevie's incredible career in context. Like the Beatles' The Beatles 1, this rundown of Stevie Wonder chestnuts is merciless in cutting a huge list of classic tracks down to a single disc's worth of the most recognizable. Anyone who's treasured even one or two of these songs and yet never bought a Wonder record will be more than pleased with the acquisition of The Definitive Collection. These records continue to ring with importance and history, but more important, all except two or three remain fresh and capable of surprising even veteran fans. Those listeners may note, though, that Wonder is among the few performers who could release a retrospective containing 15 No. 1 R&B hits and still invite the complaint that the album felt incomplete--not least in explaining how the man transformed himself from a multitalented teenage hitmaker into the funk-pop visionary of Talking Book, Innervisions, and Songs in the Key of Life. --Rickey Wright
Manufacturer: Motown Records
Excellent Condition India Arie's Acoustic Soul is just as advertised: grooving soul music with an acoustic bent. Arie herself plays guitar, supplemented by strings (instead of synthesizers) and drums (instead of drum machines). The first single, "Video," is a calm, confident ode to self-love, comparing the dreadlocked, petite Arie to the average girl in a video. Arie is indeed anything but average: her debut marks the auspicious return of the black female singer-songwriter, in the vein of Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Tracy Chapman, and Dionne Farris. If you like their music, with thoughtful lyrics and layers of instrumentation, you'll love this album. "Video" is fabulous, but other high points include "Ready for Love," a lament that smolders before slowly building to a crescendo, with tinkling piano, guitar, and cello swelling beneath the vocal. "Strength, Courage, and Wisdom" is an optimistic anthem that'll have you clapping your hands and swaying from side to side, and the best track on the album, "Simple," is a straightforward love song with a pulsating beat. Acoustic Soul may not be full of radio-friendly tracks, but every track is strong, and the disc improves each time you press play. --Courtney Kemp
2010 album from the acclaimed R&B star. Intimacy was inspired by Kem's deeply personal lessons on intimacy and it will allow fans to experience him unlike ever before musically, lyrically, and visually. For the first time in his career, Kem will lay all of his cards on the table and grant fans the opportunity to get up close and personal while delivering a 10-song collection of timeless music for the grown and sexy. Intimacy features vocal and production collaborations with the likes of Grammy-winning Soul diva Jill Scott and the late Motown legend David J. Van dePitt, who famously produced Marvin Gaye's 1971 masterpiece, What's Going On.
Manufacturer: Motown Records
The first comprehensive collection of Lionel's biggest Commodores and solo hits-plus two new tracks (including To Love a Woman with Enrique Iglesias)! Commodores classics like Easy; Still , and Three Times a Lady join Endless Love (with Diana Ross); Truly; Say You, Say Me; Hello; Dancing on the Ceiling; All Night Long (All Night); Penny Lover , and more! After mounting successes with the Commodores during the late '70s, Lionel Richie exploded into one of the biggest stars of the '80s, then enigmatically disappeared from the music business for nearly a decade. Fourteen of the tracks on this 20-track anthology (which also includes a five-cut bonus disc compiled by Richie) topped the charts, ample testimony to Richie's remarkable success in shifting from the Commodores' roots in the Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye Motown to a pioneering career as a crossover balladeer. His willful drift to the middle of the road found that its yellow line was nothing but gold. This collection charts the singer's upbeat successes with his former band, segues gracefully into the ballads and party-lite sensibility that made him such an unlikely '80s icon, and touches on his late-'90s reemergence. A newly recorded duet with Enrique Iglesias on "To Love a Woman" suggests that the elder popmeister hasn't lost his touch; indeed, his voice seems more warm and soulful than ever. --Jerry McCulley
Manufacturer: Motown Gospel
Brand: Capitol Christian Distribution
Tye Tribbett is set to release his fifth and highly anticipated album 'Greater Than'. With a career of groundbreaking and chart-topping, albums, hit singles and career achievements. Tribbett's musical style, has always been considered forward and refreshing, he is a true talent and amazing stage performer. His ministry speaks to the heart of a new generation and his uniqueness is unmatched and unparalleled. From the opening performance of his new single, 'If He Did It Beforeâ€¦Same God,' at the 28th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards Tribbett received rave reviews and a standing ovation. His upcoming album 'Greater Than' is set to be a fan favorite and placing Tribbett's newest release where he is known to be, next level. ABOUT TYE TRIBBETTTye Tribbett first came to national attention in 1997 when he entered his group, GA, into the McDonalds and Wrigley's Gospel choir competitions, where they 'swept the competitions,' winning first place in all categories. The group quickly became highly in demand, performing with music industry superstars Gloria Estefan, LeAnn Rimes, Elton John, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder. They also appeared with Jill Scott, India Arie, John Mellencamp, Musiq Soulchild, and The Roots, among many other artists, and toured with Faith Hill and Don Henley. Tribbett and his group performed 'Let Go, Let God' on the soundtrack of the Dream Works animated film 'The Prince of Egypt' with award-winning duo Mary Mary. The group also appeared on Commons' Electric Circus album, Jessica Simpsons' Christmas album, Will Smiths' project 'Lost & Found', on a song featuring Mary J. Blige, and Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River.' His highly anticipated debut album, 'Life' (2004), brought Tribbett and his group, GA (Greater Anointing), a wide array of new fans and a Stellar Award nomination. Tribbett's sophomore project with GA, 'Victory', was released in 2006, debuting at #1 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart. This break-out project, which included the #1 gospel radio single, 'Victory,' received th...
The soul-tinged harmonies 98 Degrees showcased in the top 10 hit "Because of You" are far more credible than those of other late-'90s teen-beat groups, but then there's plenty of star-making power behind the scenes: producers Trackmasters and Pras provide the funk on the '70s-esque "Heat It Up" and "Fly with Me," respectively; Stevie Wonder cameos on "True to Your Heart"; and the powerful ballad "I Do (Cherish You)" is a remake of Mark Wills's country hit. Their best weapon, though, is the soul in lead singers Jeff Timmons and Nick Lachey's vocal cords. Occasional 'N Sync-like pop ("The Hardest Thing," "To Me You're Everything") can be forgiven thanks to an impressive a cappella version of Michael Jackson's "She's Out of My Life" and the disco-happy "Do You Wanna Dance?" --Rebecca Wallwork