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: Interscope Records
EMINEM THE EMINEM SHOW Any lingering doubts as to the depth of Eminem's skills or his potential for raw yet compelling honesty are dispelled on The Eminem Show's first track. Armed with a quicksilver flow and a thundering rhythm track (the record was exec produced by longtime mentor and partner Dr. Dre), "White America" finds Eminem ferociously mauling the hand that feeds him, lambasting his critics, the industry, and the racism that, in many ways, helped make Marshall Mathers more than just another rapper. "Let's do the math," Em sneers, "If I was black I would have sold half/ I could be one of your kids/ Little Eric looks just like this." After the bombast of The Marshall Mathers LP and Eminem's well-noted use of sexual epithets, this kind of material is made more controversial because it actually rings true. From a brutal retort to his long-estranged and equally troubled mother ("Cleaning Out My Closets") to a surprisingly tender ode to his child ("Hailie's Song"), Eminem examines his life, loves, arrests, addictions, failures, and successes with surprising insight, making this a funk-drenched hip-hop confessional well worth the hype. --Amy Linden
"Hamilton" - which transferred to Broadway following a sold-out run at The Public Theater in NYC - is the acclaimed new musical about the scrappy young immigrant Alexander Hamilton, the $10 Founding Father who forever changed America with his revolutionary ideas and actions. During his life cut too short, he served as George Washington's chief aide, was the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, a loving husband and father, despised by his fellow Founding Fathers, and shot to death by Aaron Burr in a legendary duel. The "HAMILTON (ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING)" is executive produced by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter, founding members of the Grammy Award winning hip-hop band, The Roots. "HAMILTON" has book, music and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer Lin Manuel Miranda, who also plays the title role. The musical is directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire. "HAMILTON" is inspired by Ron Chernow's biography "Alexander Hamilton."
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
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill' is the critically and commercially acclaimed solo album by female Fugee Lauryn Hill. Originally released on August 25th , 1998, it has been widely praised for its seamless fusion of R&B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Gospel, and Neo Soul. The songs vary in style, but make for a cohesive album. In 1999, the album garnered no less than 10 (!) Grammy nominations at the 41st Grammy Awards. When Hill won 5 Grammies that night, this achievement made her the first female to receive that many in one night. The album includes collaborations with soul singer D'Angelo on ''Nothing Even Matters''; guitarist Carlos Santana on ''To Zion''; singer Mary J. Blige on ''I Used to Love Him'' and well as then little-known John Legend playing the piano on ''Everything is Everything''. Although Wyclef Jean offered his production skill for the album, Hill declined his input and took the chance of standing on her own 2 feet, without fellow Fugees Wyclef & Pras. Over 10 years after its original release Hill's debut solo album has proven to stand the test of time easily. For your listening pleasure, we present the 16-track album on 180 grams audiophile vinyl. Tracklisting: A1 Intro 00:47 A2 Lost Ones 04:23 A3 Ex-Factor 05:27 A4 To Zion 04:33 A5 Doo Wop (That Thing) 04:01 B1 Superstar 04:57 B2 Final Hour 04:16 B3 When It Hurts So Bad 05:42 B4 I Used To Love Him 05:39 C1 Forgive Them Father 05:15 C2 Every Ghetto, Every City 05:14 C3 Nothing Even Matters 05:50 D1 Everything Is Everything 04:57 D2 The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill 03:55 D3 Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You 04:29 D4 Tell Him 04:40
Manufacturer: Warner Bros.
Brand: Warner Bros
The Red Hot Chili Peppers of the quadruple-platinum smash Blood Sugar Sex Magic are back - revitalized and reunited - with their first album in four years and perhaps their most anticipated album ever. Most importantly, Californication marks the homecoming of guitarist John Frusciante, a key ingredient in the group's most successful albums. His return signals the energized re-emergence of one of rock's premier emotional, powerful and exciting bands. Certified at 4 million units by the RIAA. (2/01) Reunited with producer Rick Rubin and guitarist John Frusciante (both of whom were on board for the 1991's breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik), the Chili Peppers waste no time in burying their last effort, the so-so One Hot Minute. Californication's kickoff cut, "Around the World," swaggers around the room, reacquainting itself with old fans and welcoming new ones. Fuzzy Hendrix vibes and popcorn bass lines still rule the roost, along with a heaping helping of disco magic and some unexpected twists. Ten years ago, Anthony Kiedis and company wouldn't have been comfortable doing revamped new wave ("Parallel Universe") or unpretentious ballads (the acoustic "Road Trippin'"), but such material fits Californication's extra-wide canvas. Except for a few meandering numbers that could have been excised, the Red Hot Chili Peppers succeed and regain their footing on the mountain of adrenalized funk. --Jason Josephes
Manufacturer: Warner Bros.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers of the quadruple-platinum smash Blood Sugar Sex Magic returned revitalized and reunited with Californication four year later, which was perhaps their most anticipated album ever. Most importantly, Californication marked the homecoming of guitarist John Frusciante, a key ingredient in the group's most successful albums. His return signaled the energized re-emergence of one of rock's premier emotional, powerful and exciting bands.
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: Rhino/Warner Bros.
This is the "greatest hits" album we've been waiting for: all of Prince's biggest hits packed onto one disc. Arguably the most influential artist of the '80s, Prince is one of the very few musicians of this or any other era to find a massive and intensely loyal audience while still being praised by critics and musical contemporaries alike for his bold experimentalism and prodigious instrumental skills. His brash, high-NRG mix of pop, rock, funk, and psychedelia picked up where Sly Stone left off, and the result was music that was revolutionary in its sonic experimentation and provocative fashion. This collection brings together the absolute best of Prince's Warner Bros. recordings - perhaps the most important recordings since the '70s - on one hit-jammed disc. Taken literally, this album's title is sure to cause endless arguments. Nothing from Dirty Mind, not a trace of the early anthem "Controversy," no "Erotic City"--no non-LP cuts at all, save some edited single versions--and a cold shoulder to the criminally out-of-print Gold Experience. Damn. As a compendium of 17 key A-sides from 1979 to 1992, however, The Very Best of Prince is (ahem) a quick-'n'-dirty review of the days when the Artist was, in the estimation of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, one of the weirdest musicians in the Top 10. Blessed with both creative cunning and the wish to reach every listener possible, Prince revitalized rock and soul modes from the sex-crazed ("Little Red Corvette") to the cryptically spiritual ("Purple Rain"). Often he blurred lines between attitudes as surely as he did musical ones; the New Testament image of "Thieves in the Temple" became in his hands a complaint about a stolen girlfriend. Though a fine party artifact, this disc is still likely to prove too scanty even for many casual Prince fans. --Rickey Wright