If R&B fans were an electorate, this week's release of
albums by En
COLOR="#003163">Lucy Pearl which
features ex-En Vogue singer
would be a soul Super Tuesday.
After all, En Vogue dominated the airwaves long before
being supplanted by
COLOR="#003163">TLC COLOR="#003163">Destiny's Child
COLOR="#003163">Destiny's Child, and Lucy
Pearl is getting more hype than Hillary Rodham Clinton's run
for the Senate these days.
But En Vogue's Maxine
Jones displayed statesmanlike
sportsmanship in welcoming her former bandmate's album
into the race.
"I think it's great, because it's like more hype," Jones said
about perceived competition between the albums by her
group and Robinson's. "It gives people something to talk
about on both sides. I just hope we both do really well."
The two groups are running on different musical platforms.
Lucy Pearl who include
COLOR="#003163">Tony Toni Toné
COLOR="#003163">Tony Toni Toné's
COLOR="#003163">Tribe Called Quest
COLOR="#003163">Tribe Called Quest's
Muhammad, in addition to Robinson
mix hip-hop, R&B and rock on their self-titled debut. En
Vogue's Masterpiece Theater is an aggressively
pop-soul album that draws as much on classical music as it
does on funk.
Lucy Pearl includes the single "Dance Tonight"
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/Lucy_Pearl/Dance_To night.ram">RealAudio excerpt
night.ram">RealAudio excerpt), a slinky call to the
club floor that appeared on the "Love and Basketball"
soundtrack. But the album also features the playful '70s
soul groove "LaLa," the Tony Toni Toné-esque
"Can't Stand Your Mother" and the nasty hard-rocker
" 'Hollywood' surprised all of us," Robinson said. "I mean,
that's from Ali, who's got a hip-hop background, and here he
comes with this vibrant track that's got a rock edge."
En Vogue, of course, flirted with rock on their 1992 hit "Free
Your Mind" (
HREF="http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/aiclip.cgi?track=%7E xx- XXXXXX%2F0217410_0104_00_0002.ra&submit=PLAY">R ealAudio excerpt
ealAudio excerpt), but you won't find any distorted
guitars on Masterpiece Theater, the group's second
album as a trio since Robinson left in 1997.
The first single, "Riddle," features clean, funky guitar
accents and plucked strings behind a sing-along chorus
that exposes a cheating lover. "Latin Soul" is,
unsurprisingly, a salsa-tinged funk workout, while "Beat of
Love" mixes eerie strings with cool-jazz trombones and
Then there's a four-song suite that draws its melodies and
chord progressions from well-known classical compositions.
"Love You Crazy" (
HREF="http://media.addict.com/music/En_Vogue/Love_You _Crazy.ram">RealAudio excerpt
_Crazy.ram">RealAudio excerpt) uses
Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," while "Sad
but True" is a lovelorn ballad over the piano arpeggios from
Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."
Also on tap this week are two vault collections from
Every Great Motown Hit might not be as
comprehensive as its title suggests it lacks "Ain't
That Peculiar" and "It Takes Two," his duet with
COLOR="#003163">Kim Weston but it
includes classics such as "I Heard it Through the
Grapevine" and "What's Going On."
The Final Concert is a recording of Gaye's last live
performance, taped less than a year before his death in
April 1984. In addition to many of his Motown greats, it
includes a version of his 1982 hit "Sexual Healing."