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Shakira a shining example of evolution; T-Pain of devolution

Shakira: Live From Paris (Sony)

This new two disc Shakira CD and DVD just came very recently to me so I have only heard the album without seeing all of the video to the concert.

But I have seen enough Shakira studio video to know what to expect and from just my minds eye alone, the sumptuous Shakira is as delightful as ever as she practises her own brand of belly dancing—she has said all she does is imagine that she is flipping coins on her well honed abdomen.

Anyway, this is a well stocked and generous offering with 21 songs from a summer Paris concert that are reprised on the CD for more mobile listening.

Many of the songs here are sung in Spanish and French but there are plenty of crossover hits with the highlights She Wolf, Underneath Your Clothes, Hips Don’t Lie, Gypsy, Loca and Waka Waka (This Time For Africa).

Some of these songs, such as the Selena-like Ciega Sordomuda, become huge arena sing-alongs while Shakira surprises with a few simple ballads where Nothing Else Matters/Despedida is accompanied by just acoustic guitar.

But it is the up-tempo tunes that really carry this set with Shakira’s unbelievable energy and athleticism that keeps the audience enthralled throughout.

The husky and sometimes guttural voiced Columbian beauty offers plenty from Latina gems, to dance rock, ballads, club music and orchestral pop.

A solid CD/DVD stocking stuffer released just in time for such purposes.

B

T-Pain: rEVOLEr (Nappy Boy/RCA)

This is Tallahassee FL based singer/rapper T-Pain’s fourth album and, as you may have guessed from the album’s title rEVOLVEr, T-Pain is trying to tell his fans that he has grown and ‘evolved’ mightily since his last outing.

That previous disc was titled Thr33 Ringz as T-Pain presented himself as an MC at a three-ring circus, but this time out the man has artistically moved up the evolutionary tree where he is grasping for higher aspirations and ideals.  Hence the first song here Bang Bang Pow Pow (which is more RevolveR than rEVOLVEr) is all about guns, bitches, “n…s” his Ferrari, bragadoccio, money and a few ideologically elevated phrases like “what’s up girl” and “Hey, look at me.”

No other rapper in the history of the genre has even dared broach such sensitive topics so this is an extremely bold move from T-Pain who, I am sure you will agree, has evolved massively away from the narrow confines of gangsta hip hop.

But after this bloated blast of street cred, T-Pain turns his attention to alcohol abuse which has some elements of humour on Bottlez (a more evolved spelling no doubt) while he offers a few more romantically inclined make out ballads with Sho-Time (yes, it involves cameras) Rock Bottom (“she can’t leave me alone”) and Let Her Go (where it seems some girl is about to be used and abused after someone has slipped her a roofie).

On Mixed Girls T-Pain wants to sample the pleasures of a particular female he has seen in a club because she is of mixed race and therefore more exotic. This is all so ‘highly evolved’ stuff that a plebeian like me is bound to misunderstand all that is going on but I did understand T-Pain’s newest hit 5 O’Clock sung with robotic, deadpan enthusiasm with the song’s original writer, Lily Allen, who seemingly can’t wait to escape.

Hip hop and rap and T-Pain fans will probably get a charge out of rEVOLVEr but I wonder if T-Pain knows that the theory of evolution also explains the reasoning behind extinct species.

Not graded on purpose as I am not sufficiently evolved enough to render an opinion.

Journey: Greatest Hits 2 (Columbia)

I don’t think that Journey expected to release a volume two of their Greatest Hits when the first hits collection came out nearly a generation ago in 1988.  The band had broken up not knowing if they would re-unite and the first hits package was loaded with almost all of their best material.

But the group eventually did reconvene under the lone constant member and ace guitarist Neal Schon and a few more albums eventually saw the light of day which also sold rather well.  Furthermore, some Journey songs became huge staples on classic rock radio while TV shows such as Glee used the old Journey signature song Don’t Stop Believing as their own anthem.

Hence this new 18-track Greatest Hits 2 from Journey that has plenty of solid material although most songs are of the second tier when it comes to hit impact.

Naturally, the band offers a hitherto unreleased live version of Don’t Stop Believing (Live In Houston 1981) while featuring lesser charting and minor hits such as Stone In Love, After The Fall, Suzanne, Anytime, Still They Ride and Feeling That Way.

Also many fans were somewhat put out that one of Journey’s biggest hit, titled Walks Like A Lady, was left off Vol. 1 and now that song has resurfaced on this follow-up edition.  And although 23 years has passed between hits compilations, Journey was clever to use exactly the same album graphics except the first edition came with a red liner while this new one is mauve.

Journey was always about the big pop radio hits with their albums as secondary consideration so these two hits collections are probably all that the casual fan will ever need.

In some countries this has been released as a two-CD set and old fans will want to check it out.

B

 

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