I Remember Me (Arista)
This album made its debut in the Canadian album charts at a somewhat disappointing No. 34 considering Jennifer Hudson’s first album, now nearly three years old, won a Grammy for Best R&B album.
I have had this new disc for over a month now so maybe her recording label pushed the release date back or I am getting remarkably superb service for my column from the mighty Sony Corp.
Anyway, this is an excellent Urban R&B album where Hudson is not trying to re-invent the wheel but rather expand on her amazing prowess as a singer and solidify her career as a standout performer for her time.
On I Remember Me, Hudson may be celebrating her personal reinvention having survived a horrible family tragedy while remaking her image by losing a lot of weight for her now rather buff bod (she is a spokesperson for Weight Watchers). There is a lot of affirmation on I Remember Me while superstar in her own right Alicia Keys writes and pens no less than three songs for this album.
Right now, Hudson has a hit with the R. Kelly ballad Where You At, but Hudson might enjoy some dance club exposure with the Keys up-tempo pop gems Don’t Look Down and Everybody Needs Love.
Note that I Remember Me comes as a two-disc Deluxe Edition with extra songs and a DVD on the making of this new album.
Chris Brown: F.A.M.E. Deluxe Version (Jive)
F.A.M.E. is Chris Brown’s fourth album and it has made its debut at the lofty No. 6 spot, which the new Jennifer Hudson album is more deserving of, but it is also being hailed as Brown’s best to date.
He also has (or had) a shot at career redemption after his infamous beating of Rihanna but on the very day I listened to this new disc Brown was in the news again for trashing his dressing room at some day time TV talk show.
Just prior to this Brown had scored a huge hit with the dance club smash Yeah 3X “let me see your hands up.” (Brown uses this same line on at least three other tracks on F.A.M.E.)
Meanwhile, Brown also attracted a lot of big stars to help out, especially with Justin Bieber on the pure bubble gum pop of Next To You that is bound to become another hit.
Also on hand are luminaries such as Tyga, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, Game and Timbaland to name but a few.
And, like Hudson, Brown has co-released his new album in a Deluxe Edition with bonus songs highlighted by the dance club song Bomb with Wiz Khalifa “put your hands up.”
Who knows, Chris Brown may even earn an extended career if he can overcome his anger problems, immaturity and overweening ego. But you sure can dance to a lot of F.A.M.E. without necessarily having to know about the man’s shortcomings.
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy (Epic)
Pearl Jam: Vs. (Epic)
These two classic albums from the mid ’90s have been re-issued with three bonus tracks each while the sound has been somewhat bolstered by new remasters. I’m not sure if “remastered grunge” music is an oxymoron, but these albums do sound a little better especially at the bottom end.
The real treasures of these albums that straddled the ’90s are the newly released tracks. Although it is generally agreed that Vitalogy is Pearl Jam’s best album, it is the new material on Vs. that excites the most.
Vs. has a grunge romp instrumental with Cready Stomp, an eerie David Lynch-style narrative song on a possible murder with Crazy Mary (with backing vocals from Victoria Williams) and a solid demo take of Hold On.
The Vitalogy re-issue also sounds improved but the three unreleased songs are simply a stripped down guitar and organ version of Better Man, an alt take of Corduroy, as well as a mellow demo version of Nothingman.
These two albums, along with the Nirvana catalogue, were among the most important albums of the Seattle grunge scene and will prove to be catnip to hard core fans for the previously unreleased tunes.
Vs. gets a B+
Vitalogy gets an A-
Ke$ha: The Remix
With the way that the major recording labels are taking it on the chin financially with the advent of various new technologies, I really don’t mind them releasing these kinds of cash cow remix albums to try and stay afloat.
Recently Justin Bieber, Lady GaGa, and David Guetta, among others, have all released hit remix albums and Ke$ha’s is particularly generous at 10 tunes over 45 minutes.
Ke$ha’s remake and remodel CD is subtitled I Am The Dance Commander + I Command You To Dance shows that she certainly knows her function in the pop and dance club scene. There is a cool extra bouncy vibe to Your Love Is My Drug while up-tempo hits like We R Who We R, Tik Tok (two versions), Animal and Blow all get new treatments from the likes of Andre 3000, Dave Aude, Fred Falke and DJ Skeet among others.
But an added kicker for the supply and demand of this remix album is the totally new song F**k Him He’s A DJ (a much needed swipe at those that are prima donnas) makes this collection even more of a must own for true fans.