Grenique came along when there was still some semblance of goodness to be found on the radio. Not much, but some. I kid, radio was still somewhat good for soul artists at that time. There were a bunch of promising one hit/album artists, all of whom had a hook of some kind ,came out at this time. Grenique was among this bunch. 1999 saw the release of her album Black Butterfly & it’s single, “Should I”. It had much play during the time of it’s release. I know I personally had that album in heavy rotation. I was hoping to hear more from her in the years after that, but it seems like she got lost in the shuffle. I brief bit of checking didn’t seem to suggest that she was doing anything right now, but I’m sure that the person on Myspace using that name, isn’t her.
So if you should happen to see Grenique or have any ideas of her whereabouts, please point her to the nearest studio and tell her to get to producing some stuff. Now better than later. Check out a couple of tracks below & reminisce with me, if you please. Oh, and Grenique holds the distinction of being one of the few artists that has made a remake of a song(in this case, Heatwave’s “Star of the Story“) that could hold up to the original. That is high praise if I may say so.
I just have one simple question. Where the HELL is Remy Shand? He busted on the scene in 2002 with his hit single, “Take a message”, had a couple of other hits(“The way I feel & “Rocksteady”), and just disappeared. It should be noted the Shand is one of the few artists to get me to buy their album based on hearing one song one time(true story. It was the video, actually). One other being Maxwell (and we’re still waiting on him). The album itself, was said to all have been all done in his bedroom and was pretty much ready to press when he got signed to Motown in 2001.
Do you all know that for a good minute I thought Remy Shand was Robin Thicke. They were out around during the sametime and sounded similar to me. Sandwiched in sound somewhere between the aforementioned Thicke and Jamiroqui (maybe a touch of Maxwell too, come to think of it), the album was a nonstop listen through and in heavy (personal) rotation when it came out. Anyway, Remy was said to be working on a second that hasn’t materialized yet. If anyone sees him or has any knowledge to his whereabouts, tackle him and march his ass to the nearest studio and tell him he’s not to leave until he comes with a album. A quality one would be preferred. I’m going to go dig out his album now. You can take a chill and check out these videos.
Take a Message
The Way I Feel
Rocksteady (BOO Universal for not letting this be embedded)
I could have sworn that I have done one of these for them, but I can’t find it. Portishead is one of the greatest groups, ever. OK, that’s a bit much, but they are a great Electronica/trip-hop group from England. Their first album, Dummy, is a classic. They hadn’t had an album on about 10 years and now they are coming back out.
Maybe they heard me. Doubt it. They were already working on the album when I posted about them. I CAN’T WAIT! Portishead is bringing out their third album called…Third, on April 14 (not the third??) I don’t care. I just want to hear it. I know there are tracks on theirMyspace page (I hope “Keybored 299 03” is still on the album) but I’ve been waiting for a new album for a minute. Hopefully, I will have a review of it when it comes out. We’ll see. I’m lazy about stuff like that, but i want to try my hand at it. That’s all I wanted to say about that for now.
Well, I least I think it’s number 3. I can’t remember the last one I did that counted as one. I have one I’ve been sitting on for a couple of months, but haven’t put it up yet. Forget that, this one has priority.
So I was talking music with my dear friend Baby Jaguar last week (Hi Daneita) and she asked a question that I totally could not answer, until NOW. The question was…
Where the HELL is Maxwell!
And I thought to myself, yea, where the hell is he? He hadn’t had an album since 2001’s Now. Hell, Sade’s done something since then and you KNOW she can space out her albums like nobody else. And Maxwell was on a pretty good run when he came out. The voice, the timing, the blowed out hair, it was all there. However, I didn’t go snooping around for it right off the bat. It wasn’t until I was listening to a NeoSoul Cafe podcast last night at work when I heard “Each Hour Each Second Each Minute Each Day: Of My Life”(I love his song) from his second album, Embrya. This is what sent me to finding out what’s the deal is. So let’s back up a bit.
Maxwell hit the ground running with his 1996 debut album, “Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite”. I knew the album was going to be something when I saw the video for “‘Til the Cops come Knockin'”. And I only saw it once on B.E.T. The whole album was a hit and it played out like a story, or a suite, if you will. Notable songs* were, “Ascension (don’t ever wonder)”, ‘Reunion’, “Sumthin’ Sumthin'” (of course), and my personal favorite, “Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)”. He followed this album a year later with an MTV unplugged album. Let me go ahead and say that I don’t usually count “live” albums as full albums because they usually they are usually concerts centered around whatever album was out at the time and not full of any real new material. This one was no exception, but it did spawn a single from it and it was popular. He remade Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work”, it took off, and he rode it until the wheels came off.
The video that started it all (for me)
1998 saw the release of the aforementioned album, “Embrya”. This also brought the release of some quite long and strange ass song titles. Nonetheless, the album was about as good as the first. Some would argue better. It worked the way it worked for me. Notable songs, “Everwanting: To Want You to Want”, the single “Luxury: Cococure”, “I’m You: You are Me and We are You”, “Submerge: Til We become the Sun”, and my personal favorites “Matrimony: Maybe You” and the aforementioned “Each Hour Each Second Each Minute Each Day: Of My Life” Which, by the way, is exactly what was being taken typing all of this out. Jeez! Pretentious, much? Anyway, good album, terribly long titles.
Now that my hands are tired, i’m breezing through the res of this. Maxwell rode Embrya until 2001 (not really, but go with it) when he released “Now” where he re-ran “This Woman’s Work” as the jump off. This album was as good as the other albums, in my opinion, which is good. I happen to like consistency in an artist. Call me crazy. I guess now I should take the time to say that through out all of the albums laid the consistent production of Stuart Matthewman. The name may not sound familliar but the his sound does. He is part of the group Sweetback who also doubled at one point as Sade’s backing band (okay, do you see the connection?). So if you know the sound, then you know what this album sounded like. In fact, I forgot that Sweetback’s album and Maxwell’s first album came out the same year, so they had the connection even then. Maxwell also sung the song “Softly Soflty”, which is a nice song, on their album (go pick it up. It’s sexy).
Back on track. Notable songs… really, f like the first two albums, you probably liked this one. But since you insist on having notable songs here they are: “Get to know ya”, “W/as my girl”, and the hit single, “Lifetime”. After that, he dropped off the face of the earth. Or so I thought.
I just so happened to do a Myspace check and sure enough, he’s there. Not only that but it appears that he is working on a new album that looks to be out around Valentine’s day? This is great news, personally. There is one thing that has me worried. If you go to his Myspace page, you will notice something quite wild. No, not the fact that there are 3 tracks presumably from the upcoming album. The brother done cut his blow out! Oh wait, I think he just has it dreaded up and pulled back. his hair was kind of signature for him, so I got worried. Actually, I still am. Is this going to be the Maxwell of yesterday with some new material, or is this a new Maxwell that feels the need to flow with the mediorcrity of today’s R & B? Who know? Well, I guess I would if I had checked out the tracks on Myspace and I will later on. Right now, I’m kinda glad to see the brother is coming back out. Maybe lifting up the underground (Neo)soul genre, perhaps? We’ll see. Hopefully, he’ll still do a little Sumthin’ Sumthin’ (yuck, yuck yuck).
This was supposed to be a ‘where are they now‘ but plans changed thanks to a little net surfing. Actually, I came across this checking out a site I will talk about soon. Right now, let’s talk heavies… as in Brand New Heavies. Never heard of them? Shame on you, but i’ll let you walk with me anyway.
The Brand New Heavies (the Heavies for short), starting as a trio, was formed in London, England back in the mid eighties as an instrumental group. The sound was a mix of Retro Funk groove (think James Brown and the like) and Acid Jazz. Shortly thereafter, the Heavies, gained a horn section and a bigger following in the club. Eventually, they got a record deal and a vocalist along with some major buzz. An self titled album was done, and things popped off. Because of this, the group came to the attention of Delicious Vinyl Records here in the States. Somewhere in there, the then vocalist Jay Ella Ruth, ended up not in the group. So, Delicous Vinyl grabbed a young, VERY nice vocalist named N’Dea Davenport. In 1992,The Heavies re-recorded their album with N’dea’s vocal and pushed it out. Again, there was magic, just now on american soil. You may be familiar with the songs ‘Stay This Way‘ or the more poular ‘Never Stop‘ from this album. That same year, the group dabbled in Hip Hop with the album ‘Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1‘, which mixed the Heavies sound with the time’s hot rappers like Grand Puba, The Pharcyde, and Gangstarr (whose lyricist, Guru, hollered at N’dea to do a song on his ‘Jazzmatazz vol. 1’ album). Two years later (after the group’s platinum selling album, ‘Brother Sister‘), N’dea left the group and went solo which, personally, was a bad call but what can you do. She was replaced with the very talented Siedah Garrett.
Now, I have to say that this was not a bad deal for Siedah or the group, as she has either written, sang or collaborated on many songs you probably know. She started as a back up singer for Quincy Jones and Micheal Jackson and even went on to pen a few little known numbers like, ‘The Secret Garden(Sweet Seduction Suite)‘ and ‘Man in the Mirror‘ for them respectively. She also ended up having 2 solo albums before and during her Heavies gig. Notable song, ‘Refuse to be Loose‘ from the first one. Personally, she will forever be known to me for singing one of my favorite (and life soundtrack candidate) songs, ‘Ever Changing Times‘. I just found out she did another favorite of mine called ‘Sexy‘ for Maysa‘s 1995 self titled album and a few others. The girl is bad, but unfortunately, it didn’t translate into sales for the Heavies 1997 album, ‘Shelter‘. The album was good and had two personal hits with the songs ‘Feels Like Right‘ and the single ‘Sometimes‘. My guess is, people were missing N’dea and I can see it if that were the case. While Siedah is a powerhouse in her own right, N’dea voice is perfect with the group’s sound. N’dea, by the way, did come out with a self titled solo album in 1998. It did alright, I guess. It was R&B with flashes of the sound she had with the Heavies and yielded a hit with the song, ‘Bring it On‘.
So, here we are asking, “now what”? The Heavies hadn’t had an album since ’97 unless you count the import album, ‘We Won’t Stop’, which is possibly vocal less, or ‘All About the Funk’ earlier this year. I don’t know about either of those. But what I know is that there is a brand new Heavies album(could be June 27th) coming out soon called ‘Get Used To It’ that is featuring N’dea on vocals….as it should be. And that, my friends, is where it’s at. I’ve heard a song off of the album and it sounds good. If you want to hear it, go here. Doth endeth the lesson.
Incidently, there was Brand New Heavies Greatest hits album back in 2000 that had a new song featuring N’dea on vocals. Coincidentely, it was called, ‘Finish What You Started’
(EDIT) See, not doing my job properly. I forgot to mention their websites:
Because I had to do it. I remember making VHS tapes full of videos (I still have them, too) to watch when I get nostalgic. Rummaging through music video sights lately kinda make me want to pull a couple of them out. But to the point of this. I was going through the Singingfool.com and Yahoo Music (yea, Iâ€™m peeved but they are a good source of videos) sites checking out some stuff when I came across something. Does anyone remember the group, The Gyrls? I didn’t think so. Well here’s the short skinny.Â Â Â Â They were a 4 girl group (fancy that) that had an album, “Love me or leave me“(Capitol) back in 1988. They were produced by Al B. Sure (yea, thought that would get you), so you know what the sound was like. And before I forget, they did background for him during that time. I believe you could see them in the back ofÂ the video for “Off on your own (girl)” in the concert part. The only other thing I can say about them is that a couple of them came from South Carolina. Columbia, to be exact. I don’t recall them ever claiming that either, but oh well. Needless to say they aren’t around anymore but two of them, Terri and Monicawent on to write and do background for others while doing some stuff themselves. In 1993, they came out with the album, “Systa“. The album was actually quite good and if you can find a copy, do so. Production came from sources like the rapper Grand Puba to Bryce Wilson, of Groove Theory fame (shouldn’t have let Amel go, fool) Songs of note were, “Uh-huh” and “Intentions” both being singles. I’m more partial to the end of the album with the slow songs, “When the tables turn” and “The way you make me feel”, the latter of which had that trademark sound of the time. When you hear it, you will know what i’m talking about. The album could possibly still hold up today’s (lack of) standards. I’ll have to pull it out and see. I have no idea what these ladies are doing now, but I am curious. Looking back at this post, I seem to have found material for future “Where Are They Nows”.