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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Friday, February 20, 2015

RCA artist D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah - New Release Review

I received multiple copies of this release for my birthday this year from friends and family that knew that I regard D'Angelo so highly. Well, it was worth the wait! This new release, Black Messiah is spectacular! Opening with Ain't That Easy, an extremely contagious R&B track with D'Angelo's trademark syncopation this track is off the hook. An instant radio track and great groove. 1000 Deaths is a heavy impact track with ministerial vocal delivery (excerpt fromThe Murder of Fred Hampton) and plucked bass riffs over sub bass rudiments and multiple timed bass. Incredible! I have listened to this CD so many times and this track continues to blow me away. Put it in your car and listen to it drive your car crazy. This insane groove finally forms to a classic D'Angelo melody with multi vocal harmonies and over the top drum rhythms. A Eddie Hazel like guitar frenzy is created as well by Excellent! The Charade falls into more of the groove closely associated with earlier D'Angelo tracks with a beautiful bass guitar lead and simple vocal harmonies. On Sugah Daddy a simple piano riff develops into a track that is hard to get out of your head. With vocal harmonies and hand claps this track takes you for a super ride. Horns and funky rhythm guitar delivers the track but it's the groove factor here! Spanish guitar intro...yes Spanish guitar intro and quiet whispering opens Really Love one of the most beautiful compositions on the release. This is a track that will haunt you all day and night. Masterfully created, performed and delivered it excellent. Again, D'Angelo uses his strong sense of off rhythm delivery for strong impact. Warm vocal blending and a nice walking bass line sends this track over the top. I saw this track performed live and the song has so much soul that I can even remember certain motions made by D'Angelo because they were so effective that you are compelled to do it. Back To The Future (Part I) starts out very simply with D'angelo delivering with his groove but over the symphony of strings (keys) emerges a little ditty bringing to mind music from South Carolina in the 20's. Tight guitar articulation sets this track off nicely. Til It's Done (Tutu) is another of my favorites with complex timing and a sweet melody. With only dangling keyboard and twinkling guitar riffs over a bass and drum rhythm, D'Angelo delivers very effective vocals. Simply beautiful. Prayer again returns to a more basic D'Angelo groove that gets in your spine. Simple keyboard base and drums kick, this track carried almost exclusively by the artistry of D'Angelo's vocals is really strong. Another of my favorite tracks on the release is Betray My Heart. This track has quick guitar riffs and a 12 note bass line that drives the track under D'Angelo on vocals. This track blooms in jazz with brass and quick guitar underpinning. Excellent! Opened by a simple whistling melody, The Door is a bit more complex that it appears. With even a blues slide guitar riff appearing in this stripped down track of mostly percussion and hand clap, this is a real contrast to some of the heavies of parts of this release. Back To The Future (Part 2) has complex vocal intro and along the same theme as Part I continues a party groove. The final track on the release is absolutely stunning. One of the most beautiful soul tracks to hit my ears in many years, Another Life is simply off the hook. With just a taste of guitar, sitar guitar sounds and a solid groove D'Angelo lays down beautiful vocals on a beautiful melody. This is absolutely the best release I have heard this year and in a long time for that matter. Don't listen to it and try to hear VooDoo or Brown Sugar. This release is much more complex. Put it in your car and listen to it about 20 times... you will... and you may never take it out. Yes, it really is that great!

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