September 2005

Queer As Folk: The Final Season

Last Dance: Do all good things really have to come to an end? The hit Showtime series Queer As Folk may have ended its five year-run a few weeks ago, but at least we are able to bask in the afterglow just a bit longer with the CD release of “The Final Season.” And just when you thought the long line of music couldn’t get any better -- it does. Not only has the series of music CD’s from the show been consistently cool, they seem to keep getting better. This collection from the fifth and final season is proof that sometimes you just can’t get enough of a good thing.

The line-up on this CD is certainly up to par with the past discs, and may I say this could be the best yet! The leadoff track is a thump ‘n bump disco romp titled “The Skins” from Scissor Sisters, a group that has earned its rightful place in music history all within the past two years. The always irresistible Geri Halliwell treats us to her brilliant take on “Ride It” remixed by Hex Hector. Other highlights include Madeleine Peyroux’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” PJ Harvey’s “This Mess We’re In,” Superpitcher’s “Fever” and Marilyn Manson’s ode to “Personal Jesus.” Rounding out the 14-track set are personal favorites, including Cyndi Lauper’s “Shine” remixed and remade with an extra thump that’ll have you pumping your fist in the air while on the dance floor, around the pool or behind the wheel. The last track is the appropriately titled “Proud” by Heather Small. This track was meticulously chosen, not only for its infectious chorus and statement, but it has queer anthem written all over it. It’s been a while since our last gay anthem; dare I say we have a new one? A resounding YES! And I’m damn proud to spread the news!

Soakin Wet: Volume 2 – David Knapp

Spin, Rinse and Repeat: After the massive success of DJ David Knapp’s 2004 Soakin Wet, it was only a matter of time until Soakin Wet Volume 2 was released. I’m happy to say, the time is now! Here it is, perfectly pumped up, and all you have to do is press “Play.” This CD, which is 70 minutes of non-stop energy, has such a terrific vibe, it will have you dancing the summer out in style. The set opens with the Jody Watley classic “Looking For A New Love” and Chus & Ceballos’ remix takes the raw sexual level of her vocals to new heights. Other standouts include Georgie Porgie’s “Let The Sunshine,” Vernessa Mitchell’s #1 hit “Accept Me,” along with several other #1 hits that include “Most Precious Love” by Barbara Tucker and Chris Cox’s remix of the Chic classic “Le Freak” featuring Norma Jean and Luci M. For those who recall dancing to “Le Freak” the first time around, let it be known that Norma & Luci’s vocals were part of the fabulous Chic duo way back….well, you know when. The enthusiasm of this disc just keeps climbing with each track, closing out on Peter Presta’s “The Latin Express,” Filth E & Tha Rage’s “Ain’t No One,” Funky Green Dogs’ “Reach For Me,” the phenomenal track “Shout,” which is destined for greatness, all wrapping up magnificently with Knapp’s mighty new mix of “Could It Be Magic” performed by Vic Chicola featuring Mickiyagi. This CD is derived from the hugely successful Soakin Wet parties that help raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. What better way to enjoy yourself while giving something back to a community that cares deeply about the welfare of those less fortunate? Soakin Wet Volume 2 is kind of like a wet dream…you’re sorry it’s over but can’t wait to experience it again and again!


X-Media Records (Import)

First Ladies: The term “Diva” has been used so often, it’s practically hard to take it seriously anymore. Since the inception of VH-1 Divas in the late 90’s, it seems that any female with a hit song, attitude and a little bling is considered one of them. Unfortunately, that’s mostly true. But with this latest collection that’s been titled Divas – 32 Tracks From The World’s Most Divine Voices, it absolutely rings (or should I say sings) true. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be wasting my time and yours. This set kicks off with the marvelous Sophie Ellis-Bextor burning up your player with “Murder On The Dancefloor” and segues into hits that range from the 70’s to the present by some of our favorite ladies of all time. Hits and some that weren’t hits, but classics nevertheless, are represented by artists such as Gladys Knight, who has a double dose of greatness on this two CD-set with a lovely take on the  Bacharach/David classic “The Look Of Love” and a killer vocal on “License To Kill,” from the James Bond film of the same name. Other divas that are represented twice are Diana Ross with “Upside Down” and the underappreciated “I’m Still Waiting,” Donna Summer with her classics “Love To Love You Baby” and “Hot Stuff,” and the ladies of Texas with “Say What You Want” and Black Eyed Boy.” Other artists who get their spin on this set are the fabulous Dina Carroll with a magnificent mid-tempo take on the Carole King classic “It’s Too Late,” Ce Ce Peniston’s “Finally,” which never gets tired, DNA/Suzanne Vega’s sublime “Tom’s Diner,” and Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman. Cher and Shania are also showcased, as is Grace Jones, Oleta Adams, Jennifer Holiday, Nina Simone, Brenda Russell, Edie Brickell, the late great Gwen Guthrie, Pebbles, Stephanie Mills and several more. So you see, there’s a diva for every decade and a melody for every mood. This is one collection where the term “diva” is most deserving.

The Holland/Dozier/Holland Story: Heaven Must Have Sent You
HIP-O Records/Motown

Reflections: If you’re not familiar with the names Holland/Dozier/Holland as in Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, it’s certain you’re familiar with the hit songs they wrote. As the liner notes put it best, “This is the story of American popular song.” This songwriting team is as famous as George and Ira Gershwin, Lerner and Lowe, and can be considered in the ranks of Brits Lennon and McCartney. Perhaps I should just cut to the chase and name some of the songs they’ve written and the artists that have performed them. The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” and every other one of their dozen #1 hits, including “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” and “You Keep Me Hanging On.” Other groups that struck gold with their magic, and that are included on this set, are The Four Tops, Martha & The Vandellas, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells and Michael Jackson. And those are just the Motown artists! Remember favorites such as Freda Payne’s “Band Of Gold,” The Chairmen of the Board’s “Give Me Just A Little More Time” and hits by Dusty Springfield, The Doobie Brothers and Simply Red? Those artists and recordings are also represented on this amazing collection. This is one of the finest box sets from one of the most prolific songwriting teams in American history. All in all, there are three CD’s and 65 songs accompanied by a gorgeous 27 page booklet that will be cherished by any collector of this music and anyone who appreciates some of the best pop songs ever written and recorded. If you have special memories of these songs and still groove to the beat of these treasured recordings, this collection is a must. Whenever I listen to this set, “I Hear A Symphony.”

© 2005 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.