SUPER AWESOME ’90s DANCE PARTY
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST — “We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service”
THE GOOD: 1990s hip-hop
legend A Tribe Called Quest regroups against all odds and makes one of the finest albums of the group’s career.
THE BAD: Phife Dawg died last year, so “We Got It” isn’t the beginning of the group’s next set of fantastic albums. It is the end.
THE NITTY GRITTY: But what a way to go out. Here we have a group refusing to rest on its laurels. Musically, this is hip-hop straight out of the golden age. It’s a sample-heavy turntable record boasting snippets of everyone from Elton John to Musical Youth to Willy Wonka. Lyrically, the work is firmly grounded in the present, politically charged and very intelligent.
Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and even Phife Dawg (most of the record was completed before his death) all sound re-energized, each vocalist delivering compelling verses before effortlessly passing the mic. And there isn’t a wasted second here — no superfluous links or skits. ATCQ means business.
BUY IT?: Yes.
THE ORB — “COW/Chill Out World”
THE GOOD: British electronic legend the Orb plugs in for its 14th album.
THE BAD: No complaints. Just realize that “COW” is very “chill” indeed.
THE NITTY GRITTY: 1990 — The KLF releases “Chill Out,” one of the finest ambient records of all time. 1991 — The Orb, headed by one-time KLF collaborator Alex Paterson, creates genre-defining, ambient house album “The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld.” Both sets become seminal electronic works.
If those two records came together and produced an inspired offspring, it would be “COW/Chill Out World.” Paterson had a hand in all this stuff, so why not? Meant to be taken as a whole, this new Orb album is a happy medium between tranquil environmental settings and more direct, beat-heavy music.
It’s a serene collection comprised of found sounds, offbeat spoken samples (an Orb tradition) and the occasional delicate yet powerful groove brought in to ensure that we don’t totally drift off (although falling asleep to this mix is divine).
BUY IT?: Yes.
ENIGMA — “The Fall of a Rebel Angel”
THE GOOD: German electronic outfit Enigma returns with its eighth outing (and first in eight years).
THE BAD: Same vibe. Different decade.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Back in the early 1990s, Enigma rode the “new age” wave straight up the pop charts with its Gregorian chant-filled sex romp “Sadeness (Part 1).” That sultry record helped open the floodgates for acts such as Deep Forest and Robert Miles, not to mention the mainstream acceptance of new-age superstar Enya.
Twenty-five years later, producer/composer/musician Michael Cretu remains the mastermind behind the Enigma project. And he’s still up to his tried-and-true techniques. Chants; throaty, purring female vocalists; delicate yet grinding backbeats; soft, cascading synths — all that fluff is here.
And on “Angel,” it’s still soothing, agreeable and even slightly hypnotic. But it’s also horribly dated. So if you want to hook up with your old high school girlfriend and relive that steamy night in your parents’ basement, this is the album for you.
BUY IT?: Your call. We’ve already been here.