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Product: Audio CD
Title: Spice
Label: Virgin Records
Artist: Spice Girls
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
After 8 years, still what you rilly rilly want?

The British have musical phenomena that we Americans do three quarter flips and tuck dives headlong into. The two British music invasions showed how much we accepted the Beatles, Stones, Duran Duran, and Eurythmics. So were the Spice Girls the probing vanguard of the third extended gradual invasion that became transformed from pop/dance to alternative acts like Dido and Coldplay? What impact did Parsley, Sage, Rosemary...oops, I mean Sporty, Baby, Ginger, Posh, and Scary have? Well, in the UK, this album harkened back to the day when more than four singles were spawned from one album. Indeed, all six of their singles here shot to #1 on the UK charts. Eight years after the fact, here's a post-mortem.
The infectious "Wannabe" still retains the same fun it did when it became a transatlantic chart-topper, with that loopy "tell you what I want, what I really really want" line repeated, and lead vocals traded between all five, of which Parsley and Rosemary... I mean Sporty and Emma have the best vocals, with Geri and Mel B achieving a kind of contrasting balance.
If one feels there are two separate sounds here, the intuition is correct. Pop-like songs like "Wannabe," "2 Become 1" and "If U Can't Dance" were produced by Richard Stannard and Matt Rowe, while the more R&B stuff was produced by Absolute. However, the 70's disco synths mingled with a strong R&B bass beat of the mid-paced "Say You'll Be There," the second single, places this somewhere inbetween, despite being produced by Absolute.
"2 Become 1" still has its power as the best song here as a smooth inoffensive string-laden ballad meant to soften the hardest of hearts. I say meant because not everyone is impressionable. The strings arrangements were courtesy of Craig Armstrong.
If "Love Thing" had been done in the 80's, it'd be a perfect Culture Club number, done during their "Miss Me Blind" period, and "Last Time Lover" and "Something Kinda Funny" have the R&B stylings that the All Saints would take further. The big offender is the cloying ballad "Mama," which still makes my stomach bacteria scurrying for cover. Send yo mama a card instead if you really love her.
The scratching guitar, synths, and brass section of "Who Do You Think You Are," the fifth single, is a nod to upbeat 70's R&B, and is one of the best songs here.
The rap-versed, soul-chorused "Naked" is the one song that actually deals with the empowerment, gender equality, with equal and honest communication dynamic prevalent in Girl Power.
Along with a strong pulsing bass and a sample of the Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" and a Spanish rap by Geri, "If U Can't Dance" sounds more like one of Absolute's contributions, though it isn't.
Image-wise though, all they did was take 70's-style feminism, taking to heart Madonna's line "express yourself" and package it in black Gucci dresses, Union Jack wonder-bras, baby-blue eyes, and football trainers. And using that dynamic of certain artists/bands dominating certain years via vested corporate interest, well, 1996 was their year in the UK and Europe, 1997 being theirs in the US.
At least they wrote or co-wrote all their songs here. Some charm still remains from this debut effort, given the sound and great vocals by Mel C. and Emma, who turned out the best solo albums of the quintet. If anything, this was the first salvo in the Spice Revolution, but think of what was to follow in the UK and here: a slew of imitators and, get the extra-size upchuck bags and bazookas out, boy bands and Britney (urgh!). It seems to be slowing down now, thank goodness. The second salvo would consolidate their power.

Product: Audio CD
Title: The Tiki Bar Is Open
Label: Vanguard Records
Artist: John Hiatt
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
My First John Hiatt purchase...

While waiting on something new from Sonny Landreth and the Goners, I decided to purchase a John Hiatt cd. I chose this one and am not disappointed. Good lyrics, music and musicians.
I love the reflective lyrics of "my old friend" and the lyrics of "all the lilacs in ohio"
I will be purchasing more of Hiatts music. It's just the right combo of blues, folk, rock and roll that I love. Heck, the 70's were my favorite era of music.
"Farther Stars" is kinda a hippy-trippy song that reminded me of the Beatles. (I miss George Harrison.)And I thought it was their way of paying tribute to one who has offered so much to the music world we know and love today, while not losing individuality.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Essential Bach
Label: Decca
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
Excellent collection of mostly recognizeable music

LOVE LOVE LOVE this 2-CD set. I bought I a awhile back and have enjoyed it very much. My toddler likes it too. I think it's a great value for the money and may have to get another copy if this one wears out.

Product: Audio CD
Title: The Bee Gees - Their Greatest Hits: The Record
Label: Universal
Artist: The Bee Gees
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
The Best of the Best

...I don't think there is even one song on this CD that I don't love. What a find! All of my very favorites are on this, so I don't have to buy further CDs...