I cannot wait for the release of David Guetta's fourth album One love (including the wonderful summer anthem Love takes over with Kelly Rowland and the not that wonderful Sexy bitch with Akon) at the end of August for reviewing some other full albums by french Star DJs that have been released for summer.
First, there's been Junior Caldera's Debut, featuring the previous hit single Sleeping satellite, electro cover version of the Tasmin Archer intemporal song.
First let me confess I'm totally in love with the beautiful, classy and sexy artwork of the entire CD booklet and that is a plus to get this album physical rather than digital.
The album starts with the summer single The way featuring male vocals by Elan and we're all in the summer electro house territory a la R.I.O., Bob Sinclar meets Axwell or Yves Larock. Perfect for cooling with a perfect beat pulsing in your ipod on the beach under a sunny blue sky. Then comes Sleeping satellite where Junior succeeded making Tasmin Archer's hit an electro dance clubhit thanks to beautiful vocals by Audrey Lavergne. I feel this is gonna be a wonderful album full of dance/pop song but some of the following tracks give me a bit of a letdown.
Feel it first is good but more of an electro-dance track than a song and the following Bang bang bang has an annoying and rather repetitive "blip-blip" rhythm although the vocal melody is fine and the vocal by Dee Gordon fresh and catchy. Cozi Costi (of Guetta's Baby when the light's fame) co-wrote it as well as the next folk influenced dance-pop A little bit more (with vocals by Keely Pressly this time) and her influence gives both tunes a pop song structure that is lacking on further tracks on Debut. I wish there have been more dance songs over dance tracks here, if you know what I mean.
Rockin' to the beat with its few vocoder vocals, Shut up! with its boring electro loops, Get together, Sexy and Suddenly are of that kind. Junior Caldera is nearly the only brainchild for these ones so I guess I like him more when he's sharing some influence with a vocalist or a co-producer.
But there are more songs to look for on the 15 tracks listing : Elan came back for another breezy electro house anthem, Be free, displayed on two versions, the original sounding like The way and Junior's remix more electro. UK Diva Lizzy Pattinson added her breezy vocal on a synth-pop inspired dance number that has been co-produced by swedish team 2N (long-time collaborators for Kate Ryan) amongst others and her Heartstrings sounds like a further single to me. Another vocalist Lamiela is covering Shannon's Let the music play in, at parts, a Giorgio Moroder tribute electrified version. But the big surprise and perfect combinaison is, when on track 13, Junior Caldera let UK songstress Sophie Ellis-Bextor take the lead and sing her co-written Can't fight this feeling. Sophie shines on Junior's hypnotic beats with her unmistakable voice goin' "Coz I just can't fight this feeling, we should be lovers..." THAT SOUNDS LIKE A SURE HIT and the sticker on the CD I bought included it along The way and Sleeping satellite so it must become a further single paving the way for Sophie's next album too. What is strange is that a brand new song called What you get is looking like being promoed although not included... Is there a re-release in store ?
All in all, the actual CD is nice enough : there are 10 tracks in the dance/pop territory and only 5 all electro/clubby so I can't pass it on.
Another album that has been released in time for summer is Bob Sinclar's Born in 69 with its Lovesexy inspired plus cut&paste patchwork cover.
Christophe Le Friant's new album celebrates his fourty years and takes on from where Rock this party ended. Like its CD cover, it's a collage that is a little too much for me to like. Too much salt, too much pepper, with too much sweet and spice too. Like if you were trying to put everything in a sandwich and make it tasty as a whole.
Born in 69 starts with the Lala song that features some of the Sugarhill Gang members on rap and a children choir for chorus with funky disco beats, OK. Then Roland Clark (remember Arman Van Helden's Flowerz hit?) takes the lead for a festive summer latino house track Give me some more that samples the Lambada. I like it except for that Kaoma's melodic lines.
Then comes the unbearable flow of Dancehall king Shabba Ranks with his eternal lyrics loverman gimmicks on new single Love you no more. That would have been enough for me to HATE the track if not only Bob Sinclar hadn't mixed it with Manu Chao's Je ne t'aime plus, mon amour chorus line sung by french girl Anouk Khelifa. It's like a megamix of unmixable songs. There is only one way to escape : SKIP!
New new new and its jamaican dancehall male/female vocals by Vybrate and Queen Ifrica follows and I can't help but pushing the SKIP button again. There's only the chorus "sung" by diva Makedah that saves that track from just beeing an annoying dancehall repetitive mess. But I guess that will fill the dancefloors in R&B crowds. The Jamaica connection continues with Jamaica Avenue and Tony Rebel on vocals duty. Thankfully this time the instrumental is all light and uplifting when the latter was heavy and phatt, which makes it hearable to my ears.
What's more pleasant is that first part of Born in 69 has ended and the second part is less R&B oriented. Peace song and People of tomorrow both feature Steve Edwards on lead vocal and, like for previous hits World hold on and Together, their collaboration sounds successfull. Peace song is a nice, uplifting and breezy song about ...umh, Peace, while People of tomorrow sounds accoustic with some gypsy rhythmic guitar but still soulful house. Ron Carroll preaches and sings for Bob on Axwell co-produced What a wonderful world that is a better result in the same soul/house kind of hit, having a more catchy and memorable chorus than the previous two's.
What Bob Sinclar likes more than anything for sure is get where he isn't invited like on track 8 : with Brooklyn's guitarist and singer Ryan Scott, he is covering Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine man in an addictive way. Ryan has nice haunting vocals and the rhythm displayed here is a good effort. More rock guitars are on the intro for The way I feel but this 1979 cover version of Adrian Gurvitz turns all into retro disco-synthé glamoury with perfect vocals by camp boy Adam Joseph.
The last part of the album starts with the indian folklore sounding (with Zithar) We are everything with its choir vocals before Belly dancer where Bob gives Kevin Lyttle beats back to sing with but both don't appeal to my euro tastes.
In the end, an album that I like less than Western Dreams but Bob Sinclar has always been to me more of a singles master than an album provider.
But the true masterpiece of this summer's french DJs' albums is Antoine Clamaran's new one, Spotlight.
After gettin' some success with previous singles Release yourself, Feel it, Keep on tryin' and Give me some love, all featuring power vocals by canadian diva Lulu Hughes, and releasing with Universal a Best of CD, Inside, in 2007, Antoine Clamaran joined forces with Sony Music and won a club as well as radio hit at the start of the year with the wonderful Gold. Now is the time for the brand new album and, dare I say this, it ain't a simple album of 16 tracks, it is a true Greatest (new) Hits.
Gold opens it up with its brilliance and catchiness. Newcomer vocalist Shamel Shepherd shows she got what it takes to become one of our beloved dancefloor divas. Penned by Clamaran with Laurent Pautrat and Sandy Vee (Wilheim) like most of the tracks here, it is a real anthem to shine for the years to come, dance-house at its best. The new single Reach for the stars follows along from the same goldmine, still with vocals from miss Shepherd, but only supporting the lead by Annie C. And it's another winner, a new sing-a-long house anthem in the making. I can't get enough of both of them.
What is nice with producer/DJ's albums is that they always invite talented vocalists to shine on their productions and Spotlight shows on the following title track that there is a good male/female diversity here for Duane Harden takes the mic. Do you remember Armand Van Helden's You don't know me hit from 1999 ? It was him on vocal duties. Warm, sensual and powerful both apply here for Duane's vocals as well as for this catchy electro/housy song. The tentative following single though should be track 4, When the sun goes down, with some female vocals back with Mazaya, for a full on disco/house uplifting number ; Hit guaranted.
The potential singles come one after one, with the eurodance reminiscent but still housey I've got your number (with some power vocal perfomance by Max'C), the wonderful from atmospherical intro to bouncy techno/house Is this love (with Duane Harden back) or Everybody, wich sees Max'C doing his best James Brown meets Tom Jones' sex-bomb at a Martin Luther King meeting on a catchy discofunk that makes your feet move in rhythm, and your head goes left and right while it goes "la da dee, la da da", like a reminder of Crystal Waters' Gyspsy woman.
Antoine wouldn't have possibly released a new CD without his usual diva, so Lulu Hughes brings girls power back with her raunchy vocals on the extremely catchy Feels so good, Haunt me, which starts all slowly to build up into an atmospherical anthem, and a bouncing cover of James Brown's It's a man's world, full of electro loops showing off her power on the mic.
Shamel Shepherd is offered another beautiful song, Devotion, all working on layers and layers of atmospherical synthés lifting her etheral voice to clubbers' heaven. This song is pure delight, drug for the ear and I'm hooked, spellbound and totally addicted to it... The same can be said to the following track, Serious, with John Biancale, though the vocal lines and electro loops make it a lot more repetitive, but it works. It sounds like Pink Floyd on ecstacy. "This can't be real" he is singing and I can't believe how sweet it feels to be lost in these warm rhythms.
An unmistakable voice starts track 12 a cappella and you find yourself nodding along Antoine Clamaran and Sandy Vee's remix of Ministers de-la-Funk 2000 hit Believe. It is Jocelyn Brown, you must know, who shines on this update of a wonderful hands-in-the-air pure house anthem. It is near the end of the CD's tracklisting and the sounds are getting harder to the end to announce on tracks 14 & 15 instrumental electro/techno club tracks, Dead fish, that lasts 8'52, and that I must admit bores me, followed by a collaboration with David Guetta's usual partner Joachim Garraud, Anthem, for the same results to my heart and ears... Both are for past underground followers of the Clamaran DJ while I'm just here for the mainstream dance radio hits. They are 13 out of 15 so I won't complain at all. The boring tracks are at the end so I don't even need to use the "skip" button, just to "stop" before the end.
You should dare listen to Anthem till the end though for there is a hidden track called Abandonned child. Sung by Cissé Damayé, it is a surprise as it finishes the album with a trip-hop sound and mellow rhythmic melody you could have easily found on a Massive Attack CD for example. Nice, but still not what I came here for ; I bought Spotlight for Gold and Reach for the stars and I got 11 other dance jewels in a row so I really hope this album will sell well 'cause it is a must-have in every dance lover's CD collection. GO BUY IT !