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on July 7, 2009
On this sad day, we celebrate the legacy of Michael Jackson as he is laid to rest. But on this day, we also celebrate the return of Maxwell a.k.a the keeper of the R&B flame.
What can be said about Maxwell that has NOT been said? For me (through his music) he made me believe in love and romance. He made me believe that not all young urban men are thugs (or thug wannabes). We made me believe that music can STILL inspire. It took him 8 years to return, but it has been worth the wait.
All the songs are great and intimate, but the best songs are:

Pretty Wings-love song about meeting the right person at the wrong time
Cold- rumored to be his 3rd single. This song really grooves and is very sexy.
Bad Habits- about really feeling a person to the point of addiction.
Love You- about wanting to become whatever the person you love want you to become.
Help Somebody- is one of Maxwell's first songs about helping mankind.

My last point about this album is its been a LONG time since we heard REAL instruments in music (especially in R&B). With this record, we get to hear REAL musicians....as I said earlier, we don't call Maxwell the keeper of the R&B flame for nothing.
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VINE VOICEon July 7, 2009
Maxwell is very talented and has once again put out some good music after his long hiatus. The album starts off with really strong with Bad habits, Cold, and Pretty Wings. The next two songs HELP SOMEBODY and STOP THE WORLD sort of remind me a some old Marvin Gaye songs (just not as good as his songs). They are not my favorites on the album but they are still decent songs. The last three songs are good and the album ends with the last track as an instrumental. Lyrically and the production of the album will not disappoint you at all. The only complaint i would have is that the album is too short. After 8 years i thought the album would have 12 songs at minimum. Other than that this is a very respectable effort by Maxwell.

Stand out tracks:

Bad Habits
Cold
Pretty Wings
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on July 7, 2009
this is an amazing album, yes it is a little short but the quality makes it worth. Maxwell came back with the strong "Pretty Wings",a beautiful/heartbreaking ballad that deserves without a doubt grammy nominations next year.
but the cd is all good, there is no auto-tune,no songs about women as an object...it is the opposite, it is a gentleman album with songs about his life situations.
i am glad that are still a few r&b artists like him still making good songs, we need that. can't wait for the next cd.

favorites:

1 - Fistful of Tears
2 - Love You
3 - Stop the World
4 - Pretty Wings
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on July 7, 2009
Maxwell Rivera, the R&B veteran 1st studio album in over 8 years, and 4th studio album (not counting Maxwell Unplugged) of his career, comes with the highly anticipated BLACKsummmers'night, an album I've been waiting for over some time myself. Maxwell has always had good voice. Even times when the lyrics aren't that good to a song he used his voice to carry a listener through a song over some nice production (a very popular formula in music). I really was never a big fan of him when I first heard him on the video "Luxury:Cococure" (I don't know about you but seeing a video of a grown man half naked in a bathtub seems to traumatize me even 11 years later). Overall he has created some classics like his previous album Now. BLACKsummers'night really has a cool laidback vibe whereas the type of atmosphere you can listen to with someone you love, or on a laid back evening, as he's always created those smooth tunes to play in your mind. The big problem that I have that this album is short, with nine tracks, just under 38 minutes total.

Some of the songs here on BLACKsummers' night are really hit or miss, mostly on the side of the better. "Bad Habits" really is a nice starter for the album, followed by the lead single "Cold" with a little upbeat. "Prettywings" and "Stoptheworld" both slows things down, for a laid back atmosphere, a style I love, and I'm sure you will too. "Helpsomebody" is cool, but it really fails to stand out, both lyrically and musically. "Loveyou" maybe has the potential to be a great song, but I'm just not seeing it here. "Fistfuloftears" has great lyrics, but personally I'm not feeling the production here. Playingpossum" is another slow song with a nice acoustic guitar playing by Hood David in the background. The album ends with a groovy instrumental "Phoenixrise". Maxwell usually ends his albums with nice tracks like this, but the only problem I have is that it is only 2 minutes and 38 seconds.

With all the hype over the summer for Maxwell, BLACKsummmers'night had the potential to be a superior album, but falls short. Some may think this album seems kind of rushed, but I find it hard to believe with someone who has taken 8 years off, could have came up with something a little better, (and longer too). The music and the voice is there, and has always been there, but fans know that he can do better. On a scale of 1-10, this album is somewhere between a 7 and an 8. Older fans will see enjoyment, while other fans may be disappointed. For all you younger fans (such as myself), you might wanna get up on Now ("I gotta get to know ya..."), and let a grown man show how a great album is supposed to be made. Peace.

Lyrics: B+
Production: A-
Guest Appearances: N/A
Musical Vibes: B

Top 5 Tracks:
1. Badhabits
2. Stoptheworld
3. Cold
4. Playingpossum
5. Phoenixrise
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on July 15, 2009
I'm glad to see that Maxwell did well with his 1st week's sales, but a part of me doesn't feel that it's very well deserved. I'm a big fan of Maxwell's work, but this album I'm sorry to say is by far his worst. I'm digging only 3 or 4 of the measly 9, actually 8.5, songs on the album. The production is just way out of line with what I as a fan would expect from Maxwell. The lyrics are on-point but the over-all sound & vibe is just not there for me. My favorite songs on the album are "Bad Habits" and then "Pretty Wings." "Stop the World" and "Love You" are both nice. "Fist Full of Tears" is slowly growing on me.

I know that a lot of people asked this question too; "What's up with the idea of the 9, I mean 8.5 songs???" Paying for an album with just 8.5 songs on it and only 3 or 4 songs that are really good while the others are just "listenable" or ones that I could pretty much do without is really not a good look. If you are going to put out an album with so few songs they better damn-well be nothing less than Grade A!!! Half of the songs on this album are Grade C+ at best!

I really hope the rest of the Black Summer Night project is much better than this. Judging by the ratings that some people are giving the album I feel that it is once again that people are choosing to rate the artist and not the actual material on the album. I don't believe that anyone who has followed Maxwell's work can honestly say that this album is on the level of anything else he's ever done. Keeping that in mind along with the fact that all his other albums well deserved 4 and 5 stars, I wonder how/why would anyone give this album 4 or 5 stars???

Face it folks, every artist is entitled to put out a dud here & there especially when they have a track record of putting out top quality material time & time again. Joe's album "Joe Thomas, New Man" was his 1st dud IMO. This, IMO, is Maxwell's 1st and I hope his last dud! Joe bounced back with his latest album "Signature" and I truly hope/believe that Maxwell will bring something much better on his next release. I'm still a huge fan, but I really expected waaaaaaay better from Maxwell.
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on August 10, 2009
This is not even in the same galaxy as "Now." I am disappointed with this new album, because it lacks a true heart at the center of the music. Yes, the production is cutting edge for the moment, but in ten years, or even five years, this will be considered one of Maxwell's weakest efforts, because the songs themselves are his least memorable. I can't hum ONE single track from this album, after many listens over several weeks now, and I was able to sing several tracks from "Now" within a day or two of hearing them, because those songs really grab you and stay in your mind. Examples: "Cold" and "Help Somebody" are buried under several layers of complex beats and fancy horn riffs. I spent more time trying to lock into the grooves, until I finally realized that the songs themselves were average at best, sounding like Lenny Kravitz repeating himself on a dull day. "Stop the World" and even the highly rated "Pretty Wings" sound like Prince on an average day. Overall, I get the feeling that this album is all about the surface production, not the writing, and that is very sad, because Maxwell's previous album, "Now," is one of the most well-written and compellingly soulful albums in modern music. The "Now" album is the opposite of this new effort: "Now" is a stripped-down album where the production is very simple and stays out of the way, showcasing a very powerful batch of songs that still stand among his strongest. "Now" is pure Maxwell, a record that no one else could have made but him alone. This new album basically sounds like a half-hearted Prince and Lenny Kravitz imitation. I don't hear the real Maxwell in this music.

Bottom line: "Now" remains a masterpiece, and still sounds timeless and soulful today. Play that album again, and you will again be completely mesmerized by its soul and beauty. The songs still touch the heart. After eight years, I'm still waiting for the real Maxwell to reappear. This new album sounds slick on the surface, but lacks the real substance. It is hollow at the core. A year or two from now, people will forget this record. And for an artist like Maxwell who wrote songs like "Lifetime" or "Symptom Unknown" or "For Lovers Only," it is truly a shame to say that.
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on August 14, 2009
Oh how I have waited for someone of the proper caliber to bring it! This album takes you on a journey that leaves you wanting more. As always, the vocal arrangement fills your heart, the melodies grabs your ears and you are lost. Lost in a world of...real instruments being played (gasp) and actual vocals that haven't been auto-tuned (shock). Young ears today might not be able to appreciate all this plus ACTUAL LYRICS that tell a story worth listening too! If you can catch him live, OMG you will NEVER be dissappointed I assure you.

His debut was a smash success, the sophmore set is my favorite, the 3rd I had a few gems, but this 1st installment of the 4th...yes, yes YES. Make you do that ugly face like you tasted something sour and bob your head to those beats.

Whether you feel the revelation of Pretty Wings or the humanity of Help Somebody. Whether you know the addiction of Bad Habits or the pleadings of Playing Possum, this 1st installment will get to you one way or another. Of all 9 tracks, I have no favorite because this is, dare I say, no PROUDLY STATE, a SOLID ALBUM.

Real music, unfiltered, somebody take notes and teach the babies. I had to testify.
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Striking the right balance between what's typical and what's important about music has long been a quality that I've long saught out in R&B especially in the last couple decades.During the 90's I have to admit I ignored Maxwell.It had nothing to do with the fact there was any problem I had with his music but at the time I was deeply interested in the meaningful musical adventures of EWF,P-Funk,Stevie Wonder,Prince,etc.Those who were going for appealing to that musical aestetic by embracing those sounds into the contemporary musical ethic wasn't of much interest to me.Only recently as that style of neo soul has had much appeal to me.Naturalness in music is all well and good but,in the salad days of funk and soul things like futurism,reverb and such were an important factor in that rootedness. That was one of the reasons this album drew me on.For one,it was recommended by my friend who as always has helped put some perspective into my musical journey.Also...I really wanted some Maxwell in my collection.So I made the leap.And what do I think?Well musically this music is impressive in a number of important ways.For one it has the great quality of brevity;it clocks in at under 40 minutes in an age when everyone still is tempted to fill every bit of space on a CD.Also there is the fact that Maxwell and his band,even if it took close to a decade have been able to successfully utilize the newer computerized technology and some of the complication of hip-hop rhythms into the same groove from which it came-back to the funk."Bad Habits" and "Cold",for starters have this terrific interaction between bass,organ,horns and the polyrhythms of the drums into this series of intertwining dynamics that brings out the intensity and emotional honesty of the lyrics."Pretty Winds","Playing Possum" and "Fist Full Of Tears" are able to put a similar approch into somewhat slower tunes,a quality I always saw in Prince in past years."Love You" is just one of those great songs with a beat that's involving;in a day when the big beats derived from the 80's have become almost too big to hold themselves up here you have a DRIVING beat that isn't complicated but turns your head and a melody that drives the point home.The really impressive part to me is the closer "Phoenixrise".It's an instrumental,that in itself is a head turner on a modern R&B album but the fact that it puts up to date digital polyphonic synth washes with these jazzily funky polyrhym that extends back to the futurism of funk instrumentals during the mid to late 70's:taking the modern sounds of the day and intergrating them successfully into the context of rooted rhythm.And it's good for his band too because as Maxwell is continuing to develop he's having his musicians join him on the same journey. Those admirable qualities aside I have only one minor issue with this:the simple fact that Maxwell's softer singing voice seems rooted primarily in slow tunes. Sometimes when the tempo goes up his voice almost blends into the mix rather than elevate up with the dynamics of the music surrounding him.True it's a distinctive technique in a way but with the passing of Michael Jackson,a singer rooted singing uptempo material and could pack a wallop on the softest of ballads it makes me remember how "naturalness" in singers has almost eliminated that particular quality from contemporary R&B. At the same time even with the vocals quality not being that punchy this album is something that I highly recommend based on it's creativity of sound and inventiveness.
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on July 13, 2009
Wow, I was really expecting Maxwell to come with it with this particular album. However, based on what I have heard on this cd, it seems as if he is working with totally different producers than before. After all of the hype, this album really disappointed me unfortunately. The only two songs I enjoyed were "Bad Habits", and of course "Pretty Wings". I hope his next installment produces a better collection of songs. Bring back the old Maxwell please!!
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on July 7, 2009
It's a treat to hear music absent of fluff (AutoTune, big beats, and explicit lyrics). So far, my faves are "Pretty Wings", "Bad Habits" and "Stop The World". Here's to many more mellow smooth listening sessions :)

I'm perplexed that Maxwell isn't making Los Angeles a part of his tour stop during in promotion of BLACKsummers'night.
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