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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His project of a lifetime?
The 80s were a very busy decade for Quincy Jones. Between 1979 and 1989 he not only produced three hit albums for Michael Jackson, he also produced hit albums for others, including George Benson, Donna Summer, James Ingram, Patti Austin, The Brothers Johnson, Rufus & Chaka Khan and Ernie Watts. In his 1990 documentary "Listen Up", which documents a lot of the making of...
Published on September 26, 2006 by Olukayode Balogun

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2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good but tries to hard for mass-Appeal
While I was Glad Miles was On Here among Others this Album was Hit&Miss thru Out.New Jack&Q don't Really Mix.Lets Face it The Brothers Johnson not only are Great Musicians but also Solid Writers Cuz Q has Covered Alot of Their Stuff.but I'll Be Good To You Sounds Watered Dwon.Now I Dig Ray Charles&Chaka Khan but this Song isn't Happening.The Secret Garden...
Published on April 5, 2000 by MAXIMILLIAN MUHAMMAD


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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His project of a lifetime?, September 26, 2006
By 
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
The 80s were a very busy decade for Quincy Jones. Between 1979 and 1989 he not only produced three hit albums for Michael Jackson, he also produced hit albums for others, including George Benson, Donna Summer, James Ingram, Patti Austin, The Brothers Johnson, Rufus & Chaka Khan and Ernie Watts. In his 1990 documentary "Listen Up", which documents a lot of the making of this particular album, Jones tells of how overwork and exhaustion ultimately led to a nervous breakdown and two separate aneurysms.

By the time he was ready to make this album, which he describes as his project of a lifetime, music was undergoing a revolution. Disco was long dead and buried, hip-hop was emerging as the predominant force and the smooth jazz-influenced beats Jones was reputed for were falling out of favour.

To give him his due he approached the situation gamely. The title tune, "Back On The Block" was a brave kiss with rap if not a particularly wise one. The song, which features big guns of the time such as Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, Ice-T and Kool Moe Dee is always fun to listen to but I never heard it played on the radio or at any clubs or parties. "Jazz Corner of The World", his attempt to marry rap with jazz was more interesting and featured jazz luminaries like James Moody, Miles Davis, George Benson, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Josef Zawinul alongside Kool Moe Dee and Big Daddy Kane. It's heady, exciting stuff to listen to even now, 17 years later. If nothing else, Q certainly knew where music was heading.

The production on this CD is stunning beyond belief. "Wee B. Dooinit", featuring Siedah Garrett, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Ella Fitzgerald, Take 6 and Sarah Vaughn is a completely acapella performance. McFerrin produced the percussion and bass sound effects and I still wonder exactly where Q placed the microphones.

There are some other great songs. "I'll Be Good To You" featured lead vocals by Ray Charles and Chaka Khan. The album version was good enough but I remember getting the 12" single which had the same backbeat as Soul II Soul's "Keep On Movin'". (Now THAT was a huge club hit). "The Places You Find Love" featured lead vocals from Chaka Khan and Siedah Garrett, with background vocals from Howard Hewitt, Jennifer Holiday, James Ingram, Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross and the Andrae Crouch Singers among others.

Apart from her brief stint with the Brand New Heavies, Siedah Garrett's work with Quincy Jones (here and on Michael Jackson's "Bad") have produced the only performances of hers I've managed to find bearable. She seems to have taken the place formerly occupied by Patti Austin in Q's workplan and to give her the credit she's due, she does the job well. She does the vocal arrangement on the majority of the songs and where she took lead vocal duties, like on "I Don't Go For That" and "One Man Woman", she gives a barnstorming performance.

But for me, the album was made by "Setembro (Brazilian Wedding Song)" featuring Take 6 & Sarah Vaughn, with Gerald Albright on alto sax, George Benson on guitar, George Duke on fender Rhodes and Herbie Hancock on keyboards. The song attained iconic status when John Singleton used it in his classic movie "Boyz N The Hood". (It was the song playing during the love scene between Nia Long and Cuba Gooding, Jr). It's one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard. Q's take on Joe Zawinul's "Birdland" featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and James Moody, is also a personal favourite.

This album is also noted for introducing the world to (the then angelic-voiced) Tevin Campbell. He did the tearjerking "Tomorrow (Better You, Better Me)" with background vocal help from the `children's choir'. And last but by no means least, the album also produced the perennial slow dance song, "The Secret Garden", featuring El DeBarge, James Ingram, Al B. Sure! and Barry White. That one still moves people to this day.

This review is long but I feel to pass this project off with a few lines or a paragraph or two would not be doing its magnitude justice. It's not my all-time favourite Quincy Jones record but I can totally see why he considers it so significant. It is so significant. Getting all these legends of the past and of the future was a huge achievement all by itself. Who else could possibly have gotten all these people into the studio at the same time?
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-crafted and colorful masterpiece!, September 24, 2004
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
Without a doubt one of the most influencial musicians for the past 50 years as of this writing, Quincy Jones is one of the best musicians that on this planet and remains a great influence on music to this day.

His 1989 magnum opus entitled "Back on The Block" is unrivalled by almost everything else. The sheer number of singers and other stars who came aboard for this project is impressive! Starring a huge cast of old-time singers some of whom have sadly since passed away, rappers, and then yet-to-be pop stars this incredible masterpiece is without a doubt a contender for being one of the smartest, most creative, and energetic albums anyone has ever put out. While I don't want to sound too biased with this review but "Back On The Block" is my favorite African-American music album of all time. .

The party begins with a marvelous rap interlude entitled "Prologue (20's rap scene/ Quincy's Rap) which is a fun and energetic warm-up track featuring a wonderful rap dialogue that is really a lot of fun and highly joyous to listen. The title begins with a industrial metallic drum intro similar to that of the title track of Janet Jackson's dynamite "Rhythm Nation" and becomes a marvelous and energetic blend of rap, hip-hop with a New Jack Swing Spice. "I Don't Go For That" is similar to the previous and with a stadium-like New Jack Swing anthem with a fun Manhattan nighttime city feel. "I Don't Go For That" is a wonderful New Jack Swing classic with a highly danceable beat, wonderful melody.

"The Verb To Be" is a really humorous interlude with oddly amplified voice effects and really funny lines. The laughing voices merge into the track "We Be Doing' It". For all of the humor of "Verb" it perfect blends into the hip-hop rhythm and the song has a wonderful mix of R&B, blues, and dance all meshed together. If you're looking for great hip-hop music and for a testament for 1988-1991 being the Golden Era of this once-great genre, look no further. "The Place You Find Love" is one of my absolute favorite tracks on this album. It starts with a dramatic echoing Gospel voice and becomes a powerful Gospel anthem for the ages. The vocals by whoever is singing are absolutely incredible and do wonders for this track.

The next two-some track combo "Jazz Corner of the World" and "Birdland" to me are the apex of this album. "Jazz Corner" has a really perky Brazilian percussion and has a really cool hip rap verse. The groove of "Jazz Corner" perfectly merges into my absolute favorite song on this album "Birdland". This is without a doubt the best song Quincy has ever recorded and quite likely a candidate for the best cover-song I've ever listened to. With amazing bass lines and energetic trumpet horns similar from what one would hear from Phil Collins, the beat is just amazing and the song has a really awesome groove unrivalled by few other songs from 1989. "Septembro" is a sultry soulful instrumental jazz song with really unique chord shift and wonderful wordless vocals.

"One Man Woman" is a great and energetic dance song with a strong New Jack Swing style. "Tomorrow" is sheer and utter beauty featuring a barely teenaged then future-superstar Tevin Campbell singing on vocals and childrens choir. The song has a really positive, cheerful, and uplifting vibe to it.

The final track Secret Garden is one of the sexiest soul ballads of all time with a very Quiet Storm mood and featuring guest vocals from the late R&B crooner Barry White (I cried at the news of his passing) the create a beautiful nighttime closer to this illustrious masterpiece of an album.

This album is just about on the border of being utmost perfection. For all of the hard-work put into it's making this is without a doubt one of the greatest achievements in popular, rock, hip-hop, and rap music history. As of writing this review, I am absolutely horrified to see the term "Out of Stock" actually on this product! For such a stunning achievement that took so much work and was such a huge hit, I for one cannot believe that Warner Brothers don't even carry this album in their catalog anymore! What a terrible disgrace to music history, by denying many fans one of the most positive, smartest, most well-crafted albums that has ever been released.

Wherever you go, I highly urge you to hunt for a copy of this album and buy it without hesitation. If not, then you have no idea of the party that you might find yourself missing out on. Quite simply there's no other album like this nor will there ever be.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "OUT OF STOCK" ?!? Ya must be kiddin'..., December 29, 2003
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
How can one of the greatest Black music albums ever be listed as "out of stock" by Amazon? Who can be so blind as to not leave this record out for sale on a permanent basis?
Well, if you haven't heard this album, you're simply missing a rare treat. Quincy Jones is one of the most influential artists in music ever, period. He single-handedly launched a wide range of highly-gifted artists and arranged/produced albums for many artists that still hold out as the best in their careers. Since the 1970s, his solo projects are a way for him to showcase tons of talent, old and young, blending together and taking up new vocal and musical challenges.
And this is precisely what this record was all about. More than an album, it is a testament to the greatness of Black music. Quincy has gathered here the greatest amount of talent any money has ever bought (or will ever buy, for that matter, since many of them have passed away since) : respectable old-timers like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis or Ray Charles, and, nearer to us, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Barry White, Bobby McFerrin or Chaka Khan, share their many talents with rising stars such as Take 6, Al B. Sure, El DeBarge, Siedah Garrett, Tevin Campbell and even a cast of first-class rappers such as Ice-T, Kool Moe Dee or Big Daddy Kane. By comparison, the next project, "Q's Jook Joint", for its almost equally incredible line-up of artists, is not half as good as this.
For "Back On The Block", Quincy was sold on rap by his son, and he wanted this album to reflect the passing of the flame from the old to the new generation and the blending of all Black music, be it gospel, jazz, African, funk or rap. He has largely succeeded... But more than this, he simply has produced one of the greatest and most dense bodies of work of these past 15 years, which will stand the test of time as one of the late 20th century milestones.
So, Warner Bros., you can do better than this "out of stock" label, right? This album is part of our common musical legacy, it should be made available again with no further delay!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of soul and sweet sensuality lives on this "Block", November 22, 2000
By 
Stephen Hall (Woodstock, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
I'm not an R&B fanatic, but the infectious rhythms and soulful melodies of Quincy Jones' "Back on the Block" really won me over. As wildly eclectic as the all-star lineup on this 1989 release is (Ice T, George Benson, Big Daddy Kane, Barry White, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby McFerrin and Miles Davis, just to name a few), "The Dude" masterfully unites this diverse armada of talent into a singular, powerful force of music. Ray Charles and Chaka Khan team up for a rousing remake of "I'll Be Good to You" that's sure to put a grin on your face and a kinetic kick in your booty; and a full-powered rendition of "Birdland" is a fitting tribute to the giants of jazz and how their contributions have fueled the ongoing evolution of hip-hop, rap, and other black-influenced genres. Best of all, the album closes with "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)," a beautifully sensual ballad that's custom-made for unplugging the phone, turning down the lights and ... well, you get the idea. Kudos to "Q" and his all-star crew; this "Block" is a special place you'll want to visit again and again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Q" demonstates why he's "THE MAN"!, June 20, 2003
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
As one that has had as varied a career as Jones (jazz musician, movie composer, bandleader, mega-producer), it is logical that he would release an album that covered it all. 1989's "Back on the Block" was such an album.
Jones was able to call in a lot of "markers" for this is truly what one calls a "star-studded" assemblage of talent. Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, the Brothers Johnson, Take 6, legends Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, El Debarge, Barry White, Siedah Garrett, Al Jarreau, Howard Hewitt, Jennifer Holiday, James Ingram, Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross and a then-unknown Tevin Campbell are just some of the vocalists that appear on the disc.
Also, the musicians assembled are just as impressive: Shelia E., Nathan East, Jerry Hey, members of Toto, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Lukather, and pianist extraordinaire Greg Phillinganes, among others.
Incorporating rap into the mix, "Q" received able-bodied assistance from Ice-T, Melle Mel, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool Moe Dee.
As for the tracks themselves, the appeal is not only in the hits "I'll Be Good to You", "Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)", and "The Secret Garden" but in the other superlative tracks like the majestic "Birdland" and the pop-worthy "I Don't Go for That".
"Back on the Block" is where lovers of great music want to be...and I am one of them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my very favorite albums, July 19, 2006
By 
L. R. Martin "bweathe" (Salt Lake City, UT, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
I grew up listening to great music from artists like Ella Fitzgerald and writers like George and Ira Gershwin. And today I enjoy everyone from Nelly to Yo Yo Ma, and Tom Jobim to Earth Wind and Fire. Q assembled an amazing variety artists on this CD and covered every genre from rap to soft Brazilian jazz. I love every cut on here. My favorite is "The Places You Find Love." I have put it on a couple of compilation CDs and I choke up frequently when I hear it. Jones' rendition of "Birdland," bringing together so many wonderful jazz greats is also an emotional treat. I rarely agree with Grammy choices, but I was SO happy to see this album win in 1991. They just don't get any better than this. Thank you, Quincy Jones and to everyone associated with this amazing CD!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Q Album!!, February 9, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
This is by far Quincy Jones's best effort!
And that's saying alot when you consider his other
masterpieces of jazz / pop fusion:
1978's "Sounds & Stuff Like That!" one of my all-time faves!
and a close second to that is 1980's "The Dude",
which, like this one, is just chucked with classic
performances! The whole concept of old school
merging with new school and vice versa has
always really been kind of what Q is about,
but this is his most realized effort.
The late great Sarah Vaughn (Sassy) did her last great performance on this album,
the beautiful and serene brazilian flavored
"Setembre" which just takes my breath away!

Little Tevin Campbell debuts on this one with the
cheerful and brilliant "Tommorow (Better You, Better Me)"
which showed his promise as a gifted young singer.
Sadly, after the little scandal of a few years ago,
poor Tevin has had a hard time getting his momentum back.
Some people's ignorance and intolerance is amazing!
The guy is talented!..Period!...That's all that should factor
in when you purchase his or any other artist's material!

As I've said there are many great performaces on this CD,
but by far..."Secret Garden" is and was an immediate
quiet storm classic and the reason for a slight swell
in birth rates in 1989 and 1990!
Talk about a hall of fame of vocalists
and musicians!--whew!!
You can't go wrong with this one!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No one but Q coulda pulled this off!, January 26, 2000
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
They all must've had a blast doin' this one! Where else would you find Ice-T being somewhat civil on a rap track? Where else are you gonna find a dueling scat like the one with Ella vs Sarah vs Jarreau in an all acapella creation? Sex siren Chaka Khan gettin' naughty with evvybody's favorite bad country boy Ray Charles and then reaching for places to find love with baby sister Siedah Garrett? Tempered Temperton grooves, Proto-pan-Africanisms, Jazz-jivings, New-order gospelsoul, Sly's rosetta, Ssassy crrrOooning and digital vocal glossings, Tagteam virtuoso improvisators,(not unlike yours truly's writing style), The best sound labs anywhere, Zawinul's birdland, AND the Maestro?---what more can one say? This is extraordinary. The Q-dog, however, was simply back on the metaphorical and actual Block, as he usually finds himself, and he was jammin', as he usually does....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MOST DEFINITELY THE ALBUM OF THE YEAR!, March 6, 1999
By 
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
This album is one of the all time classics! There will never be another "Back On The Block!" For example, when would anyone ever be able to gather together such talents as found on 'Wee Be Doin It'(Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaugh, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Take 6 and Siedah Garrett)again? You could never hope to find more legends than heard here. The music is incredible! There is something for everyone. A sampling of other artists includes; Ice T, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, Tevin Campbell, Andrae Crouch, Herbie Hancock, The Brothers Johnson, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, Phil Perry, James Ingram, Syreeta Wright, Paul Jackson Jr, Howard Hewitt, Jennifer Holliday, Dionne Warwick, Luther Vandross, James Moody, Miles Davis, George Benson, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerald Albright, George Duke, Sheila E., El DeBarge, Greg Phillinganes, Al B. Sure and Barry White. IS THAT GREAT OR WHAT?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best that Q put out!, December 27, 2004
This review is from: Back on the Block (Audio CD)
BACK ON THE BLOCK (1989) is one the best albums that Quincy Jones put out in the late '80s. It shows a new direction in the black culture and black music we're talking 'bout right now.

I think everybody should own this CD even tho it's out-of-print cuz you can go online and get it like spun.com, djangos.com, wherehouse.com, cduniverse.com or gemm.com (where I go where they have all the LPs, cassettes, books, CDs, all of that used and never owned before).

Yeah Quincy put out an album that is so amazing and it still lives from this day forward. This CD has everyone craving about- Jazz, R&B, Funk, Jazz-Rock, Fusion, Rap, Hip-Hop, Soul, Pop, etc.- It's full of a variety of different artists from Barry White (whom I recently loved and lost from last year), Ray Charles (we all know who passed this year but still lives on), Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, James Ingram, Tevin Campbell, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Chaka Kahn, Patti Austin of course, The Seawind Horns feat. Jerry Hey and all of 'em, y'know all of the above you can name.

I love this man to death even tho he puts out real stuff like the artists we listen too right is Alicia Keys, Musiq, Mary J. Blige, Grover Washington, Jr., Miles Davis, George Benson, Usher, Brian McKnight, Boyz II Men (two of my favorite R&B gurus of all-time), OutKast, Nelly, Steely Dan, Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Yolonda Adams, Mase, LL Cool J, Common, The Roots, Guru & Gang Starr, etc.

This is a must-have. Also check out Q's Jook Joint too 'cuz it's a classic.
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Back on the Block
Back on the Block by Quincy Jones (Audio CD - 1989)
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