Top positive review
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GREATER than the sum of their parts, Ladies and Gentlemen, THE ORIGINAL 7VEN!
on October 19, 2011
What an incredibly satisfying album The Original 7ven have come together to deliver. I have the Morris, Monte, Jesse solo albums and the Janet classics, and all the Prince and MPLS Sound related albums, and this record really ranks amongst the best of the genre by way of a) the catchiest, hook-driven songwriting b) modern recording production that will stay fresh and classic and date-free and c)most importantly, consistent quality and enjoyment for the length of the disc. All killer, no filler. Every track has memorable, unique charm and you won't want to skip past any of them. And to retain the familiar vibe of the early 80's MPLS sound, if you pay close attention, you recognize classic vintage instruments and sounds, blended in naturally and seemlessly with the great sounding modern production. Like the recent Devo and The Cars reunion albums, the light peppering of the classic synths and drum machines INSTANTLY bring back the flood of great memories of the band's original run: the Linn drum like Let's Go Crazy, the clean funky guitar from After Hi-School, the keys from the Vanity album, their tasteful inclusion here is wonderful. You know how scents trigger memories instantly, so do unique musical instruments tones, and to have new music with some of the old tones is a real treat.
What I love about the MPLS sound is COMPLETELY represented here. I love the funk, the soul, the new wave, and the rock that the early 80's MPLS sound blended across all the artists Prince was involved with. Not since Sign O The Times have all of these genres been incorporated so well in one album until now. The playfulness of Ice Cream Castle and Escapade, the sincere soulful longing for love ala Girl, the tongue in cheek bravado and materialism like Wild and Loose, and on a whole, a real sense of living, of being happy, of having fun however it is you wanna have fun, are all here. The diversity of the early Prince albums attracted me, and the Original 7ven album is in the same vein. It's more diverse than any Time record. And above all, it's really refreshing to have a new, fun, mature album out today, free of negativity of the economy and politics that plague our daily lives and the news media. It's nice to think that in 2011 even Morris Day is still being a playboy.
The album is real tight (no drawn out jams), inter-song skits are minimal (only two brief interludes), yet the character of Morris is well represented and multi-dimensional (how powerful is the shot of him in Purple Rain alone in the club hallway after making fun of The Kid's dad's suicide attempt?). I love how every band member is name checked constantly and you feel like the whole band is fully involved and loving what's going on. The production is excellent, I can pinpoint all of the instruments without a flood of keys or autotune taking away from or overpowering the true musicianship of this band. And as a musician, the tones and engineering are such a pleasure to hear, and Jesse's guitar tone sounds ridiculously good. It's actually hard for me to go back and enjoy the older albums now like I used to because the old vocal recordings are thin and the reverb effects are so heavy and dated.
I hope everyone who's ever enjoyed MPLS music grabs this entire album, here's a breakdown:
1. Strawberry Lake- Over the top fun and bounce, you'll flop like a Muppet for this. Instant classic.
2. Condensate- Funky, funky, funky. Call and response from the band, like back in the day. COOL premise, too!
3. #Trendin- Instant hit and hook, cute modern use of tech terms to be current.
4. If I Was Yo Man- I used to think the drums of 777-9311 was unbeatable, until this monster came out. STANDOUT TRACK!!! Gorgeous song and gorgeous guitar solo.
5. Role Play- groovy and slinky, sexy and sexist. Morris is the pimp.
6. Sick- Hard rock and guitar heavy, Jesse has turned this disc into a better rock album than straight-ahead rock bands could do. Great chorus, nice bit of profane lyrics that Prince won't use anymore.
7. Lifestyle- Sweet and slow, but this won't stop Morris' ego. A soul jam that doesn't drag down the energy from the rest of the album and gives a nice breather to the listen of the full album.
8. Faithful- Great transition from Lifestyle, fun and playful and hilarious, this is why there's no skits needed to convey humor, it's a natural part of the music, and never detracts from it.
9. Cadillac- In your face sexy funk, you have to crank this in a car to appreciate. STANDOUT TRACK!!!
10. AYDKMN- Nasty guitar funk and blues. The BPM is 1 beat short of comfortable, so this tension will grab you and rock you out. Props for the use of "persnickety".
11. One Step- Party rock time, great band interaction and call and response, killer Jesse guitar work again. This will get audience butts shaking live someday. And then when you're all happy and not expecting the band to take it to the top gear, outta nowhere comes...
12. Toast To The Party Girl- Holy F... I gotta repeat it, HOLY F...!!!!! This is the best hot damn song of the YEAR. Of MANY YEARS!!! Clean Jesse guitars, classic synth sounds, heavy kick drum, group and female backing vocals, it's the ultimate party rock band song and sensory overload. The song just gives me chills everytime I hear it, from the instrumentation that just builds and builds with every verse, right up to the bridge. Then the guitar solo hits, fast and furious, appropriate and tasteful, and just when you think the fast part of the solo would climax and go to the long string bends and peter out, the solo just goes and goes. It's like the killer extended guitar work from Jesse and Prince circa Purple Rain that I can't get enough of. Prince and Jesse just don't get the appreciation they get for their guitar skills, but especially Jesse. Grunge music may have killed guitar heros from being noticed, but Jesse needs to be seen and heard more. Then the song hits the dance groove at the end like Baby I'm A Star, and it's the party of the century for the rest of the song. I won't spoil the end (chili sauce), but it's completely satisfying. This needs to be their live set closer. STANDOUT TRACK OF THE ENTIRE BAND'S CAREER. For the mega-talent these guys have in writing, performing and producing, this track represents the whole as greater than the sum of their parts.
13. Hey Yo- Sexy soul and groove, happy and romantic. A celebration of life and love.
14. Go Home To Yo Man- Smooth, 1999-album era style sexyness with some light hearted comedy in there. Great comedown from a killer album to tuck you in for the night.
I love this album to death, my favorite from the whole year, and I can't recommend it enough. Anyone who's ever enjoyed The Time or Prince-related material will have a ball. These seven talented gents create a magic only they can, I hope the music world hears this album and appreciates it, and the O7 continue making such great music in the future.