Top positive review
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The best R&B soundtrack since "Waiting to Exhale"
on August 19, 1998
Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have not only fashioned the perfect soundtrack for a steamy love story set in Jamaica, but they've also given us all the perfect mood-setting CD...the uptempo numbers beg to be played at your next party, and the ballads make you want to plan your next candlelit dinner for two. On the party side, Stevie Wonder and Wyclef Jean serve up a spicy remake of Stevie's classic "Mastablaster," Diana King provides a sweaty workout with "Make My Body Hot," and Shaggy lays his irresistible reggae stylings over a hip-hop beat and throws in Janet Jackson singing the classic "Ooh Boy" chorus ("Ooh, boy I love you so/never ever ever gonna let you go/once I get my hands on you") to create the perfect party tune. For the romantic in you, Mary J. Blige seduces with "Beautiful," Maxi Priest works his usual magic on "The Art of Seduction," and Boyz II Men invite sultry-voiced Chante Moore to join them on the wistful "Your Home is in My Heart." But the album's true revelation is the return of Soul II Soul, complete with original vocalist Caron Wheeler (who was responsible for the group's biggest hits, "Keep on Movin" and "Back to Life," being so irresistible). On the track "Free Again," they mesh a classic Soul II Soul lyric and melody (not to mention the group's trademark strings) with classic Jam & Lewis chords and productions, giving us a thicker than thick beat and lush soul progressions reminiscent of Jam & Lewis' glory days with Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal, when their work was more known for its musical merits and stylish production rather than Janet Jackson's latest sexual fancy. There are a couple of dispensible moments, such as Big Punisher & Beenie Man's oversexual, underwritten "Makes Me Sweat" and only true reggae fans will enjoy Lady Saw's "Escape to Jamaica," but moments like Me'Shell Ndegeocello finally dropping her spoken-word stylings and seductively singing "Let Me Have You" make minor missteps forgivable. This is the finest soundtrack of original R&B material ever since Babyface seduced us with "Waiting to Exhale" in 1995. This album not only shows you how Stella got her groove back, but invites you to find your own as well.