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How Sweet It Is

80 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 17, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

With the proliferation of earthy rock chicks such as Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch, it might seem like an opportune time for Joan Osborne, who gathered Grammy nominations for her triple-platinum 1995 debut Relish and its breakthrough single "One of Us," to revive her flowing blues-and-folk roots. Rather than take the anticipated path, however, he New York singer offers a twist. Taking a page from Ally McBeal's resident torch singer Vonda Shepard, Osborne turns in an album of stylish covers of contemporary R&B classics. She wraps her husky voice around a supper-club version of Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine," underscores the message behind Edwin Starr's "War" at a funeral pace, and gives James Taylor a shudder with her lush, Eastern-tinged take on Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is." Most unexpected. --Aidin Vaziri

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 17, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Compendia
  • ASIN: B00006GNQF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,097 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By C. Heinrich on November 13, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I'm surprised to see such negative reviews here. I got this when it first came out, and I was stunned by the first listen of the CD (a rare occurrence for me). I go by the expression "expectations die hard"--I don't have expectations in life anymore. I think the people that panned this do, and they're expecting a "Relish 3". So of course they're going to be disappointed; even if it were a "Relish 3", they'd probably still complain because they're stuck on a single success in the past that obviously cannot be duplicated. It's too bad people limit themselves like that. But back to the album...
I think these are all excellent readings of songs we mostly already know.
* "I'll Be Around" is mellow, like the original. She carefully executes the vocals throughout.
* "Think" of course cannot be improved from Aretha's original, but it is nonetheless so well done here. She doesn't soar on it Aretha style--but would you want her to? And the backup singers add great effect as well. Backup singers can sound too forced or too calculated; here they do not.
* "How Sweet It Is" is also mellow, yet still subtly smoldering.
* The infectious "Smiling Faces" features a smooth Isaac Hayes harmony vocal, and it's irresistable.
* "Love's In Need Of Love Today" isn't particularly distinguished, but that doesn't mean it's bad by any means.
* "These Arms Of Mine" is one of the standouts. Again, no one could ever touch Otis' original, but you'll definitely enjoy this one without even thinking of his. It's gorgeous!
* "Only You Know And I Know" is probably the kind of track the naysayers of this album were looking for. It's a great rocker.
* "War" is another standout. It is nothing at all like the original--but that's a big part of its success.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Nasser Alqatami on January 22, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Joan Osborne has suffered from a tumultuous career ever since she reached her biggest mainstream success with the one hit people remember - "(What If God Was) One Of Us."
Being nominated five times at the Grammys for her "Relish" release and walking away with none was only a snippet of what was to come.
Right after the Lilith Fair phenomenon faded, Polygram Records dropped her, predicting that the market for female singer-songwriters was long gone and pop was the coming wave.
Osborne, surprised by this sudden and unexpected loss, took five years off to recuperate and sign onto the Interscope Records roster - releasing her most accomplished effort musically, "Righteous Love," amid the healthiest days of Napster.
Again, her record company dropped her.
This whole ordeal left Osborne as an unsigned one-hit wonder with two highly impressive albums under her belt.
However, most people remember her as the curly-haired pierced-nosed crooner with that song about god being a slob like one of us.
Fazed by all of this, the soulful folkie went indie with a new record company named Womanly Hips with the help of Compedia Music Group.
Osborne then released her latest LP, "How Sweet it Is," which is an album of cover versions from soul artists, citing most of her influences one by one. This might not be a good decision after a long break. It's also not a clever idea to generate airplay - since all of the tracks are cover versions, and these rarely make their way onto the airwaves.
Soul classics appear from start to finish, with a heavy '60s ambience. The track that will stand out the most is "Think," a remake of Aretha Franklin's legendary theme.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. Block on December 16, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of the most immediately impressive albums I've heard in a long time. It remains to be seen how it will hold up over time, but my guess is that it will become a classic.
This album is primarily a tribute to black songwriters. One caveat: Not surprisingly, Dave Mason's "Only You Know and I Know" and The Band's "The Weight" don't fit in, as good as those songs are.
Most of the arrangements here are shockingly different from the familiar hit versions, and in re-thinking each song, Osborne has come up with interpretations that make me appreciate the songwriting more than the originals did. For instance, "Think" is one of my favorite Aretha Franklin songs, but until I heard Joan Osborne do it, I didn't realize how clever the song is. In fact, I had the same revelatory experience with many of the cuts here, including "Axis Bold As Love," "Smiling Faces Sometimes," and "I'll Be Around." Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today" is simply sensational. This song has been covered several times (Whitney Houston, George Michael), but Joan Osborne does by far the most effective version yet.
I've only played "How Sweet It Is" a few times, but it would now make my list of top ten desert island discs. And the production quality is killer -- you'll want to turn the volume up and up and up still higher.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Elizabeth Pietrzak on July 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Joan Osborne returns for her third studio album with a mixture of vintage soul, R&B and Classic Rock covers. To those of you who only know Joan Osborne for her pop hit "One of Us", you are missing the blues, jazz and soul that is the heart of Osborne?s music. Here she lines up a fantastic range of musicians and a variety of covers that, when you remember the originals, "Can they blend together on one album?" Yes, they can. Osborne pulls these dusty relics off the shelf and revives them by infusing them with her passion and heart, providing us with another rare glimpse at this artist's wide range of talent.

Many reviewers have made light of these covers, saying the originals were much better, that you should get the originals and not this album. They obviously haven't bought this album or even listened to it.

Why an album of covers? Only Osborne can answer that question, but if a song is going to survive the test of time, if a song is going to make it to the ranks of one of "the greats," then it needs to be worth covering, worth the time an artist takes to invest in a re-interpretation. To do that, a song has to have some core, or meat that is timeless and is worth preaching to a new generation, or as a dutiful reminder to an aging and greying generation. First question, are these songs important enough to warrant a cover version? Do they have some timeless quality that can speak to any generation? Are they good enough to survive being covered? If the answer is "No," and your childhood memories of them are too holy, then go back to your originals, wallow in your nostalgia, and read no further. If the answer is "Yes," then go on to the next paragraph.

For your favorite classic R&B tunes from the 60s and 70s, who would be your ideal cover artist? Brittney Spears?
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