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on March 2, 2002
It's almost impossible to believe that this was a debut album, it is that good. There is nothing about it that would indicate a young, untried musician. On the contrary. Tracy's intensity, her poetry, her strong convictions, her musical soul are here for all the world to cherish.
Unlike her two later CDs, where Chapman softened a bit, these songs are pure, hard, protest, and what a joy it is to listen to them; what a joy to know that there is a pure, clear, voice out there that is challenging one's conscience. I haven't had the pleasure of such a listening experience since the early Joan Baez. And even though their voices are literally octives apart and completely different in tone and timbre, I rate Tracy Chapman right up there with Baez. Like her, Chapman has a voice that needs no accompaniment; it is an instrument unto itself. But unlike Baez, Chapman writes ALL her own music.
This CD is nothing less than a work of genius. I cannot say enough about it except to tell everyone I know to buy it and listen. You'll see for yourself!
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on May 27, 2002
I genuinely don't think this disk could be any better. There is not a single song on here that isn't a work of art. I owned this on tape initially, but I had to get the CD because the tape was getting worn out, because I listened to it constantly - particulary to Baby Can I Hold You, Why, and Talking About A Revolution.
Chapman's voice is stunning, particularly on the a capella Behind The Wall, which never ceases to bring a chill down my spine. I always thought I didn't like folk music, but Chapman has made me reconsider that belief. Her lyrics are meaningful, and the collection of songs come together to form an overall feel, a mood, that is extremely moving and empowering. She exemplifies how music can bring people together and be an impetus to change, ala the greats like Bob Dylan. Make no mistake -- this is a political album and Chapman wears her left wing leanings like a badge of honour. If you can't tolerate her political views, you probably won't like the album as much as her core fans. That said, her voice and the music itself may make it possible for you to give it at least an intial listen. Chapman is more than a singer and musician - she's a poet, and her message is one that I believe we all need to heed.
I highly reccommend this album to everyone. Even if you don't agree with her politics, hopefully she'll make you think. At the very least, you'll be listening to one of the purest, best voices in modern folk/r&b/soul around today.
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VINE VOICEon February 7, 2007
Tracy Chapman exploded onto the scene in 1988 with her debut single "Fast Cars." I was working in radio at the time, and recall when my Elektra rep told me she was going to send me something she knew I would love (she had a pretty good take on my personal taste). The CD single of "Fast Car" arrived, and it hit me like a sucker punch. The devastating lyric about social class and poverty entrapment was unlike anything on the radio at the time, and I knew it was something special. I am still proud to say that the station I worked for at the time was one of the very first to add the single to our playlist, and I had a platinum album of Tracy Chapman's debut in my office when the album hit number one.

"Tracy Chapman" is one of those fantastic moments in popular music; when an artist emerges fully formed with a debut that is prescient and fearless. Chapman had both a husky voice and a strong sense of melody, and yet the social voice she invested into her songs stormed over the average easy-listening pop. Her vocal assault of "Behind The Wall" is stark and haunting, echoing the violence of the song's lyric. "Talking About A Revolution" went straight for a lyrical jugular, there was no passive resistance here.

There was also a core of tenderness to be found here as well. "Baby Can I Hold You" was sentimental enough that Neil Diamond once recorded it. "If Not Now" is a plea to a lover to commit. And as a simple plea for peace amid the contradictions, "Why" is hard to beat. ("Why are the missiles called peace-keepers when they're aimed to kill?") Chapman also exudes confidence for the CD's 11 songs, enough that her notorious shyness is something you'd never guess at.

"Tracy Chapman" re-zoned the playing field in 1988 and won Chapman a best new artist Grammy. It remains her best recording (even though all her albums have fine moments, this is the CD that every song is top-notch). The full digital recording was one of the first from the early days of the CD and still sounds incredible. All the way around, a classic album.
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VINE VOICEon February 7, 2000
Fast Car is a song about never giving up on your dreams, and that is why I never get tired of listening to it. Tracy Chapman writes powerful songs with timeless themes and that is what makes this CD so good I really loved her delivery on Talking Bout A Revolution. It is very inspiring song about the problem of unemployment. Baby Can I Hold You is about how people have difficulty saying how they feel about each other. Across The Lines is about the hope for racial equality for all people. Mountains O things is about trying to find happiness with the things you have. This CD is a must in your collection.
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on March 25, 2006
This is one of the very best CD's I have ever listened to. Tracy Chapman's voice is so beautiful, and soulful. I purchased this CD about ten years ago and still listen to if often because all of the tracks on it are timeless, and they all sound so perfectly together.

Of course my favorite track is Tracy's biggest hit, "Fast Car." Her voice is so clear and beauteous and sad on this track. I also enjoy all the other songs on the CD, especially "For My Love" and "Baby Can I Hold You."

It is hard to believe that Tracy did not break into musical superstardom like today's halfwit wannabe singing stars of the reality TV generation. Tracy Chapman is a musical genius and a superstar to me though.
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on November 7, 2001
Many years ago Tracy Chapman's debut album captured a part of heart where it still resides to this day. Its introspective and vulnerable lyrics are timeless, rare and about all else, enduring. No matter how many times I listen to "Fast Car" it always leaves me hopeful and full of promise. It's a song about the limitless possibilities of life and urgent need to grasp opportunities before they escape us.
The tune "If Not Now, But When" is an incredibly poignant song about the desire to be loved and the disappointment that not receiving love brings. There is no one on this planet that cannot relate to that experience.
By all means listen to this recording. It's ironic mix of melancholy and beautifully textured acoustic rhythms will set your spirit to rest......and Tracy Chapman sings like an Angel.
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on September 20, 2005
I bought this cd in 1988 when it came out and I absolutely loved all the songs. Tracey Chapman is unique in that not many artists bring up political issues and social problems in such a disarming fashion. With songs such as "Fast Car" she manages to be political and passionate yet enjoyable. Knowing her other works, one has to admire an artist such as Chapman, through sixteen years as an artist, she has managed to remain faithfully loyal to her path. It may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for something that has substance (not meaningless words or profanity)this is good album to begin with and then you can decide if you want to move on to her other albums.
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on August 3, 1998
Tracy Chapman's first album "Tracy Chapman" shows depth & bredth of an artist with at least 20 years more maturity and experience. The lyrics to her songs are deceptively simple yet manage to touch deep social issues and provoke contemplations on your world-outlooks. The songs "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" and "Fast Car" were her big breakout hits, but the entire album is stellar. A special standout is her chilling acapella " Behind The Wall"--if that doesn't wound you to the core, then turn in your membership card to the human race!
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on November 22, 1999
Its not often that you find a songwriter, singer, and instrumentalist with this much talent. Alot of these songs have meaning - a melody - and a style that nobody can touch. Fast car, and Baby can I hold you tonight are probably still to this day - two of my favorite songs.
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on August 17, 2000
A Standing ovation is what this woman deserves. My hats off to her. I First bought her tape way back in 89 when i was a kid , and i was spell bound to some of her songs. Well let me be honest ,the fine tunes of the acoustic guitars and her voice really haunted me ..i just had to listen to her tape everyday. Then there came a time my tape got spoilt and i had to buy the disc , and my rotten luck was that there were no Tracy Chapman discs available out here. I got her cd this year from my visit to london. It took me a long time..but i finally got it.
Well getting back to her album..every track is worth the listen. An amazing debut album packed with real life instances that will make you smile and cry. " Talkin about a revolution " , " fast car " and " baby can i hold you " ( the single who's recent cover version was done in 1998 by the #1 irish group Boyzone ) are few of the tracks making the cd a gem of an album.
Tracy Chapman - A unique artist , who's work is worth the recognition worldwide. My respect to her , and sincere thanks for giving us some very good music.
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