Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
on November 18, 2005
Track 1. Once Again Mike Phillips (Interlude):
The album opens with a simple but catchy bassline on this track, the horn creeps in with a lovely tone and you're right in there with Mike Phillips. The voice saying "Mike Phillips" is a little bit annoying though!
Track 2. Uncommon Denominator:
The sound of the fender Rhodes underlies this smooth track. Again the sax entry and subsequent riffs show off Mike's nice tone. The track is a bit Boney James in flavour and is similar to a lot of smooth jazz out there, but the refrain is lively and stands out.
Track 3. Crazy:
I think the talking parts on this album are mostly intrusive and not quite integrated. This track suffers because of that at the beginning, but once Mike Phillips' sax comes in properly after about one minute, the track comes alive.
Track 4. Heartbeat Of The City:
It's hard to believe Tracks 3 and 4 have different producers (Jeff Lorber produced this one) since they sound so similar. The bass progressions are almost identical and it makes it seem like an endless Track 3, which is not good for an album that wants to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, the solos, as always, are smooth and inventive.
Track 5. If It Takes All Night:
R&B flavoured track with a Zapp & Roger-style synthesized voice singing the "If it takes all night" hook. Featuring Trina Powell - of Trina and Tamara (think late 90s!) fame and sister of Jesse Powell - on vocals, the style favours Mike's fluid tone and progressions. The album as a whole finds some distinction at this point. There are some similarities to Alfonzo Blackwell but it still has its own voice and this track has good cross-over potential.
Track 6. Minnie:
Here again the mellow R&B infused composition showcases Mike Phillip's playing beautifully; he skips notes and scales with ease and the emotion comes through unhindered. The passage from 3:30 to the end of the song is particularly beautiful.
Track 7. G-Money:
The uptempo rhythm of the drummer's brushes give this song immediate life and Mike demonstrates some lively yet emotive blowing. A nice, layered composition with heart.
Track 8. Don't Panic:
Despite the string heavy sound (I suspect keyboard programming) of this track it sounds refreshing and the call and response feel of some of the passages gives the track a nice jaunty touch.
Track 9. We Are One:
Another upbeat track anchored by the delicious sound of a real Rhodes. Without question my favourite track; excellent bass, solid horn playing, lively drums and a little injection of electric guitar. Of course this is a Frankie Beverly cover, and Mike does is justice; some of his solos are like Grover Washington alive again. A subtle alchemy of musical elements that enchants effortlessly. Great live feel.
Track 10. Fiesta:
Again a guitar-tinged track. An engaging, simple, taut and exquisite composition with a lot of sax plus a nice horn section call and response in the hook. Tempo changes are delicately placed and brilliantly executed.
Track 11. 86th & Broadway:
Good track. Nothing really outstanding. The playing is competent and unhurried, but it could be anyone playing.
Track 12. Uptown On A Saturday Night:
Upbeat a la Ronny Jordan except, instead of a guitar lead, the load is taken my Mike Phillips' sax. Smooth progressions and vocal hook is well integrated, unlike Track 3.
Track 13. Flow:
A steady guitar rhythm and shaker-style percussion introduce this track well. There is some good sax played here and the rap interludes are kept to a tolerable minimum. The solo on this track is fantastic.
Track 14. Brent's Bounce:
Another Grover Washington-like track. Some excellent solos and sparse, effective basslines.
Track 15. If U Had A Heart:
This track is the standout ballad of the album and shows of the full range of Mike Phillips' playing talents: he screeches, then drops to a low howl, then whispers... Never a note out of place.
Track 16. Mike & Michaella (Interlude):
Every artsist is allowed a moment of complete self-indulgence; this is Mike Phillips'. After all it's his exit track...