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Wake Up!

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Audio CD, September 21, 2010
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Vinyl, September 21, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Musical powerhouses John Legend & The Roots present Wake Up!, eleven profoundly evocative songs pulled from the soulful music of the 60's and 70's all with an underlying theme of awareness, engagement and consciousness. The album is highlighted with familiar tracks like "Little Ghetto Boy" by Donny Hathaway mixed with more obscure selections like Baby Huey and the Babysitters' "Hard Times". Wake Up! also includes one original composition, John Legend's "Shine," which is featured in the upcoming documentary Waiting For Superman.

1. Hard Times
2. Compared To What
3. Wake Up Everybody (featuring Common & Melanie Fiona)
4. Our Generation (The Hope Of the World) (featuring CL Smooth)
5. Little Ghetto Boy (Prelude) (featuring Malik Yusef)
6. Little Ghetto Boy (featuring Black Thought)
7. Hang On In There
8. Humanity (Love The Way It Should Be)
9. Wholy Holy
10. I Can't Write Left Handed
11. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
12. Shine

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 21, 2010)
  • Original Release Date: 2010
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Columbia
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,669 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

The sounds in this album blend beautifully with John's voice.
I am neither a John Legend Fan or a Roots Fan, but this album may get me to listen to other work that both have done.
David V. DeRosa
The CD is excellent, you CAN listen to it all the way through.
John T. Gatlin Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Gary Anderson on September 21, 2010
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
Most cover albums are failures from the jump. It's not really the artist's faults, it's more a problem with the fact that most of us consumers just can't let go. We love those classic songs that we grew up with, so we just naturally figure "Hey, there's a new version of My Funny Valentine out there, I'm there!"

Instead what we tend to get is meaningless and pointless versions of songs that have none of what made us treasure them. Whether it's the artist's voice or tempo of the remake, or perhaps it's just a matter of that original song hitting you at the right moment, and becoming embedded in your timeline, it's just not the same. Often it can make you angry to hear a remake of a beloved song and have it just destroy all your positive thoughts.

In my entire life, I've only heard three albums that involved covers that I willingly would listen to regularly. UB40's "Labour of Love Volume 1", The Jeff Healey Band's "Cover to Cover" and the Bob Marley tribute album called "Chant Down Babylon"

And that's it. When I see an album of covers I tend to steer clear, because the odds are just not in your favor if you're wanting to be entertained.

So that's why I was curious when I first heard about the new John Legend album that he did with The Roots called "Wake Up!". While I've never really been what you'd call a "fan" of Legend, I've absolutely loved some of his songs.

Also, Philly band The Roots are, in my opinion, one of the top 10 bands of all time. OF ALL TIME! They're that good. I'd stack them up against anyone in any genre, and particularly hip hop they're heads and shoulders above everyone else. They're lapping the competition something serious.

Their newest album "How I Got Over" is their best album in years, and easily dominates 99.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nse Ette TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Neo Soul crooner John Legend hooks up with Hip Hop collective The Roots to release "Wake up!", a collection of covers of socially/politically conscious Soul classics from the sixties and seventies. This has been a rather prolific year for The Roots as they released "How I got over" earlier in the year.

Both were inspired by the 2008 United States presidential election and chose songs they felt were obscure. The album has a loose live-jam feel to it with the only Hip Hop infusion being sporadic rapping by Black Thought or guest rappers.

The lone original composition is the church piano-driven "Shine". "Humanity (Love the way it should be)" is horn-sprinkled Reggae. They eschew the popular songs on Marvin Gaye's "What's going on" going for "Wholy holy".

Lead-off single "Wake up everybody" features Common and Melanie Fiona and is light and breezy. "Hard times" and "Compared to what" (with an incredibly groovy bassline and funky horns) are Funk/Soul, "Little ghetto boy" an airy organ-driven Jazz/Soul ballad, while "I can't write left handed" is a sprawling 12 minute epic, an anti-war lament originally done by Bill Whithers telling the story of a wounded war veteran writing a letter to his mother.

Each song stands out really, and what prevents the album from being too depressing and preachy are the excellent vocals and superb musicianship. A much needed wake up call musically.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Brent Faulkner, Jr. VINE VOICE on September 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Rap royalty and neo-soul star power come together on the fine Wake Up!, a covers album by The Roots and John Legend. While 'Wake Up!' doesn't "reinvent the wheel" by any means, it is an enjoyable and soulful listen, finding both the Roots and Legend at their best. While the Roots rap contributions are modest here, that is smart considering the tone and the scope of this album. John Legend sounds among his most soulful ever here, particularly on the best cuts. There are moments that sag just the slightest bit, but the dynamic moments easily mask the sagging ones.

"Compared to What" opens the album superbly with atmospheric retro-soul production work that possesses an organic quality. The extended instrumental opening simmers for over a minuter until Legend's soulful vocals enter. While "Compared to What" is lengthy, it is quite enjoyable, accentuated even more by the soulful use of organ, trumpet, and saxophone. "Hard Times," similarly, doesn't miss a beat, again beginning with a dramatic opening and the incorporation of a tasteful rap verse. "Little Ghetto Boy" opens with a rap, incorporating The Roots' prodigious rap talents, something that is only subtly appears throughout this album. The piano work here by Legend is spot on.

"Wake Up Everybody" features fine guest spots by Common and Melanie Fiona. Here, the super collaborative team do a fine job of recreating the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes classic with some sense of justice. Similarly, "Our Generation" shines finding Legend channelling his gospel roots - particularly on the out-tro section ("Atlanta...come on Lagos, lets straighten out...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Moore on October 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm with those who are disappointed with this album. From the concept I thought it could be a dynamite album. But it's only half good, thanks to poor song selection and mostly ho-hum arrangements. With all the great anti-war and social consciousness songs available from the 60s and 70s, they picked a weak crop. "Compared to What" is a of a classic choice, but this arrangement doesn't compare to the rave-up Les McCann/Eddie Harris version on the Montreux live album. It's just ok. "Wake Up Everybody" is another classic song and at least in this case the album delivers a worthwhile remake, thanks to the vocals of Melanie Fiona and the inclusion of a rap break. But otherwise, I'm just not that impressed. The low point comes when people in the car beg me to turn off the screaming repetition of "They shot me in the shoulder!" from "I Can't Write Left Handed" and I'm happy to oblige because I can't stand it either. I had an inkling I wouldn't like this album when I heard it was being promoted through Starbucks. By and large I haven't liked the company's taste in music.
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