All Hits at the House of Blues

by: Raphael Saadiq

No one can fault punters for being suspicious of hip-hop and nu soul live records; they've been ripped off too many times by technology -- leaving records sounding worse than carefully edited '70s rock albums. Singer/songwriter/producer Raphael Saadiq, formerly of Tony! Toni! Toné!, set some new standards in 2002 with his solo debut, Instant Vintage, in both songwriting and production standards, and this live date ups the ante as well. Over two CDs, Saadiq, a basic funk band with DJs, and some truly special guests tear up the House of Blues with a mix of old, new, tried, and true funky, punky nu soul jams. Offering a view of his entire 20-year career in the music biz, Saadiq kicks it solo (check the shivers he sends down your spine with "Ask of You") and with his old partners in Tony! Toni! Toné! for a seven-song mini-set. This isn't merely nostalgia, but displays the evolutionary process from the possibilities suggested by new jack swing as they evolved in Saadiq's musical iconography into his beautifully articulated brand of 21st century soul. Devin the Dude guests on "Just a Man" and Joi on "Copy Cat" and "Missing You," DJ Quick slips in for "Let's Get Down" (and Tony! Toni! Toné! is an added treat), Ledisi and Goapele are featured on "Different Times," and on the encore D'Angelo brings his tough, trouble man street soul to "Be Here." The happening thing about the guest performances is they actually add significantly to the show aspect of this as it plays on your CD player. This set grooves from start to finish with the honest, sensual, slippery funk that is nu soul's hope for the future. ~ Thom Jurek

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