Artist – Album: Maxwell – Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite
Released: 2nd April 1996
Sounds Like: foreplay
In the mid 90’s the neo soul movement was born, finding success in the US - a little bit less so over here, we were in the inexcusable thralls of disposable teen pop and laddish Britpop - with it’s sophisticated re-treading of the soul and R&B sounds and stylings made popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Al Green. The big hitters in the early years of this new genre included Erkyah Badu, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill and, the subject of today’s post, Maxwell.
Unlike his illustrious contemporaries, Maxwell was wholly unable to sustain his level of success and is largely now the forgotten man of the group, chiefly because he found it so hard to follow up this album with anything approaching it’s level of suaveness and skill. Because, on this record, Maxwell is one smooth, sexual motherfunker.
Whilst the general mood and tone of the album is agreeable but unspectacular, cool but unarresting, highlights like the wonderful ‘Ascension (Don’t You Ever)’, the scorchingly hot make-out song ‘…Til the Cops Come Knockin’’ and the not-a-Shakira-song ‘Whenever Wherever Whatever’ elevate the album to a higher plain.
Unfortunately, Maxwell was unable to maintain his stamina and subsequent rendezvous’ at the studio led to largely underwhelming and overly indulgent grooves. Still, he - and his many female fans - will always have his Urban Hang Suite to remind himself of his prowess.
Albumaday... rating: 7/10
1. The Urban Theme – 2:42
2. Welcome – 5:18
3. Sumthin’ Sumthin – 4:18
4. Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder) – 5:46
5. Dancewitme – 6:15
6. ...Til the Cops Come Knockin’ – 6:56
7. Whenever Wherever Whatever – 3:45
8. Lonely’s the Only Company (I & II) – 6:22
9. Reunion – 4:53
10. Suitelady (The Proposal Jam) – 4:48
11. The Suite Theme – 13:47
Listen to ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7rm9t5S4uE
Also released on the 2nd April:
2001: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part