Michael's Top 5 of 2007

by Michael R. Smith

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5. Prince -- Planet Earth

For disc jockeys not to give this album a chance to be heard was a downright shame. The single “Guitar” is funky fun of the first order, while “The One U Wanna C” is the most easily accessible Prince pop song in years. Harkening back to the age of disco, “Chelsea Rodgers” is the one throw-down dance track that will make you get up on your feet and, in Prince’s words, “shake it like a Juicy Juice.” The mid-tempo “Lion Of Judah” starts out sounding a little like the classic “Purple Rain,” but unfortunately that’s where the similarities end. The closer “Resolution” is a peace anthem that will have many listeners yearning for another Hands Across America, though I don’t think I’d go that far.

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4. Siouxsie -- Mantaray

Reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “Pain That I’m Used To,” the lead-off single “Into A Swan” contains plenty of rough and heavy sounding guitars. Thankfully, they aren’t disruptive here, nor do they overwhelm Siouxsie’s distinctive vocal -- which is in fine form. She sings “I’m on the verge of an awakening / a new kind of strength for me” with such conviction, you know she means every word. Siouxsie is like a phoenix rising up from the ashes and it is a sight to behold. Consider it a lesson in how to properly ride the ebb and flow of the cycles of life. Her art shines through on the more experimental tunes, most notably “Drone Zone.” The most thrilling stretch is in the first four songs, all of which are definite keepers. It’s almost as if she has taken the best elements from her past career and tweaked them to fit her present state of being.

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3. Annie Lennox -- Songs Of Mass Destruction

Titles like “Dark Road,” “Through The Glass Darkly” and “Lost” are just what the manic depressives of the world have ordered. It’s dark, gloomy and simply perfect for those of us who seem to get more out of music like this than any amount of time spent in a psychiatrist’s office. If anything, much of this record could be used as an adjunct to one’s therapy. I’m not kidding. But like our moods, the music here is ever changing. When the upbeat numbers kick in (and there are more of those this time around), the emotionally-charged lyrics give the listener a moment of freedom and catharsis from their melancholic burdens. Hearing Annie break free at the end of “Love Is Blind” when she recites “Tired of being down on luck, tired of being beaten up, tired of being so screwed up” lets you know that Annie means some serious business.

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2. Bruce Springsteen -- Magic

See full review by Jason Warburg.

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1. Bjork -- Volta
See my full review.




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