Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

Latin heart-throb Ricky Martin is not only back with a new album but also back in the tabloids (mostly because he’s in great shape and not because he’s come out of the closet, At least not yet). The bad news is that if you’re expecting songs resembling the Latin energy from his Living La Vida Loca-days, you’ll probably be slightly disappointed. Life incorporates a variety of influences ranging from Eastern to Reggaeton. The album has a hip-hop feel to it (with the genre’s typical hard-hitting beats and groovy bass-lines) and first single, I Don’t Care (featuring rapper Fat Joe and Amerie), is an excellent example of this influence. The Spanish version, Que Mas Da, is also great and comes closest to Ricky’s Latin roots than any other song on the album. Other highlights include I Am (featuring Voltio), the carnival-like Drop It On Me (featuring Daddy Yankee, the current king of Reggaeton), the fantastic up-beat It’s Alright (as well as its Spanish version, Dejate Lleuar), This Is Good and Stop Time Tonight, the only ballad of the set. Even with its multi-cultural sound, I found Life to be a listener-friendly and highly enjoyable album. It’s a welcome return to the global music scene.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

He might make many people weak at the knees and have one of the most recognisable voices in the local music industry, but since my first encounter with Arno Carstens – as lead singer of the then phenomenal Springbok Nude Girls – I haven’t been that impressed by his solo efforts. His second solo offering, The Hello Goodbye Boys, was one of 2005’s most-hyped local releases, but unfortunately I do not see why. Yes, the album has a number of fairly decent songs on it (like the first single, Hole Heart, and new single, Feel It) but I found the album average in general and at times quite monotonous. The Hello Goodbye Boys is very radio-friendly and its general lack of spunk is not what I would have expected from a once-famous rocker. It’s obvious that the man is an exceptional musical talent, but it’s a pity that the Arno Carstens that once rocked South Africa has lost his mojo.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

The world’s first Pop Idol, Will Young, released a new album entitled Keep On late last year. When I heard the first single, Switch It On, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the song or the Top Gun-based video shot in Cape Town. But I was happy to discover that the song isn’t the highlight of the album. Instead, tracks like the funky Ain’t Such A Bad Place To Be stand out – a song that reminds me of the streetwise sounds of Alicia Keys. There’s also the 80’s-influenced Think It Over, and the ballads All Time Love and Who Am I, a song co-written by Lucie Silvas; one of the best songs on the album. With a more modern yet decidedly retro feel, Keep On lacks the jazzy edges that featured throughout Friday’s Child. Instead it’s a more layered sound, with interesting percussion and the occasional brassy sound that come through strongly – especially on tracks like Happiness and Madness, another highlight. It’s the best CD Will has come up with to date.


Marketed and distributed by Universal

British singer, songwriter and pianist Jamie Cullum follows up on his 2-million-copy-selling debut, Twentysomething, with Catching Tales. Jamie describes it as a better representation of who he is and what he wants to be as a musician. I may be the odd one out but I found it to simply be more of the same. It offers the similar sort of jazzy numbers Jamie is best known for, but contains a number of good songs like Get Your Way, London Skies, I Only Have Eyes For You, 21st Century Kid, Catch The Sun and My Yard. Considering that many listeners will buy the album based on Twentysomething’s popularity, following the same recipe might actually be a good thing. But I don’t think it pushes any boundaries. Catching Tales will sell because Jamie Cullum does what he does well. If you’re a fan of the man, it won’t disappoint.


Marketed and distributed by Gallo Record Company

Michael Bublé is a handsome man and a talented singer, but it’s when you dress him in a tuxedo and put him on stage with a full orchestra that his charismatic personality really comes to the fore, transforming him into a crooner and entertainer of note. Caught In The Act, his latest release, comes as a CD/DVD-combo, with the CD portion containing a disappointing total of eight tracks – fortunately, all eight are exceptional. However, the album’s main selling point is the DVD portion that features a live performance recorded at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in August 2005. It’s a vibrant, interactive experience with the music as its main ingredient, and features fantastic songs like Feeling Good, Moondance, Can’t Buy Me Love, his self-penned hit, Home, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, You Don’t Know Me and a brilliant duet with Laura Pausini on You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine. It’s an exceptional package in terms of value for money and worth even more in pure enjoyment.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

Erasure was born back in the eighties when synthesizers were the instrument common to many musical acts. With frighteningly addictive pop songs, the group soon became a global phenomenon and household name. They have sold more than 20 million albums, had more than 30 hit singles, and even sold out their recent tour of the USA. Lead vocalist Andy Bell recently released a new solo album entitled Electric Blue. Co-written and recorded with Manhattan Clique (who has recently worked with Moby and Goldfrapp), the album is a collection of strikingly energetic, electro-pop tracks like Crazy, Love Oneself and Delicious (both duets with Claudia Brucken), I Thought It Was You (with Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters), the summery Shaking My Soul and the stunning See The Lights Go Out. Electric Blue reminded me of Erasure because of Andy’s trademark vocals, but it also stood out because of its originality, its strikingly strong lyrics, and instant danceability.


Marketed and distributed by SonyBMG

Carlos Santana, an absolute guru with a guitar, and an inspiration to many artists, stormed back onto the music scene in the late nineties with the release of Supernatu

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