Monday, September 17, 2007

A Handful Of Covers

Chaka Khan is set to release a new album next Tuesday. Funk This is a collection of new songs and covers, all produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Where 2004's Classikhan was a set of songbook standards backed up by the London Symphony Orchestra, this set is a return to the r'n'b and funk of her 30 year past. Who better than Jam & Lewis to make it all sound good. And sound good it does. The vibe is old school but sounds very 2007. The originals are funky and gritty (the duet with Mary J. Blige), and there are some nice ballads (including leadoff single Angel). Then there are the covers. She mashes up a couple of old Rufus songs on Pack'd My Bags/You Got The Love which also features Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden. She covers her peers - Joni Mitchell's Ladies Man and Carly Simon's You Belong To Me (a duet with Michael McDonald). The influences are where I'm really feeling Chaka, as she takes on Hendrix' Castles Made Of Sand and Prince's Sign O' The Times. The Hendrix tune is smoking, with lots of dreamy backtracked guitar and a wailing solo. Chaka lets the vocals smoulder, and it really suits the song. The Prince song hits all the right notes and sounds fantastic. It's a no brainer really, with Jam & Lewis having been in on the Minneapolis sound since the get go. Chaka gets in the big vocal workout, and it's glorious hearing her multitracked. This album is a really welcome return for Chaka, and it will be interesting to see if it gets press/airplay/chart success. Go buy it next week.

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