Tag Archive: about.com


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I have known about Mark Tara since 2006, when I was first assigned his single, “Different Love” to review by my then Editor at www.about.com/dancemusic, Nashville’s “DJ Ron” (Slomowicz).

Since then I learned much more about Toronto’s Mark Tara and his varied talents which include being very astute as a creative website developer.

 

“Creative” is the adjective I can use multiple times to describe Mark’s latest musical release, “Number One”, which is now available for your ears.  The proof is in the first sentence of his press release, which describes the single as “the perfect blend of talent and technology”.  This alludes to the virtual collaboration with co-producers, The Netherlands’ Matt Pop, who commented, “It’s always a pleasure working on a strong tune with great vocals – that was very much the case with Number One.” and the Klubjumpers of the USA, whose Dan Matthews added, “It was great working with Mark Tara on Number One. Very appealing lyrics to the song with Mark’s great voice just adds life to [The KlubJumpers] remix. ‘Sure to be a Hit on many DJ’s Radio Mix shows Play List.”

 

Number One” is sparkling and brilliantly fierce as dance tracks go these days! I am so happy that Mark thinks enough of me to have sent me the advance video and colorful follow-up finished track.  I like the way the video opens with a curtain going up on a stage and then the multi-boxes of Tara performing marquee-style – it ends with the curtain going down on the show. Great stuff!  

 

“We live in days of making dreams come true,” says Mark Tara. With the advent of WE TRANSFER, a website allowing users to email files as large as 2 gigs, (Wow!) digital distribution sites and DSLR camera technology, which means that the future is indeed here, allowing musicians like Mark to present his unique talents to a global market – or even the musical gift anthem to the US President and Supreme Court in the aftermath of their recent apparent affirmation of “gay marriage’- strange bedfellows, indeed!  Mark is a kinder, gentler and prettier ‘RuePaul’, if you will allow the analogy. Sometimes it seems that Mark’s moves in the video are a parody of female singers, but as with many things these days her in ‘the future which is now’, it IS what it IS.

 

I could loop this song and listen to it or play it in my club over-and-over again, ad infinitum! As Toronto-Trinidadian Mark revealed in one of my prior music critic interactions with him, “”You Rock!” I give this song four lucky stars out of five, remembering that this is just one song of an anticipated forthcoming album (I hope).  And I will say this, without the video, like back in my younger days of just having a 45rpm vinyl or a 12” vinyl or single CD first, this might just be “another dance cut” vying for attention.

I just “liked” it on my You Tube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/mooseydeucytarget=”_blank”> and you should too!  Большое спасибо, Марк!

 

Check out Mark Tara’s Official Website: http://marktara.com for more VIP treatment.

 

 

 

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During the decade of the 2000s, I penned many music reviews for my friend DJ Ron of Nashville and the site About.com. Warming you up for another original here on my blog this 2013 Fourth of July weekend, here is one of them from 2008 with proper respect and appreciation to the aforementioned people in this paragraph.

Once upon a time there was a musical that I never heard about called Damn Yankees which inspired Mark Tara to compose “Lola” as an homage. “The record Lola was actually going to be more of a spiritual record”, Mark explained to me, “Hence the bonus tracks “The Beginning”… (Which I think should have lead the album because its fantasy-driven lyrics really get your attention) “Then the style of the record totally changed and I fashioned it after Donna Summer’s classic album Once Upon a Time which tells a story.”

Oh, now I understand!! Image

Hmmm, I remember Damn Yankees, but it is just the start of spring training as I write this, and I never claimed to be all-encompassing, musically, anyway.

Along with the album is a two-song sampler disc which includes “Live Your Life”, the best of the duo, which is a message song for whomever and whatever battle or demon you are fighting along with another “Lola” reprise. But why do a separate CD when there is no discernible remix or difference from the album version? There are so many versions of “Lola” that it almost makes the theme hackneyed.

Mark told me, “I saw the movie Kinky Boots where the main character does the song “Whatever Lola Wants” which is from the musical Damn Yankees. As I was watching that scene a thought popped into my head that I could totally do that song in a dance vain and well.”

Figuring Out Who Lola Is

So let us see what we can glean about “Lola” (who I thought might be his latest love interest – NOT). It has taken me longer to get into, and I’m not sure I’m feeling this song from Tara as much as “Different Language,” his last track that I reviewed. However the single definitely has its musical moments. Track four, “Sexduction” where he uses the vocoder effect to perfection, is one of the album’s best. It has a great pace and should fit satellite radio’s dance format. The next jam, “Where You Live” is another boss musical toss! There is a very good remake of the Imagination dance club classic “Just An Illusion” on here – complete with the piano solo!

When I asked Mark who this “Lola” person on the cover is, he replied, “The pic is me taken by a photographer friend of mine. I wanted to tell a story of seduction and the emotions that go along with it, this seduction has to do with me – LOLA – being in lust with a straight man and how I cast my spell on him. Gender bending – I’m totally into that – blurring the lines between male and female and what we find to be sexually appealing.” A friend of Tara’s, Stor Dubine, did a cute caricature of him for the back cover CD art.

Maybe Lola is an AlterEgo?

Now we are getting a feel for who Mark Tara really is; I then thought that “Lola” might be his alter ego, but I was wrong again when he told me, “Its not an alterego, the picture is just me. The record tells a story and I think the most telling song is “Something” which encapsulates the record as a whole”

“Sometimes” is a whispery, introspective, mid-tempo piece with am edgey touch. The song is part of an almost middle-of-the-road trifecta here in the middle of the album that ends with a made for adult Contemporary radio track “Someone To Love” which sounds like an N-Sync record circa 1999.

Tara wants to be known as “The Queer Of Pop” just like Madonna is the “Queen of Pop” and Michael Jackson is the “King of Pop.” He clarifies, but by no means do I compare Mark to these two mega-artists – they are both legends in my eyes. (This review really has taken some interesting twist and turns, lol)

 

In the finial analysis, Tara is a masterful musical storyteller with a message. This album, like the previous one Different Love flows in movements like a symphony does. There is one more nuance to our musician as he relays, “Here in Canada gay marriages are now legal and have been for the past few years – YEAH! – Just think of growing up knowing that you are gay and that you can indeed get married to someone of the same sex – I think that totally rocks!”

Aren’t those the words with which we ended the review of “Different Love” last time? Therefore the terminus is nigh, and its time to abate words and urge you to listen for yourself happily ever after with a genial three stars bestowed.

Released November 2008 on MarkTaraMusic.

You may comment on this review!

I penned this for www.about.com/dancemusic back in 2007 and it is now here on my blog…at “home” where it should be. “Hi, Chaka!!”

Long before people began anointing every singer with a big voice a “diva”, I noticed the slightly different lead singer of a band called Rufus back during my college radio days. Guys all over campus, including yours truly, fell in “love” with everything about this new star. From her big hair to her kind of cute, quirky-jerky dance movements between lyrics on stage (hear “Better Days” and “Ain’t Nobody”), we were all smitten. If you’ve ever seen her perform, then your mind will imagine her moves to the groove as this CD opens up with “Back In The Day”, a chronicle of her early Chi-town upbringing.

Yet, as I look back to the days of “Tell Me Something Good” (remember the heavy breathing?), it is probably precisely at this point that none of us could have even gotten close to that “Angel” who might have been “inconsistent, flying blind most of the time”, as portrayed on track four of this, her latest album/CD. Oh yes, she gets it real without wasting time, like saying “Funk This” [Burgundy Records 88697 09022 2], so let me tell you my story! This album has the mark of how reconciled with life’s trials Chaka is; knowing it is the right time for this long promised propitiate to her fans. It also occurs to me that the first song is an ode to her recognizing that singing became her salvation.
Next you’ll see what she’s up to here, mixing new songs and covering timeless hits when she re-classics the Dee Dee Warwick smash “Foolish Fool”.

This is not a greatest hits compact disc, but her sound flavored with the seasoned sensations of her career and life. Having been in the orchestra seats to witness many of her performances, I ask myself, “Where has the time gone?” Well, the Chaka Khan of Rufus fame is back on this one, and appropriate props are due to the sensitivities of the Jam and Lewis production duo too! She pays homage to one of my inspirations, Jimi Hendrix on “Castles Made Of Sand” (I couldn’t believe it was the same song when first I read the title on the back cover), your mind will play the trick of having you think the Experienced one came back just to play for this track. Here she talks about the album!

“Disrespectful” features Mary J. Blige, and the lively, funky beat reminds me of the 2005 jam by Amerie, “1 Thing”; I’d love to see them perform it “live”; Hell, I want to see her do all of this live, and just in – this is the track spawning smokingly funky remixed versions, for all us club DJs!

Right after we beautifully relive the magic of the “Pack’d My Bags”/ “You Got The Love” medley where it is happily noticeable to me that she has reunited with her former Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden, it becomes really time to soulfully groove as Chaka pays homage to her good friend Joni Mitchell on “Ladies Man”.
I love the background singers on that one, and speaking of accompaniments, imagine the trademark Carly Simon smile towards Michael McDonald’s duet with Chaka to her “You Belong To Me” here as well.

“Super Life” has my vote for the best single. Chaka’s material is so relatable here in the future that is now.

That this is vintage Chaka is to evoke one of those clichés that I despise, so I will say that this is refreshing funk and so necessary against the backdrop of today’s so often lame and laboriously slow “neo” R & B, and it is pure Chaka Khan, wide-ranging vocals from the gritty to the signature shouting extended vamp notes.
I believe that you will want to listen repeatedly in various situations and moods to this familiar musical friend.

Once anointed, and often referred to on the air as “lips and hips” by my friend, the late WBLS New York City programmer (and on of my reluctant radio mentors) Frankie Crocker, I feel that she is and always has been much, much more complicated that that – but we all had fun playing to that fantasy once upon a time. If there is a category for it, this album would win the comeback Grammy of the year. After meeting her backstage at the Blue Note in New York City back in 1992, and briefly hanging out with her (my date made an exit, stage right, so I could hang – a night I’ll never forget), I always knew she would bless us with more excellent music. So in a way, my original dream from college days has almost come true. As I wrote this, Ms. Khan was to make her Broadway debut in early 2008 as the character played by Oprah in “The Color Purple”, Sofia opposite BeBe Winans.? What ever happened wit dat? lol

Check out her myspace page for some contest details. No point deduction for a well thought-out and timed return equals five tasty Chakalatte stars in my guest book.

Here is one of my favorite Chaka and Rufus from the past, “Little Boy Blue” in video!

Your comments about Chaka Khan, Please? “Pajulsta”? Пожалуйста?

Various Artists – Bargrooves: Members Only (US Limited Edition)

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I reached-back for y’all to let you know that I wrote music reviews from 2004 – 2011 for About.com/dancemusic, etc.  I found this one, “about” a special U.S. edition and ninth in the series that was out and about with tracks to set you smack dab into the party groove from their first beats and rhythms!  I still love it and I just found the double CD again while  boxing for the “Exodus”.

Here we have a snazzy, attractively packaged double-disc dance CD set “Bargrooves – Members Only” US Limited Edition [Gossip Records GOS-CD-609]. It is a assemblage massed across the great pond by the UK’s Ben Sowton and the Native New Yorkers. You might want to have a little fun by allowing your musical mind’s eye to view it as a kind of “competition”!

Flavaful cover art work and advertising that your “whateva” is a “limited edition” is like putting an “Esq.” or “Ltd” behind your name, intensifying the curiosity and in this case you are well within your mounting intensity to scope this work and include it in your desideratum.

Bargrooves are smooth and at times, almost jazzy dance cuts that play in continuous mode garnering the feel that you have a DJ on your home site, or if your are in the early pre-party preparation stages of your club, you can run these CDs before your DJ arrives and hopefully get your staff in a less mundane mood. The first time I pressed play to peruse these, I imagined myself early after-work at a trendy Bar “X” in Soho; getting libationally loose and this music as the slightly-above-subliminal soundtrack. It was a guaranteed party feel, and I couldn’t wait for the place to start filling-up with potential dance partners!

Label creator and late-night DJ bar entrepreneur Ben Sowton’s disc one is mid-deep House from the outset; surprisingly un-UK-ish, and includes more instrumentals; one of which is the slightly Gare-age-ish “Les Couleurs” by Sebastian Davidson. He weaves in some Soularis seamlessly with “Closer”. That is followed by a sure-shot “get the party started” version of the staple “It’s All Good To Me (Matty’s Soulflower mix)” from someone called Physics. Rippaa!! Next on the marquee is one of our favorite contemporary dance vocalists, lady Tiger Lily with Mike Polo on a version of Nate`’s “Free” that doesn’t compromise and only enhances the message of that classic. A little further into it, it really gets polished on the tantalizing “Time In Motion” by Jay Lumen/Superflava with vocals by Sophia Cairo. The slightly more stylish Disc two is New York City-style in pace, vocals and flow. From the first note on disc two, Central Avenue’s “Tell Me” brightens your mood even though the subject matter here is the breaking-up of a love affair.

On both discs track seven is the lucky number; whether it is Ross Couch’s “Got To Be Right”, or Hott 22’ featuring Angie Zee on “Just Friends”. The latter building the intensity for the rest of the jams to follow on that disc. As I used to say while tooling around Manhattan to a Frankie Crocker/Jonathan Docker mix on WBLS about twenty years ago, “It’s got that wheeze, baby!” I even used it to get my Pajama Bar party started on the air this past Leap Day, so you know it is good!

My favorite of the entire set is “Life Is Like” (number nine) by Richard Gow with Cathy Campani delivering the sultry vocals in a foreign tongue. I had to look to make sure that I they had named the song correctly because I expected to read a non-English song title the companion track on Ben’s disc which reads “Mariposa” – one of Ben’s movin’ instrumentals, by the way. But no, her sultry, lissome foreign language stylings are more than copacetic with me no matter the title.

Actually, there are no bad cuts herein! Both albums can be felt as “lounge” grooves as well, and if that label will help you to go check them and buy, then by all means, have at it! Other categories include “soulful house”, “dance-pop” and “tech with an edge”, they tell me. Hopefully U.S. radio will get hip to this one quickly as apparently most of Asia including my Russian girls, and the southern Pacific islands including Australia are already on it. I can glean no reason to deduct points here. So hear the “grooves” yourself as I set the bar at five “you-won’t-be-sorry” stars. And on that “competition – it’s a stalemate, from your ears to your dancing feet, we all win!!

Listen and comment back at me, ok?

Pickhitt: The group Soularis (playing above) is from Russia, by the way. I interviewed and reviewed them separately also circa 2005.