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The Listening Room: Fifty Shades of Grey, Blackberry Smoke, D'Angelo, Ricky Martin and more...
"Fifty Shades of Grey: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"
As if we're not hot and bothered enough by the impending film adaptation of E.L. James' titillating book series, here's a set of tunes that should further, er, whip up the frenzy. There's plenty of variation among the 16 tracks here, though they're loosely unified by a chill and ambient approach that makes for more of a slow grind but generally sidesteps any of the danger implied by the story's S&M references -- save, perhaps for the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden." Annie Lennox comes close, though, with her aching, bluesy take on Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You," while the languid 2014 remix of Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" and AWOLNATION's cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" each offer a hint of menace. Ellie Goulding ("Love Me Like You Do") and Laura Welsh ("Undiscovered") bring a bit of dance-pop energy to the mix, while tracks by The Weeknd ("Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)"), Sia ("Salted Wound") and Jessie Ware ("Meet Me in the Middle") are so well-suited that they could be leftovers from their most recent album -- unlike Beyonce's "Haunted (Michael Diamond Remix)," which shows her in a different vocal light amidst spectral synthesizers and spare beats. Skylar Grey also stands out with "I Know You," an aching romantic plea that should have listeners going through plenty of Kleenex during its five minutes.
New & Noteworthy:
Blackberry Smoke, "Holding All the Roses" (Rounder): The Southern rockers from Atlanta hooked up with all-star producer Brendan O'Brien for their hard-hitting fourth studio album.
D'Angelo & the Vanguard, "Black Messiah" (RCA): The physical release of the R&B auteur's third album follows its surprise digital drop in mid-December.
Melilssa Manchester, "You Gotta Love the Life" (Long Run Entertainment): The veteran songstress' first new album in a decade features guests Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Dave Koz, Keb' Mo', Dionne Warwick and the last lyric from the late Hal David.
Love and Theft, "Whiskey on my Breath" (Hate & Purchase): The country duo returns on its third label in as many albums, returning to the independent ranks after a quick run with RCA Nashville on its self-titled sophomore set in 2012.
Ricky Martin, "A Quien Quiera Escuchar" (Sony Latin): Martin is livin' la vida Espanol on his 10th studio album, enlisting some of the top Spanish language producers and writers for this return to his roots.
JD McPherson, "Let the Good Times Roll" (Rounder): The second album from the Oklahoma roots rocker kicks up the same kind of storm as McPherson's debut and includes one track, "Bridge Builder," co-written with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.
Also Out: The Adolescents, "La Vendetta..." (Frontier); Adrenaline Mob, "Dearly Departed" (Century Media EP); Jeff Austin, "The Simple Truth" (Yep Roc); Michelle Chamuel, "Face the Fire" (The End); Dreaming, "Rise Again" (Metropolis); Father John Misty, "I Love You, Honybear" (Sub Pop); Fences, "Lesser Oceans" (Atlantic); Robert Earl Keen, "Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions" (Dualtone); Rhiannon Giddens, "Tomorrow is My Turn" (Nonesuch); Brandon Heath, "No Turning Back" (Reunion); Anne McCue, "Blue Sky Thinkin`" (Flying Machine); Neal Morse Band, "The Grand Experiment" (Metal Blade); Pete RG, "Lightning Strikes" (4L Entertainment EP); Gretchen Peters, "Blackbirds" (Scarlet Letters); Eric Sardinas & Big Motor, "Boomerang" (Jazzhaus); Bob Schneider, "The King Kong Suite Volume 1" (Shockorama); Screen Door Porch, "Modern Settler" (self-released); 6 String Drag, "Roots Rock 'N' Roll" (Royal Potato Family); Stick To Your Guns, "Disobedient" (Sumerian); Robin Trower, "Something's About to Change" (V-12); Steve Tyrell, "That Lovin' Feeling" (Concord); The Vespers, "Sisters & Brothers" (Black Suit);
From The Vaults: Exhumed, "Gore Metal: A Necrospective" (Relapse); Judy Garland, "Swan Songs, First Flights" (1201 Music); Paul Revere & the Raiders, "The Complete Columbia Singles" (Friday Music); Keith Sweat, "Harlem Romance: The Love Collection" (Elektra)
Soundtracks: Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, "Last Five Years" (Ghostlight); Various Artists, "Outlander" (Madison Gate)
New Music DVDs: AC/DC, "Every Which Way: 40 Years of Rock" (Pride); "Jeff Beck in the 1960s -- A Man For All Seasons" (Sexy Intellectual); Devo, "Hardcore Live" (MVD Visual)
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