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Soul - Released December 15, 2014 | RCA Records Label

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection JAZZ NEWS - Grammy Awards
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R&B/Soul - Released November 30, 1982 | Epic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
Off the Wall was a massive success, spawning four Top Ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for Thriller. Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of Thriller, since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable -- an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten (for the record, the terrific "Baby Be Mine" and the pretty good ballad "The Lady in My Life" are not like the others). This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul -- expanding the approach to have something for every audience. That alone would have given the album a good shot at a huge audience, but it also arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star as much as the network helped him. This all would have made it a success (and its success, in turn, served as a new standard for success), but it stayed on the charts, turning out singles, for nearly two years because it was really, really good. True, it wasn't as tight as Off the Wall -- and the ridiculous, late-night house-of-horrors title track is the prime culprit, arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum -- but those one or two cuts don't detract from a phenomenal set of music. It's calculated, to be sure, but the chutzpah of those calculations (before this, nobody would even have thought to bring in metal virtuoso Eddie Van Halen to play on a disco cut) is outdone by their success. This is where a song as gentle and lovely as "Human Nature" coexists comfortably with the tough, scared "Beat It," the sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine," and the frizzy funk of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." And, although this is an undeniably fun record, the paranoia is already creeping in, manifesting itself in the record's two best songs: "Billie Jean," where a woman claims Michael is the father of her child, and the delirious "Wanna Be Startin' Something," the freshest funk on the album, but the most claustrophobic, scariest track Jackson ever recorded. These give the record its anchor and are part of the reason why the record is more than just a phenomenon. The other reason, of course, is that much of this is just simply great music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soul - Released April 12, 2013 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
As Shuggie Otis never capitalized on his newfound success in the '90s, somehow incapable of cobbling together a new record in the wake of the 2001 Luaka Bop reissue of Inspiration Information, it may be easy for partisans to overrate the 2013 Legacy pairing of that 1974 album with Wings of Love, a new collection of material Otis recorded between 1975 and 2000. That quarter-century span should be a tip-off that this is not a lean, coherent, purposeful album, but rather a collection of every listenable thing Otis completed over the course of 25 years and, in that sense, it's pretty good. Part of its appeal is that it is so thoroughly out of phase with the present that some songs seem to date either much earlier or much later than their original recording (for instance, the title track "Wings of Love" feels heavily inspired by Todd Rundgren's 1975 classic "Real Man," but apparently wasn't tracked until 1990). All of Wings of Love has a slightly woozy, trippy feel, something characteristic of its one-man-band origin, where keyboards and compressed microphones create a hazy tapestry, and part of the appeal of this music is how it feels like the late '70s and early '80s without belonging to its time; it certainly doesn't feel modern, but it can't be pinned to any specific year, which is appropriate, as Otis essentially dropped out of sight and made this music in a vacuum. That isolation is certainly part of the appeal of Wings of Love, particularly because Otis isn't entirely unaware of what constituted a hit in 1987, so he overloads "Give Me a Chance" with drum machines and synthesizers that belong to the spring of that year, and part of the fun is to hear the disconnect between Otis' aspirations and what made for a hit in 1987, or how "Give Me Chance" isn't that far removed from 1977's tinny, pulsating "Don't You Run Away." Both of these are good songs, and there are other good moments here, some sounding quite different than expected (the overloaded Hendrixian guitar of "Fireball of Love"), but the fact that the 1977 and 1987 tracks do not have a great distance in either their production or sensibility doesn't speak to a unique vision, it illustrates how far into his own world Otis was; Wings of Love is the sound an eccentric who was able to run wild for years on end, never caring about whether his music would be heard. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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R&B - Released February 7, 2020 | XL Recordings

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
A year before passing away in the spring of 2011, Gil Scott-Heron released an extraordinary future-blues album, one of the most beautiful works of his entire discography, when even his most loyal fans had stopped expecting anything new from their idol standing the test of life, dope and paranoia. With I’m New Here, his generation’s most out-of-this-world poet, singer, songwriter and jazzman, and the man who was considered by many as the godfather of hip-hop blended his politically charged prose with a stripped back instrumentation produced by Richard Russell, patron of the XL Recordings label who went to collect him from Rikers Island prison in New York so that they could work together. A year later, Jamie xx from the band The xx made We’re New Here which cleverly remixed the entire album and became a fascinating example of top-tier minimal electro… To celebrate ten years since I’m New Here, Russell has called on one of the most talked-about jazzmen of the moment, drummer Makaya McCraven, to ‘reimagine’ it in his own way. The result is surprising, and sheds a new light on the opus. The original simplicity has been shunned in favour of an orgy of pure jazz improvisation, paired with a huge level of groove. Makaya is the perfect candidate for finding the right level of playing to match the crepuscular flow emitted by Gil Scott-Heron. Striking a balance between honouring the departed soul brother and affirming his own voice, the drummer appears to highlight the link between Scott-Heron and percussion. Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, his first album released in 1970, was in fact only composed of vocals and percussion. Hopefully this beautiful project We’re New Again will incite the younger generation to rediscover Gil Scott-Heron’s work, some of the most underestimated music of the 20th century. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 10, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Qobuzissime
What is my purpose? What will come of the legacy of those who have influenced me? And what will I leave behind? These are all the big questions that Jamila Woods asks herself going into her second album suitably named Legacy! Legacy!, a Qobuzissime album! Three years after the release of Heavn, the soul sister from Chicago brings together twelve songs all named after the artists that influenced them. Musicians, painters, writers, activists, poets, they’re all there! And the lucky few are: Betty Davis, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Frida Kahlo, Eartha Kitt, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sun Ra, Octavia Butler and James Baldwin. There is nothing obvious or didactic here as the young African-American who is ever-so attached to her native Chicago never does out-and-out covers but less subtle “in the style ofs” all while retaining her own distinct style. A poet one day (she acts as artistic director for YCA, a center dedicated to young poets) and a musician the other, she is even a teacher on bank holidays! As the worthy heir of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, all her words are wrapped around ultra-slick grooves with a modernized nu-soul twist. When it comes to features, Jamila Woods helps her local economy by inviting along friends that, for the most part, come from the underground scene of the Windy City: the trumpetist Nico Segal, MC Saba, Nitty Scott, theMIND, Jasminfire. Chance the Rapper’s protégé has mixed intelligence and class, commitment, enjoyment and groove into 49 minutes. Perfect. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | Motown

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released December 21, 1993 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released October 1, 2002 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Disco - Released September 30, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2002 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released February 8, 2011 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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R&B - Released January 1, 1973 | Polydor

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
Originally released in 1973 as a sprawling two-LP set, The Payback was one of James Brown's most ambitious albums of the 1970s, and also one of his best, with Brown and his band (which in 1974 still included Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, St. Clair Pinckney, Jimmy Nolen, and Jabo Starks) relentlessly exploring the outer possibilities of the James Brown groove. Stretching eight cuts out over the space of nearly 73 minutes, The Payback is long on extended rhythmic jamming, and by this time Brown and his band had become such a potent and nearly telepathic combination that the musicians were able pull out lengthy solos while still maintaining some of the most hypnotic funk to be found anywhere, and on the album's best songs -- the jazzy "Time Is Running Out Fast," the relentless "Shoot Your Shot," the tight-wound "Mind Power," and the bitter revenge fantasy of the title cut -- the tough, sinuous rhythms and the precise interplay between the players is nothing short of a wonder to behold. And even the album's lower-key cuts (such as the lovelorn "Doing the Best That I Can" and "Forever Suffering") sink their hooks into the listener and pull you in; quite simply, this is remarkable stuff, and even Brown's attempts at lyrical relevance (which were frankly getting a bit shaky at this point in his career) are firmly rooted enough to sound convincing. The Payback turned out to be one of James Brown's last inarguably great albums before he hit a long fallow streak in the mid- to late '70s, but no one listening to this set would ever imagine that this was the work of an artist (or a band) about to run out of gas. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Soul - Released December 5, 1995 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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R&B - Released May 17, 2010 | Bad Boy - Wondaland

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
Any misgivings about Janelle Monáe's Bad Boy deal are nullified by the briefest contact with this, an extravagant 70-minute album involving more imagination, conceptual detail, and stylistic turnabouts than most gatefold prog rock epics. Credit Bad Boy's Diddy for allowing Monáe to fully explore the singularity on display through Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase, and work with her Wondaland crew on a bigger budget. The ArchAndroid not only picks up where The Chase let off, but contains both the second and third Metropolis suites in one shot with no discernible “let’s make some hits now” intervention. The packaging alone -- the elaborate crown, the inspiration listed beside each song, etc. -- provides much to process. Liner notes from the vice-chancellor of the arts asylum at the Palace of the Dogs, Monáe’s residence, outline the (possible) situation fleshed out in the songs. In short, Monáe was genoraped in the 28th century, sent back to the 21st century, and had her organic compounds cloned and re-purposed for the existence of ArchAndroid Cindi Mayweather, whose directive is to liberate Metropolis from a secret society of oppressors. Understanding all this stuff enhances the enjoyment of the album, but it is not required. A few tracks merely push the album along, and a gaudy Of Montreal collaboration is disruptive, but there are numerous highlights that are vastly dissimilar from one another. “Tightrope,” the biggest standout, is funky soul, all locomotive percussion and lyrical prancing to match: “I tip on alligators, and little rattlesnakers/But I’m another flavor, something like a Terminator.” Just beneath that is the burbling synth pop of “Wondaland,” as playful and rhythmically juicy as Tom Tom Club (“So inspired, you touch my wires”); the haunted space-folk of “57821” (titled after Monáe’s patient number); and the conjoined “Faster” and “Locked Inside,” packing bristling energy with a new-wave bounce that morphs into a churning type of desperation worthy of Michael Jackson. Monáe might not have much appeal beyond musical theater geeks, sci-fi nerds, and those who like their genres crossed-up, but no one can deny that very few are on her creative level. She can sing, sang, and scream like hell, too. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Soul - Released March 22, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Unusual Suspects - The Qobuz Standard
Among Aretha aficionados, Amazing Grace has long been considered one of her high-water marks, since it captured her glorious return to her gospel roots in front of a live audience. The original 1972 album contained just 14 tracks, culled from two live performances with the Southern California Community Choir, Ken Lupper, and the Rev. James Cleveland at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Fans have long wished for the release of the two complete concerts -- which is exactly what Rhino's Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings gives them. Over the course of two discs and 29 tracks, every performance Franklin gave that January, along with comments from Cleveland and solo tracks from Lupper and the Choir, is unfurled, and if anything, the music is even more impressive when heard complete and unedited. Of course, the nature of this set makes it of interest primarily to dedicated fans, but they'll likely be delighted by the entire package. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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