dimanche 5 août 2012

Mint Condition - Definition of a Band (RNB)

1. Definition Of A Band
 2. Change Your Mind
 3. You Don't Have To Hurt No More
 4. Gettin' It On
 5. What Kind Of Man Would I Be
 6. Let Me Be The One
 7. Definition Of A Band
 8. Ain't Hookin' Me Up Enough
 9. Funky Weekend
 10. I Want It Again
 11. On & On
 12. The Never That You'll Never Know
 13. Asher In Rio
 14. Raise Up
 15. On & On (Reprise)
 16. Sometimes
 17. Missing
 18. If It Wasn't For Your Love 

 Throughout the 90's most artists in R&B,even famed legacy artists with a huge influence on the music scene were being forced to be pigeonhold into one or several catagories in order to survive. During the time this album was recorded you basically had two options:neo soul or some varient of hip-hip/R&B and it's a state in the R&B,soul and funk world that fifteen years on has yet to be improved upon to any serious degree. This Minneapolis sextet put the city into relevenece on the music scene for the 90's the same way that Prince did for the 80's and Mary Tyler Moore did in the 70's. One reviewer wisely put it that while Mint Conditions main claim to fame was the use of live instrumentation. Well...so what?We heard that before with The Roots and Toni Toni Tone. The question is in a musical environment that was totally dominated by very commercial styles of hip-hop based R&B that was sounding predictable what use was it to have strong instrumental skills anyway since the commercial enviroment worked against you? This album finds itself in that same situation. Cover art flaunting their instrumental nature aside a good bulk of this album,about half actually is unoffensive but rather generic sounding hip-hop/R&B that,frankly sounds as if it could've been made by anyone. There's nothing wrong with songs like "Change Your Mind" and "Gettin' It On" but these songs could've been ten other songs from ten other artists in the mid 90's structurally. Interestingly enough the bands instrumental ability finds the most creativity in their interludes,similar to EWF although that band was thriving in such a more creatively stimulating commercial music environment no one noticed as much with them likely. "Asher In Rio" and the title opener,with their jazzy latin flavors are the best of them and should've been worked into more full songs. In terms of sheer funkiness this album really breaks out on "Funky Weekend",which does show their strong groove potential outside the hip-hop relm with it's bass oriented rhythms while "Raise Up" and "Missing" have some wonderully progressive jazz style chord sequences. Even the majority of the more commerical of these songs have some excellent instrumental turns on piano and sax I cannot say this is an absolutely terrible album but one with an ear towards well produced live instrumentation can tell this band could and still can do a whole lot more than they do. Perhaps it was the need to be commercially relevent in their time,which meant sticking like glue to some variet of hip-hop styling. And I am not bashing the last two decades of music here even if I don't feel it was at all creatively stimulating as what came before. In the end Mint Condition became mainly based on a slogan and there are many of them:"they're such great singers" and,in their case "they play REAL music". And as we're finding out more and more,even in past decades all the live instrumentation and production in the world will never take the place of innovative,forward thinking songcraft and harmonic sophistication. I truely believe from what I hear on this album Mint Condition have that in spades but they try to keep up with the times and the result is a sound the underscores their own abilities as a result. Suppose it all depends on what your looking for in modern R&B.

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