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Midnight by Un-Cut

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Reviewed on 1st March 2003.

 
 

Midnight

By Un-Cut

Manchester DJ team Future Cut (Iyiola Babalola and Darren Lewis) and singer Jenna G. make up the Un-cut big sales pursuit squad. (see the Warner financed flyers advertising the current single all over town)

Their 6 track promo CD, including the biggish selling "Midnight" comes (loosely) out of UK garage and drum and bass territory. It sounds aspirationally American, with musical links with Prince, Tamla Motown, Northern Soul and downtown soul-funk. To my untutored ears it sounds a lot like three people (one with a great singing voice) having a long series of sessions in a studio with a lot of time and plenty of samples, synths and savvy. It's escapist in all the ways that urban music ever has been. It includes badly EQ'd patches of fake Las Vegas intro and glued on applause from the Skyline Lounge somewhere in Amerika. (jokes?)

I guess they get the sound they want, but I hear one musician (Jenna G.) and two cut and paste merchants providing the cartoon backdrop from chunks of excellent music that used to be real. I feel the need to apologise to all three of them for hearing this. But that's what I hear. Jenna G. admires Alicia Keys. I hear over-produced syrup. Un-cut hear "Senseless" and weep with emotion. I hear it and remember that Stax, not Motown always had the emotional edge. It's a taste thing, and I just find Un-cut too "sophisticated", with stuff that's bought in, sampled in or engineered in. I don't believe the string orchestra, the Hammond and the vocal backing group anymore. I cringe at the addition of white tie dinner table audience applause. It reminds me of Gordy Berry and Barry White when I should be respecting Jackie Wilson.

Last track "Music is M" shows (perversely) that a great singer isn't necessarily a good talker ("destrooctive" ?). Stupid jazz backing and a trite monologue undermines my faith that this trio really do have their own musical voice. Brilliant within their own sphere, OK. But it doesn't attract me in to find out more. "You'd have to be me to understand the things I say the things I do ." (from "Things You Do") is a deeply ironic line. The whole point of music that it can connect and communicate at levels beyond language. You don't have to be the artist to get the message. You don't have to live their life. If you are a musical talent you can, precisely, put the complexity of your own reality into someone else's heart.

But Jenna G. is one hell of a singer. And there are live kids out there who haven't got Aretha Franklin right now. Jenna will keep their spirits up and their ambitions alive. Expect plenty of this on the radio. Also go look for "I'd rather go blind" by Etta James (issued in 1967 on Chess Records).

 

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