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**Introduction** Over the past year or so I have become a big fan of Maxwell and his music. Little is really known about this rather reclusive artist, known only as Maxwell he was born in New York in May 1973. He started recording his debut album in 1994 and continued into 1995 and "Urban Hang Suite" was released on 2nd April 1996. Although Maxwell has not seen the sales of some of his Neo Soul contemporary's he has however built a strong fanbase and critical acclaim from music critics. **Urban Hang Suite** The debut album was recorded with the help of Stuart Matthewman, Leon Ware, and funk guitarist Melvin "Wah-Wah Watson" Ragin. The album was recorded in New York and Chicago and combines the styles of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Prince to create Maxwell's own musical signature which although drawing on those influences is still unique and of artistic merit. Here is my review of the debut album from Maxwell. 1 Urban Theme 2 Welcome 3 Sumthin' Sumthin' 4 Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder) 5 Dancewitme 6 Till The Cops Come Knockin' 7 Whenever Wherever Whatever 8 Lonely's The Only Company 9 Reunion 10 Suitelady 11 Suite Theme **My Review** "The Urban Theme" gets things off with a catchy guitar riff similar to Curtis Mayfield. The Sax then comes in with the catchy rolling beat and this is a very flowing track with some great hooks and melodies. It's a great short little musical intro to get the album started. "Welcome" follows with a similar musical style but you also get the laid back vocals from Maxwell. This track is about wanting your partner to be comfortable. I like the combination of the gentle vocals and the catchy beat and also the wah wah guitar which comes in midway. Very good track which hints at what's to come. "Sumthin, Sumthin" is another catchy up tempo track with some great funky licks. This is a very seductive track about getting it on. The vocal flow of Maxwell comes through with this one and the backing vocals add a smooth touch. Another very good track to open the first half of the album with. Good stuff. "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" is another up tempo track with some funky licks again. This track really showcases the wonderful falsetto from Maxwell which was not really showcased in the previous tracks. Another very flowing track which is probably the best so far. "Dancewitme" is another very funky up tempo track with a good beat and some rolling bass hooks. I think this track has a little Michael Jackson like Vibe to it. Similar to the sound from Off the Wall or Thriller. Another very fine slice of funky Neo Soul from Maxwell here. "Till The Cops Come Knockin" is the first real ballad on the album, This is a brilliantly flowing track which tells the story of a romantic evening in which leads into frantic passionate sex which leads to the police being called by the Neighbour due to the Noise. This is a very impressive track. Great stuff. "Whenever Wherever Whatever" Is a significant change of pace from the previous tracks as it's a stripped down ballad about devoting yourself to someone you love and that you will be there for them. This track really shows off the emotion in her voice as well as his gorgeous falsetto which is very impressive indeed. Lovely song. "Lonely's The Only Company" is another beautiful track which is laid back and seductive. His gorgeous falsetto is there again in all it's glory and this song just feels so good and relaxing. There's some really backing music and a catchy beat that runs through the track. Beautiful Sax comes and goes. Wonderful. "Reunion" is another fantastic ballad which has a great flow. This track is about when you don't see that special someone for a short time and how you are when you meet each other again. Another very fine ballad indeed with his vocals showing that great falsetto again. Wonderful stuff. "Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)" Is another very fine track indeed. This Mid tempo ballad has a great flow and the seductively smooth backing vocals add a great touch to Maxwell's fine vocals. This is another outstanding ballad. Wonderful stuff. "The Suite Theme" is the closing track on the album and is a real fine beauty of a song. It opens gently and then a lovely taut beat comes in with some really beautiful piano. This track is 6 minutes of pure seductive pleasure. Beautiful, Just Beautiful. This then leads into the hidden track which starts at 12.06 and ends at 13.47. The short bonus is an instrumental of "Till The cops come Knockin". **Overall** If it had carried on From the first half of this album I would have thought this was a very good album but as It takes a change for the second half of the album that is just magical I have to say that this is a tremendously good album which deserves it's plaudits. Wonderful Music, Wonderful Vocals and Heartfelt Lyrics combine to create an album that is a pleasure to listen to. Wonderful.
Maxwell's Urban Hang suite is his impressive debut released in 1996. The album is regarded as a classic and it's not hard to see why. When this album first came out I had just left primary so had little interest in Maxwell. It is in the year of 2003 however, that matured in age as well as my taste in music, I saw this album on sale for about £5 in HMV. Having been aware and fond of hits such as the upbeat retro-funk styled 'Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)' which catapulted Maxwell into the spotlight and the sensual slow jam 'Till the Cops Come Knocking' I decided to purchase it. This album is for lovers of funk and is heavily tinged with jazz. All of the music is produced using live instruments and if you like your soul music with an authentic feel, you will not be let down by this musical effort. 'The Urban Theme' acts as a warm up and invites you into the Urban Hang suite, to nod your head and tap your feet. The album has a very relaxed feel to it but a number of up-tempo songs balances it out nicely. The slow jams on this album definitely had me thinking about a special someone- both imagined and real! Such is the effect of romanticism in songs such as 'Reunion' and 'Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)' which play back to back. I really enjoy listening to this album. The style of the music and the themes of the songs are very adult orientated. I listen to the album when I am winding down most of the time but also blast out the faster paced funky tunes to have a dance around in my bedroom! High notes of eroticism can be detected on 'The Suite Theme' near the end of the album. Some find that particular instrumental with Maxwell cooing over it quite corny and two people told me it sounded like bad soft porn music. I understand what they mean on this one but like it just the same. That said I would rather listen to it on my own than in company as it's highly erotic tones are somewhat embarrassing around anyone that you're not making love to! Overall I think this is definitely worth the purchase. If you are not keen on the male falsetto however you may want to give it a miss as Maxwell uses his quite generously on this album and generally as an artist. The album creates a brilliant ambience which is quite powerful and I think this should be noted. If you are having a night in alone or with a loved one, put this on the stereo, it will soon be giving you the feel good factor.
Released in 1996, "Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite" came as the debut album from the Neo-Soul singer Maxwell. It finds him blending a variety of R&B-related musical genres (Soul, Jazz, Quiet Storm, Funk, Hip Hop etc.) in order to give a new take on a style that apparently began to run out of ideas when it came to things geared towards the mainstream commercial fan base. 1. "The Urban Theme" (Intro) 2. "Welcome" Comign off a funky, Hip Hop-utilising introductory piece, we find that here he lays out a tune that keeps the Funk rolling through the music and giving him all he needs in order to bring through the kind of feel that was felt from early eighties R&B bands who had developed out of the Soul and Funk fields into this. It is a seductive tune from him and drags you right into the swing of things from the get-go. **Five Stars** 3. "Sumthin' Sumthin'" As he guides us on to this one, he throws down one of the singles from the album and a jam that really shouldn't be overlooked when it comes to fly R&B grooves from the mid-nineties as here you get another sensual offering from him. However rather than going for the overpowering slow jam end of it all, he opts for a two-stepping-paced tune that forces you into that mood as you get into the feel of things. **Five Stars** 4. "Ascension" We get another of the massively-popular cuts from the record being brought here, and we find that we are overcome with just how incredible his ability to take songs that have very little intensity to them and take it to the point where you simply can't take anymore of the power that it hits you with. His vocals are stronger here than almost any other point on the album and so it makes it really stand out for him. **Five Stars** 5. "Dancewitme" As he hits the listeners with this one we see that we are given another tune that has a distinctive late seventies to early eighties R&B feel to it, and really you are unable to complain about the strength of the vast majority of the tunes from this time (which were directly taken as developments from the fading Funk genre). This one has Jazz thrown into it too, in order to give it that little extra depth that you don't often get with R&B tunes of the time as he shows just how far into his music he is. **Five Stars** 6. "...Til The Cops Come Knockin'" The pace suddenly drops for this one (not that we were at a particularly high tempo before) and so it seems to take you by surprise in that we are taken a step further down deeper into the sensual end of his music (and area where he is known to excel) I felt that it made for one of the biggest tunes from the album and keeps the high quality that has been seen at each stage leading up to it, here without signs of slowing any time soon. **Five Stars** 7. "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever" We get a dramatic change to the way that things go here as we find that with this one he is backed up by the acoustic guitar (rather than more conventional electronically-created production backing). I have to say that although this was able to connect him more to the ways that Neo-Soul often pushes forward with its tendency to look back towards the seventies Soul period for inspiration, it didn't do that much for me. **Three Stars** 8. "Lonely's The Only Company" Pulling things back for himself, this one finds him getting back to the more conventional stuff (taking into account the fact that, coming after D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar", this new take on R&B completely changed the game (below its mainstream surface) he comes with another tune that is filled with a variety of alternative influences that you don't tend to expect on an album from this sort of time. He speaks on how the loss of his girl has affected him and just how significant it all was for him. **Four Stars** 9. "Reunion" We get a smooth tune here as for this one he is seen to turn towards the mid to late eighties for his influences as he comes out with a Quiet Storm tune. Personally, I wasn't as into that end of R&B during that period, but I felt that the fact that Maxwell's music brings in so many alternative angles to it all meant that I simply wasn't able to dwell upon the fact that these are where its main foundations are rooted. **Four Stars** 10. "Suitelady" Here we have another powerful tune from the artist as he goes for a proposal track, and one that has him finding a way to make it seem as though it is mainly built upon its sensual elements and less on attempting to make a soppy love song that really doesn't show much originality at all. He does a very good job of it all and takes things further than you would expect, based upon the main ideas behind it and its function. **Five Stars** 11. "The Suite Theme" The album comes to a close with this track, on a song that is noticeably lengthy (as quite a few on here that last over 6 minutes). I felt that this gave him the time to take you into the right mood before opening things up. However he went about things in a different way here as he simply brings a mellowed outro that gives you time to reflect upon all that had come through the rest of the release. **Four Stars** Although it began extremely well, this album wasn't able to quite keep the consistency levels as "Brown Sugar" had the year before. The record does however offer a lot and manages to show that there is even more potential in the Neo Soul field 9as we would go on to find out when the likes of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild stepped on the scene towards the end of the nineties and early '00s.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Urban Theme
3 Sumthin' Sumthin'
4 Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)
6 Till The Cops Come Knockin'
7 Whenever Wherever Whatever
8 Lonely's The Only Company
11 Suite Theme