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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Bow Wow/Omarion, Dave Matthews Band and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2007

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Bow Wow/Omarion, “Face Off ” Columbia **1/2

It may not have the magnitude of, say. the R. Kelly and Jay-Z teaming of 2002, but this pair of young bucks actually manages to better their elders on their first-ever full-length joint affair. Rapper Bow Wow (or, as he calls himself here, Bow Weezy) and singer Omarion have paired up before, for the Scream Tour IV, for instance, and on Bow Wow’s 2005 hit “Let Me Hold You,” which marked a Top 10 debut for each artist. There’s a certain might and variety to this collaboration; Omarion has cut a commanding presence since his days with B2K, but Bow Wow — who’s now 20 and four years removed from the Lil prefix — sounds more mature and assured, confidently flowing between and atop his partner’s vocal hooks. They’re certainly happy to take their music in adult directions as well; while there’s a pop chart-friendly innocence to the first single, “Girlfriend,” other tracks — the Latin-flavored “Hey Baby (Jump Off),” the T-Pain-produced “He Ain’t Gotta Now,” “Bachelor Party,” “Can’t Get Tired of Me” and (duh!) “Take Your Clothes Off” — are unapologetically lascivious and explicit boys to men moments. The duo has its strut in fine form on the title track and the brash “Hood Star,” and they affect a smooth dialogue on “Listen,” with Omarion playing the cautious conscience trying to temper Bow Wow’s case of playa love. “Another Girl,” meanwhile, closes the album with Carsstyle synthesizers and rich vocal spots. The Kanye West-aping “Number Ones” and the slightly jazzy “Baby Girl” also show Bow Wow and Omarion can carry fuller productions, a nice break from the overwhelmingly spare sensibility of the rest of the album. It’s a promising start to what will hopefully be more than a one-off association.


Dave Matthews Band, “Live at Piedmont Park” (Bama Rags/RCA) ***

The latest in the Dave Matthews Band’s long line of authorized concert recordings is one of the better entries in that canon — mostly due to the sense of event at this large-scale show that raised funds for future projects in the Atlanta park. Matthews tells the crowd that “It’s hard to fit y’all into my brain!,” but he and his group — abetted by a keyboardist and trumpet player — manage to deliver the goods via long workouts on the jazzy “Two Step,” the Latin-flavored “You Might Die Trying,” a seriously funky “Louisiana Bayou” and a full-band take of “Cornbread,” which is one of three new songs here. Guest appearances by Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band, which opened the show, make things a touch more special, although the DMB’s own performance is the real star of this show.


Birdman, “5*Stunna” (Cash Money) — The Cash Money label CEO (aka Baby), welcomes guests Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and Rick Ross to his first solo set in two years.

Interpol, “Interpol Live”

(Capitol) — A six-song concert EP that’s being sold exclusively at independent music retail outlets.

Lorie, “2lor en Moi” (Columbia) — A new set of songs from the prodigious French pop singer.

Mario, “Go” (J) — The Baltimore R&B singer’s third album is bolstered by collaborations with Ne-Yo, Timbaland, Alicia Keys, Nelly, Akon, Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes and more.

Pink Floyd, “Oh By The Way”

(Capitol) — A limited edition box set featuring the legendary prog rockers’ 14 studio albums.

Radiohead, “Radiohead Box Set” (Capitol) — This collection of the British group’s first seven albums can be purchased physically or as a USB Stick.

Sevendust, “Retrospective, Vol. 2” (Asylum) — A CD/DVD package that includes six live tracks, three brand new studio cuts and more than two hours of video footage.

Beanie Sigel, “The Solution”

(State Property/Rock-A-Fella) — The Philadelphia MC’s fourth album lives large with guest shots by R. Kelly, Scarface, Styles P and more.

Soundtrack, “The Great Debaters” (Atlantic) — The musical companion to this Denzel Washingtondirected film features period pieces by Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, Sharon Jones, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and more.

Wu-Tang Clan, “8 Diagrams”

(Motown) — The celebrated rap collective’s first new album in six years (and first since the 2004 death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard) has been getting lots of ink for its Beatles’ sampling track “My Heart Gently Weeps” which features Erykah Badu, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante and the late George Harrison’s son Dhani.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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