Recordings

James Sullivan
Archers of Loaf open for Weezer on Sat, March 11, at the Fillmore in S.F.; call (510) 762-2277.

Mary J. Blige
My Li>fe
(UPTOWN/MCA)

This entire album takes you way back to the day when polyester ruled and doin' the bump was cool. My Life succeeds in keeping the rich melodic sounds and soulful lyrics of the past without compromising a thing in the process.

The rocking drama of "I'm the Only Woman" almost makes you forget that this is supposed to be a sad song. When Blige breaks it down with the lyric, "do thangs ... do thangs," just grab a tissue and keep on dancing. The title track is a song every preacher in America could use in his or her pulpit to rouse the congregation: "Life can be only what you make it/ When you're feeling down you should never fake it."

The classic remake of "I'm Going Down" is full of peaks and valleys with the sun shining through onto the horns, cymbals, drums, bass violins and the heart-aching vocals. And who would have thought the best song of 1995 would be called "Be Happy"? If you listen to this one 10 times in a row, you'll come out believing that anything is possible. Barry White must have blessed this song -- I envision him in full mackdaddy '70s wear, tilting his head to the beat, holding his cobra-faced walking cane with ruby eyes, waving one hand in the air and urging, in that oh-so-sexy voice, "Go Mary!" Everything that worked musically in the '70s works here: bass line, violins, beat and that Blige voice. My Life proves that if it felt good in the '70s, hell yeah, it still feels good in the '90s.

Anita Lofton

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