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What The... You Mean I Can't Sing?

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Almost 30 years after the fact, the Water Records reissue of Melvin Van Peebles' What The....You Mean I Can't Sing?, originally issued by Atlantic, is a breath of fresh air. Forget all that blaxploitation jive the way this record gets labeled in the revisionist 21st century, a categorization white people use to make themselves feel better about something they can't understand or explain. There isn't anything kitschy about What The....You Mean I Can't Sing?. It's hilarious in places, but those parts are intentional. Van Peebles' record, his first on which he sang rather than spoke, is as essential to listen to as Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On. It was meant to be popular...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Almost 30 years after the fact, the Water Records reissue of Melvin Van Peebles' What The....You Mean I Can't Sing?, originally issued by Atlantic, is a breath of fresh air. Forget all that blaxploitation jive the way this record gets labeled in the revisionist 21st century, a categorization white people use to make themselves feel better about something they can't understand or explain. There isn't anything kitschy about What The....You Mean I Can't Sing?. It's hilarious in places, but those parts are intentional. Van Peebles' record, his first on which he sang rather than spoke, is as essential to listen to as Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On. It was meant to be popular art that never got popular. Recorded at the height of Watergate madness, it is a deeply musical, funky masterpiece of rage, righteous indignation, and soulful killer grooves. Van Peebles has no less a voice than Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, and it can be argued that on tracks such as "A Birth Certificate Ain't Nothin' but a Death Warrant Anyway," "Save the Watergate 500" "If the Lord's eye is on the sparrow/What's wrong with Big Brother watchin' you?", and "Come On Write Me" "I've been cool all that I can stand/I don't wanna be, hee hee/Who gives a damn? No more....", he gets into the gut and gets what's in the lyric across. That's what a singer is supposed to do, right? Interpret the material. And Van Peebles, with a requisite sense of prophecy, humor, and an uncanny historical accuracy, gets down and does it. There are two sets of liner notes in the Water reissue set, one by Chicago critic Mitch Myers and one by Van Peebles himself where he tells it as he sees it on this album itself. There is only one problem with this amazing, wooly, greasy, funky record: there are no musician credits. Normally this might not be a problem on a little-known reissue, but the grooves and riffs here are so gritty, in the pocket, and sweaty that it would be nice to know who made them. This is urban music about race and class that pulls no punches and gives nothing away for free. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/16/2003
  • Label: Water
  • UPC: 646315712223
  • Catalog Number: 122
  • Sales rank: 209,541

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Melvin Van Peebles Primary Artist
Rhetta Hughes Background Vocals
George Davis Guitar
Tasha Thomas Background Vocals
Kenny Altman Bass
Bob Babbitt Bass
David Cohen Guitar
Leopoldo Fleming Percussion
Jerry Friedman Guitar
Arthur Jenkins Keyboards
Bob Mann Guitar
Barbara Massey Background Vocals
Andrew Smith Drums
Christie Thompson Keyboards
Harold Wheeler Conductor, Keyboards
J. Steven Soles Guitar
Tali Jackson Drums
George David Guitar
Warren Smith Percussion
Technical Credits
Tony Bongiovi Remixing
Stephen Y. Scheaffer Engineer
Harold Wheeler Arranger
Stevie Wonder Composer
Melvin Van Peebles Composer, Producer, Liner Notes, Concept
Gary Hobish Remastering
Dave Rubin Cover Design
Abdullah Rahman Artwork
LeBaron Taylor Executive Producer
Michael Myers Liner Notes
Pat Thomas Reissue Producer
Charles Blackwell Executive Producer
Mark Rubin Cover Design
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