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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Urban Hang Suite' & 'BLACKsummers'night' [Vinyl]
Artist - Maxwell

For any one truly still not in the know, Gerald Maxwell Rivera, better known by his stage name Maxwell, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actor. Along with fellow musicians D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell has been credited with helping to shape what has been termed the "neo soul" movement that rose to prominence during the late 1990s.

Maxwell is now to be celebrated with Special Limited Edition 12″ Vinyl releases of both his debut album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (1996) and his fourth album, BLACKsummers'night (2009). Even better for all fans of collectible vinyl, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite – 20th Anniversary Edition is now being released as a wonderful Metallic Gold 2LP 12″ 150gram Vinyl and Maxwell’s BLACKsummer’snight as a Metallic Silver 12″ 150gram Vinyl edition (1st ever time in the US on vinyl!)

The history of both albums is deep, and resonates through into the final mixes that were subsequently released. Maxwell began working with songwriter Leon Ware and noted guitarist Wah Wah Watson to record his debut Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite in the early 1990s. Recording sessions for the album took place in 1994 and 1995 at Electric Lady Studios, RPM Studios, Sorcerer Studios and Chung King Studios in New York City, and at CRC Studios in Chicago, Illinois.

After production for the album was completed in 1995, the finished product was presented to Columbia Records in Spring of that same year. However, it was shelved for nearly a year, due to issues with Columbia's management, the label's extensive reorganization and record executives' doubts of the album's commercial potential.

As for the album itself, well, it's like that perfectly mixed sauce, or when the bartender hands you a long island ice tea to die for on a hot day, or that perfect golden pancake cooked to perfection. Nothing else needs to be added or taken away for Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite is exquisite the way it is. It's just that damn good, trust me.

A recording of soulful, sexy,and spiritually spacious songs flow through this work called, by many, his greatest. The music goes from high ("Ascension - Don't Ever Wonder"), to killer slow ("Urban Hang Suite") in perfect harmony. With the melding of his falsetto voice and production and playing of Stuart Matthewman, along with one of the best sounding bands that envelops Maxwell from the inside out, musically, these tracks are fantastic slow burns from start to finish.

Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite – 2LP 12″ Metallic Gold 150gram Vinyl

Side A
1. "The Urban Theme"
2. "Welcome"
3. "Sumthin' Sumthin'"

Side B
1. "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)"
2. "Dancewitme"
3. "...Til the Cops Come Knockin'"

Side C
1. "Whenever Wherever Whatever"
2. "Lonely's the Only Company (I&II)"
3. "Reunion"

Side D
1. "Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)"
2. "The Suite Theme"

'Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite: 20th Anniversary' [Vinyl] Purchase Link

The booklet included also includes a very special pair of new essays: 1) an appreciation of Maxwell and his music by noted R&B scholar, music/culture critic, journalist and filmmaker Nelson George; and 2) a behind-the-scenes reminiscence on the making of Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite penned by music industry veteran Mitchell Cohen; who, as Senior Vice President of A&R at Columbia Records, signed Maxwell to the label and helped shepherd the music from raw concept to full realization.

Recording sessions for BLACKsummers'night took place during 2007 to 2009 at Chung King Studios, Bowery Digital, and Platinum Sound Recording Studios in New York City. The album was produced entirely by Maxwell and musician Hod David and, at that time, the album was also to serve as the first part of his scheduled trilogy of albums.

During this time, and after seven years of not performing, he appeared as a surprise musical guest on the 2008 BET Awards, where he performed the song "Simply Beautiful" in a tribute to soul singer Al Green, shocking fans and the audience alike with his ability to still perform well, but also with his new look, his trademark dreadlocks and pork-chop sideburns gone, replaced with a more relaxed and mature look.

The album BLACKsummers'night was released on July 7, 2009 and received universal acclaim from music critics. Commercially the album was a success, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart in July 2009, with first-week sales of 316,000 copies, serving as Maxwell's highest first-week sales.

Lyrically, BLACKsummers'night's high drama songs are confessional, emotional outbursts that dare to open the door to listeners in the middle of a discussion, trusting you to understand the story. These lyrical decisions sometimes make these songs feel unfinished, like spying journal entries opened at its center.

In Maxwell's forgoing of traditional pop song structures for an organic free flow of musical ideas, this album is closer to bebop jazz or the neo-retro Quantic Soul Orchestra's brand of soul, when the fan expectation is for R.Kelly's more straightforward "Fortunate," Maxwell's highest charting single to date.

Too often the most loosely structured tunes on BLACKsummers'night beg for a more definitive center of gravity to anchor its conceits and give listeners a point of entry to accompany these musicians' wild ride.

Vocally, Maxwell is different here too. The fragility and vulnerability of his falsetto vocals is routinely replaced with a more testicular, sanded natural. Instead of breathtaking feathery notes to express his trademark sensitivity, testimonial verses and pained growls are offered as emotional substitutes.

hen Maxwell does sing in his acclaimed false as in the mournful "Stop The World," his highs are audibly heavier and more rougher with age. You know that it's Maxwell, but not the Maxwell you remember.

BLACKsummer’snight – 12″ Metallic Silver 150gram Vinyl

Disc: 1
1. "Bad Habits"
2. "Cold"
3. "Pretty Wings"
4. "Help Somebody"

Disc: 2
1. "Stop the World"
2. "Love You"
3. "Fistful of Tears"
4. "Playing Possum"
5. "Phoenix Rise"

'BLACKsummers'night' [Vinyl] Purchase Link