Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hey, iTunes! ADD THIS ONE! ;D

Rob & Fab
Rob & Fab
Financed by Taj Records
Released by Joss Entertainment

I have always been of the firm belief that "charting" isn't a measure for success. Just because something isn't in the Billboard Top Ten (or even Top 100, for that matter) doesn't mean it isn't great and/or influential. Case in point: Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" album. Does it matter who's considered The Flavour Of The Week, especially these days? It's not like obviously talent is still in Billboard charts the way it once was during the 80s and previous decades: now you gotta search for it.

This grossly underlooked gem is a true diamond in the rough, and it richly deserves an iTunes re-release. Pretty much everybody knows the story behind it, so I'm not going to go into depth on its background; I'll just skirt the basics. Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, a.k.a. Rob & Fab, were once known as the guys who had been models and singers before becoming trapped as the lip-synching frontmen of Milli Vanilli. I was personally never a Milli Vanilli fan; when they first came out, they annoyed me like crazy. I thought they looked ridiculous in those videos, I didn't like (what I thought at the time were) their voices much, and they seemed to be all over the place in the same way as The New Kids On The Block were. When the scandal first broke, I rolled my eyes and thought, "Well, at least I won't have to hear that annoying music anymore." And that was that, as far as I was concerned.

Well, while embarking on my first animation gig waaaaay back in the early 90s, I had stumbled across this little ditty in a music store, and while my interest was peaked, especially since I found out that it was getting strong reviews, I didn't check it out at the time for three reasons:  First, I was deep in "retro rediscovery" mode and was too busy investing in stuff like Joni Mitchell and The Doors. Second, I didn't get the buy music during that time very much due to lack of money, and especially Three, I was afraid it would sound like Milli Vanilli. I mean, can you blame me? How was I to know what it would sound like, especially since the stores in question didn't seem to be playing it?

Well, just recently I had managed to find a copy of Girl You Know It's True for a quarter in a local thrift store, and had picked it up just for old times' sake. And I was startled to discover that I was suddenly listening to it with a slightly fondness and an general "Ahh, those were the cool 'ol days" vibe I never would have imagined. If anyone had ever told me that I would be owning, much less fairly enjoying, Milli Vanilli's album way back then, I would have sworn they were crazy.

But that aside, I mentioned this phenomena to a friend, who then asked me, "Oh yeah? Well have you ever heard the Rob & Fab album?" No, I had of course replied. So I was loaned their copy. Just last night.


Not only can they sing, but their album as a whole beats the living stuffing out of Girl You Know It's True ANYTIME. This may seem a bit of a jarring listen at first when you're used to how Milli Vanilli recordings sounded simply because you're used to the other vocals, and this album sounds nothing at all like MV; it's a heckuva lot more fun. ;) Fab is singing lead here and is a genuine natural, and Rob, while his singing voice is not as strong, provides both backup and rapping, and the songs are vastly superior. For one thing, the style is far more enjoyable without a trace of sampling: Fab has a cool voice that falls somewhere between Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson, with the emphasis of course being on Michael, and he belts out this stuff with a sheer honesty. I've heard a few pretentious wiseguys out there attempt to nitpick at his vocals the same way they have with Linda Ronstadt's performance on her famous Nelson Riddle collaberations when in reality she did a beautiful job, but I couldn't care less; Fab can sing, and he can sing well. Check out their music video and see for yourself; this is the sort of album I wish with all my heart and soul I had given a chance back then. Oh, and incidentally, Fabrice has new single out as well right now, and he's still recording. ;) (Sadly, his pal Rob died years back.)

Now that I think back on the fact that I didn't personally care for the Milli Vanilli sound/style back then, I'm suddenly wondering today: is the reason why I didn't like it is because, perhaps because I'm an artist, maybe somewhere within my subconscious I was sensing that something was wrong? That could very well be, as I suddenly realize that when I now look at footage of the "real" Milli Vanilli singers I think to myself, "Yeah, those voices look like they naturally belong to those people," while watching Rob and Fab at the foreground (without my knowing all that time that they were only lip-synching, of course) during the years of the act's fame somehow just struck me as being so unlikeably pretentious. All I know is, Rob & Fab shakes SERIOUS booty, each and every track on it is a winner, and it deserves a far larger audience. So if you enjoy what you hear on Youtube, and I think you will if you genuinely enjoy melodic, dancable R&B as much as I do, then please go to Apple's iTunes request page and let them know you'd love to see it available for purchase!

Prices for this out-of-print recording tend to be sky high on Amazon, especially since only around 3000 copies could be printed at the time due to financial restraints. but iTunes appears to be developing a rep for re-released long-out-of-print albums with cult followings, so I'm hoping they'll eventually do the same with this one. I have personally put in a request for it; check it out sometime!

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