Hidden Beach Recordings presents Unwrapped Vol. 2 by various artists



Hidden Beach Recordings took a lot of jazz and hip-hop fans by surprise with 2001’s “Unwrapped – Vol. 1”.  Their idea made sense though, and Vol. 2 builds on the philosophy that jazz and hip-hop can work together because they’re from the same source. 

Frank Ski’s rap says what needs to be said as he reels off “jazz, hip-hop and R&B” and rejoices that “finally, somebody got it!” 

Always on Time is mellow, bumpin’ and confident.  The gorgeous female vocals and a sublime acoustic guitar float over Andrew Gouché’s tasty bassline.  Check out the percussion solo. 

The mood gets heaver for Roll Out (My Business) with the tenor sax of HBR’s own Mike Phillips and vocoder vocals.  Patrice Rushen’s Rhodes solo is a time warp but still sounds fresh over this tough backbeat. 

I just adore Electric Relaxation.  That man Dennis Nelson’s back on acoustic guitar.  You’ve got a head-noddin’ beat, Jeff Lorber on keys and a sweet muted trumpet.  It’s all just slightly “out there” and it works for me!  It makes me want to check out the original by A Tribe Called Quest. 

Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” was heavied up by Coolio for his own Gangsta’s Paradise.  Violinist Karen Briggs fronts this intense interpretation of a hip-hop anthem. 

Try not to smile as Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against the Wall) takes you on a journey from 20’s jazz club to dancehall and back.  This is fusion at its most inventive. 

Who can’t get with Summertime?  Doesn’t matter if it’s Kool’s original blissed-out “Summer Madness”, Will Smith’s mellow rap or this groove-laden gem.  Jeff Lorber’s back, Mike Phillips is back and blowing strong.  Cool, cool, cool. 

Music captures the elegance of Marvin Gaye’s original “Turn on Some Music”, wraps it around a deeply funky bassline and drops a chant in there.  It’s even got a Clinton-esque touch with mad keyboards, horns and bass vamps all over it.  Close your eyes and Bernie Worrell and Bootsy are in the house. 

Still Not a Player is maybe more commercial.  It has a super-smooth vocal by Terry Stanton.  Patrice Rushen stretches out and Gouché’s “got it”.  Bad boy on bass – where’d you come from?  The Latin vibe in the second half and the EWF-style “badiya” chant hit me right where it hurts. 

Hard to make Nelly’s Hot in Herre any heavier – so keep it heavy but let Karen Briggs get deep and let guitarist Peter Black freak out.  Someone write and tell me if you got to a club that plays this – it rocks! 

Medley: Here They Come is a riotous shout out to hip-hop’s premier league: Black Sheep, Digable Planets, A Tribe Called Quest and Busta Rhymes.  There’s heavy guitar and even heavier beats – it’s like 21st century P.Funk and things get a little crazy. 

On the bonus disc, the philosophy behind “Unwrapped” is aired one more time.  Lighten up guys – the folks you’re selling this to already “got it”. 

I like the way things get sexy on Girls, Girls, Girls.  In the interplay between Mike Phillips’ sax and Karen Briggs’ violin, there’s some real smouldering goin’ on.  That backbeat is hypnotic too. 

In Get Money I’ve found Hidden Beach heaven.  Jeff Lorber’s chilling on electric piano to the max and the way Andrew Gouché’s ‘squelchy’ bass and that digital snare drum bounce off each other is the total bomb for me!  Gouché’s trebly and very upfront solo’s waiting for you bass freaks.  A sweet vibes solo closes this outstanding track. 

On the second version of Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against the Wall) I really focused on the muted trumpet solo by Paul Litteral and the phased trombone solo by Jeff Bradshaw. They are something special. 

There’s a short animated movie on the bonus disc, together with the software you need to view it.  It’s very eye-catching and a good indication of HBR’s image-consciousness. 

Unwrapped Vol. 1 was a milestone release and an ambitious project.  Co-producer Tony Joseph believes that the musicianship and overall sound on Vol. 2 is an improvement.  I definitely agree with that.  It’s a more complete album! 

Ideally, I’d have a one-disc set here with only one rap intro, only one take on Bouncin’ Back and use the video on MTV.  The thirteen tracks you’d be left with would be well worth the money.  I’m looking forward to Vol. 3 already…



Hidden Beach Recordings - cat no. EK 87124   Producers – Tony Joseph and Darryl Ross