…Follow the Leader may not have broken much new ground, but it captures one of the greatest pure hip-hop acts at the top of its form, and that's enough to make the album a classic. ~AMG 5/5
After the guest-star-drenched No Reason to Cry failed to make much of an impact commercially, Eric Clapton returned to using his own band for Slowhand. The difference is substantial – where No Reason to Cry struggled hard to find the right tone, Slowhand opens with the relaxed, bluesy shuffle of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine" and sustains it throughout the course of the album…
Eric Benét is a contemporary R&B singer with mild hip-hop and strong adult contemporary influences. As a teenager, he performed in a family vocal group (appropriately named Benét) with his sister and cousin. The group signed with EMI and released an eponymous album in 1992 that largely went unnoticed. Eric blazed his own trail as a solo artist shortly afterward, signing to Warner Bros. and releasing his debut album, True to Myself, in the fall of 1996. A Day in the Life followed in 1999. Its first single, a cover of Toto's "Georgy Porgy," was a moderate radio hit, but it was the album's second single, "Spend My Life with You" (featuring Tamia), that helped put him on the map.
As he was developing his formidable career in the early era of smooth jazz, the saxman proved an invaluable sideman of Chick Corea's Elektric Band, David Benoit's touring ensemble and a studio player for projects by such artists as Keiko Matsui and Mike Garson. Yet as a solo artist, he spent his first three albums searching for an identity that ranged from pop (Round Trip) to electronic mainstream jazz (Crossroads). With Oasis, his search came to a diverse, exciting, and highly enjoyable end. Marienthal applies his stellar blowing techniquest to styles ranging from folk to gospel, but the overall attitude he conveys is sweet and soulful R&B, as in the hoppin' grooves of the funky opening tracks "Hustlin'" and "Seafood to Go."