Lost but not least! Maxwell – Luxury: Cococure (Album version) (Columbia)
The first single from Maxwell‘s ‘Embrya’ album, ‘Luxury: Cococure’ failed to make it in the charts. The reason being because it obviously marked a break from the man’s previous releases in favor of more reputedly compelling ideas.
Not only ‘Luxury: Cococure’ failed to make it as a matter of fact. But the whole album met a bad response in terms of critics. Most likely for the reason expressed earlier on. Which doesn’t come as a surprise in a world where conservatism has always been around. With Allmusic senior editor, Stephen Thomas Erlewine writing that Maxwell “overstuffs his songs with ideas that lead nowhere…” Meanwhile Arion Berger, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), found the songs monotonous and called the album “unfocused and pretentious … full of overwrought, underwritten songs with obscure, fancy titles revolving around a sort of sexual gnosticism.”
Reading words like these and one might think Maxwell‘s stuff was crap. But no, as the album sold more than one million copies. Finding himself nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. Meaning this kind of press obviously talked bullshit once again at the end. Meanwhile Maxwell just happened to express some extra facets of his personality and (undeniable) talent. Talkin’ about a woman being the cure for however down he might be feeling. “Cocoa” being another term for “Brown” although spelled differently. Thus standing as an element of description he often gives of African-American women in his songs.
Both the theme of this song, its interpretation and arrangements just reveal once again a rare talent…
Brooklyn, NY native Gerald Maxwell Rivera stands among the Neo-Soul icons along with Raphael Saadiq, D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. The tragic loss of his dad in a plane crash when he was 3 most likely sizzled his temper. Shy, if not introverted, Maxwell built up his own universe. He started composing music by the gae of 17, after a friend offered him a Casio keyboard. A fan of artists such as Patrice Rushen, Rose Royce and S.O.S. Band, he started teaching himself to play various instruments.
Getting access to a 24-track recording studio, he recorded a demo which enegendered interest. Eventually performing soon after at the Nell’s club in Manhattan. With the buzz starting to grow around him, he signed a recording deal with Columbia back in 1994.
From then, Maxwell began recording his debut-album with songwriter Leon Ware and Jazz/Funk guitarist Wah Wah Watson. ‘Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite’ would hit the streets a year later though. Most likely because of management issues with the label.
Despite a low profile start, the album nevertheless made its path thru the charts. Spawning 4 singles. From ‘Til the Cops Come Knockin’ to ‘Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)’ and ‘Sumthin’ Sumthin”. Not to mention ‘Suitelady (The Proposal Jam)’.
MTV soon after offered him to tape an episode of the concert series MTV Unplugged in New York City. This resulting in the release of 7 track EP which included his cover version of Kate Bush‘s ‘This Woman’s Work’ among others.
Maxwell released his second album – ‘Embrya’ – by early 1998. Quite strangely, I gotta say, it received mixed reviews when not heavy criticism in the press. And more precisely the Pop one beginning with Rolling Stone. In other words, those people who always find something to write even though not knowing what they’re talkin’ about! Meanwhile, I couldn’t help enthuzing about the purity of gems such as ‘Luxury Cococure’, ‘Everwanting’ or ‘I’m You: You Are Me And We Are You’.
Besides, I suppose I happened to be far from being the only one. The album selling more than one million copies at the end!
Criticism also welcomed the arrival of his third album, ‘Now’, back in 2001. Which didn’t stop it from selling close to 300,000 copies during the first week that followed its release. It featured goodies such as ‘Get To Know You’,’W/As My Girl’ and a re-recorded version of ‘This Woman’s Work’.
Maxwell soon after totally disappeared from the radars. After a 6 year hiatus, he went back to recording activities back in 2007. Releasing his 4th album, ‘BLACKsummers’Night’ on Jul. 07, 2009, which happened to be successful. It would take him another 7 years before comin’ back with the second episode of ‘BLACKsummers’Night’ on Jul. O1, 2016…
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