Abel's new two-CD set, Alegria Universo, has the beats and the vocals that everyone hopes for-- and expects from DJ Abel.
Mid-tempo beats are in no short supply on disc one, Peak Hour Session. Thus, the Abel checklist is quickly fulfilled:
One of DJ Abel's strengths is that his discs contain a healthy mix by other producers and DJ's. Universo is no exception with mixes added by Alex Cohen, Tony Moran, Ralphi Rosario, plus Friscia & Lamboy.
The funniest (but may-not-know-it) song: Me, by Tamia. The message of this song is quite narcissistic in it's empowerment and self-confidence, but the overall mix is strong. As in several other tracks, Abel seems to be referencing some 1999 to 2001 sonic loops, melodies and rhythms.
One note of caution or excitement (depending on who you are): Listen to La Lupe's Besito Pa Ti. This is either the song that will make you run screaming from the dance floor to avoid the sing-a-long messes or the song that will make your hip-shaking, high drama, lip-synching night. Listen and choose for yourself.
Disc 2, After Sunrise Session, moves beyond Abel's standard checklist into a parallel universe. The mix is still Abel, but the sounds include more R&B-inflected morning music from Ultra Nate to Southside Hustlers.
It's interesting to hear Abel stretch his musical muscles beyond vocal tribal. Clubbers at the old Cameo in South Beach (if not the Alegria parties) have heard Abel play this style of music well, but Disc 2 might prove an intro to Abel's history of club music for others.
Songs like Karen Young's Hot Shot, Soul Avengers' One Love and Dajae/Full Intention's What Do you Want are all great disco and R&B riffs. The real surprise is in Abel including Frankie Knuckles Whistle Song and Freemason's Pacific. These songs put Abel squarely into the territory of Danny Tenaglia, Susan Morabito and DJ Buc. These are not the songs expected to be on an Abel disc, but they are a nod to Abel's musical heritage and great music.
After all, not every hour is a peak hour... and sometimes the best of fun can happen when the checklist is torn up and life just happens.
Release Date: February 5, 2008 (although PerfectBeat.com has an early exclusive release.
Label: Tommy Boy