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Released: 22nd May 2000.

En Vogue - Masterpiece TheatreIt's been the En Vogue's latest release that I have played constantly. Their last studio album, "EV3", was good but I never really got into it - this one is so much better! I have to disagree with their choice of first single though. It's called "Riddle" and although it is pretty good it's not one of the standout tracks and isn't strong enough to make a great impact on the charts. Not a brilliant comeback single although it has been remixed by Stargate (those behind Fierce's "Sweet Love 2K") for a more commercial sound. The video is good though, strong and hardhitting.

Anyway, back to the album: The use of classical music and well known themes will keep you coming back for more and certainly makes these songs stick in your mind. It's a fresh concept and certainly complements the excellent vocal harmonies that En Vogue are famous for.

Standout tracks, in my opinion, are: "Falling In Love", a funky ballad with a cool beat, pretty addictive; "Love You Crazay", the first of the 'classical experiences' on the album. Based on the "Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy" (from the Nutcracker Suite), teamed with a groovy, up-tempo beat, modern vocals and a bit of rap, this should have been the come-back single for sure.

Another highlight is "Love Won't Take Me Out", also a classical track re-made, this has darker undertones than "Love You Crazay". Still uptempo with almost haunting vocals. "Those Dogs" - the first time I heard this I couldn't believe it was En Vogue. To be honest I thought it was rubbish. However, it grows on you very very quickly to the point where you can't get it out of your head. It uses the famous Carmen Suite teamed with TLC/ Destiny's Child type lyrics. It sounds kinda silly but it certainly makes you listen and you'll grow to love it.

Overall, if you like strong female vocals you must own this album. The same goes if you like commercial R&B although it may not appeal to the younger fans. If you don't have any other En Vogue albums this may be the one to get as I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

* * * * * (Craig "CJ"Bethel)

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