the Buzz for January 20th, 2009



I wrote the majority of what follows last night while flying home from Las Vegas (where I managed to enjoy a weekend of enormous fun and mirth wholly in spite of the fact that I failed to win as much as a penny), so if this week’s record store report seems a bit incoherent, blame the oversized slice of Sbarro pizza I scarfed down at the airport, which — though it tasted utterly divine going down — gave me the worst case of heartburn I can ever recall.


She has strayed away from that formula in recent years, but there’s no question that Mariah Carey made her name belting out sappy love songs — and the schmaltzier, the better, especially in those early years.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Carey has assembled eighteen of her best-remembered slow jams (line ’em up:  from “Vision of Love” and “Love Takes Time” up through “One Sweet Day” and even “Thank God I Found You,” they’re all here) and is re-releasing them as simply The Ballads, and while much of this is as disposable as it was then, pay special attention to a pair of tracks — “When You Believe,” her 1998 diva-fest duet with Whitney Houston (who was still remarkably, umm, sane in those years), and “Without You,” Carey’s smashing 1994 cover of Harry Nilsson’s classic — which have aged with stunning and extraordinary grace.