A varied soundtrack album that manages to weave in a little variation from the traditional type of motion picture scoring indulged in here by Sakamoto. Part of the reason for the variation is that only twelve of the album's 21 tracks are by Sakamoto – several are source music, others were composed by Richard Horowitz. The diversity thus makes for a more interesting album than might have been had from variations on the main minor-key "Sheltering Sky" theme (presented here in orchestrated and piano-based versions.) It also breaks away from the sound of Sakamoto's recordings, strong material that suffers from a certain digital harshness in the strings. Horowitz' part in this is in stepping away from traditional Western scoring and using Middle Eastern elements for score structures – something that's very effective indeed on "Fever Ride" with its blend of Moroccan and Spanish elements. Where Sakamoto easily sketches panorama with his music, Horowitz sketches in mystery. The local source music, too, adds to this, giving the album a grounding in the real world that completes the overall structure. An excellent album that can easily be recommended for more than just soundtrack aficionados.
Gorgeous, bell-like production, assisted by this Canadian singer, is just one reason to love this album. Her big voice is mixed out in front, but the instruments aren't lost. Sounds bubble up, leave an impression and vanish, having done their job. The strong tunes, all written by the singer, roll on one after the after, showcasing her irrepressible optimism. "Strength in Numbers," "What You Believe," "Act of Mercy" and "Innocent (With an Explanation)" stand out in a strong lineup. Kenny G guests on a powerful "How Many," produced by Narada Michael Walden. Even the classy cover art, showing an elongated Luba reaching for the sky, contributes to the overall package. If you love Paul Young or Simply Red, check this out.
Since the mid-'80s, Barrence Whitfield has dedicated his life to reminding people that rock & roll and rhythm & blues are not separate but equal institutions, but healthy branches of the same tree; on-stage or in the studio, Whitfield howls vintage R&B tunes with the fury of a hot-wired rock band, and belts out vintage-style rock with a healthy portion of swagger and soul. In Whitfield's world, it's all loud and furious, and makes you want to dance, and really, who doesn't want some of that in their life? After a detour through other projects, Whitfield resurrected the Savages in 2011, and 2015's Under the Savage Sky, the group's third album since returning to duty, stands proudly alongside mid-'80s landmarks like Dig Yourself and Ow! Ow! Ow! as a master class in souped-up and full-bodied roadhouse rocking.