Mary J. Blige


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The hype that surrounded Mary J. Blige in 1992 was definitely excessive, and those who exalted her as the "new Chaka Khan" did both Khan and Blige an unforgivable disservice (few could live up to such a title). But as the 1990s progressed, Blige really did evolve into one of the decade's most appealing RB vocalists, and she's in good to excellent form on The Tour, which was recorded on her Share My World Tour of 1997-98. The very fact that a live urban contemporary album came out in the late 1990s was quite surprising; after all, RB had become so technology-driven and studio-oriented that few RB artists even bothered to make live albums anymore. But Blige was an exception, and she proves herself capable of taking it to the stage on passionate versions of such hits as "My Life," "Mary Jane (All Night Long)," "Reminisce," and "Mary's Joint." Blige could have done without the male band member who tries to function as her onstage cheerleader, but even so, this is an impressive release that her followers will want. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi