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Soul Express CD Review


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GERALD LEVERT: – Groove On
US Eastwest 92416 CD, 1994

Groove On - 4:07 2) Rock Me (All Nite Long) - 5:17 3) Let the Juices Flow - 4:59 4) I'd Give Anything - 4:08 5) Answering Service - 5:29 6) Someone - 4:32 7) How Many Times - 6:24 8) Can't Help Myself - 5:23 9) Have Mercy - 5:21 10) Same Place, Same Time - 4:56 11) Nice & Wet - 4:46 12) Love Street - 6:17

I have good news for those of you who have desperately been trying to find great enough contenders for your yearly personal top ten albums: Gerald Levert’s second solo set Groove on is not only a self-evident choice to every serious soul devotee's top album list of 1994, it's also one of the best albums of the whole decade so far.

  I mean, it is not every day one hears an album that is full of tracks one wants to listen to immediately again. This album has so many tracks of that calibre that it is almost unfair!

  First I'd like to mention my absolute favourite tune of the moment, Answering Service, which is an instantly capturing, brilliant ballad on which Gerald finds himself begging, pleading and crying to the telephone answering machine (with the incredible chorus: “I don't deserve this / talking to your answering service”!). The track has a magical early '70s style intro with a fascinating real string & horn arrangement, but then the background turns into groovy modern beat ballad. This is how classics are made!

  Someone, How Many Times, Can't Help Myself and Love Street are likewise soul ballads of classic stature, structured in a traditional O'Jays / Philly mould, which Gerald handles effortlessly and fully naturally. The way Gerald tears down the tune vocally on How Many Times is truly unforgettable, and the classy Philadelphia sound settings with real strings and horns only make the analogy to O'Jays / Teddy Pendergrass classics even more obvious. Listen to the last two minutes of How Many Times when Gerald starts adlibbing: it practically defines the art of soulful singing.

  Have Mercy has a hint of Marvin Gaye in both arrangement and vocal delivery, while Nice & Wet has a Juicy Fruit type modern rhythm pattern. Let the Juices Flow is Gerald’s contribution to the current R. Kelly style sex ballad trend.

  It seems I could go on and on, but I guess I've already made my point clear: go and get yourself a copy of this album! (Rating: 9/10) –IT


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