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Soul Express CD Review


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GERALD LEVERT: – Do I Speak For The World
(US/UK Atlantic Records, 2004)
Intro / Do I Speak For The World – Cornel West / Tavis Smiley Interlude - Crucify Me – Greater Later – Show You How To Love (Interlude) – Lay You Down – Everyday – Better To Talk It Out – It Was What It Was – Duty Calls – One Million Times – What Happened To The Lovin’ (feat. Eddie Levert Sr, Trey Songz & The Levert Kids) – So What (If You Got A Baby) – Where Do We Go – Click A Glass - Do I Speak For The World (Outro)

Gerald Levert is an artist who when he does well he does very well, and when he does bad he does BAD. I have often found some of his work rather over-the-top, unnecessarily dramatic and sometimes distinctly juvenile - his latest work within LSG being a prime case of the latter. Other times he can produce some unquestionably phenomenal classic soul music: "Love Street", "I Want Too", "Casanova", "Private Line", "Answering Service" being some of the finest examples of his career from the early 1980s to date. I have also found that Gerald has been over-rated by many scribes, but I guess that this is down to personal opinion.

What I can say on my part is that this new album on his new label, Atlantic, is a masterpiece for Gerald. The world is indeed in a right old mess and people are frightened, confused and, I would suggest, very gullible and open to abuse in the name of 'protecting our freedoms'. I heartily recommend writers such as the superb researchers David Icke and Michael Moore, and the superb journalist, John Pilger for a feel of what is really going on out there. I have not heard much from the music community in recent years regarding the state of the world. Lori Perry recently spoke of 9/11 and the remoteness of Man, and others have recorded songs dedicated to those who lost their lives in that dreadful incident but there is a fear to speak openly about these issues or to question the motives of those we elect to serve in Office - especially in the US. Those who have spoken up have soon been slapped down - think Dixie Chicks - and the ensuing silence has been deafening. Gerald Levert has taken it upon himself to raise these issues in a very considered way and as far as the album's flow is concerned I can tell that a serious amount of thought, emotion and love has been put into the first 6 tracks. The inclusion of orators Cornel West and Tavis Smiley is a stroke of genius, and their message is truly inspiring. One states "you can't lead the people if you don't love the people". How true that is. I am proud of Gerald for this brave effort and fully applaud him and his standing. The revolution, he rightly states, starts with you. These messages are truly inspirational and are delivered in a very soulful, funky and Tommy Sims fashion and I feel represent some of the most important works that Gerald has recorded to date. Iraq, Israel, Africa and a lot of other issues are on Gerald's mind, terrorism, black-on-black crime, fatherless babies and other social issues. These are sobering thoughts and if not handled correctly can be very dour indeed. Gerald has done this superbly.

The title cut is spirited and contains a very tasty live funky drummer type beat as well as some beautiful string accompaniment by our old friend, Larry Gold. "Crucify Me" is another stunning politico-social message wrapped up in funky clothing; the percussion and live instrumentation are second to none and the theme is defiant. Gerald has something to say and to hell in a hand basket to those who do not want this sort of issue being raised. After all, isn't the basic freedom of the right to express an opinion something we should champion and not frown upon? Family and social issues take precedence in the SUPERB 70s styles "Greater Later". What Gerald is explaining here is the virtue of patience - as he says tomorrow is only a day away. Brilliantly put.

The mood changes into more of a bedroom mode from here onwards, and is very nice too. I find that these tracks are not so compelling. Some almost dip into Keith Sweat territory, and these are fine but do not grip me. The first ballad that really grabs me is "Better To Talk It Out" which has a great 2004 feel but has a melody and hook that is straight out of the 70s Blue Magic tradition. I love this song and I think you will too.

"Everyday" is also a nice track and does not give way to the moronic R&B sound that is sadly still prevalent today. "Duty Calls" is a low-down dirty ballad that sees Gerald kicked to the kerb when he's waiting for his woman to come home from hanging with her girls. Come live nearer me, old chap - there's no club around for miles! That'll put paid to her shenanigans. I love the Larry Gold orchestrated gentle ballad "So What (If You Got A Baby)" which deals with his wooing a single mum. As he says, one man's silver is another man's gold. What a lovely lyric and nicely put.

Nice as this is, the song that is causing the most of a stir on UK soul radio is the Philly influenced "Click A Glass". This collaboration with Edwin "Tony" Nicholas is just SUBLIME. Another beautiful song with a potent family message. This is Levert at his most soulful and very best. Amazing.

The album is my current favourite at home and in the car, and I can do nothing more but recommend it highly and support his stand.
- Barry Towler


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