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On the Town
UK Expansion CD, 1976/2008
1) On The Town 2) Saturday Night Steppin' Out 3) Since I've Been Gone 4) Love Is The Way 5) Do It With Style 6) Song Of Joy 7) Goodnight Baby Girl 8) Let's Do It Again (Bonus track)

I, for one, am VERY grateful to Ralph Tee at Expansion for making this, and Webster Lewis’ three other Epic gems available for release on CD here in the UK. Only “8 For The 80s” was hitherto released as a paper sleeve issue in Japan so it is great to have them all released here, straight from the Master tapes (no ropey, worn-out, poor quality vinyl purporting to be digitally remastered material here) with bonus cuts to boot. The releases Expansion have chosen, as I say, are his 4 Epic releases from 1976 – 1981. These are what I call the sandwich filling of his release career. His live 1972 set and his superb 1981 Unlimited Gold effort keeping these toothsome delights in their place.

This is very, very 1976. “On The Town”, as you may gather, is a glam-ed up jazz-fusion with all the funky attributes that we would expect from the time. It's very dance floor orientated instrumental jazz with hints of Salsoul, Philly and other assorted flavours of the day. The first two tracks are definitely aimed at flapping the jolly old flared trousers and stomping around the discothèque with shirt open, chest hair and medallion flapping about! Track two, “Saturday Night Stepping Out” is a cool number, full of strings and threatens to break into Archie Bell’s “Soul City Walking”! The moogy bassline is definitely likened to Michael Henderson’s “I Can’t Help It” so on both counts it’s definitely a winner for these ears. Track three, though, should be one to savour a little more. It’s a very close-to-home take on The Spinners’ classic “Since I’ve Been Gone”. The arrangement is truly close to Thom Bell’s original work, and one could be forgiven in thinking this WAS the original.

“Love Is The Way” with its tropical leanings, percussion and synth remind me of the sort of track Seawind may have provided on their 1976 CTI set – think “He Loves You” and you’re not far wrong. Classy stuff, folks, and more can be discovered with the SUPERB track “Do It With Style”. In his excellent sleeve notes, Ralph Tee states that this album is all about this track, and he goes on to say that this sums up the work of the late, great Webster Lewis. Never a truer word spoken as far as yours truly is concerned. A great track, and a phenomenal talent I think you will agree. The bonus cut, hitherto unreleased is a mega near-11 minute version of Curtis Mayfield’s evergreen classic “Let’s Do It Again”.

All four CDs are worth collecting; each one has its gems and this is certainly no exception.
- Barry Towler

The 4 Webster Lewis reissue albums on Expansion:

Webster Lewis: On the Town (1976)
Webster Lewis: Touch My Love (1978)
Webster Lewis: 8 for the 80s (1979)
Webster Lewis: Let Me Be the One (1981)

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