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Let Me Be the One
UK Expansion CD, 1981/2008
1) Bout The Love 2) Open Up Your Eyes 3) You Are My Life 4) Dancer 5) Let Me Be The One 6) Love Won't Harm No One 7) El Bobo 8) Kemo Kimo 9) Flying High 10) Quiet Thing Bonus tracks: 11) Reach Out 12) Boston

1981 was - and still is - one of the classiest years in black music, full stop. Listen to the rich orchestration, the talent, love, time and effort of the artists, and the unusual backbone and support of the record companies. Compare that with today! Makes you sad, doesn't it? Well, another who has great memories of 1981 is Ralph Tee at Expansion. I agree very much with his liner notes on this LP, and the sentiments he expresses. For Ralph this was THE album of 1981. For me it was Leon Ware's "Rocking You Eternally", but as far as my ears are concerned, "Let Me Be The One" is Webster Lewis' finest hour. Every track is a winner as far as I am concerned.

The quality - from master tapes, of course - is excellent and so it should be. Classy music deserves no less. On top of this we have two SUPERB bonus tracks that were discovered with the album master, recorded for this particular session. "Reach Out" is the first of these and is SUPERB. I cannot believe that a quality track like this was left to languish in the vaults! How many other gems are sitting covered in dust? My God, what a job that would be! This funky vocal cut is simply superb - I particularly like the guitar at the start, the fender Rhodes and the Ramsey Lewis-styled keyboard solo two-thirds in. Brilliant!

The lushly orchestrated "Boston" makes up this musical brace and is, again, superb. This is another classy female vocal on a track that would have suited Phyllis Hyman down to the ground.

These tracks alone make the album worthwhile, but of the original Epic LP release itself? The set perfectly balances contemporary jazz fusion with soulful vocals and takes account of the ballad market as well as the dancefloor. The feeling is very West Coast and this CD should go down a storm in Japan as they are well into this type of material. The opening cut sets the tone and is a winner; "Bout The Love" sees Webster tackling the vocals - and he does not disappoint.

Although I love the entire CD, there are two standouts for me. My first is the KILLER ballad "Open Up Your Eyes", a tune that would have easily had suited Angela Bofill. The strings add sweetness, and interplaying male / female backing vocals add a mellowness beyond measure. My second standout is one that never fails to give me the shivers. "Love Won't Harm No One" is simply sublime. The flavour is mellow, the warm Rhodes, strings and harmonies are fitting for a chill-out session down on a sandy beach on the hottest day of the year!

For the jazzier heads out there, the timeless "El Bobo" will ring a few bells, and dancers such as "Let Me Be The One" and "You Are My Life" will check a few boxes. The latter being very much in the George Benson / Rod Temperton bag. Think "Love X Love""Dancer" with its heavenly harp, tropical noises and seductive bassline underpinning the Rhodes is another jaw-dropper. As I said before, all of Webster's albums are worthwhile, but for me, this one even more so.
- 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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