Thursday, 12 February 2009

Billy Griffin - Believe It Or Not

Billy Griffin is an artist that I am passionate about! This CD is essential but is, as with any compilation, a matter of personal taste as to what you feel should / should not have included on it. On this I am sweet and sour. Ralph has compiled this album with Billy himself and has created a comprehensive resume of his whole career path to date with the Miracles, his 3 Columbia projects, his Atlantic single and his recent work on Expansion. To me though, the only option available would have been to release ALL the albums individually, as Expansion did with Webster Lewis. The compilation isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but one single disc with some of my favourite cuts edited down just does not do the great man justice, and I don’t care if God Almighty compiled it let alone Billy himself!
Ralph Tee is dead right in his estimation of “Hold Me Tighter In The Rain” – what a classic it is, and great to have it on CD. “Understand” is a real bonus – a top-draw track from “Be With Me” which appears here for the first time on CD AND in an extended version featuring Gerald Albright at the end. Total quality is assured. Leon Ware’s “Systematic” is another clear winner, and I am pleased to see “Serious” and “Don’t Stop Loving Me” is included from “Respect”, but I am thankful I have the Japanese CD as I always treat this as one track as they segue so well. It’s odd to hear them separated and therefore disjointed. The real bonus is a track not known by many, which is his essential “Believe It Or Not”. One of my 1986 favourites, it sounds delicious on CD, but I was saddened to have a shorter version than the 12”.
Sony have also, I fear, short-changed Expansion on “2nd Day Love Story” which is about 40 seconds shorter; you can tell from the word go this has been edited. Why????? This is why the single albums should have been released, with “Believe It Or Not” as a bonus track. Missing for me is two of Billy’s best moments – the AWESOME John Barnes ballad “Stones Throw From Heaven” and Leon Ware’s “Waiting To Touch”. I’d rather have had these than “Love Machine”, an edited “Spy For The Brotherhood” or the Akira Jimbo cut which I find twee. There are so many reasons to buy this CD and so I can recommend it unconditionally. I would certainly recommend that you buy this, which would see Billy reap the rewards of his talent, commitment and hard work and NOT to waste your money on the bootleg of “Be With Me” that is currently on the market – this will NOT serve Billy any justice at all.

Barry Towler