Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Gerald Levert - Do I Speak For The World - 2004 - Atlantic

There came a time when I simply got bored of Gerald Levert. This album certainly woke me up a bit! This was released on Atlantic, and was a masterpiece of social commentary for Gerald. Those who have spoken up have soon been slapped down - think Dixie Chicks - and the ensuing silence has been deafening. Gerald took 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. 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 had something to say and, isn't the basic freedom of the right to express an opinion something we should champion?

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. The first ballad that really grabs me is "Better To Talk It Out" which has a great Y2K 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 "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. 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 caused 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 was Gerald at his most soulful and very best. What a gaping hole he has left.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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