Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Charlie Wilson - Uncle Charlie - 2009 - Jive

The title of this album is not a sap to the Homeboy generation, as was evident with Ron Isley's ridiculous Mr. Biggs personna. Charlie is, in fact, Uncle to one rap star, Snoop Dogg. Now it transpires that everyone calls him Uncle Charlie hence the new album title! I LOVE Charlie Wilson, and have weathered his flirtation with the urban RnB market throughout this decade, but every album has had something adult and worthwhile on it, and working with today's baby food artists has not done much to ruin this gentleman's image. Being honest, though, folks I would say this is one of his weakest solo albums to date purely as it is way to orientated towards teenagers, and to be honest it really does not suit him. The heavy, tuneless synth based clonking beats and tight semi-rap vocals are OK for today's RnB pin up lightweights (insert any name here!!!) and all the associated rag-tag and bobtail but NOT for a singer of Charlie Wilson's stature. However, I will not chuck these four following soulful babies out with the more unsavoury urban homeboy bathwater!

The first is a song that Charlie sang for Snoop at his wedding reception at his ranch - "There Goes My Baby" is causing a bit of a stir here in the UK, not for the lyrics but rather for the clever use of a sample based groove which is incredibly familiar, and at time of writing simply cannot - to my shame and annoyance - think of what it is, bar knowing I have it!!!!! This is good, but not as good as the SUPERB 80s Midnight Star styled groove "Can't Live Without You". This is not lyrically going to blow you away because I suspect it's aimed to appeal to 20-somethings BUT the groove is quality through and through which is enough for me. I also love the warm "What You Do To Me" which should appeal to you if you loved tracks such as "Why" or "I Call It Love" from Lionel Richie's last album. This is a SUPERB track and if you love the Richie tunes you'll also love this. My final pick is "Homeless" - a classy musical backdrop set to a modern contemporary vocal styling a la R Kelly but in the hands of Charlie Wilson is pulled off very well. The music on this really is quality - once you get used to the urban vocal style then everything is well on the track. Not his best work, as I know you'll agree, but as I always say - Charlie never really lets us down.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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