Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Phillip Bailey - Continuation - 2010 / 1983 - Columbia / Funky Town Grooves

By 1983 Earth Wind and Fire were floundering. "Electric Universe", for me, rated as their worst release and it seemed that this supergroup had started struggling to find a place in the increasingly brass-less, synth and drum machine led 1980s. Out steps frontman Philip Bailey with his debut solo release, "Continuation". Production was from the legendary George Duke, and at a time when many front men / women were breaking loose and making their solo debuts, George Duke was a really strong choice for the mantle of producer on this set. I have to say that this is by no means my favourite album of Philip Bailey but it does contain my two all-time favourite songs of this amazing man. That, dear readers, is more than justification for a reissue of this album! Remastered from master tapes, too, courtesy of Funky Town Grooves and Sony USA, this album really is a shining example of what Philip was able to do as an artist in his own right. I have to highlight my two favourite songs. For me these are PERFECT. Perfect vehicles for Philip's soulful, dynamic and immediately recognisable vocals, as well as perfect examples of quality soul in the early 1980s.

"Trapped" was a song that I instantly fell in love with on first hearing. This is a love affair that stands to this day. I cannot tell how often I have played this song...though I can tell you that it's appeal has not diminished one iota since 1983. You can tell that George Duke has a strong hand on the tiller. If you adored his work on his own "Rendezvous" set - think "Gotta Get Back To Love" and "Stay Awhile" - then you will love this song in equal measure. Strings, summery and great keys this is a great, great effort and both Phillip and George should take a great pride in this momentous effort. The follow-on song is another drop-dead killer. If you love Deniece Williams as much as I do, then "It's Our Time" is not going to do anything but fill you with sheer delight. If you know this song already then I don't need to heap praise on it. You already know. Otherwise, just buy the album and enjoy the rich instrumentation - strings, rhythm guitar and warm Fender Rhodes....and some great interplay between two voices who are superbly matched and balanced. The production, again, is irreproachable. As well as this we have the deliciously summery "Vaya". Bailey sings like an angel...a trait that he carries on to this day. An amazing talent and an essential release from Funky Town Grooves USA!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

Buy from Amazon