3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An overlooked gem,
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This review is from: JI (Audio CD)
I hadn't heard this album in many years, and so I was excited to see it finally coming out on domestic CD, and with bonus tracks. I had been looking for the 7" mix of "Too Late" on CD for years.
Playing it again after so long I was immediately reminded what a great vocalist Junior is. He has a warmth to his voice that translates well in both the uptempo numbers and the ballads. He doesn't need to scream the vocals to get his message across either. All the songs are delivered in a heart-felt, inviting way that is very much his own style. Certainly I can't think of any other UK acts at the time following his template, although I guess there are some similarities with Linx. I think in some ways that was his downfall - he didn't follow the pack, choosing to retain an individual sound, which opened doors for UK soul acts in America, but probably hindered his UK career when airplay wasn't forthcoming because it didn't always fit a chart-friendly formula.
Airplay wasn't a problem for his perennial hit though, and "Mama Used To Say" is here, in 7", 12" and instrumental versions. The Tee Scott American Mixes in particular just show how much can be achieved by a remix. I think Tee definitely helped make that song a hit, with a mixdown that suited Junior much more than the British Party Mix, which I suspect was just the original version given a fancy name. Tee also did a great job remixing top 20 follow-up "Too Late". It's just a shame that for space reasons his other two remixes from the album for the wonderful double A-side "I Can't Help It"/"Let Me Know" are missing, although the LP mixes are still extremely good. It would have been incredible to hear a Tee Scott mixed version of this album however, and I am sure he would have squeezed even more out of the great material.
Of the non single tracks, "Down Down" is a particular favourite, and changes nicely from its dark intro into something unexpectedly poppier. The b-sides "Fame" and "In Words" are also great to have, and rival any of the album tracks in quality, and I personally prefer them more than the couple of ballads on the album, but that's just me.
Great sound in the mastering is capped off with an informative booklet that contains a very interesting interview with Junior himself incorporated into the liner notes. So overall, this re-issue is an essential purchase for an 80's soul collector, and as an introduction to the talented man himself. I hope "Inside Lookin' Out" follows someday.