Title - 'Here You Are: The Music of My Life'
Artist - Billy Ocean
For those not in the know, although shame on you if that's truly the case after all these decades in the musical spotlight, Billy Ocean [born Leslie Sebastian Charles] is a Trinidadian-born British recording artist who had a string of R&B international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s.
In point of fact, he was actually the most popular British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s.
After scoring his first four UK Top 20 successes, seven years passed before he accumulated a series of transatlantic successes, including three US number ones.
In 1985, Ocean won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his worldwide hit, 'Caribbean Queen', and in 1987 was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist.
Still touring and recording to this very day, last summer in Europe he released a unique 2CD collection entitled Here You Are: The Best Of. Celebrating his long and illustrious career, which has seen him become a Grammy award winner with worldwide sales of over 30 million, the album included his classic hits along with some newly-recorded ones.
Now being released here in the US on July 21st, 2017 via Legacy Recordings as a special single disc edition, it features 10 brand new Billy Ocean performances along with five classic original hits. This new single disc set features a personally curated selection of tracks covered by the man himself, chosen for their influence on him both musically and in his personal life.
1. 'Here You Are'
2. 'A Simple Game'
3. 'A Change Is Gonna Come'
4. 'No Woman No Cry'
5. 'Cry Me A River'
6. 'Having A Party'
7. 'It Was A Very Good Year'
8. 'These Foolish Things'
9. 'Judge Not'
10. 'Love Train'
11. 'Caribbean Queen (Mo More Love On The Run)'
13. 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car'
14. 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going'
15. 'There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)'
The brand new composition, and title track to the collection 'Here You Are' starts the musical journey for us in fine style. A song that sounds just as classic, just as if he had recorded and released it back in his '80s/'90s heyday, Ocean proves from the off he has lost none of his lush, emotive trademark vocals, that's for sure. The album's first single, 'A Simple Game' (a reworking of the 1972 Four Tops Motown hit) is next and a pure delight it truly is, and that's followed by a cover of Sam Cooke's poignant 'A Change Is Gonna Come.'
Bob Marley's influential 1979 mega hit 'No Woman No Cry' is another masterpiece of musical proportions here, and a song that; amazing, as I'd never heard any one else manage to pull it off, Billy kinda makes it his own here. The classic Arthur Hamilton-written 1953 song 'Cry Me A River' is as stirring, as heartfelt as you would expect, and that's backed by a quite stunning cover of Sam Cooke's ageless 'Having A Party.'
'It Was A Very Good Year' is one of the highlights for me, for Billy takes the vibe, the laid back cool of Frank Sinatra's original and seamlessly incorporates his own Caribbean R&B, before moving on into Billie Holiday's timeless 'These Foolish Things.' Next Billy decides to throw us all a musical curve ball by giving us his rendition of Bob Marley's first recorded single in 1962, 'Judge Not,' before these 10 new tracks round out with a cover of the infectious dance floor song 'Love Train' from The O'Jays.
Also encompassing a short collection of Billy Oceanís biggest genre-defining tracks, the remaining five songs are all well-known Billy Ocean musical gems. They begin with 'Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)' and the always sweepingly beautiful-to-hear 'Suddenly,' before ending the whole single disc collection with the upbeat fun of 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,' the funky R&B soul groove of 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going,' and then the beautiful 'There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry).'
In closing, and as much as I truly missed hearing such early classics as both 'Red Light Means Danger' and 'Love Really Hurts Without You,' Here You Are: The Music of My Life is, as the title suggests, Billy Ocean's go-to for songs that tell his story of life within the business. His soulfully distinctive voice is as great as it was back then, and this collection goes a long way to showcasing a man who is still as needed on the charts today as he ever was.
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