Saturday, January 21, 2012

Billy Ocean - Billy Ocean

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday.

Happy sixty-second birthday today (January 21st) to the Trinidad-born English singer Billy Ocean. In 1976, he released his self-titled debut album Billy Ocean. This now hard-to-find record, whose songs are a mix of R&B/soul and disco, generated a trio of Top 20 hit singles in the UK.

Side one opens with “Tell Him to Move Over”, a song that pleads to the girl to get rid of her current boyfriend so that he can take his place. It has an urgent dance beat that moves the song along at a steady pace.

“Stop Me (If You’ve Heard It All Before)” was the third single and reached number 12 on both the UK and the New Zealand charts. With its rich orchestration, the song has a disco feel yet there are also touches of classic doo-wop elements thrown in as well. With Ocean’s smooth vocals, the whole package comes together pleasantly.

Things slow down a bit with “Let’s Put Our Emotions in Motion”, a love song about taking the next step. Call me old fashioned but what I like about classic songs like this one is that they can convey the passion without moving out of a G-rated range (unlike so many explicitly graphic songs that fill today’s airwaves).

Next up is the ballad “Let’s Do It All Again”. It provides Ocean a chance to sweetly croon along to lush melodies. This one reminds me of classics from groups like the Chi-Lites.

His first single “Love Really Hurts Without You” went all the way to number 2 on the UK charts; it also went to number three in Ireland, number 7 in Belgium, number 9 in Sweden and number 8 on the US Billboard Dance charts. The song has a very catchy, swinging piano hook that I like a lot (it gets into my head and I can‘t help but smile when I hear it).

Side two opens with the musical question “Whose Little Girl Are You”. Ocean once more shows the strength of his falsetto.

The side continues with the tracks “Soul Rock” and “One Kiss Away”, two which I was not able to download or find online to listen to.

“Hungry For Love”, another slower tempo ballad is next up. Ocean delivers the emotional message of love on this one.

“Eye of a Storm” incorporates some rainy sound effects through out to set the mood for this one. The lyrics tell of trouble ahead in a relationship as a young woman is misled by a deceptive man. For me, this one too has a classic soul sound to it.

“L.O.D. (Love on Delivery)”, the album’s final track, was the second single released. It went to number 12 in Ireland, number 17 in Sweden and number 19 in the UK. This song has a classic soul sound to it, with a strong piano accompaniment and the group with backing vocals. This track and so many others on this record very much reminds me of sixties southern beach music.

I was very familiar with the hit “Love Really Hurts Without You” as it often appears on Ocean’s greatest hits collections. In listening to the entire Billy Ocean album, I found it very much to my liking and musical tastes. The music felt comfortingly familiar and pleasant. If you enjoy his big hits of the 80’s, you might want to give some tracks from this album a try. They are very danceable numbers and fit very much into that category of mid-70’s soul and R&B music.

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