Title - Always: The Warner-Reprise Recordings 1987-1991
Artist - Atlantic Starr
SoulMusic Records is proud to present a 3CD deluxe box-set consisting of the two albums the group cut for Warner Brothers, 1987s All In The Name of Love, the 1989 set Were Movin On and Love Crazy; a third LP recorded for the Warners imprint, Reprise Records in 1991.
They all come complete with primary production by David & Wayne Lewis, and co-production by Jonathan Lewis and feature extensive liner notes from renowned UK-based writer Charles Waring; including new quotes from Jonathan Lewis and Rachel Oliver-Cobbin (the female lead vocalist for the Reprise album), stellar mastering from Nick Robbins and great artwork from Roger Williams.
Disc One: All In The Name of Love: Expanded Edition
1. One Lover At A Time
2. You Belong With Me
4. Dont Take Me For Granted
6. Armed & Dangerous (from The Motion Picture OST Armed And Dangerous)
7. Let The Sun In
9. Im In Love
10. All In The Name of Love
11. My Mistake
13. One Lover At A Time (Extended Version) [Bonus Track]
14. Let The Sun In (Extended Remix) [Bonus Track]
15. All In The Name of Live (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
16. Always (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
In 1984, Atlantic Starr recruited the stunning songbird, Barbara Weathers just in time for the release of their last A&M records release, As The Band Turns, of which yielded the top R&B hits, Freak-a-ristic, Cool Calm Collected, Sliver Shadows, If Your Heart Isnt In It and their first top 5 pop single, Secret Lovers.
When their A&M contract was up in 1986, the band decided to move on to Warner Brothers Records to record their most successful album of which was mainly seasoned by the sweet melodies of Barbara Weathers (more so than the previous album).
Other than the kalimba jamming Maurice White penned single, Armed & Dangerous (a track from the Motion Picture Soundtrack for the movie of the same name and released in the fall of 1986, and also included later only on subsequent CD versions of All In The Name of Love), the band opened 1987 with a successor of Secret Lovers entitled, Always (paired with Barbara and David) which topped both the R&B and pop charts by the spring of 1987.
Ever since it has been a staple wedding song of choice and international success for the band. Simply put, Always was beautiful, but overrated in my opinion, especially when the title cut ranked better than Always (where very beautiful harmonies by Wayne and Barbara although Wayne dominated the track).
However, Atlantic Starr still remained relevant to their club goer fans with the funky, Females and the top ten R&B single, One Lover At A Time.
Indeed, the success of All In The Name of Love was way too much for the band that most of its members were greatly threatened by the Barbara Weathers, who would occasionally, yet unintentionally, steal the show with her SSS voice (SSS = smooth, sweet, and sexy).
Sadly, and despite of Atlantic Starrs success of the album, Barbara quit the band in 1988. Though Atlantic Starr had a few successful singles throughout the rest of the 80s and into the early 90s, their success would never be the same (because, in my humble opinion, nobody could replace songbirds, like Barbara and Sharon).
Disc Two: Were Moving Up: Expanded Edition
1. Under Your Spell
2. Bring It Back Home Again
3. Im In Live With You
4. Dont Start The Fire
5. Love Aint Fair
6. My First Love
7. Womans Touch
9. Were Movin Up
10. My Sugar
11. I Cant Wait
12. You Deserve The Best
13. Bring It Back Home Again (Joe Smooth Extended Mix) [Bonus Track]
14. Bring It Back Home Again (Joe Smooth Underground Mix) [Bonus Track]
15. My First Love (Extended Mix) [Bonus Track]
16. My First Love (7 Inch Edit) [Bonus Track]
With their previous album All In The Name Of Love, Atlantic Starr made the full transition into a band who were known for popular adult contemporary ballads than dance music. Of course, that did not mean they did not stop making up-tempo songs of the highest quality.
Under Your Spell opens the album with a heavy AC ballad which extends through My First Love, My Sugar, the closer You Deserve The Best and the sentimental humanitarianism of Friends.
The trio of Im In Love With You, Womans Touch and I Cant Wait are more rhythmically climactic mid-tempo numbers that emphasize heavy song craft and melodic progressions.
Love Aint Fair adds a chugging reggae flavor with a like minded Jamaican accent to the lead vocals meanwhile Dont Start The Fire and the title track are very sleek, electronic and lightly funkified dance tracks which round off this album.
In many ways, this album is the exact opposite of what came before it. While the two predecessors were basically heavy electro funk albums with a few pop ballads added to the mix, this album is primarily about slick quiet storm urban contemporary material.
Their hit period would come to an end after this album, so it would come to be, yet they continued to put out albums thereafter, but this was still a highly commendable way for them to conclude this period of time.
Disc Three: Love Crazy
1. I Cant Wait
2. Whats Good For You
3. Love Crazy
4. Hold On
5. Lookin For Love Again
6. Come Lover
7. You Hit the Spot
9. Girl, Your Loves So Fine
10. My Special Lover
11. Unconditional Love
Incorporating new jack, house, quiet storm, and smooth soul, Atlantic Starr released one of the more versatile R&B albums of 1991 here on Love Crazy.
With urban contemporary being bombarded with new jack and jazz rap, this is a rare gem in their catalog as well as urban music.
With its quiet storm-esque melody and light tenor rhythm, Masterpiece is easily the best track on this set. It was the second single and peaked at #3 on the pop and R&B charts.
A close runner-up would be the unreleased track Hold On, with other highlights including the lead single Love Crazy (#7 R&B), the new jack delight I Cant Wait and the wholly seductive Girl, Your Loves So Fine.
In fact, save for the house number Come Lover, the entire album is excellent, in my humble opinion. In late 91, artists very rarely incorporated many genres of music into one set. That makes Atlantic Starrs effort all the more commendable and impressive, to my mind.
The only deficiency though is their sparse vocal presence. At times the production consumes the song more than the singing, dropping it down in the ear worm categories, but nevertheless, this is still a sensational effort and a wonderful addition to this new box-set.
Official 3CD Purchase Link