Monday, July 15, 2013

THIS WAY UP-Feelin' Good About It (1987)


After stepping back into the modern world of pop music for a few days, I'm heading right back to the awesome 80's, and today, I'm especially feeling good about it! That's because I'm about to present some rave reviews about a group who's become my latest and current ongoing music addiction! THIS WAY UP was their name—a too-short-lived duo consisting of vocalist Robinson Reid and English musician Roy Hay. And those two names are more than worthy of being mentioned—Roy Hay having served as the long-time keyboardist/guitarist for the memorable and hugely popular Boy George-fronted pop/new wave act, CULTURE CLUB, while Robinson Reid, whose name probably didn't carry as much star power, certainly demonstrated some talented singing prowess on THIS WAY UP's first and only release, "Feelin' Good About It". Though the production put forth into the music here is nothing short of spectacular, it's the sweet male soprano of Robinson's vocals, in my honest opinion, that totally sells this album! More on both of these facets in a moment, but firstly, I have to head straight to the song where my addiction with THIS WAY UP started earlier last week: "If I Can't Have You". The album's opener is a fun, 80's-style dance-pop remake of the BEE GEES disco classic, and I've been going around and around in circles with it for days now! If nothing else, it's certainly a gem that you'll feel good about! Makes for some nice trivia, too; the next time someone asks you to name all of the artists who've covered "If I Can't Have You", Yvonne Elliman won't be your only answer. Now let me jump to the song right after it where Robinson's soaring vocals reign supreme: "Tell Me Why". And not just his, but also the soulful voices of the singers backing him up, particularly at the singing of the lyrics 'why don't you listen to what I say?' in the song's catchy main chorus. Then you get both the superb vocals and a terrific beat on the jazzed-up jam that's quickly becoming my #1 favorite: "I Will". 'I will come and rescue you': my favorite lyrics on the whole song and sung by Robinson so beautifully! And what about it being 'jazzed up'? Well, the accompaniment of the trumpets and the saxophone is simply marvelous; I would've taken just its instrumentals and went wild with replays of it by themselves! I suppose I got a little of that with the extended 12" remix at the very end of the album, which is where I was also ecstatic to hear the extended versions of "If I Can't Have You" and "Tell Me Why" as well. Speaking more of jazz (you know if there's more of it to be found this album, I couldn't resist talking about it!), there's an unexpected surprise shift in the music when you get to the elegant, 60's-inspired, ball room-style jazz piece, "Inside My Love". Another highlight from Robinson's repertoire, for sure, and it demonstrates that, just as the famed Natalie Cole made the conversion from pop over to vocal jazz, Robinson could've followed suit and enjoyed similar success in his own right. The breezy jazz vibes continue once more on "Sweet Rhapsody"—this time, with more of a pop sound, though jazzy enough to make you think that it wasn't recorded back in the 80's. But if you adore that decade's signature synthpop sound, this album's remaining tracks give you a healthy dose of all the synthpop you can handle: "Let Go The Reins", "Shake Baby Shake", "Flying Back South", "Move On Up To Heaven"—take your pick! One more elegant gem I can't pass up mentioning either: "Louise", which is the starriest of ballads and something that would be a terrific inclusion for the adult contemporary radio lineup. So make your way over to getting THIS WAY UP's "Feelin' Good About It", and as the title to the album's tenth track alludes to, you might find yourself moving on up to heaven before it's all said and done:

1. If I Can't Have You
2. Tell Me Why
3. Let Go The Reins
4. Louise
5. I Will
6. Flying Back South
7. Shake Baby Shake
8. Feeling Good About It
9. Inside My Love
10. Sweet Rhapsody
11. Move On Up To Heaven
12. If I Can't Have You (12" Remix)
13. Tell Me Why (12" Remix)
14. I Will (12" Remix)

No comments: