Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Frankie Oliver-Looking For The Twist (1997)


Late at night or early in the morning (both being the case in my part of the world as I type now, depending on how you interpret the three o'clock A.M. hour) the sun is always shining down on "The Music Spectrum". And there's sure to be plenty of sunshine every time there's reggae music warming the wars and satisfying the soul. In my second joyride of the week into this Caribbean-influenced music genre that I've still left largely unexplored, I got fully acquainted with British reggae singer Frankie Oliver. Hmmmm.....'Oliver' and 'twist'? Well let's not confuse him with Oliver Twist, the fictional character from the popular Charles Dickens novel published back in the 1800's. But I suppose if there is a 'twist' someplace in all of this, it would be Frankie not having the classic reggae-style vocals one might associate with the festive reggae dance vibe. Instead, he entertains the ears with his own unique vocals—engaging, charming, captivating and in every way sublimely soulful. Bitterly sour is the way Frankie's story begins, confessing the woman's trickery and deceit he endured on "She Lied To Me", then admitting he's through buying into her love on "Give Her What She Wants"—bittersweet, perhaps, when you consider how nice the music sounds on each cut. Brightening the mood immediately thereafter, however, is "Love What You Do For Me", with even more moments of merry bliss sweeping in on "Melt Into You" (I love the way hiss vocals pours over the poetic words, the Spanish guitar providing that extra romantic touch) and the concluding cut, "Down By The Riverside" (I just love the imagery of him seeing the woman he loves in the water's reflections, not to mention the sweet jazzy melody of the accompanying saxophone). I had been intrigued by the title to this album before I even started listening.....and remained intrigued as I took in the early parts of the title track itself. Nope—absolutely nothing to do with Oliver Twist (that Charles Dickens character I referenced earlier), but instead shows the British singer wanting to change his love life after missing out on it before. Twisting things around and making things better for himself—a twist within the twist? There's another twist to Frankie's story—a third dimension, aside from the touch of sour bitterness and the taste of romantic happiness, where he speaks about important social issues and promoting world peace, understanding and brotherly love. "Look How Long", "Live As One" and "Love And Satisfaction": this trio right smack in the middle of the album contains the kind of messages that move you to think positively. I myself needed two listens of "Look How Long"—if not for the cool production (marked by the suspenseful melody), then just for hearing the words of 'no more hate in our minds', 'we hold the key to our destiny' and 'spread peace throughout the lands'. So in the spirit of this post that's been all about the different kinds of 'twists', I hope to have 'twisted' a few heads and turned you on to something new:

1. She Lied To Me
2. Give Her What She Wants
3. Love What You Do For Me
4. Who's Gonna Do It?
5. Look How Long
6. Live As One
7. Love And Satisfaction
8. Melt Into You
9. Show Me
10. What Is Life?
11. Looking For The Twist
12. Down By The Riverside

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