Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pebbles-Always (1990)


It's always a pleasure whenever me and my ears are in attendance back at the old school, and for my latest music-listening session, I got re-schooled by the familiar but never-forgotten voice who made "Mercedes Boy" a memorable hit in 1988. And now a new collection of hits to deposit into my musical memory bank; I can't say that I recall having ever tuned in to anything here on this pop-tastic Pebbles sophomore effort. Spent over ten minutes indulging in the sizzilingly sassy opener that is "Giving You The Benefit". Benefit of the doubt, that is, as the song turns out to be about the games of love and all the tricks that often go along with it. Love the attitude she boasts throughout—'don't give me no lip', she warns at one point—and hearing the guys on backup barking 'work! work!' add a powerful punch to push her point across. Praises to the production crew for crafting the cool beats here, especially for serving up the extended closeout sequence so that the listener can enjoy jammin' along for an extra minute or two. Which is surely why they included a special club mix at the very end; of course, I had to jump down to play that right after the non-mixed original had finished. Pebbles has some sound advice for all the ladies on "Backyard": if you see somebody standing in your backyard, they're out to get your man. Be on your best game and don't let them in the house, because she has a plan and she'll take your man. Then she reminds us about the mystery of love and that love just has a way of developing beyond all control on the follow-up, "Love Makes Things Happen". Praises to the production for the second time on "Say A Prayer For Me", which is all the total dance-pop jam that both "Giving You The Benefit" and "Backyard" definitely are! And as with the opener, the flurry of extended beats in the final movements makes for additional ear candy. Here's something sweet to savor: the "Why Do I Believe?" prelude, a starry and twinkly instrumental that indicated the actual full-length vocal version a couple of tracks later would be the most beautiful listen. And it is—"Why Do I Believe?" is one of those dreamy ballad pieces that Pebbles performs so well these ballads well; had me thinking about a similar tune from her self-titled debut: "Give me Your Love". Even more satisfying sweetness to be enjoyed on this album's title track, a comforting, sunny five-and-a-half minutes of sincere eternal dedication whose fabulous hook of a chorus grows an grows until it bubbles over with heart-stirring emotion. You get the sugar with a touch of spice on "Stay With Me"—the sweet being the twinkly melody and chords with the zing coming from the touch of funky r&b mixed into the groove. It instantly brought back fond memories of those magical 80's love songs while causing me to feel something enchanting about her delivery of the words of sincerity that throw a blanket of unity and togetherness over the music. Time to jam again on "Give It To Me", where her bold and direct message of wanting some of that good lovin' is made crystal clear, and "Good Thang", where that same big and bold attitude boasted on "Giving You The Benefit" is demonstrated here as she tells her lover not to mess up the good that they have going on by doing everything bad. Through good times and bad times, you'll have a blast of a time with this album just as I did.....and I believe that will always be the case:

1. Giving You The Benefit
2. Backyard
3. Love Makes Things Happen
4. Say A Prayer For Me
5. Why Do I Believe? (Prelude)
6. Give It To Me
7. Why Do I Believe?
8. Always
9. Stay With Me
10. Good Thang
11. Giving You The Benefit (Extended Club Mix)

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