Billy Ocean - Because I Love You (2009)

Billy Ocean
Billy_Ocean_Because_I_love_you_Album.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Billy Ocean 's Because I Love You left me wondering...did he change or did I? One thing is clear. The Trinidadian is definitely capable of flipping the script. Ocean had been recording for about five years before his music finally reached my ears. And I have to admit that I liked what I heard. The year was 1981. I was a senior in high school, and Ocean and Denroy Morgan brought some Caribbean funk to us Yanquis.

Billy Ocean 's Because I Love You left me wondering...did he change or did I? One thing is clear. The Trinidadian is definitely capable of flipping the script. Ocean had been recording for about five years before his music finally reached my ears. And I have to admit that I liked what I heard. The year was 1981. I was a senior in high school, and Ocean and Denroy Morgan brought some Caribbean funk to us Yanquis.

Ocean's "Nights" hit the airwaves a few weeks after Morgan's "I'll Do Anything For You" dropped in the late summer of that year. Both took a little bit of that Caribbean rhythm and mixed it with a good helping of funk to produce a sound that was unique on the radio waves. I would have loved to hear more of that from the two artists, but that was not to be. Morgan pretty much disappeared from the American airwaves by 1983 even though he remained in the music business (while raising his children). Ocean became one of the biggest stars of the 1980s. However, the juxtaposition of his light tenor voice with funky dance music that made "Night" such an appealing song for me had been replaced by a more crossover 1980s pop sound.

I did not find Ocean's new sound to be as compelling or interesting. I, however, was in the distinct minority because one can't talk about 1980s pop music without including songs like "Caribbean Queen" or "Suddenly." In fact, Billy Ocean is one level slightly below that of Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna when discussion turns to artist responsible for crafting the sound of the 1980s. Still, an artist risks losing a lot of what makes him or her unique by taking the crossover route, and that is the fate that befell Ocean. Songs such as "Loverboy" and "Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car," got Ocean airplay and top 40 hits - and I ain't mad at him - but they just didn't have the grittiness and soulfulness of "Nights." It wasn't that Ocean didn't try. In fact, the highest quality work Ocean did in the 1980s, namely "Caribbean Queen" and "Suddenly," displayed the simmering passion and that the singer's vocal had on "Nights."

On Because I Love You, Ocean returns to a sound that will fall nicely on the ears of those with soul and funk sensibilities. Whether he is merging the funk with the syncopated Caribbean rhythms on songs like "My Lady" and "Tenderness," or hitting listeners over the head with it on the up-tempo soul/rock jam "Can't Take It," funk permeates through every core of the album.

Because I Love You is going to get a strong recommendation from me. Still one question needs to be answered. Who changed, Billy Ocean or me? I guess in a way we both did. He's a mature artist who is able to distill everything that he learned from his time as a pop hit maker to craft a solid modern soul record. Me? I believe that I'm more of a mature music listener who can and appreciate how "Nights" and the pop stuff crafted Ocean's sound.

 

By Howard Dukes

 
Featured Album - Conya Doss - CLEAR
Album of the Month - Cecile McLorin Salvant - The Window
Featured Album - Raul Midón - If You Really Want
Featured Album - Anthony David - Hello Like Before

Leave a comment!