Billy Griffin - Believe It Or Not: The Collection (2008)

Billy Griffin
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In the early 80s, former Miracles lead singer Billy Griffin was hitting his stride, teaming with John Barnes for a pair of excellent soulful dance albums (Be With Me and Respect) that largely anticipated what Barnes would do a couple years later working with Michael Jackson on Thriller.  The UK flocked to Griffin's brilliant single, "Hold Me Tighter In the Rain," but the two discs were criminally ignored by US radio, save some minor attention paid to the 1982 single "Serious."

In the early 80s, former Miracles lead singer Billy Griffin was hitting his stride, teaming with John Barnes for a pair of excellent soulful dance albums (Be With Me and Respect) that largely anticipated what Barnes would do a couple years later working with Michael Jackson on Thriller.  The UK flocked to Griffin's brilliant single, "Hold Me Tighter In the Rain," but the two discs were criminally ignored by US radio, save some minor attention paid to the 1982 single "Serious."

Those fine examples of 80s pop/soul have been generally unavailable (legally) on CD, but fans can now be thankful that the UK's always-visionary Expansion Records has gathered these and more in the first ever serious Billy Griffin compilation, Believe It Or Not.  One could quibble about the failure to include Griffin's Motorcity hit "Technicolor" or his excellent collaboration with Gerald Albright "You Don't Even Know," but that doesn't diminish the sixteen quality songs that are included on Believe.  The disc covers nearly forty years of recordings, including eight songs from the Barnes sessions along with two cuts each from Griffin's work with the Miracles (including the #1 smash "Love Machine"), his lesser collaboration with Leon Ware (Systematic) and his 2007 comeback album (Like Water).  And the biggest treat is the inclusion of Griffin's wonderful, rare Atlantic Records single, "Believe It Or Not."

The arrangements from the 70s and early 80s tracks certainly show their age, and the Respect sessions bear the original, slightly muffled sound, but time has not diminished Griffin's often underrated compositional skills or his sumptuous falsetto, which sounds absolutely great in digital form.  His ability to both write and deliver a hook is top notch, and it's been a tragedy that Griffin's career output was previously generally unavailable to modern audiences.  Fortunately, Believe It Or Not remedies that, providing cause for celebration for Griffin's longtime fans and giving a new generation of soul music listeners a chance to hear one of the most consistently enjoyable soul music singers around. Highly Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 

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