Michael Wycoff - Come to My World / On the Line (Reissue) (2010)

Michael Wycoff
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Michael Wycoff is, unfortunately, one of a seemingly endless supply of talented male vocalists of the 1980s who have been largely overlooked since the end of that decade.  Wycoff first came to the attention of audiences through his participation as a background vocalist on Stevie Wonder's landmark Songs in the Key of Life album in 1976.  He worked over the next several years on albums by Natalie Cole and 7th Wonder before being signed by RCA Records' fledgling Black Music division in 1980 (around the time of their signings of other acts such as Evelyn "Champagne" King and Tavares).

Michael Wycoff is, unfortunately, one of a seemingly endless supply of talented male vocalists of the 1980s who have been largely overlooked since the end of that decade.  Wycoff first came to the attention of audiences through his participation as a background vocalist on Stevie Wonder's landmark Songs in the Key of Life album in 1976.  He worked over the next several years on albums by Natalie Cole and 7th Wonder before being signed by RCA Records' fledgling Black Music division in 1980 (around the time of their signings of other acts such as Evelyn "Champagne" King and Tavares).

In his three albums (in three years) on RCA, he showed himself to be a fine vocalist who, when matched with the right material, created some extremely memorable moments.  His most notable song, the uptempo "Looking Up to You," was a hidden classic buried on his 1982 album Love Conquers All until it was sampled a decade later by Zhane in the smash hit, "Hey Mr. DJ."

The excellent UK label FunkyTownGrooves has now reissued a two-fer of Wycoff's debut and third albums, Come To My World and On The Line. While neither has a track as memorable as "Looking Up to You," the reissue certainly has its share of high points.  The Come to My World portion of the disc is clearly the weaker part, with the fine duet "One Alone" and the decent lead-off track, "Feel My Love," but not much else to recommend.  On the Line is another story, with much stronger production and material, courtesy of Wycoff's collaborator, Webster Lewis. The dance track "Tell Me Love" was Wycoff's biggest hit, and it still pops convincingly from the speakers, as does the disc's other major dance track, "You've Got It Coming."  On The Line shines most on its slower cuts, where Wycoff shows a James Ingram-like ability to wrap his voice around a love song. His cover of the Stylistics' "You are Everything" is absolutely solid and "So Close" is an achingly beautiful ballad that may be Wycoff's finest vocal performance. Best of all, though, is "No Easy Way," an excellent, loping slow jam that simply sounds terrific nearly three decades after its inital release.

A one disc compilation of the best tracks from Wycoff's three albums (including "Looking Up To You") would be a dream release, but the FunkyTownGrooves reissue is the next best thing, providing fans of 80s soul a reintroduction to a talented artist whose legacy deserved much better treatment than it has received for the past quarter century.  Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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