Second Listen: Ray Chew and Valerie Simpson classic reissued

Harlem-bred Ray Chew has been among the top arrangers in R&B for over three decades, adding his defining touch to classic recordings by Diana Ross (“The Boss”), Stephanie Mills (“Keep Away Girls”), and Alicia Keys (“You Don’t Know My Name”). Aside from serving as musical director for many popular television programs, he’s occasionally released albums spotlighting his own artistry.

One such effort was 1996’s Blue Crystal, which featured a quietly released single entitled “Fools Like Me.” Sung by none other than Valerie Simpson, the melancholy tune was composed by Chew with Simpson and lifelong collaborator/husband, Nick Ashford.  “Ever since I could feel, my heart’s been broken…Fools like me don’t think twice/It’s just a way of life,” Simpson cries with a vulnerability that only the most seasoned of pros in life and song could put across – her performance oozes with conviction and passion.

Harlem-bred Ray Chew has been among the top arrangers in R&B for over three decades, adding his defining touch to classic recordings by Diana Ross (“The Boss”), Stephanie Mills (“Keep Away Girls”), and Alicia Keys (“You Don’t Know My Name”). Aside from serving as musical director for many popular television programs, he’s occasionally released albums spotlighting his own artistry.

One such effort was 1996’s Blue Crystal, which featured a quietly released single entitled “Fools Like Me.” Sung by none other than Valerie Simpson, the melancholy tune was composed by Chew with Simpson and lifelong collaborator/husband, Nick Ashford.  “Ever since I could feel, my heart’s been broken…Fools like me don’t think twice/It’s just a way of life,” Simpson cries with a vulnerability that only the most seasoned of pros in life and song could put across – her performance oozes with conviction and passion.

With the recent digital reissue of Blue Crystal, the time is ideal for fans of both Chew and Simpson to discover the lost gem in “Fools Like Me.” In addition to serving as a testament to the lyrical gifts of the much-loved and much-missed Ashford, it’s a musically timeless tune which will surely hold meaning for anyone who’s ever loved and lost.

by Justin Kantor

 

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