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Greatest Hits - Eddy Grant

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Genre: Pop - Dance Pop / Artist: Eddy Grant / Audio CD released 2001-05-07 at Wea

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    2 Reviews
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      10.06.2003 19:34
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      Musically, I found the early 80s rather a dull time. Scores of Bucks Fizz wannabees (I mean, Tight Fit? Spare us!), variations on the theme of the dreaded ‘Stars on 45' (yawn) and endless New Romantic bands were never my scene. But at least you could generally depend on regular hits from the musical renaissance man from Guyana via Stoke Newington, Eddy Grant. (Yes, dooyoo, that Eddie is wrong). In the late 60s a blond-barneted Eddy was lead guitarist and main songwriter with London-based quintet the Equals, who scored three Top 10 hits (‘Baby Come Back’, the first, reaching No. 1) before he suffered a heart attack at the age of 22 and quit them for health reasons. In 1977 he returned as a soloist, having not only formed his own label but also adopted a policy of writing, producing, playing every instrument and performing all the vocals on his work. He’d also ditched the daffodil-coloured thatch and was now sporting dreadlocks. Almost quarter of a century later, along comes this neat but flawed summary of his greatest hits. It’s good as far as it goes, and makes great party music, but it could have been so much better. Nearly 70 minutes’ playing time and 16 tracks help it register high on the value-for-money-ometer. But there are at least three or four glaring omissions (‘I Love You, Yes I Love You’, ‘Boys In The Street’ and ‘Romancing The Stone’), with a few rather nondescript tracks which may be among his personal favourites but which were never hits here instead. Moreover the poorly-designed booklet features generous areas of blank space and only the bare minimum of info about the tracks (in other words, the standard listing, parent album and year). At least the most important tracks are here. Eddy was basically a reggae artist, but his appeal stretched further than that. There were elements of pop, old-fashioned R’n’B, a dash of hard rock
      here or a bit of calypso carnival there. Sometimes he sounded like a cross between Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones (the Equals’ third UK hit ‘Softly Softly’ sounded musically like a second cousin of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’), and maybe it’s significant that the latter tried very hard to sign him up to their label at one stage. ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance’, his greatest success (No. 1 in 1982), found him at his most good-time, relaxed party mood. It was one of his least political songs, but even though the anti-apartheid message came through loud and clear on ‘Gimme Hope Jo’anna’, that still made a great dance record. Those two and the original version of ‘Electric Avenue’ are to my mind the three best songs on the album. A new 2001 Ringbang remix of the latter song may have done its bit in introducing Eddy to a new record-buying audience when it entered the singles chart at No. 5 on issue, but I’ve never been keen on this idea of tarting up oldies with a drum machine and sticking them out as new releases, and I find it a tad redundant. Also, this hits album shows up another of Eddy’s limitations. It’s all too apparent that he had a fondness for recycling much the same formula over and over again. Take his first solo hit, ‘Living On The Frontline’ – great heavy guitar and electro-keyboard riff, even though it becomes a tad monotonous when repeated endlessly for nearly six minutes. Then listen to his subsequent hits ‘Do You Feel My Love’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough Of You’. Same beat, more or less the same key, and almost the same riff with minor variation. They sound wonderful in isolation, but put them close to each other on a compilation, and the listener gets a distinct feeling of didn’t-I-hear-that-just-now. Of the lesser-known songs, ‘Walking On Sunshine’ (not
      hing to do with Katrina & The Waves’ hit of the same title) was a top five hit for Rockers Revenge in 1982, but I find Eddy’s version superior. ‘Hello Africa’ is another of those effervescent, lively songs that carry a message, full of tropical carnival rhythms, and the more funky ‘War Party’ –again, the message is pretty obvious - is a grower. But ‘Latin Love Affair’ and ‘Ten Out Of Ten’ sound a little forced, and ‘Another Revolutionary’ just drags. (It sounds like a tired version of Wings’ ‘C Moon’). ‘Nobody’s Got Time’ gets going with a good groove, and I for one can never resist anything with blues harmonica, but at over seven minutes it could have done with editing. Finally, the 1984 re-recording of ‘Baby Come Back’ is a grave mistake. The original in 1968 was fun because it sounded so simple, whereas this sleek airbrushed glossy drum machine-driven version sounds pale in comparison. I’ve always had a blind spot about this ‘some of these tracks may have been re-recorded by the original artist’ thingy, and this only goes to remind me why. Maybe he doesn’t hold the licensing rights to his initial work. But even so, if it ain’t broke… All in all, I’d give the music three stars (or 3.5 at a pinch), but the compilation itself only 2.5, particularly in view of the competition. There are several other Eddy Grant ‘Best Ofs’ to choose from, and the Music Club label’s ‘Hits From The Frontline’, which has a superior track selection, far better packaging (i.e. comprehensive booklet notes), and a mid-range price tag (around three quid cheaper) is the one to go for. Unless this turns up in the Special Purchase racks at around a fiver, pass on it.

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        26.05.2001 02:39
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        I find it a bit funny that I've bought this album as it isn't the type of recording that I set my sights on usually, but nevertheless I bought it and am enjoying it. It's good Summer music! Getting Eddy Grant's latest 'the Greatest Hits' album was based on me liking the stuff I'd heard of his as a kid, and now with a remix of the classic 'Electric Avenue' (which features on this album with the original) me and many others I'm sure thought "ahh, I remember him", and so I bought on impulse and the child love premise of songs like 'Electric...', 'Gimme Hope Jo'Anna' (more so this as I was too young for nearly everything else) and 'Baby Come Back' (which was once covered by Pato Banton). Eddy Grant for the uninitiated (which includes me, so I won't be that helpful in explaining him either) is a reggae artist who first released his debut album back in 1977, and since then all the way up 'til the late 80's has enjoyed success as a premiere, real and talented reggae artist who's fused dance, disco and moderate rock to lyrics with evident political statements (so much so he played for Mandela on his release concert) and love. He didn't appreciate as much fame as his other Jamaican contemporaries but in another respect he was taken more seriously. Still not as much as the legendary Marley, mind. After the success of 88's 'Gimme Hope Jo'Anna', an anti-apartheid song, little of Grant has been seen in the public eye, though he's continued to find and promote talent on his own Ice Records label, but is now back with a Ringbang remix of 'Electric Avenue' which hopes to be a big Summer dance smash hit. Though the original 'EA' is far better (i.e. Grant isn't reduced to mildly stuttering his lines over a shakier dance beat), it's nice to see that personally there'll be some ray of hope in this Summer's charts in
        some form. The simply and aptly titled album (complete with artist-on-cover-looking-accomplished-Pickwick-label standard artwork, and an inlay book that just lists song details) is indeed a greatest hits album as you'd be hard pressed in finding anything bad, sure there's taste difference but the quality of the songwriting is superb and consistent throughout - except maybe new 2001 song 'Ten Out Of Ten' at the end which seems a tad glossy and cliched. After the stuttering opening of the 'EA' (Ringbang/Radio edit remix) comes 'I Don't Wanna Dance' that brings with it as usual Grant's trademark voice with it's ragged yet uplifting bounce over some bright Hammond organ stabs, simple percussion and groovy bass. The lyrics are simple, and pretty poppy and memorable so singing and bobbing along isn't out of the question. 'Killer On The Rampage' submerges reggae into mild disco pleasure with it's light strummy guitar and authorative bass over which Grant delivers his sublime vocal. 'Can't Get Enough Of You' features stern organ work and real weighty bass that's a little bit reminscent of The Specials, and then when Grant's vocal enters you could swear that this was The Police for a second. It's one of my favourites on the album, because it's just how I like the majority of my music; heavy, or atleast dark in some respect. 'Living On The Frontline' features a set of the most emotive lyrics on the album, featuring some heavy organ work and spiky synth while verbally displaying the angst of living in an existence where it's impossible to not be a struggler - such as late 70's Africa, who Grant was and continues to be very passionate about. 'Hello Africa' is as it's title suggests a friendly greeting to Africa with it's shakey native percussion and general feeling of good will in this simple sing-along (fe
        aturing some Jambo!); which is entirely designed to get you feeling good and nothing else. If there is any gripe though, it's that the greeting's a bit too long! 'Gimme Hope Jo'Anna' is just a cool song, how can you not like this? Shuffley happy snare drumming to get you moving with jangly upbeat guitars and a memorable chorus. And not only that, because it's lyrical content is dealing with a serious issue it makes it more digestible to take in, and so you think as you have fun. I only bought the album for this, vain I know but I couldn't find a sole single, and there are a number of other great songs than just this! 'Another Revolutionary' is a sombre moment with it's sombre bass and organ while Grant treats us with his blues over infinite struggling. It's another favourite of mine. 'Latin Love Affair' is like a retro Ricky Martin...Only joking, but it's basically an acceptable piece of strummy latin guitar, organ and percussion while Grant's no doubt enticing a lady, or a number of them. 'Do You Feel My Love' is another huge favourite of mine with some very heavy sparse reggae guitar, that even Slipknot would kill for - plus intermittent flute bits, foundation drum and bass while Grant tries and delivers his message with important intensity. 'Baby Come Back' is kind of like a reggae Buddy Holly type thing. The cheese factor compared to the comic Pato Banton version is non-existent, and this song is another big favourite of mine with it's heavy sub-Industrial drum build ups to the chorus and a guitar line that is simple but class. It's the indie part of the album. 'War Party' features another great set of lyrics with Grant using metaphors mixed with blatant and evident rants over this piece of lounge-reggae. 'Walking On Sunshine' is another example of reggae-disco with Grant sounding more like Stevie Wond
        er than himself along to an audio piece painted with trumpets, house drums and tinkly percussion pinned by er..a pinning bass line. 'Nobody's Got Time' is a bit too long for it's own good (over 7mins in length), but is a further example of pure dance pleasure. It reminds me a bit of '84 era New Order with it's pulsating bass, shaky percussion - and Grant at his most soulful. It ends with some long emotive harmonica work, recalling haunting blues in a song which seems 70% instrumental in hindsight. 'Electric Avenue' is definetly one of the best things Grant has ever done. It's almost Krafterk or good synth-pop like with it's high pitched organ entrances, a constant digital scratchy sound and stern and mechanical drum and bass with Grant sounding almost robotic during the chorus while the guitars mildly grate away, and there's some motorbike sounds ripping off into the distance. Miles better than the remix, he should've just re-released the original as it is. Final song 'Ten Out Of Ten' as mentioned before is a newy, it's instantly evident by the modern day sound quality and Grant's matured voice. Though the song's bareable, it sounds a bit cliche, done and dare I say manufactured. Maybe Grant's return past a greatest hits package isn't so advisable, if new stuff is going to be like this average glossy love-angst tune. Whew! I've explained it all. And do I enjoy it? Yeah! If I were faced with buying it again though I'm not sure if I would as Grant is a good songwriter performer and this is a high calibre compilation but it's a little bit too bright for me, but hey it's the Summer, I might as well have an appropriate OST for it and this is it. No regrets, but a friend of mine keeps raising his brows at me now. Reggae and non-Reggae fans, and indeed non-Grant fans should check it out. He's no doubt an important and respected artist
        and you can't deny that. I can't say I fully recommend it, but I'm far from saying I'm not. Overall a great Summer album and I hope Grant's re-kindled resurrection does well. There are some misses among this hits package but they're about less than a quarter, and you get your money's worth for an otherwise wholly enjoyable and unbeat album collection from a great writer and performer. If you're going to buy a big mainstream chart contending album this year, then you could do no better than to buy this. It's as cool as the man himself.

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      • Product Details

        Disc #1 Tracklisting
        1 Electric Avenue (Ringbang Remix: Radio Edit)
        2 I Don't Wanna Dance
        3 Killer On The Rampage
        4 Can't Get Enough Of You
        5 Living on the Frontline
        6 Hello Africa
        7 Gimme Hope Joanna
        8 Another Revolutionary
        9 Latin Love Affair
        10 Do You Feel My Love
        11 Baby Come Back
        12 War Party
        13 Walking On Sunshine
        14 Nobody's Got Time
        15 Electric Avenue
        16 Ten Out Of Ten