"Get Ahead" stays in front of the R& B pack
cssuperstar2003 | Wilmington, NC USA | 05/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
Blue- eyed soul from the U.K.has always recieved lukewarm reviews in North America at best yet the public at large has been tortured by relentless airplay from the Michael Bolton's of the world.
While Breathe, Simply Red, Level 42, George Michael,and the acid jazz / old school 70's disco R& B of Jamiroquai have all had a measure of Stateside success,countless talented others like Go West and London's Curiosity Killed the Cat found difficulty in penetrating the North American markets though Go West had success when "The King of Wishful Thinking" was a hit off the heels of the 1990 box office smash "Pretty Woman" soundtrack.
The former only released two albums the first being " Keep Your Distance" and the second " Get Ahead"
This CD is a power- packed collection of live sounding funk with craftily arranged synth work and efficient not overworked horn sections that have been a predictable Achille's Heel of Jamiroquai's work.
"Get Ahead" is a hybrid of Curiosity with a touch of Level 42 elements neatly wrapped around Ben Volpierre's succintly laid back monotone cabaret style vocals.
There are a few gaps on the record but compared to many of today's offerings and Curiosity's spotty results on "Keep Your Distance", this 1989 release has some strong tracks that make it a solid effort.
The gaps? "Trees Dont Grow on Money and "Go Go Ahead" leave a bit to be desired and "Security Lady" is a bit iffy(listen for yourself I could be wrong) therefore "Brit Funk does have it's occasional pitfalls.
The gems? The record rolls out like a carpet on "Name and Number" then quickly shifts into second on the following track "Do Your Believing", arguably the best track on the CD. The drumming is solid and the bass line and synth arrangement work well in harmony making it a song representative of what funk sholud be- LIVE AND AMBIENT. "Cascade" highlights itself with a high- pitched slap bass bridge reminiscent of Mark King's exploits in Level 42 or a Marcus Miller fusion approach.
What makes for a great album is when one can have a healthy debate over which song is the best and when you have more than a few that you can make a case for.The follow up track "First Place" is a well-written power ballad accentuated with a first class arrangement where the song goes from a canter to a nice steady gallop, picking up in tempo that adds a powerful punch with skilled finesse and power drumming adds the live element that is lacking in today's stagnated and watered down machine driven R&B.
Here you get an balanced attack as is the case on the back-side of the album on the killer track " So Well" with the punchy hornsthat come from out of nowhere on occasion layered on silky smooth synths and a rolling bass- line similar to John Taylor's work w / Duran 2. But there's more punch and prominence in sync with the drumming. A very classy track that can be sprung on the unaware victim who becomes intrigued by the musicianship that they are un-accustomed to hearing on pop radio in this millinieum
"Something New,Something Blue" like " First Place" qualifies for nice candlelight music status and serves as a pre-lude to the band picking up the tempo on the dance track "Keep on Trying" where Volpierre 's point of emphasis is the line "you know my work is therapeutic".
Indeed. "Get Ahead" isn't what "St. Pepper" was to the Beatles or what "Physical Graffiti" was to Led Zeppelin or any other landmark album in music history, but it foes offer a textbook on how well crafted funk can be both timeless and enjoyable.
Therefore it is a nice surprise attack CD to own. It will beg some to ask the (?) queation how come this record wasnt a hit and why did they stop recording?
Again many LP's with weak tracks suffer and make for a poor album. But with " Get Ahead" there are few gaps and the ones that do exist are well comphensated by the firepower of the strong tracks here, making it a admirable effort and certainly worth a music lover's time and money to invest in. If you like 80's and / or 90's fumk and groups of the like be it Level 42 or Jamiroquai or 70's icons like Heatwave, Slave, Commomdores, Cameo, Switch, Gap Band,etc then you will like this. But the encouraging aspect to "Get Ahead" is that it is a record that can even raise the eyebrow of he most skeptical NON-FAN of R&B dance music. Solid CD ! C.S. 5-27- 03"