Liner Note Author: Alex Henderson .
Arrangers: Ben Findon; Billy Ocean; Graham Preskett.
Way before hook-smart pop/R&B ditties like "When the Going Gets Tough" and "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" established Billy Ocean as a world-wide '80s radio icon, the singer was belting out '60s-laden soul workouts and ballads that mainly stuck a chord with U.K. audiences. This youthful debut outing boasts a nice balance of slow and fast numbers, and finds Ocean putting an abundance of energy into each track (at times perhaps a bit over-exerted). And though his style may not be as developed as on his '80s albums, there's no lack of vigor or enthusiasm. From the earnest, Motown-privy grooves of the pleading "Love Really Hurts Without You" and subtle "Let's Put Our Emotions in Motion" to the riveting pace of the assertive "Tell Him to Move Over," the album's 11 tracks provide a thorough examination of some of the many emotions associated with love. Given, this is not an unusual context for any form of popular music; but Ocean and his co-writers' down-to-earth lyrics and the singer's remarkably sensitive delivery make it a special listen. Whether it be the shy falsetto he employs on "Let's Do It All Again" or his straightforward tenor vocal on "Eye of a Storm," there's an unmistakable personal feeling that defines what "soul" is all about. His approach may not be as raw or deep as "soul" conventionally suggests, but it's just as real. ~ Justin M. Kantor