Brenton Wood

Better Believe It

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Nine of these 15 tracks originally surfaced on Wood's 1977 Cream Records album, Come Softly. The songs are structured better and the recordings are of a much higher quality than his run of hits for Double Shot Records. But it's obvious that Wood's uniqueness works better when the arrangements aren't as tight and he has room to twist and curl notes as he pleases. On these, he's more mellow and predictable. There aren't any bust-out hits but there are some good sounds. On "Just Like the First Time," he sounds like Sam Cooke; "Love Is Free" is Smokey Robinson-esque; "You're Everything I Need" and "Better Believe It" bring out the Marvin Gaye. In fact, he sounds like everybody but the "Oogum Boogum Song" man who millions loved and supported via record purchases. But this isn't a negative, just a surprise; he displays a much wider range of skills -- reggae, jazz, pop -- than the young man who charmed the world with his elastic voice. The last cut, "Watchin' Johnny Carson Thru' My Toes," is as cute as its title.

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