George McCrae

Diamond Touch

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Diamond Touch is a fitting title for George McCrae's third album, as the artist showcased here isn't really the singer, it's producer Gregg Diamond. He was riding high on the success of Andrea True's "More More More" when he was hired to helm McCrae's third album, as the singer's original producers Harry Casey and Richard Finch were too busy with their own project, KC & the Sunshine Band. So, McCrae left Miami for New York and Diamond Touch does bear all the sparkling neon nightlife attributes of the Big Apple, downplaying the sun-spangled bounce of "Rock Your Boat," downplaying even McCrae himself. This is a producer's record through and through, with McCrae's voice run through phasers and pushed back into the mix, but the bigger deal is that the sound isn't very Miami: it pulses to the rhythms of N.Y.C., filled with hiccupping bass and splash cymbals. As a disco record, it's good -- sometimes very very good -- and it's telling that the best moments are the ones when McCrae isn't particularly prominent ("Love in Motion," "Givin' Back the Feeling," "Cut the Rug," all singles), because these are the moments when Gregg Diamond can strut his stuff, expanding on the glitz of "More More More" and creating an insistent party. Despite the artistic success here, Diamond Touch didn't do much on the charts -- it could be that the shift in sound did not appeal to McCrae fans and it never cracked the Billboard 200 -- but it remains something of an underappreciated little record, saved by BBR's 2013 reissue, which is the first time it has ever shown up on CD and contains single versions of "Love in Motion" and "Givin' Back the Feeling."

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