Max Romeo

Holding Out My Love to You

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

The singer continues his (unsuccessful) attempts to break into the U.S. market, and it's clear that if this album didn't do it, nothing would. Boasting a dream band which included Sly & Robbie, Earl "Chinna" Smith, Augustus Pablo, Ansel Collins, Sticky Thompson, a potent brass section, a chorus of backing vocalists, and Rolling Stone Keith Richards (who co-produced with Romeo), Holding Out My Love to You should have been a hit on curiosity value alone. It wasn't, and, in reality, didn't deserve to be. The musicianship is impeccable, the production crisp and clean, but much of the record lacks soul. The A-side is extremely slick, assumedly in an attempt to interest Americans. "Truth Is Truth," for example, should have been a winner, and Romeo gives it his all, but his vocal tour de force is mixed down to highlight the band's shiny, light funk/soul hybrid. Only "Wishing for Love," a gem of a lovers rock cut, escapes the slick arrangements and production. Flip the album over, though, and Romeo and company return to their island roots and knock out four stunning tracks in a row. Two slow rockers-style numbers kick things off, including the harmony-drenched "Smiling in Your Face." Sly & Robbie penned the next pair, the Motown-esque "Nice'n'Easy," which is true to its title, and the omen of ragga, "Keep On Dancin'." Romeo's attempt at crossover failed to impress the States, whilst alienating many of his Jamaican fans. However, half the album at least proved he was still capable of creating scintillating songs.