Moving Up

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Moving Up Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Luciano's first album for producer Phillip "Fatis" Burrell not only set the stage for the singer's stardom, but lay the foundation for Burrell's Xterminator label's equally phenomenal success. The point of entry for most fans was the pair of smash Jamaican hits with which the two men inaugurated their relationship: "Poor & Simple" and "Chant Out," the former a righteous lesson, the latter a devotional anthem. "Mister Man" is also culturally themed, although Luciano is a bit tentative and deprecatory, urging the man of the title to "take my foolish advice." At this early date, the singer's cultural confidence was still a little shaky. But his religious faith imbues every word of "Moving Up," a wicked cover of the theme song from The Jeffersons, which the singer imbues with such spirituality that he transforms a climb up the economic ladder into pure religious advancement. This was the first step that would reach heavenly heights at the end of the decade, when Luciano rewrote the lyrics then recut the song as the gospel-flavored "Moving on Up."

Less successful is his cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Sitting in Limbo" which also incorporates Otis Redding's classic "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay." Luciano gives a soulful performance, but the militant dancehall rhythm dissipates the strength of both these songs. Much better is "I Believe in Music", where Luciano's soulfulness shines amidst a stately update of this old classic. The rest of the album revolves around matters of the heart, from the breezy, sexy, soulful "Do Me Baby" to tying down a "Wandering Woman," then sweetly dismissing his "Samfie Lover," her spell has worn off, but the singer casts his own on "Come On Over." Better was still to come, but Luciano's power was already apparent here. The rhythms are fabulous, often updating old Studio One gems, dancehall-driven, but with plenty of atmosphere, most created around Dean Fraser's superb sax solos.

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