Ronnie Dyson

Phase 2/Brand New Day

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Phase 2/Brand New Day Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Ronnie Dyson's biggest hits came in the first half of the '70s but the two albums compiled on Real Gone Music's 2014 two-fer date from a decade later. Phase 2 came out in 1982 and Brand New Day arrived a year later, both chalking up entries on the R&B Singles chart, but perhaps the greatest indication of where the music made the most impact was how "All Over Your Face," the opening track on Brand New Day, went to 16 on the Dance Club charts. There are moments of slow-burning soul on both records -- Phase 2 in particular has a few cuts where things glide along at a crawl -- but these are mainly post-disco dance albums, with Brand New Day striking a sweet spot of transition between disco and new wave funk. That blend can be heard on "All Over Your Face" and it's the reason why that was a hit, and even if the album doesn't deliver on its promise as a whole, there are moments of brilliance here: the tightly coiled, heavily synthesized "You Better Be Fierce," robotic funk swing of "I Need Just a Little More Lovin'," and Off the Wall sparkle of "Don't Need You Now." Phase 2 doesn't reach these glorious highs and sometimes gets stuck in its 4/4 rhythms (a cover of "Expressway to Your Heart" is pretty dreary) but it's amiable and stylish, a nice little blast of later-era disco done on the cheap.

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