Jimmy Lewis

Still Wanna Be Black

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The core of this 20-song CD reissue is Lewis' 1974 album, Totally Involved; Ace has essentially more than doubled the length of that record by adding twelve unreleased tracks from the same era. Totally Involved was a pleasant, unremarkable record that seemed a bit more like a catalog of styles than an original vision. "It Ain't What's on the Woman" is a good Stax-styled slice of gospel-soul (with lengthy spoken parts); "Is That Any Way to Treat a Lady" hints at a Philly soul groove; "That Won't Stop Me From Loving You" has a smidgen of Norman Whitfield's early-'70s Temptations productions; and so forth. The unreleased bonus tracks are at least up to the standard of Totally Involved, and perhaps a tad better in their slightly earthier blends of pop and roots soul. He gets into some bluesy down-home soul on "I Intend to Take Your Place," and delivers a good statement of black pride, somewhat along the lines of a deep-soul Curtis Mayfield, on "Still Wanna Be Black." It's not necessarily an insult to point out Lewis' derivations. He's a competent singer and songwriter who projects a good-natured compassion, and if you specialize in early-'70s pop-soul, this isn't a bad thing to have.

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