Lenny Williams

Ten Ways of Lovin' You

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In 1986, Lenny Williams was past his prime commercially. The singer had long since left Tower of Power, and his solo career wasn't going well. But his talent had not disappeared; Williams could still sing his head off, and the Fantasy-distributed Knobhill label decided to take a chance on him. Williams' association with the short-lived Knobhill yielded an LP titled New Episode; in 2002, Fantasy reissued that record on Volt as Ten Ways of Lovin' You. Produced by Fred L. Pittman in May-June 1986, the tunes on this CD find Williams making some urban contemporary moves without forgetting his soul roots. Some of the tracks aren't unlike the material that Kashif was producing at the time; like much of Kashif's work, "Our Love," "Waiting for Your Love," and "No More Lonely Nights" successfully balance urban contemporary and soul considerations. Pittman doesn't hesitate to use a lot of keyboards and synthesizers (which were obligatory in '80s urban contemporary) and favors a slick, high-tech production style. Nonetheless, Williams gives the impression that he is still a '70s soul man at heart. This happens on the title track, a slow jam that became a minor hit; it happens on ballads that range from "Woman" to an inspired cover of Leo Sayer's "When I Need You." Regrettably, "Williams"' New Episode LP didn't receive nearly as much attention as it deserved to -- only the singer's most die-hard fans bought it. But that doesn't make these 1986 performances any less worthwhile. Ten Ways of Lovin' You is easily recommended to anyone who might have overlooked New Episode.

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