To Be a Lover

George Faith

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To Be a Lover Review

by Lindsay Planer

The professional relationship between George Faith and producer Lee "Scratch" Perry extended over a decade, when Perry -- who was running a retail record shop at the time -- was impressed with Faith's platters "Green Hills" and "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got." It was also Perry who christened the then-named Earl George as George Faith. As Perry biographer David Katz notes -- in contrast to the overt political nature infused into the majority of the legendary producer's clientele -- Faith's incipient collection is threaded by a sense of romanticism rather than angst. While the album contains a mixture of Faith-penned originals, the lion's share of the effort consists of an admittedly odd assortment of early American pop/rock numbers -- suggested by Perry -- such as the medley of Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour" with the Creole soul and infectious groove on Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya." Thanks to Perry's thickly doctored production style, the coupling offers a hypnotic vibe weaving through and supporting Faith's easy skankin' and congenial delivery. "Opportunity" smolders hazily beneath the driving beat with Faith ably maneuvering his ethereal vocals atop of the incessant rhythm. Although the artist is credited as composer on "So Fine," it is actually a remake of the Johnny Otis R&B hit. The trippy rendition adopts a languid tempo with the heavily echoplexed lead supported by the mighty Meditations. The pace increases the essential overhaul of the O'Jays' "I've Got the Groove," which proved to one of Faith's best-received sides . Of all the tunes chosen to redo, it is Paul Anka's "Diana" that stands most prominently, thanks to its unique instrumental phasing that swirls around Faith's innocent and childlike singing. Equally worthy is the take of "Turn Back the Hands of Time" -- a significant entry for Tyrone Davis. Keen-eared listeners are encouraged to pick out the sonically shrouded nod to Tina Turner's update of "Proud Mary."

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