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Atlantic Starr: Always: The Warner Reprise Recordings (1987-1991) SoulMusic Records (28th May 2021)




5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)




UK label SoulMusic Records presents this super, triple-CD box set consisting of the two albums the US group cut for Warner Brothers:, 1987’s “All In The Name Of Love” and the 1989 set “We’re Movin’ Up”.

With this release we also get to hear again, “Love Crazy”, a third LP; recorded for the Warners’ imprint, Reprise Records in 1991, all with primary production by David & Wayne Lewis, and co-production by Jonathan Lewis.

There’s 43 tracks across these three CDs, and extensive liner notes from writer Charles Waring include new quotes from Jonathan Lewis and Rachel Oliver-Cobbin (the female lead vocalist for the Reprise album.

Disc one is an expanded edition of “All In The Name Of Love”, a US-certified gold LP that includes the classic “Always”, a number one pop and r&b single for the group, their biggest crossover hit and an international best-seller which reached # 3 on the UK charts.

There’s also the upbeat “One Lover At A Time”, a US Top 10 r&b single; the album’s title track, a soulful ballad penned by famed songwriter Sam Dees; and, included on an international version of the 1987 CD, “Armed And Dangerous”, produced by Maurice White (of EW&F fame) and recorded by Atlantic Starr for the film of the same name.

Bonus tracks consist of extended versions of “One Lover At A Time”, (remixed by Arthur Baker), “Let The Sun In” (remixed by Bruce Forrester), and single edits of “All In The Name Of Love” and “Always”.

Disc two consists of an expanded edition of “We’re Movin’ Up”, with Porscha Martin replacing Barbara Weathers as lead female vocalist. That album boasted another Atlantic Starr classic, ”My First Love”,  which topped the US r&b charts in 1989.

Other notable cuts from the album include “My Sugar” (a US Top 30 r&b single) and the uptempo “Bring It Back Home Again”, represented here with the original LP version and two extended mixes, courtesy of Chicago DJ Joe Smooth.

In addition to the single edit and an extended mix of “My First Love”, two tracks that were only issued on the CD version of the LP in 1989, “Love Ain’t Fair” and “Woman’s Touch” are also included.

The third disc showcases “Love Crazy”, Atlantic Starr’s sole album for Reprise. By 1991, the group consisted of the three Lewis brothers, with female vocalist Rachel Oliver replacing Porscha Martin.

The team scored their biggest pop/r&b crossover hit with the certified gold single, “Masterpiece”, penned by pop song writer Kenny Nolan, known for hits with Labelle, Frankie Valli and Tavares among others.

With ever-changing trends in r&b in particular, the album didn’t do that well, despite the quality cuts and performances on it. Such as, “Unconditional Love”, with an emotive vocal performance by Rachel Oliver, and the ballad “Lookin’ For Love Again”, co-written by Wayne Lewis and Sam Dees.

Already established as consistent hit-makers and dynamic live performers, Atlantic Starr – formed in 1976 in upstate New York, with a nucleus of three brothers, Jonathan, David and Wayne Lewis – were riding the quest of a wave of success in 1986 with the pop/R&B single “Secret Lovers”, from the certified-gold LP “As The Band Turns” for A&M Records.

The record’s success occurred just as the group – slimmed down from its original nine-member line-up to a quintet, included the Lewis brothers, long-time member Joseph ‘Joey’ Phillips and new female lead singer, Barbara Weathers – had negotiated a new recording contract with Warner Brothers Records.

The group dropped circa 40 singles between 1978 and 1994, 13 studio albums between ’78 and 2017 and there’s half a dozen compilations of their work out there.

This value for money set is a reminder, if one were needed, of just how great this band were at doing their soulful thang……Thankyou SoulMusic Records.


By Sally Fox





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