George Faith – To Be A Lover
George Faith – To Be A Lover
Label: Music On Vinyl | Format: LP | Street date: December 4, 2020 | Website label
- Midnight Hour/Ya Ya
- To Be A Lover (Have Mercy)
- So Fine
- I’ve Got The Groove
- All The Love I’ve Got
- Turn Back The Hands Of Time
George Faith’s most successful years were the 1970s, with the undisputed highlight being the album To Be A Lover. He was born Earl George Lawrence in Rae Town, a small fishing community south of Kingston. At the beginning of his career, he appeared under the names of Earl George and George Earl. When he teamed up with Lee Perry, he ‘renamed’ the singer George Faith, when they were in the recording process of To Be A Lover/Super Eight. After the release of the album, he went on tour, but that didn’t turn out to be a success. The years after he recorded for several producers, but his releases found little resonance with the public. In 2003, aged 56, he passed away.
Music On Vinyl
Music On Vinyl, the Dutch vinyl-only reissue label, has recently reissued the album recently. Their catalgue boasts superb vinyl reissues of classic albums. Check out Ken Boothe’s album Freedom Street, Lee Perry’s album Cloak & Dagger, Toots & Maytals with In The Dark, The Heptones 1976 set Night Food and The Melodians’ Rivers Of Babylon. Further interesting sets are Ini Kamoze’s Pirate and the recent We Must Unite by The Viceroys.
To Be A Lover
The album is somewhat reminiscent of a typical 1970s showcase album, with the vocal versions followed by the respective dubs. Only 8 songs, elaborated by Perry to ‘extended’ hypnotical vibrating versions. The entire album is infused with Perry’s creative, experimental Black Ark sound, with its layered sound and typical Black Ark effects such as phaser, echo, compression, and delay, supported by heavenly background vocals from The Meditations and Mighty Diamonds. The album, recorded in eight months, truly exceptional for the time, was originally released as Super Eight on Black Art in Jamaica and To Be A Lover on Black Swan in the UK in 1977. Also noteworthy is the fact that all 8 tracks are original riddims, to our knowledge the riddims were never used before, so it looks like the whole album was made from scratch during those eight months. Remarkable, and not according to the pattern that Perry normally used for his productions.
The album starts convincingly with the infectious, lingering groove of the Midnight Hour/Ya Ya medley. With the help of Perry’s ingenious arrangement, George manages to easily merge the soul of Wilson Pickett with the catchy and funky Lousiana style of Lee Dorsey’s hit Ya Ya. All of this becomes even more admirable when you know that the original versions are uptempo songs!
The title track, a first-class cover of William’s Bell hit from the late 1960s, was a hit in Jamaica and the UK. It’s a perfect song for George Faith’s soulful voice, full of emotion and passion. The only self-written song is Opportunity, in which he is supported by a sparse backing and a repeating background chorus. So Fine, the cheerfully swinging hit by Johnny Otis, is reduced in tempo by Perry and George, embedded in a sea of echo and dubby effects.
On side B the tempo goes up with I’ve Got The Groove, an original by The O’Jays. He has turned it into a danceable song, with very few effects. And what about the Paul Anka cover Diana. This sugar-sweet pop hit from the 1960s has been transformed by Perry and George into a credible, almost authentic reggae song. It is proof of George’s vocal excellence and versatility and the strength of Perry’s riddims. From the hit factory of Motown comes (Gonna Give Her) All The Love I’ve Got, a classy song by Jimmy Ruffin. The version presented to us here equals the original. On the last track George shines in the cover of Tyrone Davis’ smash hit Turn Back The Hands Of Time, his rendition is top class, a perfect amalgamation of soul and reggae!