Levert and his supporting musicians and vocalists, most of whom have been working with the singer for decades, roll through a strong and varied set that has echoes of the past while sounding in the present. It's full of life, and Levert has retained more power than many a singer much younger than him. He couldn't be faulted for sticking to nothing but soul-steeped belters and relaxed grooves, but he ventures into hard rock and reggae with full force, and isn't above telling someone to "get a life" in "Shit Starter." Otherwise, Levert and company play it straight with sweetly finessed material rooted in gospel and Philly-flavored soul tradition. Oddly, the booklet credits the writers of only one song, "I Let Go," a breakup ballad written by Eddie with late son Gerald that recalls Lionel Richie's "Hello." Eddie presumably had a hand in the rest, including "Never Miss Your Water," which is not a Whispers cover.
Singer Phyllis Nelson recorded the dance classic "I Like You" on Carrere Records. It was a huge dance hit for the Philadelphia vocalist, charting number 65 R&B in late 1985. "Move Closer" and "Don't Stop the Train," among others. Her son, Marc Nelson, was a pre-stardom member of Boyz II Men, had a 1991 number 26 R&B hit with "I Want You," and had a 1999 Columbia album, Chocolate Mood.
John Hammond's latest album marks a major departure in one respect – for the first time in anyone's memory, he sings, but plays nothing on one of his records, while Little Charlie & the Nightcats, led by guitarist Charlie Baty, handle the guitars and everything else. The difference is very subtle, the playing maybe a little less flashy than Hammond's already restrained work – think of how good Muddy Waters sounded on the early-'60s records where he sang and didn't play. And that comparison is an apt one – even more than 35 years after he started, Hammond inevitably ends up sounding like its 1961 and he's working at Chess studios in Chicago, cutting songs between Muddy Waters sessions. Harpist Rick Estrin also contributes a smooth and eminently enjoyable original amid a brace of covers of blues standards. There is not a weak number here, and this band is a kick to listen to, sounding more naturally authentic than anybody in the 1990's has a right to (Baty's quiet pyrotechnics on "Lookin' for Trouble" would make this record worth owning, even if Hammond's singing and the rest of the songs weren't as good as they are).