For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Second Listen Sunday: Gerald Levert, Groove On
The legendary Gerald Levert was on top of his game in the fall of 1994 when his second album, Groove On, hit stores. His 1991 debut Private Line saw platinum success, and two years later, his sixth album For Real Tho’ with the group LeVert went gold. Not to mention Gerald was also an in-demand producer and writer.
After turning down a chance to work with David Foster to record an R&B cover version of John Michael Montgomery’s “I Swear,” which would become a massive hit for All-4-One, Gerald refused to make that mistake again.
For Groove On‘s first single, Levert teamed with Foster, who gave the baritone singer an R&B version of the 1993 song “She’d Give Anything” by short-lived country music group Boy Howdy. Foster and Levert changed the title to “I’d Give Anything.” Levert flawlessly expresses the deep desire for all-consuming, fulfilling love.
In his voice, you generally believe he is searching for someone to turn his life around and make him feel the way he used to. However, he’s yet to find that person. He’s grown tired of the endless parade of lovers and wants something more meaningful.
I still remember the music video watching Gerald reflect on his loneliness, questioning if he’ll ever find the one he’s been searching for. He emphasizes his determination to keep searching and not settle for anything less than true love at its highest level. The lyrics reveal the speaker’s willingness to do anything and everything to fall in love, even if that means waiting and making wishes.
“I’d Give Anything” conveys a sense of longing for a soulmate who completes the speaker and fills the emptiness in his life. Ultimately, the song suggests that love is the ultimate goal. It also offers that finding true love is worth waiting for and fighting for, no matter what it takes.
The second single was “How Many Times,” reflecting his experience with unrequited love. The video, directed by Jada Pinkett Smith, is a stark reminder of domestic violence and its devastating effects. The opening monologue of “Answering Service” provides powerful insight into emotions and relationships. The song “Have Mercy” showcases Gerard’s ability to convey a range of emotions through his unique singing style.
Sans the lead single and “It’s Your Turn,” Gerald wrote and produced every song on the album with frequent collaborator Harold Nichols. The up-tempo numbers haven’t aged as well, but the ballads and slow jams filling the album are more substantial than some hit singles today.
It’s still quite difficult to believe we lost Mr. LeVert almost two decades ago. Nevertheless, the music lives on, and his sophomore album is a fine slice of mature nineties R&B.
Final Grade: B+
Groove On is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.