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 : Shalamar, Three For Love
The classic Shalamar lineup of Howard Hewett, Jody Watley, and Jeffrey Daniel followed their third album, Big Fun, with 1980s Three for Love. Reuniting with iconic producer Leon Sylvers III for album number four, Three for Love hit record stores on December 15th just in time for the holiday season. Three for Love also found the group contributing to the writing and funk band Lakeside.
Three for Love opens up with “Full of Fire,” with co-leads by Watley and Hewitt set to the infectious production of Sylvers. “Full of Fire” lyrics may come off as bubble gumish, but the vocal prowess of Watley and Hewitt takes the song to another level. Hearing the song at age 40, I couldn’t help but smile at the positivity in the music, and I got the instant feeling to want to roller skate.
Hewitt leads the next song, “Attention to My Baby,” continuing the roller skating vibes. Hewitt, who was twenty-five at the time, sings the track with the pizazz of a man who is coming to his own as he juggles a relationship and working. “Somethings Never Change,” “Work It Out,” and the hit single “Make That Move” are all dance floor bops that remind us of simpler times. Before touching on my favorite portion of the albums (the ballads), I must mention the album’s closing track, “Pop Along Kid.”
Primarily, Mrs. Watley and Mr. Hewett would lead Shalamar songs, but “Pop Along Kid” is a song that gives Daniels a chance to lead. Daniel’s dancing skills are that of legend, and I can only wonder how this song would sound live set to Jeffrey’s choreography during the group’s prime. As break dancing would later gain steam in the next few years, I could easily see this being used as motivation in a dancing class. Furthermore, as music historians will tell you, this song is where Jeffrey perfected his version of the backslide dance, which Michael Jackson later popularized as the moonwalk.
98% of Three for Love is all about the dance floor, but the album’s two ballads are not only two of my favorite Shalamar songs, but Hewitt at his best vocally. The first ballad on the album is “Somewhere There’s a Love,” which features the buttery range of Hewitt’s falsetto range. Howard goes in and out of the falsetto professional so well that aspiring singers should study the live performance of this song. I’ve always identified with the opening lyrics in the song:
“Somewhere, there’s a love just for me
Somewhere, there’s a love just for me
Though I’ve been hurt before
It doesn’t mean I never try anymore
To find that one girl I’ve been searching for
And she’ll be just right for me
In love, we’re gonna be, forever.”
The lyrics let us know that there is love out there, it’s just a matter of being patient. “This Is for the Lover in You” is the album’s second ballad and a signature Shalamar song. Hewett co-wrote the song with Dana Meyers, which is somewhat of a sequel to “Somewhere, There’s a Love.” Howard opens the song with simple lyrics: “It’s Got to be real, girl I could write on how you’re making me feel.” The listener instantly feels the gratitude in Hewitt’s voice as he discovers love and Ms. Watley gracefully handles her portion of the song with grace and elegance.
The classic lineup of Shalamar would release three more albums following Three For Love, with each album featuring shining moments. However, Three For Love still holds up forty-two years later as the group’s best.
Final Grade: B+
Three For Love 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.