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There is no doubt that Jermaine Stewart will always be best remembered for his rather cheeky 1986 #2 hit We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off. However in a recording career that started with the 1983 single Word Is Out and finished when Reprise Records decided to shelve his fifth studio album, 1992’s Set Me Free, he proved time and again that he was a vocal talent that warranted shouting from the rooftops about. Having lost his life to AIDS-related liver cancer in 1997, the Ohio performer has twice been celebrated with retrospective collections, but this year sees Cherry Red Records revisiting his third studio album, 1988’s Say It Again, with a bumper release.
While it may not have contained any hugely enduring chart hits, Say It Again was actually Jermaine’s highest charting UK album release, peaking at #32. The album boasts a who’s who line-up of creatives, from Jody Watley to Deniece Williams to Clive Davis and should have garnered greater commercial and crticial acclaim at the time of it’s release.
Although the album perhaps lacks the immediate pop of his greatest hit, there is something rather more captivating about the collection as it really showcases the versatility of his vocals. With the title track becoming his second biggest UK hit, peaking at #7, the cover of the Shawn Christopher hit, feels like a timeless classic. With the 90’s girl band Precious having released a single with the same time and a similar feel, the song seemed to breathe a new life despite the lack of genuine connection.
Album opener Don’t Talk Dirty To Me is without any hesitation the album’s second finest cut and was surprisingly a flop upon its single release. Perhaps the echoes of his contemporary, Michael Jackson, are too strong for it to have felt like a single that was truly Jermaine Stewart given it’s slick sound as opposed to pure pop production. While another single cut, Get Lucky, provides one of the album’s lowlights, it does start to really show how striking Jermaine’s vocal is within it’s lower range.
What the album does really prove is that when Jermaine gets funky, he gets funkier than all his contemporaries. The sensational Got To Be Love is another track that could have easily been as Jacko cut, but was better placed in the hands of Jermaine, while the punchy Dress It Up comes close to being the album stand out.
With the blissful mid-tempo Is It Really Love?, stunning Eyes and explosive My Body completing the album’s choice cuts, it is in the 14 track bonus expanded edition that the deluxe edition really finds it’s extra sales point. Relying heavily on impressive remixes, it is actually the featuring of four overlooked b-side cuts, Imagine, Your Promise, Places and Search, that the album uncovers even more of the real beauty of Jermaine’s recording career.
Jermaine Stewart will probably always be remembered by most as a one-hit wonder, but this re-release, which does not even feature that single, shows he is an artist worth talking about even without the big hit.Share