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Monday, June 15, 2009

Billy Crawford grooves with the oldies

At a time when CD sales are down, why do you think record companies still continue to spend a small fortune on packaging? Well, a nice album cover pleases the vanity factor in the artist and draws buyers while on display. And best of all, if the box is uniquely attractive, it keeps fans away from downloading or getting pirated copies. You get no CD case when you download and pirated CDs come with cheap desktop printed covers which make them look like what they are, stolen.

I thought about this when I got hold of Billy Crawford’s new CD Groove. It comes in a celluloid box with a great photo of Billy. The kid is aging well. The former child star has stopped being cute and gracefully grew up a handsome young man. Nice. And that box would make a good display case for an action figure or two. Maybe I’ll put in those little Pokemons. That is actually very appropriate because Billy’s first big break in the US was to do the theme song for the soundtrack of The Pokemon Movie.

I also thought of how Billy must feel about Groove. He really has only two choices. One is frustrated and downhearted. This guy is used to working with originals. He sang and danced his way to the charts with some of the best producers and songwriters in Europe and the US. He has sold millions of albums worldwide and has Gold and Platinum awards to show for it. Urgently In Love, Mary Lopez, Trackin’, When You Think About Me, Steamy Nights and You Didn’t Expect That were among his big sellers. So what is he doing now, recording an album of covers?

On the other hand though, he must be feeling fulfilled and elated nowadays. Despite his big name out there, I cannot think of another country that would give him a chance to record these modern classics. Maybe they will do so in 20 or 40 years in some sort of retrospective, but not now save in this cover crazy country of ours. And Billy went all out with some of the most popular songs of recent times, tunes he grew up with, that he joyfully remembers and most of all that he had dreamed of also recording.

Take a look at the list he came up with. Steal Away by Robbie Dupree; Sexy Eyes by Dr. Hook; Rock with You and Human Nature by Michael Jackson; Let’s Groove by Earth Wind & Fire; Could It Be I’m Falling in Love by The Spinners; Lovely Day by Bill Withers; Never Let Her Slip Away, How Sweet It Is and You’ve Got A Friend by James Taylor the latter as a duet with girlfriend Nikki Gil; Someone by El Debarge; Mercy Mercy Me by Marvin Gaye; One Last Cry by Brian McKnight; and as bonus tracks, acoustic versions of You’ve Got A Friend and Human Nature and a Silverfilter remix of Steal Away.

It is quite a line-up and should go big with buyers who like the familiar interpreted by a local name they recognize. But what I really like about the album is the discovery that Billy has soul. I do not mean the dance R&B sort he used to do but the old kind associated with the likes of Bill Withers. It is cool and sweet and groovy and is the kind you do not acquire but have to be born with. That is why he worked well with Mercy, Mercy Me and Lovely Day and the biggest surprise of all, Rock with You, which given the excellent original is quite an accomplishment.

Meanwhile, the video of Back in Time, an R&B original by Kyla & Jay-R, is on top of last week’s Pinoy MYX countdown by MYX.

Others in the list are Antukin by Rico Blanco; Manila by Sandwich; Walang Iwanan by 6Cyclemind; Sandali Na Lang by Hale; Ayt! by Sponge Cola and Gary V; Wala by Kamikazee; Tabi by Paraluman and Kean Cipriano; Kumot at Unan by Richard Poon; Love Will Set Us Free by The Dawn; You Changed My Life by Sarah Geronimo; Hay Naku by Silent Sanctuary; Torres by Mayonaise; May 1 by Archipelago; Always You by Charice; Almost Over You by Karylle; Photograph by Paolo Santos; So Be It by Hilera; Salita by Angulo; and Princesa ng Kaba by Sopiz.

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