Charlie Wilson: Forever Charlie

Posted February 19, 2015 by in Funk



4/ 5


Genre: , ,
Genre: R&B, funk, soul
Producer: Charlie Wilson, Gregg Pagani, Emile Ghantous, Steve Daly, Keith Hetrick, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
Label: RCA
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 46:10
Release Date: 27 January 2015
Spin This: "Sugar.Honey.Ice.Tea," "Unforgettable," "Somebody Loves You," "Unforgettable"


Uptempo tunes revive Wilson's passion for the funk; songwriting is a bit more polished and accesible


Modest production could have turned up the volume on the bass and drums

Former funk band man rediscovers the meaning of funk on new solo record

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Former funk band man rediscovers the meaning of funk on new solo record

It’s been a hot minute since former Gap Band frontman Charlie Wilson jumped in the land of funk. But like a biker who hasn’t jumped on a bike in ages, he seems to be well competent with his motor skills. Now on solo album number five with RCA, Wilson is venturing out on more uptempo stuff, something that has been terribly lacking from his previous albums [see album review of Love, Charlie]. He’s been too busy playing the role of romantic balladeer – a decent role he’s very able to pull off, especially since his vocals haven’t aged one bit. But much of the material has been lukewarm and disappointingly unseasonal when compared with the now-legendary offerings inside the Gap Band’s playbook. Inside the twelve tracks aboard Forever Charlie, Wilson tries to surrender to the sounds that most defined his career while also pulling on the strings of producers who possibly understand his type of skill. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis is present; Emile Ghantous and Gregg Pagani returns, but this time with better material to play with. He kicks off the fun with “Somebody Loves You Baby,” a song using teasers from Bruno Mars’s “Treasure” and that infamous jovial “he-hee” laugh. “Just Like Summertime” is just as charming, placing the happiness of summer inside the lyrics (“Girl you feel like California and we both know it never rains/Like a barbeque in Georgia, you’re my perfect getaway”) and the heavy rhythmic track. It’s very reminiscent of the Gap Band’s flavor, an intricate contemporary funk that inspired the next generation of soul with acts like Teddy Riley and Guy. The funk bug also takes over tracks like “Sugar.Honey.Ice.Tea,” which showcases melodic remnants of Carl Carlton’s “She’s a Bad Mama Jamma.” Light reggae is displayed on “Unforgettable” and even manages to pull Shaggy from out of obscurity for what feels like one of the album’s standouts. New school swag drops on the Jam & Lewis-armed “Hey Lover” while nuggets of the SOS Band feel out the space on “Things You Do.” Wilson, still in excellent voice, is also surrounded by old-school familiarity: Val Young, a former Gap Band background singer, has her hand in two of the tracks; he reminisces about “dropping the bomb” on “Things You Do.” This helps the album sound as if it’s an complimentary extension of the familiar funk.

There are a few regrets to encounter inside Forever Charlie. The production sounds like a pale knock-off of what defined the former Gap Band collection. The drumming here is also a bit more pop-ready and the slap bass (originally provided by the late Robert Wilson) is far removed from the conversation. But Forever Charlie is a welcome home celebration for the living Gap Band frontman. And just as important to the conversation, this is easily his best solo album to date. There might not be a big slow ballad like “You Are” and “There Goes My Baby” on board, but the midtempo joint “Touched By An Angel” and all this groovy stuff offers something new to a Wilson playlist. Most of all, it makes him feel young and vibrant again.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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