Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Labi Siffre: Watch Me

"Watch me when you call me.
See me sparkle.
See me flame.
...Touch me in your own sweet way."

It's incredibly refreshing when a song comes along and hits this music fan's ears that he has never heard. It's such a celebratory revelation for me. I'm just that connected with music. It's very primal. It's also a little surprising when its decades old and yet still sounds as timeless as something recorded just yesterday.

This happens for this writer often four different ways.

4. Loading my iPhone with full length recordings not yet truly explored by artists I love and discovering real surprises like album tracks. Recent examples include Sade and Journey.

3. Suggestion by a friend to check out something new or old.

2. Surfing iTunes and bumping into new or old music by chance that just washes over me.

1. Discovering music in film and television I've never heard that inspires me to download more.

A recent investment of time, and an emotional one, into television's This Is Us (2016-present) has revealed some surprises like a lot of good shows. Though I have been accused of going soft, wearing a tampon and generally disrespected by those lacking a human heart. I take it in stride and fiercely defend the series given its strong cast of male characters.

Discoveries in music have come by way of Longmire (2012-2017), The 100 (2014-present), The Leftovers (2014-2017), Hung (2009-2011) and the list goes on.

It was the Pilot episode of This Is Us (with much involvement by former Thirtysomething lead Ken Olin) that opened me to a new discovery in form of music by British born Labi Siffre (now 72).

Siffre charted with just four UK singles in the 1970s reaching number 29 with this breezy little love affair called Watch Me. The song works as an emotional bit of subliminal messaging for the touchingly resonant This Is Us in the series opener too. It's a series that works in that wheelhouse of relationship shows like the classic Thirtysomething (1987-1991) or Party Of Five (1994-2000).

Siffre's most recognizable musical output was delivered in the 1970s but he returned from self-imposed retirement in 1988 for four more recordings into the 1990s triggered by a racial incident in South Africa. He has released ten productions to date.

Siffre, like so many pop stars and Hollywood elite, leans left as a social justice warrior. Identity politics and issues of race are endemic today, and it all troubles me as a person because I simply look at people without the identifications.

Nevertheless when it comes to capturing a sense of universal human emotion in song Siffre does so beautifully here with Watch Me.

Outside of music so many movie stars and singers do their best to influence global politics and this writer and fan of music, who connects with the universality of humanity, simply finds the efforts as divisive as ever. So watch me disagree on their political points often.

As far as the music, it's a song like Watch Me that opens my mind and allows me to explore more by a given artist I never knew.

Crying Laughing Loving Lying (Deluxe Edition) (1972). B+. A delightful twenty (20) track collection of simple, straightforward, guitar pop songs that even includes the original version of the song Madness made popular in 1981, It Must Be Love.

Watch Me. A. A light effervescent little number that really lifts the spirit. Even the coldest hearts should melt with this loving, affectionate little piece of musical poetry that truly comes alive with Siffre's vocal. Leave the politics at the door and let the music soar.

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