1. Time Machine
2. Wonder Woman
3. What Kind Of Man Do I Have To Be
4. Fly Away (To My Wonderland)
5. Larry’s Theme
6. Love And Understanding Is The Answer
7. Holdin On
8. When We Can
9. Mister D.J.
Source: Vinyl LP
Format: V0 VBR MP3 [FLAC format available by request]
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Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs is one of my all-time favorite actors, best known for a number of roles such as the ever-irate Charles in the film Claudine (1974), the too-cool-for-school Cochise in Cooley High (1975), a memorable turn as Joe Jackson in The Jacksons: The American Dream, and of course, Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington in Welcome Back, Kotter. However, it was somewhat surprising to find that he also tried his hand in music, with credits on various albums including Rick James’s all-time classic Street Songs, and Johnny Gill’s first LP on the Cotillion label in 1983, and production credits on the much-sought after side by Halo, “Let Me Do It”. Jacobs even recorded two full-length albums under his own name, including this self-titled LP in 1978.
In general, while it is not very much infrequent or relegated to the B-List (Jamie Foxx can log a few hits to his name, for example), music recorded by those whose day job is actor or actress, always seem to be missing something; perhaps this is a consequence of many not being fully committed to the idea. This isn’t entirely the case with this album; though, as a singer, Jacobs sounds not too much different as what you can imagine from his speaking voice voice. Eddie Murphy (whose voice was actually quite good, but perhaps he should have had more time with Rick James to make songs) he is not. However, working with the legendary Lamont Dozier (of Holland-Dozier-Holland fame), who produced the album, Lawrence made it work. The flavor is more of a mid-to-late ’70s R&B style, with a little disco here and there (the enjoyable “Fly Away (To My Wonderland)”, which was a minor charting hit), Latin rhythms (“Love And Understanding Is The Answer”), and deep grooves (“When We Can”, the B-Side to “Fly Away”). The ballads (“What Kind Of Man Do I Have To Be”, Dexter Wansel and Bunny Sigler’s “Holdin On”) are tasteful; the album’s closer (written by Jacobs himself), “Mister D.J.”, an obvious ode to what seems unthinkable in the post-Telecommunications Act era, is a surprising favorite. There are moments of schlock here, but generally, they are buried under high-quality production and Lawrence trying his best not to overdo it; perhaps we should thank Lamont Dozier for that?