‘Here I Am’ by Frankie Oliver (Album)
Signed to Island Records during the 90s as a reggae artist, this London cabbie returns with a new soul album
Frankie Oliver’s story is an interesting one. Born in Bow, London, Oliver discovered his love for reggae music at an early age. Although he is of Greek/Cypriot descent and white, he persevered against all the odds, eventually signing to Island Records. Unfortunately, his first two singles weren’t a success, but that isn’t a true reflection of his talents.
After a lengthy break from the music industry, Oliver has returned with, Here I Am, a soul album. The album opens with Gone Are The Days, and there is no doubting this man’s vocal ability – there are similarities to UB40’s Ali Campbell. The song has an infectious groove which sees all sections working together in harmony. The brass section is bold and flashy, while the drums, bass and guitar are effortlessly cool.
Previous single Tell Me is a bit more striped back then the album’s opener. But it’s well-crafted all the same. Although not a bad way to announce your return, Gone Are The Days might have been a better single choice due to its energetic nature. I’ve Got Love brings a funk element to this soul experience; it could be the theme song from a 70s American detective show.
Back in the 90s, Oliver was lucky enough to work with some of the greats of Jamaican music. Collaborating with the likes of Delroy Pinnock and Ernest Ranglin, who played on My Boy Lollipop. On Here I Am, Oliver finds himself in the company of trumpeter Patrick Tenyue (UB40), saxophonist Ray Carless (Adele) and violinist Stella Page (Elbow). Not bad for a bloke who’s been earning an honest living driving cabs.
Here I Am is one good song after another and was certainly worth the wait. These songs are from the heart and it feels like Oliver is getting a lot of creative frustration off his chest. The end result has him operating at his peak.
Verdict: Oliver at his best