L.T.D ‘Something to Love’ / ‘Togetherness’ / ‘Devotion’ / ‘Shine On’ 2CD (Robinsong) 3/5

Jeffrey Osbourne became a household name in the soul and pop charts in the early-mid 1980s with the hit single, ‘On the wings of love’, and scored some memorable dancefloor hits as well as quality ballads. This four album set goes back in time to his period as lead singer with LTD and it is in truth a mixed bag. The group struggled to find an identity to begin with and that is reflected in the first two albums here with songs that can come across as a pastiche of the more successful soul and funk groups of the 1970s such as the Commodores and the Isley Brothers among others. By 1979, however, LTD had started to attract more attention for their own talents, especially with a vocalist as strong and distinctive as Osbourne now at the helm. This is typified by the album, ‘Devotion’, with the jazzy tinged mid-tempo number, ‘Sometimes’, and particularly the modern soul favourite, ‘Promise you’ll stay’. It has to be said that some of the attempts at funk now sound dated, with, ‘Stand up’, a blatant take on Parliament’s superior, ‘Flashlight’. Nonetheless, the ballads are generally strong with, ‘Share my love’ and, ‘Stranger’, precursors to what would follow for Osbourne as a solo artist. Best of all, the joyous uptempo groove of, ‘Feel it’. The follow up from 1980, ‘Shine on’, witnessed Jeffrey Osbourne as an increasingly dominant figure in the band, as co-writer as well as continuing as lead. In this respect, one can, in retrospect sees parallels, between the band and Osbourne, with Lionel Richie and the Commodores and thus a split was inevitable. Before that took place, the last album with Osbourne was duly delivered and the catchy, ‘You gave me love’, with a repetitive guitar riff that lingers long on the mind. A quality ballad comes in the shape of, ‘Where did we go wrong’, with something of a Philly International feel. Interestingly, some of the soul-disco numbers now sound most contemporary and these include the syndrum-aided, ‘Lovers everywhere’, and the uptempo synth bass sound of, ‘Don’t cha’ know’. Excellent Fender Rhodes accompaniment comes from the talented brother of Jeffrey, Billy Osbourne. With Jeffrey Osbourne’s departure, the group soon lost a good deal of its impetus and folded up just a few years later in 1983, just as Osbourne’s solo success with reaching its zenith. Informative sleeve notes are from Charles Waring. Of note, ‘Love to the world’, one of LTD’s more popular songs, is not included here.

Tim Stenhouse