Billy Ocean/City Limit
Billy Ocean became something of an international superstar seemingly out of nowhere in the 1980s, when his hyper-catchy synth pop-R&B hit "Caribbean Queen" soared to number one in America leading to an impressive string of hit singles which lasted until the end of the decade. However, before his success as an '80s crooner, Ocean had a wholly other career in the late '70s as a throwback soul singer, even scoring a Top 40 hit in both the U.S. & U.K. in 1976 with "Love Really Hurts Without You." That track seamlessly blended a signature Motown string and brass hook with Stax/Volt fire, and pretty well sums up the early Billy Ocean formula. This two-fer compilation collects Ocean's first two albums, recorded for the British GTO label. While there's merit to both eras of Ocean (although somewhat sterile and often sappy, his '80s hits are hard to shake), the early model is much more fun, much less button-down. While he drew from the past, confectionery singles like "L.O.D. (Love on Delivery)" show a passion beyond mere mimicry, and his voice was made to stir the soul. This compilation, while it may jolt Ocean's '80s fans, and though it's not without filler, features a deft R&B singer pouring his heart into some solid songs.