Kicking off with the Gospel-inflected Sweet Dreams, featuring the mighty falsetto of Ten City‘s Byron Stingily chirping away over a tight, Latino disco beat, I had high hopes for Silver Ocean. With no pre-concieved ideas and just a track list featuring a heavyweight selection of guest artists I was beginning to look forward to a Masters At Work-esque tour de force.
Sadly this was not to be because, after the marathon Sweet Dreams had done it’s business, it all began to go rapidly downhill. To be honest the warning signs had been there from the start: the over-polished production and the sophisticated surface deep sheen. Biased by my love of disco I could forgive the opening salvo but as the album progressed the faults became harder to ignore.
The Latin-flavoured No Colo Do Mar, with its bouncing house beat, flamenco guitar and Liliana Chachian‘s vocals just about holds your attention, but then could just as easily be dismissed as Sunday evening style, bar background music. A woeful rendition of Ain’t No Sunshine wastes the considerable talents of Ken Boothe and U-Roy, lumping a cod-reggae bassline over some mid-tempo house beats.
Sadly that isn’t the worse it gets. More guests line up to be reduced to a shallow pulp. Osunlade gets all profound on Soul Galactic to little effect, Sara Divine makes a half-decent stab at Wishing On A Star, but for me the album is pushed beyond redemption by the utter waste made of Pharoah Sanders, the firebrand jazz visionary, who is reduced to playing polite licks over the sort of music Simply Red fans would feel right at home with.
All in all, a disappointing record that in the end is much less than the sum of its many parts.