Fusion: Till I Hear From You
For many the one and only Fusion album Till I Hear From You, which up till now has only been available on blue vinyl from 1980, will be most notable for it being the recording debut of a young man who was soon set to hit the heights in the charts. Before going on to become a respected songwriter and producer for others. There's no denying that listening to the three early compositions of Nick Kershaw's which are included here give an interesting insight to a much underrated musician, however Fusion, as their name suggested, a Jazz Fusion/Pop/Soul outfit, actually had much more about them than a future star. In fact the band really was the brainchild of blind keyboard player and singer Reg Webb, who had first come to notice on the UK TV talent show (back when they actually had some talent on them) Opportunity Knocks. His band morphing through numerous names and line-ups before becoming Fusion, where Kershaw was actually the final piece of the jigsaw. The other two Fusioneers were a pretty fantastic rhythm section of drummer Alan Clarke and the sadly, now late, bassist Kenn Elson, the pair rollicking through a variety of time changes, grooves, shuffles and little spotlight moments with style and panache.
Fusion however was Webb's baby and it is his keyboard work that sets the tone for most of what goes on here, "Suchi" (one of Kershaw's compositions) veering into almost Proggy territory via a wash of synth soloing up there with the best, while "If I Had The Chance" grooves and grinds on a snazzy organ riff; guitar stabs and drum rolls backing it up strikingly. Vocally Webb was also a classy performer, his soulful, yet urgent colourful tones taking many of the gentler themes on this album up a notch or two on its own. Not that Kershaw is a slouch when he steps up to sing either, his voice already in fine fettle. That said, where Fusion operated best was when all four musicians were firing on all six, the bouncy, almost Police meets The Game era Queen like "Play Around" irresistible, while the funky, slink of "In The Union Now" has a hook that gets right under the skin.
The original closing track on this album, "Look Behind You" hints at what was to come, being an early version of the future Kershaw smash hit "Human Racing" and all the more interesting for being so. While a couple of bonus cuts "Hey! Mr Wonderful" and "My Love Ain't Loving Me None" add value by being equally as good as the Poppy Funky Soul of "Champagne Lady", "Big Brother" or "Pain Of Love" found on the main album.
The other members of Fusion would go on to help Kershaw record the demos that would begin his journey to many a young girl's bedroom wall, and some of those performances would even feature on the Human Racing album. Webb also teaming up with The Outfield for a time to assist them on their way to stardom in the US.
For Kershaw fans, of which I count myself one, Till I Hear From You will make for a classy insight into the musician and his formative years (of which in the excellent liner notes he admits to still be proud and appreciative of – Webb is interviewed as well). However over and above that, what Fusion were doing just over three decades ago will still put a huge smile on the faces of any UK Funk and Soul fan and ultimately that's what matters most.
1. Till I Hear from You
2. Champagne Lady
3. Big Brother
4. In The Union Now
6. Play Around
7. How Was I Supposed To Know
8. If I Had The Chance
9. Pain Of Love
10. Don't Believe It
11. Look behind You
12. Hey! Mr Wonderful
13. My Love Ain't Loving Me None
Added: November 20th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Fusion at AngelAir
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