Ronnie Dyson’s, (1950-1990), music career began on Broadway when he sang the line; “When the moon is in the seventh house,” at the beginning of “Aquarius” in the original production of Hair. During the 1970’s he produced five albums for the Columbia label, which were moderately successful but by the early 1980’s he was signed to Cotillion, where he recorded the last two albums of his life. Real Gone Music has now re-issued Phase 2 (1982) and Brand New Day (1983) as a two for one CD.
Given his addictions and health issues, it is amazing he could produce two quality albums. What saves him is his voice as it is one of the great lost instruments in music history.
Unlike many soul and rhythm & blues artists, Dyson learned his craft on the Broadway stage rather than small clubs or the church. There is always a stage element to his vocal sound, no matter what type of style or in what direction he travels.
Phase 2 is the more consistent of the two releases. It treads the line between pop and soul and has a full backing sound to support his vocals. “One More Chance For The Fool” is a swingin’ track while “Say You Will” is the type of ballad that his voice is made for. Typical of his approach was his taking the funky “Expressway To Your Heart” in a smooth pop direction. “Even In The Darkest Night” is a soulful ballad that just rolls along.
Brand New Day was released in 1983 and is a bit more down to earth and gritty in places. The material has some highs and lows but when it is good, it is very good.
“All Over Your Face” is rooted in the early 1980’s as his voice sours above the synthesizers. “Let The Love Begin” is a duet with Barbara Ingram on which they never really connect. “Don’t Need You Now” sounds a bit dated today but it is a smooth soul/pop piece. “Tender Lovin’ Care “ and “I Gave You All Of Me” are smooth, high quality ballads. “I Need Just A Little More Lovin’” takes him out of his comfort zone with good results. It is an up-tempo bluesy rocker that just percolates along.
The voice of Ronnie Dyson was silenced at the age of 40, partly due to his own excess. Despite his obvious talent, he never really attained much commercial success. Phase 2/Brand New Day is a good introduction to a many times forgotten artist.