Classics: LeVert – Casanova (Vocal Extended Mix) (Atlantic)
“I ain’t much on Casanova. Me and Romeo ain’t never been friends. Can’t you see how much I really love ya? Gonna sing it to ya time and time again. Oh Casanova, Casanova…”
I remember the first time I got to hear LeVert’s ‘Casanova’. Residing in Britain at the time, I’d become a big fan of Jeff Young‘s ‘Big Beat’ show on Radio One. And I guess I couldn’t help myself finding instantly a connection with The O’Jays. Soon before getting to hear this ‘Casanova’ thing was the work of LeVert whose members Gerald and Sean were the sons of Eddie Levert of The O’Jays fame. Meanwhile, in charge of the production, were another two brothers. In other words Reggie and Vincent Calloway; themselves remembered as members of Midnight Star.
On a bumpin’ bass-driven Swing vein, ‘Casanova’ would be one of the Calloway‘s greatest productions ever. And, in the meantime the biggest classic of Gerald and Sean Levert along with Marc Gordon under the LeVert guise.
Midnight Star saw the light back in 1976 at the Kentucky State University. From the reunion between fellow students Reggie Calloway, Belinda Lipscomb and Melvin Gentry. But also Kenneth Gant, Bill Simmons, Bo Watson and Jeff Cooper. Themselves soon after joined by Vincent Calloway then Bobby Lovelace in 1982. After their University days, they eventually relocated to Cincinatti, OH. This before landing a record deal with SOLAR.
Midnight Star dropped their debut-album – ‘The Beginning’ – back in 1980. With Harvey Mason responsible for most of its production. To the exception of ‘Make It Last’, left c/o Leon F Sylvers III. The latter producing its follow-up – ‘Standing Together’ – the year after, including the memorable ‘I’ve Been Watching You’. Meanwhile Reggie Calloway started handling the production duties on the 1982 ‘Victory’ album. Itself mostly remembered for the bumpin’ ‘Hot Spot’.
Bigger success though would come the year after along with the release of their ‘No Parking On The Dance Floor ‘ album. An effort which featured the firing ‘Wet My Whistle’ and the Electro/Funk fueled Freak-A-Zoid’. The group scoring another hit in the same vein – ‘Operator’ – from their 1984 ‘Planetary Invasion’ album. Meanwhile, ‘Headlines’, its follow-up back in 1986, would be their very last with the Calloway brothers. Itself featuring the memorable ‘Midas Touch’.
Two extra albums would come up on SOLAR, by the likes of ‘Midnight Star’ and ‘Work It Out’ respectively in 1988 and 1990. But none of them managed to have a comparable following. Midnight Star nevertheless makin’ a bit of extra noise in the charts with a couple of singles though. Beginning with ‘Don’t Rock The Boat’ and ‘Snake In The Grass’.
Goin’ for a long hiatus from then, although they never disbanded, Midnight Star would resurface some twelve years later. This with a new album by the likes of ’15th Avenue’.
As for Reggie and Vincent Calloway, they went on to release two albums under the Calloway guise. With their first effort – ‘All The Way’ – spanning the memorable ‘I Wanna Be Rich’. This in addition ‘Sir Lancelot’ and its title cut to a lesser extend back in 1989. Not to mention ‘Let’s Get Smooth’, from its follow-up of the likes in 1992. Meanwhile one can find the Calloway signature on the production of a bunch of significant gems. From The Deele‘s ‘Just My Luck’ in 1983 to The Whispers‘ ‘Contagious’ the year after. But also Gladys Knight And The Pips ‘Love Overboard’ and LeVert‘s Casanova’ in 1987. Not to mention Teddy Pendergrass‘ ‘Joy’ and ‘Believe In Love’, respectively in 1988 and 1993 among others.
Gerald sadly died at the early age of 40 on November 11, 2006 of what would later be stated as an acute intoxication…