Make Up For The Lost Time
Hightone Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/24/2000
If Little Willie G. sounds familiar, you probably grew up in the '60s with his band Thee Midniters and their cover of "Land Of 1,000 Dances." But times changed, and Willie Garcia went from being considered one of the best Chicano singers from east Los Angeles to a man who faced off against his own personal demons and came out on top. Now an ordained minister, Garcia makes a return to the world of secular music (with maybe just a smidgen of religion thrown in from time to time) with Make Up For The Lost Time.
The title of this disc is rather strange, as you can hear the roots of Garcia's musical experience -- '60s r&b/soul -- in almost every track on this disc. Garcia tries to make the music from his time sound relevant for 2000 -- and while the music does have a crispness to it, you can't help but think you've heard this all before.
Some of it, of course, you have. There is the Bobby Womack/Harold Payne-penned track "A World Where No One Cries" that closes the album. There's the Aretha Franklin/Ted White composition "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream" that Garcia nimbly puts his own signature on.
But what's interesting is that the song closest to Garcia's roots, "Cultura," is the best work on Make Up For The Lost Time. Performed in Spanish, it truly allows Garcia to revel in his Latino heritage, and the song exudes an absolute joy that can only be experienced by listening to it.
That's not to say that other tracks on this disc aren't worthy of your attention. The album opener "Open The Door To Your Heart" kicks things off well, raising the spirits of the listener and getting them excited about the music that is to come. Likewise,tracks like "Come Back Baby" and "Here I Go Again" have similar effects.
Where Make Up For The Lost Time eventually stumbles is in two areas. First, while there is an attempt by Garcia to bring his sound into the new millenium, tracks like "It'll Never Be Over For Me," "To Be With You" and the title track all sound like they could have been lifted from any r&b/soul album from the late '60s-early '70s. They all have a very Bobby Womack-like sound to them - and I was hoping for a little more originality.
Second, while this is supposed to be a secular album, Garcia makes sure he works a little religion into the mix, though he wisely refrains from turning tracks like "Joy In The Palace," "(I Wanna) Testify" and "These Hands (Small But Mighty)" into pure gospel. There's enough lyrical ambiguity where you could think Garcia was singing about the love of a woman. (In all fairness, only "Joy In The Palace" was even co-written by Garcia.)
Make Up For The Lost Time might be welcomed by some people, but it's kind of strange that, for the bulk of the disc, Garcia tries to live up to the title by musically picking up where he left off. In retrospect, this might not have been the best move he could have made.