Billy Ocean's 'Suddenly' a heartfelt, gentle gem of an album

Billy Ocean was one of the biggest R&B stars in the mid-to-late 80’s, and the album that launched him into stardom was 1984’s Suddenly, a heartfelt and gentle album that showcased his soulful, soft vocals.

Before Suddenly, Ocean had a few minor hits, but was unable to capture the hit that would make him a star. But in 1984, Ocean found that hit in “Caribbean Queen,” which was one of the biggest hits of the year. There was a great reason why “Caribbean Queen” was such a smash, as the mid-tempo tune packed a lot of sizzle, and Ocean’s voice was just the cherry on the top.

In some ways, “Caribbean Queen” overshadowed the rest of Suddenly, which was a shame, because the album outside of “Caribbean Queen” was just as solid. Ocean’s beautiful remake of The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road” is one of the better remakes in the history of music, and should had been released as a single.

“Mystery Lady” and “Syncopation” both followed in Ocean’s panache for making sappy, but not too sappy, mid-tempo love jams. “Loverboy” saw Ocean go for a more up-tempo tune, and the track could had proven to be a disaster, but Ocean pulled it off.

R&B listeners who is just getting into Ocean’s catalog may be surprised to find just how up-tempo Suddenly is, since Ocean is better known for his ballads. But a good majority of the tracks on Suddenly is not as up-beat as someone like Michael Jackson or Cameo, but compared to Ocean’s standards the album is pretty up-beat.

But Suddenly did produce one of his best ballads in the title track that closed out the album. The title track is sweet and heartfelt, like much of the album, and Ocean’s catalog is, and it may have you diving for the tissue to dry your eyes.

Overall, Suddenly was a very well-made album, and Ocean provided the template to where his career would shoot off to here on this album. If you’re an R&B fan, Suddenly should be in your playlist.