The word is Love from Glen
There was a time in Jamaican music when the balladeer reigned and each singer had a distinct sound.
One of them was Glen Ricks.
The vocalist, whose career has been besieged by “personal challenges”, is set to release Mood For Love, an album produced by Saunjay Kerr.
The set has been two years in the making, with initial sessions done at producer Bobby Digital’s Kingston studio.
Ricks told the Jamaica Observer that it was Kerr’s idea to record an album of original songs, all covering his favourite topic.
“The theme is love throughout...heartbreak, make up. Since I started my career, it’s all about love. It has never been about the bus taking me to the park or things like that,” said Ricks.
Now in his mid-60s, Ricks has been singing professionally since the late 1960s, shortly after migrating to Toronto, Canada. As a member of the Fabulous Flames, he had a big hit in 1970 with Holly Holy.
While songs like Heart of My World and the Yuletide gem, This Christmas, are popular in Jamaica, Ricks does not believe he is well known to his countrymen.
“That’s nothing new. Most people in Jamaica don’t know what I’ve done. People in Canada do,” he said.
In the early 1970s, Ricks’s prodigious talent was spotted by CBS Records in Canada for which he did two albums. During that period, he met R&B wunderkind Donny Hathaway, who was making waves as a solo act as well as producing Roberta Flack.
Ricks spent a lot of time with Hathaway in his hometown, Chicago, hanging with some of R&B’s heavyweights.
“There was Donny, The Spinners, Lolita Hathaway, Bill Withers...we just hung out and made music. That was an exciting part of my life,” he recalled.
It was also a reckless period when Ricks developed a penchant for hard drugs, an addiction that lasted for decades and stalled a promising career.
That addiction has never stopped him from recording. In recent years, he has done songs for producers Bobby Digital and Philip “Fatis” Burrell.
Kerr, who currently produces Nickeisha Barnes, describes the much older Ricks as a “good bredrin” he longed to work with.
He gathered an eclectic group of musicians who worked on Mood For Love, including House of Riddim band from Austria; members of Raging Fyah and the Dread I Dread band from Minnesota.
Ricks, who released the spiritual These Are The Days on More Life Records early this month, is upbeat about his new album, and life.
“I’m singing better now...way better. I went through a desert for 40 years and now the pain is over.”