Saturday, August 15, 2020

"Casanova" by LeVert

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3227
Date:  08/15/1987
Debut:  90
Peak:  5
Weeks:  18
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This vocal trio from Cleveland was comprised of teen brothers Gerald and Sean Levert along with Marc Gordon. They got together in 1983 and began to work on writing songs, perfecting their harmonizing, and developing dance routines. They shopped their wares to several major record labels, but none of them were interested. Frustrated and not wanting to wait around for a deal, the guys took the independent route and released the single "I'm Still" on an imprint label called Tempre. It ended up doing pretty well for a small indie release and got to #80 on the R&B chart. Two more singles would follow along with a debut album titled I Get Hot, but none of those charted. However, it was enough to finally get a major label interested. Atlantic Records picked up the trio and work began on their second album, Bloodline. Its lead single, "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind," would hit #1 on the R&B chart. Two more Top 30 singles would follow and that helped their album get to #8 R&B (#192 Pop). That set the stage for what would be their most successful album, The Big Throwdown. This first single kicked things off and it became their second R&B #1. It then crossed over to the Pop chart and ended up in the Top 10. It also got to #27 on the Dance chart. The single would end up being a gold seller. The hit helped the album reach #3 R&B and #32 Pop. It would be their first gold selling LP.

ReduxReview:  Others I'm sure will disagree, but I consider this song to be the first mainstream hit that would later be classified in the New Jack Swing genre. When the record came out, there wasn't a name for the style. That wouldn't come until 1988 and an article about producer Teddy Riley, who typically ends up getting credit for developing the genre. However, I'd argue that this song is at minimum among the first to be a hit in the New Jack style and producer/songwriter Reggie Calloway doesn't get enough credit for it. The song had a different feel with its swinging rhythms and syncopated lines. The production was very crisp and spot-on. It also helped that it was just a good song. Riley may have made the genre famous, but I think this tune is the one that truly kicked things off.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Fans of 70s R&B may recognize the name Levert. That's because Gerald and Sean's father was Eddie Levert, who was an original member and lead singer of The O'Jays. That vocal group began in the mid-60s, but didn't become hit makers until 1972 when their single "Backstabbers" got to #1 R&B/#3 Pop. It began a run of hits in the 70s that included eight R&B #1s, five Pop Top 10s, and eight gold or platinum albums. Their career cooled off in the 80s, but they still had the occasional hit on the R&B chart. For the longest time, Eddie Levert didn't do any solo or other work outside of The O'Jays. Then in 1992, his son Gerald got Eddie to record a duet for Gerald's debut solo album Private Line. It would be released as the LP's second single and it would hit #1 R&B/#37 Pop. That hit then led to a full duet album in 1995 titled Father & Son. It's first single, "Already Missing You," would reach #7 R&B/#75 Pop. The album would be a gold seller getting to #2 R&B and #20 Pop.  2) While the genre of New Jack Swing would mainly be credited to producer Teddy Riley and his work on Keith Sweat's #1 R&B/#5 Pop hit "I Want Her," which was released about a month after this Levert hit, hints of the genre had already been heard in works by Jam & Lewis and even hits by Timex Social Club and Club Nouveau. Producer/songwriter Reggie Calloway also contributed to the burgeoning genre with this Levert track. It doesn't get a lot of credit as being one of the first mainstream New Jack Swing hits, but it did slightly pre-date Riley's work.



  1. I've usually seen credit for NJS reach back another year, with Janet's "Nasty" cited as the prototype (along with the Control album as a whole).

    1. I have seen that too. In my opinion neither were truly NJS. There might have been influence there, but it got refined and defined around the time of this single.