If You Love Me – Brownstone
…but if you want my heart then it’s time that you start
To act like you’re mine in the light and the dark…
We finally moved into our new house in Brighton in March 1996, after Eamonn Walker (brother from another mother) and I had sanded and varnished the floors of three rooms, and Tony Roose (expert!) had helped me lag beneath the floorboards. Lovely wooden floors in place, Jenny was welcomed down, previously restricted from visits due to her asthma. The dust now settled, we brought the cats down and moved into the top room with views of the Palace Pier and across to Worthing and Chanctonbury Ring on the Downs. It was a great move. A new life.
Brighton was local newspapers, slower pace, less happening, and trains to London. After a few months we wondered if we’d made a Terrible Mistake. Then people started to come down – the first visitors were Paulette and Beverley Randall, and we moved the kitchen table out into the garden and ate alfresco whilst drinking quantities of wine. Summer arrived and we started to really fall in love with being in Sussex, taking trips out to my childhood haunts, finding lovely country pubs and walks and butterfly sanctuaries, lying on the beach with the tourists, becoming deeply involved in the Brighton & Hove Albion story as chairman Bill Archer announced that my beloved Goldstone Ground was to be sold “to pay debts” – and there were no plans in place for an alternative home ground. 1996-7 was a dreadful season to follow the Seagulls, but the fans were amazing, letting the board know their feelings about having our home sold from under our feet. We were rooted to the bottom of the entire league for weeks that autumn, manager Jimmy Case was sacked and it felt like the people running the club would be happy for it to fold. The fans and players eventually saved Albion in dramatic fashion – but this is not the place for that reminiscence.
I turned 40 in the summer of ’97 and held a legendary party in our new house to celebrate and mark the passage of time. It was attended by neighbours from across the street, new friends from Brighton, and many old mates and new who had travelled down. It was billed as running from midday June 21st to midday June 22nd – a proper midsummer night’s dream. I finally crashed out at lunchtime on the Sunday. It was a big old-fashioned dirty young people’s party and I kissed goodbye to my 30s in defiance. Dancing went on literally all night, guests such as Chiwetel Ejiofor (with whom I’d just shot “Amistad”) slept on the bouncy castle erected in the garage, people went down for a swim in the sea at dawn, I became 40 high on ecstasy, drink, marijuana and dancing.
Brownstone’s “If You Love Me” was a key song for Jenny and I. I can’t remember where we first heard it (Trevor Nelson? or maybe before we left Los Angeles…) but the tune, the lyrics, the voices, the swing of it became our sound in the party years 1996-2000. Jenny enjoyed DJ-ing too, and she always targets her DJ set at the women on the dancefloor. Once the women are dancing, the guys will tend to follow… So there’s a bit of Whitney, some Bee Gees, Abba, TLC, Prince, Ghetto Heaven, Aretha…and Brownstone. Turn the lights down low, turn up the bass, and grab the nearest honey…
Brownstone formed in the early 90s. Nichole “Nicci” Gilbert, who co-wrote If You Love Me, Monica “Mimi” Doby, and Charmayne Maxena “Maxee” Maxwell (who sadly passed away after an accidental fall in February 2015) met at various auditions around Los Angeles, were signed with Michael Jackson‘s label MJJ and recorded the LP From The Bottom Up in 1994. They had a number of line-up changes in the years since. This song transcends all the hype and music-biz PR by simply using great singing – three excellent voices in harmony. Song was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 (but lost out to TLC’s “Creep”).
and here is an acapella version :