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Monday, April 30, 2012

Toni Braxton

Collection of Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton was one of the most popular and commercially successful female R&B singers of the '90s, thanks to her ability to straddle seemingly opposite worlds. Braxton was soulful enough for R&B audiences, but smooth enough for adult contemporary; sophisticated enough for adults, but sultry enough for younger listeners; strong enough in the face of heartbreak to appeal to women, but ravishing enough to nab the fellas. Wielding such broad appeal, Braxton managed to score not one, but two albums that sold over eight million copies; naturally, they were accompanied by a long string of hit singles on the pop and R&B charts, one of which -- "Un-break My Heart" -- ranks among the longest-running number one pop hits of the rock era.

Braxton was born in Severn, MD, on October 7, 1968. The daughter of a minister, she was raised mostly in the strict Apostolic faith, which prohibited not only all popular culture, but also pants in women's wardrobes. Encouraged by their mother, an operatically trained vocalist, Braxton and her four sisters began singing in church as girls; although gospel was the only music permitted in the household, the girls often watched Soul Train when their parents went shopping. Braxton's parents later converted to a different faith, and eased their restrictions on secular music somewhat, allowing Braxton more leeway to develop her vocal style; because of her husky voice, she often used male singers like Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, and Michael McDonald as models, as well as Chaka Khan. Braxton had some success on the local talent show circuit, continuing to sing with her sisters, and after high school studied to become a music teacher. However, Braxton soon dropped out of college after she was discovered singing to herself at a gas station by songwriter Bill Pettaway (who co-authored Milli Vanilli's "Girl You Know It's True"). With Pettaway's help, Braxton and her sisters signed with Arista Records in 1990 as a group dubbed simply the Braxtons.

The Braxtons released a single in 1990 called "The Good Life," and while it wasn't a hit, it caught the attention of L.A. Reid and Babyface, the red-hot songwriting/production team who had just formed their own label, LaFace (which was associated with Arista). Braxton became the first female artist signed to LaFace in 1991, and the following year she was introduced to the listening public with a high-profile appearance on the soundtrack of Eddie Murphy's Boomerang. Not only did her solo cut "Love Shoulda Brought You Home" become a substantial pop and R&B hit, but she also duetted with Babyface himself on "Give U My Heart." Anticipation for Braxton's first album ran high, and when her eponymous solo debut was released in 1993, it was an across-the-board smash, climbing to number one on both the pop and R&B charts. It spun off hit after hit, including three more Top Ten singles in "Another Sad Love Song," "Breathe Again," and "You Mean the World to Me," plus the double-sided R&B hit "I Belong to You"/"How Many Ways." With eventual sales of over eight million copies, Toni Braxton's run of popularity lasted well into 1995. By that time, Braxton had scored Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal ("Another Sad Love Song") in 1994, and tacked on another win in the latter category for "Breathe Again" in 1995.

To tide fans over until her next album was released, Braxton contributed "Let It Flow" to the Whitney Houston-centered soundtrack of Waiting to Exhale in 1995. Again working heavily with L.A. Reid and Babyface, Braxton released her second album, Secrets, in the summer of 1996, and predictably, it was another enormous hit. The first single, "You're Makin' Me High," was Braxton's most overtly sexual yet, and it became her biggest pop hit to date; however, its success was soon eclipsed by the follow-up single, the Diane Warren-penned ballad "Un-break My Heart." "Un-break My Heart" was an inescapable juggernaut, spending an amazing 11 weeks on top of the pop charts (and even longer on the adult contemporary charts). Further singles "I Don't Want To" and "How Could an Angel Break My Heart" weren't quite as successful (not that that's an indictment), but that didn't really matter; by then Secrets was well on its way to becoming Braxton's second straight eight-million seller. In 1997, she picked up Grammy awards for Best Female Pop Vocal and Best Female R&B Vocal (for "Un-break My Heart" and "You're Makin' Me High," respectively).

Toward the end of 1997, Braxton filed a lawsuit against LaFace Records, attempting to gain release from a contract she felt was no longer fair or commensurate with her status. When LaFace countersued, Braxton filed for bankruptcy, a move that shocked many fans (who wondered how that could be possible, given her massive sales figures) but actually afforded her protection from further legal action. Braxton spent most of 1998 in legal limbo, and passed the time by signing on to portray Belle in the Broadway production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast (a role originally held by erstwhile teen queen Deborah Gibson). Braxton and LaFace finally reached a settlement in early 1999, and the singer soon began work on her third album. The Heat was released in the spring of 2000, and entered the charts at number two, matching the highest position held by Secrets. Lead single "He Wasn't Man Enough" was a Top Ten hit (and an R&B chart-topper), although the follow-ups "Just Be a Man About It" (a duet with Dr. Dre) and "Spanish Guitar" didn't sustain the album's momentum as well as one might have expected. A brisk seller out of the box, The Heat eventually cooled off around the two-million mark, a disappointing showing compared to her previous efforts, despite yet another Grammy win for Best Female R&B Vocal ("He Wasn't Man Enough").

Braxton appeared in the VH1 movie Play'd in early 2002, and recorded More Than a Woman for release later that year. The singles "Please" and "That's the Way Love Works (Trippin')" announced Braxton's 2005 return with the full-length Libra, her first and only album recorded for the Blackground label. Initially a commercial disappointment, the album was re-released a year later when "The Time of Our Lives" -- a collaboration with the vocal group Il Divo -- became the official 2006 FIFA World Cup anthem. That same year the singer replaced Wayne Newton as the main performer at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Her show, Toni Braxton: Revealed, would run until April of 2008 when she joined the cast of the competitive reality show Dancing with the Stars. After lasting five weeks before being voted off the show, Braxton announced she would be signing with the Atlantic label. Pulse was issued in 2010. Allmusic by Steve Huey

Album: Toni Braxton (1993)

01. Another Sad Love Song
02. Breathe Again
03. Seven Whole Days
04. Love Affair
05. Candlelight
06. Spending My Time With You
07. Love Shoulda Brought You Home
08. I Belong To You
09. How Many Ways
10. You Mean The World To Me
11. Best Friend
12. Breathe Again (Reprise)
13. Give U Heart (Mad Ball Mix)

Album: Secrets (1996)

01. Come On Over Here
02. You're Makin' Me High
03. There's No Me Without You
04. Un-Break My Heart
05. Talking in His Sleep
06. How Could an Angel Break My Heart
07. Find Me a Man
08. Let It Flow
09. Why Should I Care
10. I Don't Want To
11. I Love Me Some Him
12. In the Late of Night-Toni's Secrets
13. You're Makin' Me High (T'empo Mix)
14. Un-Break My Heart (Classic Radio Mix)
15. I Don't Want To (Frankie Knuckles Radio Edit)

Album: The Heat (2000)

01. He Wasn´t Man Enough
02. The Heat
03. Spanish Guitar
04. Just Be A Man About It
05. Gimme Some
06. I´m Still Breathing
07. Fairy Tale
08. The Art Of Love
09. Speaking In Tongues
10. Maybe
11. You´ve Been Wrong
12. Never Just For A Ring

Album: More Than A Woman (2002)

01. Let Me Show You the Way (Out)
02. Give it Back
03. A Better Man
04. Hit The Freeway
05. Lies, Lies, Lies
06. Rock Me, Roll Me
07. Selfish
08. Do You Remember When
09. Me and My Boyfriend
10. Tell Me
11. And I Love You
12. Always

Album: Ultimate Toni Braxton (2003)

01. Give You My Heart (Feat Babyface)
02. Love Shoulda Brought You Home
03. Another Sad Love Song
04. Breathe Again
05. Seven Whole Days (Live)
06. You Mean The World To Me
07. How Many Ways
08. Youre Making Me High
09. Let It Flow
10. Unbreak My Heart
11. I Love Me Some Him
12. I Dont Want To
13. He Wasnt Man Enough
14. Just Be A Man About It
15. Hit The Freeway (Featuring Loon)
16. Whatchu You Need
17. The Little Things
18. Unbreak My Heart (Soulhex Anthem Radio Edit)

Album: Platinum And Gold Collection (2004)

01. Another Sad Love Song
02. Breathe Again
03. How Could an Angel Break My Heart
04. I Belong to You
05. You Mean the World to Me
06. Un-Break My Heart
07. How Many Ways (R. Kelly Remix)
08. He Wasn't Man Enough
09. Maybe (Radio Edit Remix)
10. A Better Man
11. Hit the Freeway (Ft. Loon)
12. Spanish Guitar (HQ2 Radio Edit

Album: Libra (2005)

01. Please
02. Trippin (Thats The Way Love Works)
03. Whats Good
04. Take This Ring
05. Midnite
06. I Wanna Be (Your Baby)
07. Sposed To Be
08. Stupid
09. Finally
10. Shadowless

Album: Un-Break My Heart The Remix Collection (2005)

01. Intro
02. Un-Break My03. Spanish Guitar (HQ2 Club Mix) Heart (Soul Hex Anthem Vocal)
03. Spanish Guitar (HQ2 Club Mix)
04. You're Makin' Me High (David Morales Classic Mix)
05. I Don't Want To (Frankie Knuckles Franktified Club Mix)
06. Hit The Freeway (HQ2 Club Mix)
07. He Wasn't Man Enough (Peter Rauhofer NYC Club Mix)
08. He Wasn't Man Enough (Junior Vasquez Marathon Mix)
09. Maybe (HQ2 Dynamix NYC Club Mix)
10. Un-Break My Heart (Frankie Knuckles Franktidrama Club Mix)
11. Spanish Guitar (Joe Claussell Main Mix)

Album: Breathe Again: Toni Braxton at Her Best (2005)

01. Un-Break My Heart
02. Breathe Again
03. You're Makin' Me High
04. You Mean the World to Me
05. Best Friend
06. Candlelight
07. Spanish Guitar
08. Maybe
09. Rock Me, Roll Me
10. Always

Album: The Essential Toni Braxton (2007)


01. Love Shoulda Brought You Home
02. I Love Me Some Him
03. Tell Me
04. You're Makin' Me High
05. He Wasn't Man Enough
06. Just Be A Man About It
07. How Many Ways (R. Kelly Remix)
08. Breathe Again
09. You Mean The World To Me
10. I Belong To You
11. How Could An Angel Break My Heart
12. Un-Break My Heart
13. Another Sad Love Song
14. Seven Whole Days
15. I Don't Want To
16. Give U My Heart


01. The Heat
02. Gimme Some
03. There's No Me Without You
04. Why Should I Care
05. Spanish Guitar (Royal Garden Flamenco Mix)
06. I'm Still Breathing
07. Me & My Boyfriend
08. Give It Back
09. The Time Of Our Lives
10. He Wasn't Man Enough (Junior Vasquez Marathon Mix)
11. Un-Break My Heart (Frankie Knuckles' Franktidrama Club Mix Edit)
12. Hit The Freeway
13. Come On Over Here
14. Let It Flow
15. Little Things
16. Good Life

Album: Pulse (2010)

01. Yesterday
02. Make My Heart
03. Hands Tied
04. Woman
05. If I Have To Wait
06. Lookin' At Me
07. Wardrobe
08. Hero
09. No Way
10. Pulse
11. Why You Won't Love Me


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Deniece Williams

Collection of Deniece Williams

Deniece Williams grew up singing in a Pentecostal church, which was strict on the congregation listening only to gospel music. During the late '60s, she was a candy striper in a Chicago hospital. Outside of wanting a 1959 Thunderbird, she had no serious ambitions. Nontheless, she still had interest in listening to music. Her favorites were Carmen McRae for her diction and Nancy Wilson, who, for Williams, exemplified class and elegance. However, her mother, also a singer, was her idol. The Gary, IN, native was also fond of Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Minnie Riperton, and Patti LaBelle. (The latter two she tried to emulate before her introduction into the music industry.)

In need of employment and with college on the back burner, the fledgling singer was introduced to Wonder by John Harris, her cousin from Detroit, who happened to be on tour as a valet for Wonder (and was also his childhood friend). Her cousin arranged for Williams to meet Wonder backstage at a concert. Six months later, the gifted vocalist was flown into Detroit by Wonder for an audition. Among the 26 who auditioned, Williams, who sang "Teach Me Tonight," was only one of three who was hired by Wonder. The three became known as Wonderlove.

Williams being hired by Wonder was a big surprise. Soon after the audition, she toured with Wonder, who was the opening act for the Rolling Stones at the time. Her touring with Wonder lasted for several years. Though her stint with Wonder was a great experience and opportunity, it was also difficult considering Williams had to make many adjustments professionally and personally (she had two sons prior to taking the gig: one 4 months old, the other 18 months).

Williams left Wonderlove in 1975 and teamed up with producer Maurice White, the leader of Earth, Wind & Fire. Under White's direction, Williams learned the business of music and was able to unwind and express herself musically. Under the Columbia banner, Williams released her first album entitled This Is Niecey. It featured the Billboard R&B number two single "Free," which also sealed the Top 25 on the pop charts. The song was personal to Williams, who felt restricted while with Wonderlove. The album also featured "Cause You Love Me Baby" and "That's What Friends Are For."

In 1977 the album Song Bird was released, and it featured the number 13 single "Baby, Baby My Love's All for You." The following year the dynamic singer scored her first number one song on both the R&B and pop charts with "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," which was a duet with the legendary Johnny Mathis. The follow-up single, "You're All Need to Get By," was also recorded with Mathis and it was a Top Ten single.

Still under White's tutelage, Williams moved over to White's American Recording Company (ARC) and stumbled a few times with several releases before scoring the smash hit "Silly." Written by Williams and produced by famed producer Thom Bell, she sang this song from her own personal experience as well. The single became a Top Ten gem. In 1982 Bell returned the sweet songstress to number one with the single "It's Gonna Take a Miracle."

Always writing from her own experience, Williams wrote the Top Ten single "Do What You Feel" based on the ordeals of someone else. (A believer in the song at the time, she no longer employs those beliefs.) In 1984 Williams recorded the number one hit "Let's Hear It for the Boy." Featured on the Footloose soundtrack, the single was produced by music virtuoso George Duke, who initially thought the song was too pop-ish and would not work. However, Duke's production savvy proved to be as paramount as Williams' vocals.

In 1984 the sensational singer recorded "Black Butterfly." From a African-American perspective, Williams immediately bonded with the song. The song would become a prelude to the uplifting gospel material Williams would record a few years later. With her label, Columbia, uninterested, Williams released the gospel album From the Beginning on Sparrow Records. The album featured the Grammy Award-winning single "They Say." The same year she also won a Grammy for "I Surrender" and another for "I Believe in You" in 1987.

Album: This Is Niecy (1976)

01. It's Important To Me
02. That's What Friends Are For
03. How'd I Know That Love Would Slip Away
04. Cause You Love Me Baby
05. Free
06. Watching Over
07. If You Don't Believe
08. Free

Album: Song Bird (1977)

01. Time
02. The Boy I Left Behind
03. We Have Love For You
04. God Is Amazing
05. Baby, Baby, My Love's All For You
06. Season
07. Be Good To Me
08. The Paper

Album: (with Johnny Mathis) That's What Friends Are For (1978)

01. You're All I Need to Get By
02. Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)
03. You're a Special Part of My Life
04. Ready or Not
05. Me for You, You for Me
06. Heaven Must Have Sent You
07. Just the Way You Are
08. That's What Friends Are For
09. I Just Can't Get Over You
10. Touching Me With Love
11. Emotion
12. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
13. Love Won't Let Me Wait
14. Without Us

Album: When Love Comes Calling (1979)

01. I Found Love
02. Are You Thinking_
03. My Prayer
04. I've Got the Next Dance
05. Touch Me Again
06. When Love Comes Calling
07. God Knows
08. Like Magic
09. Turn Around
10. Why Can't We Fall in Love

Album: My Melody (1981)

01. My Melody
02. It's Your Conscience
03. Silly
04. Strangers
05. What Two Can Do
06. You're All That Matters
07. Suspicious
08. Sweet Surrender

Album: Niecy (1982)

01. Waiting
02. It's Gonna Take A Miracle
03. Love Notes
04. I Believe In Miracles
05. How Does It Feel
06. Waiting By The Hotline
07. Now Is The Time For Love
08. Part Of Love

Album: I'm So Proud (1983)

01. Do What You Feel
02. I'm So Proud
03. So Deep in Love (With Johnny Mathis)
04. I'm Glad It's You
05. Heaven in Your Eyes
06. They Say (With Phillip Bailey)
07. Love, Peace & Unity
08. It's Okay

Album: Let's Hear It for the Boy (1984)

01. Let's Hear It For the Boy
02. I Want You
03. Start Picking Up the Pieces
04. Black Butterfly
05. Causing a Commotion
06. Haunting Me
07. Don't Tell Me We Have Nothing
08. My Baby
09. Wrapped Up (In Your Love)
10. Jesus, I Want You

Album: Hot On The Trail (1986)

01. Wiser And Weaker
02. Hot On The Trail
03. He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
04. Video
05. We're Together
06. Straight From The Heart
07. Healing
08. I Feel The Night

Album: As Good as It Gets (1988)

01. I Can't Wait
02. This Is as Good as It Gets
03. We Are Here to Change the World
04. All I Need
05. Memories
06. There Is No Other
07. I Am Sure
08. It's You I'm After
09. Don't Stop the Love
10. Hold Me Tight

Album: Special Love (1989)

01. Special Love
02. Fire Inside My Soul
03. Healing
04. I'm Free
05. Every Moment
06. Who's Who
07. His Eye Is On The Sparrow
08. Give It All To You
09. Somebody Loves You
10. We Sing Praises
11. Do You Hear What I Hear

Album: Gonna Take A Miracle -The Best Of Deniece Williams (1996)

01. Free
02. I Found Love
03. Cause You Love Me, Baby
04. That's What Friends Are For
05. God Is Amazing
06. Baby, Baby, My Love's All For You
07. When Love Comes Calling
08. If You Don't Believe
09. Silly
10. It's Gonna Take A Miracle
11. Waiting
12. Do What You Feel
13. I'm So Proud
14. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late (Duet with Johnny Mathis)
15. Black Butterfly
16. Let's Hear It For The Boy

Album: Love Niecy Style (2007)

01. That's How Heartaches Are Made
02. Love's Holiday
03. This Time I'll Be Sweeter
04. If You Really Love Me
05. Someday We'll All Be Free
06. Cherish
07. Lady Love Me (One More Time)
08. The Only Thing Missing Is You
09. Never Too Much
10. Cause You Love Me, Baby


Saturday, April 28, 2012


Collection of Guy

This seminal R&B trio was the first group to sport the new jack swing sound, essentially traditional soul vocals melded to hip-hop beats, with credit for the genre's invention going to founder, multi-instrumentalist, and super-producer Teddy Riley. Riley formed his first band, Wreckx-N-Effect, while still a teenager, with brothers Markell Riley and Brandon Mitchell; Guy followed a few years later in 1987. Its first incarnation featured vocalists Aaron Hall and Timmy Gatling. Their self-titled debut album was an instant smash, producing the R&B hits "I Like," "Groove Me," "Spend the Night," and "Teddy's Jam." Meanwhile, Riley found himself in strong demand as a songwriter and producer; in 1988, Riley produced Bobby Brown's Don't Be Cruel, the album that helped new jack swing cross over into the pop mainstream. Riley has also worked with Kool Moe Dee, Michael Jackson (Dangerous), Stevie Wonder, Keith Sweat, Jane Child, and SWV, among others. In between albums, Guy contributed songs to the soundtracks of Do the Right Thing and New Jack City.

By 1989, Guy was in turmoil; Riley's brother Brandon Mitchell was killed in a shooting, and the group became involved in an acrimonious split with manager Gene Griffin over money. 1990's The Future featured Hall's brother, Albert Damion Hall, in place of Gatling and spawned R&B hits in "Let's Chill," "Do Me Right," "D-O-G Me Out," and "Long Gone." However, by the time Riley and Guy finally started to attract media attention for their innovative and influential work, the trio had broken up. Riley concentrated on his production and songwriting career for several years before forming the band Blackstreet with vocalists Chauncey "Black" Hannibal, Dave Hollister, and Levi Little. The quartet released a self-titled debut in 1994. Aaron Hall released his solo debut, The Truth, in 1993; brother Damion followed in 1994 with Straight to the Point. Guy reunited in 1999, issuing Guy III early the following year. Allmusic by Steve Huey

Album: Guy (1988)

01. Groove Me
02. Teddy's Jam
03. Don't Clap...Just Dance
04. You Can Call Me Crazy
05. Piece of My Love
06. I Like
07. Round and Round (Merry Go Round of Love)
08. Spend the Night
09. Goodbye Love
10. My Business

Album: The Future (1990)

01. Her
02. Wanna Get with U
03. Do Me Right
04. Teddy's Jam 2
05. Let's Chill
06. Tease Me Tonite
07. D-O-G Me Out
08. Total Control
09. Gotta Be A Leader
10. The Future
11. Let's Stay Together
12. Where Did the Love Go
13. Yearing for Your Love
14. Smile
15. Long Gone
16. Wanna Get with U (Club Version)

Album: III (2000)

01. Intro
02. Were Comin
03. Dancin
04. Rescue Me
05. Teddys Jam III
06. Do it
07. Why You Wanna Keep Me from My Baby
08. Tellin Me No
09. Not A Day
10. Love Online
11. Spend Time
12. Dont U Miss Me
13. 2004
14. Fly Away
15. Someday

Album: Groove Me: The Very Best Of Guy (2002)

01. Groove Me
02. 'Round And 'Round (Merry Go 'Round Of Love)
03. Teddy's Jam
04. I Like
05. Spend The Night
06. Piece Of My Love
07. My Fantasy (Teddy Riley Featuring Guy)
08. Wanna Get With U
09. Let's Chill
10. Do Me Right
11. D-O-G Me Out
12. Let's Stay Together
13. Teddy's Jam 2
14. Tell Me What You Like
15. Why You Wanna Keep Me From My Baby
16. Dancin'
17. Rescue Me

Album: Guy Special Edition (2007)


01. Groove Me
02. Teddy's Jam
03. Don't Clap...Just Dance
04. You Can Call Me Crazy
05. Piece Of My Love
06. I Like
07. Round And Round (Merry Go Round Of Love)
08. Spend The Night
09. Goodbye Love
10. My Business


01. Groove Me (Extended Version)
02. Teddy's Jam (Extended Version)
03. Don't Clap...Just Dance (12 Mix)
04. I Like (Extended Version)
05. Round And Round (Merry Go Round Of Love) (12 Extended Version)
06. Spend The Night (Extended Version)


Friday, April 27, 2012

New Edition

Collection of New Edition

New Edition's early, Jackson 5-inspired material made them the forerunners of two generations of teen pop (most of which was geared to white audiences). As they matured and progressed, they laid much of the groundwork for the fusion of hip-hop and R&B known as new jack swing. In fact, after New Edition drifted apart, all of its members had at least some significant success outside the group as part of the new jack movement, which helped ensure that their original incarnation would be remembered for much more than the bubblegum urban soul that made their name.

New Edition was formed in the Roxbury section of Boston, MA, by Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Bobby Brown, who began singing together in 1978 while still in elementary school, hoping to perform for pocket cash. They eventually recruited friend Ralph Tresvant as a fourth member, and after winning a talent show in 1980, also added Ronnie DeVoe. More talent show victories followed, including a prestigious gig at the local Strand Theater, where they performed the Jackson 5's "The Love You Save." They were discovered by writer/producer/impresario Maurice Starr, who signed the group to his small Streetwise label in hopes of launching a Jackson 5 phenomenon for the '80s. "Candy Girl," a song Starr co-wrote for the group, was released as their first single in 1983, when the members ranged in age from 13 to 15. Despite a lack of major-label interest in the group, "Candy Girl" was a smash, topping the R&B charts. Their debut album, also titled Candy Girl, spawned two more R&B hits in "Popcorn Love" and "Is This the End?," and MCA offered the group a deal. Starr, however, wanted the group to remain with Streetwise; New Edition summarily fired him as their manager and signed with MCA. Starr attempted to sue the group for their name, unsuccessfully claiming that "New Edition" actually referred to a whole new style of pop music he'd created. Starr, of course, would go on to strike it rich with a similar concept, assembling a quintet of white teenagers he dubbed New Kids on the Block.

New Edition, meanwhile, released their eponymous MCA debut in 1984 and scored their biggest pop hit with the Top Five smash "Cool It Now," which ended with a short rap section. The Ray Parker, Jr.-penned "Mr. Telephone Man" soon became their third R&B chart-topper, and the group had reached full-fledged teen idol status. Yet they were growing up fast, as demonstrated on their next album, 1985's All for Love. Not only were their voices changing, but their material was becoming more adult, with harder-edged funk and more mature romantic ballads. Later that year, they also released a holiday album, Christmas All Over the World, and struck an endorsement deal with Coke. However, rumors of Brown's growing dissatisfaction proved true and he left for a solo career in 1986. Temporarily down to a quartet, the rest of the group recorded the covers album Under the Blue Moon, a set of vintage doo wop and R&B numbers from the '50s and '60s; it produced a hit revival of the Penguins' "Earth Angel."

Brown's replacement came in the form of Johnny Gill, a deep-voiced friend of the group who'd been recording as a solo artist without much luck. Gill made his debut on the 1989 album Heart Break, which found New Edition working with star producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The move paid immediate dividends, as they scored several R&B hits from the album, including the number one "Can You Stand the Rain." Meanwhile, Brown had become a superstar with his second album, the new jack swing landmark Don't Be Cruel. Feeling vindicated by Heart Break, New Edition split up to work on other projects. Gill returned to his solo career, with considerably more success this time around, and Tresvant also went solo. The remainder of the group teamed as Bell Biv DeVoe and wound up having greater success than anyone save Brown; their debut album, Poison, was another new jack style-setter and Bivins' interest in developing new talent gave Boyz II Men their big break.

By the mid-'90s, new jack swing was giving way to new fusions of hip-hop and soul that were alternately more organic or aggressive. Although their status as innovators was secure, many of the New Edition splinter acts had a hard time keeping up and maintaining their career momentum. Thus, given their individually positive reputations, it made sense for the group to announce its triumphant reunion, with all six members participating in what was essentially an R&B supergroup. The public loved the idea; when the comeback album Home Again was finally released in 1996, it debuted at number one, and the first single, "Hit Me Off," was a smash, hitting number one on the R&B charts. The follow-up, "I'm Still in Love With You," was another big hit, and the group embarked on a blockbuster tour that, while popular, found relationships between some of the members fraying. After the tour, New Edition returned to their various prior projects, with the prospect of any future reunions looking dim. Those prospects increased significantly when it was learned that P. Diddy had signed the group to his Bad Boy label for the release of another comeback, 2004's One Love. Allmusic by Steve Huey

Album: Candy Girl (1983)

01. Gimme Your Love
02. She Gives Me A Bang
03. Is This The End?
04. Pass The Beat
05. Popcorn Love
06. Candy Girl
07. Ooh Baby
08. Should Have Never Told Me
09. Gotta Have Your Lovin’
10. Jealous Girl

Album: New Edition (1984)

01. Cool It Now
02. Mr. Telephone Man
03. I'm Leaving You Again
04. Baby Love
05. Delicious
06. My Secret (Didja Gitit Yet?)
07. Hide And Seek
08. Lost In Love
09. Kinda Girls We Like
10. Maryann

Album: All For Love (1985)

01. Count Me Out
02. A Little Bit Of Love (Is All It Takes)
03. Sweet Thing
04. With You All The Way
05. Let's Be Friends
06. Kickback
07. Tonight's Your Night
08. Whispers In Bed
09. Who Do You Trust?
10. School
11. All For Love

Album: Under The Blue Moon (1986)

01. Earth Angel
02. A Million To One
03. Duke Of Earl
04. (Hey There) Lonely Girl
05. A Thousand Miles Away
06. What's Your Name?
07. Tears On My Pillow
08. Blue Moon
09. Since I Don't Have You
10. Bring Back The Memories

Album: Heart Break (1988)

01. Introduction
02. That's The Way We're Livin'
03. Where It All Started
04. If It Isn't Love
05. Untitled (Hidden Track)
06. N.E. Heart Break
07. Crucial
08. Untitled (Hidden Track)
09. You're Not My Kind Of Girl
10. Superlady
11. Can You Stand The Rain?
12. Competition
13. Untitled (Hidden Track)
14. I'm Comin' Home
15. Boys To Men

Album: Home Again (1996)

01. Oh, Yeah, It Feels So Good
02. Hit Me Off
03. You Don't Have To Worry
04. Tighten It Up
05. Shop Around
06. Hear Me Out
07. Something About You
08. Try Again
09. How Do You Like Your Love Served?
10. One More Day
11. I'm Still In Love With You
12. Thank You (The J.G. Interlude)
13. Home Again

Album: All The Number Ones (2000)

01. Candy Girl
02. Cool It Now (Sing Along Mix)
03. Mr. Telephone Man
04. Girlfriend (Single Mix)
05. Don't Be Cruel (Single Mix)
06. Can You Stand The Rain (Under The Lamppost - Quiet Storm Mix)
07. My Prerogative (Single Mix)
08. Where Do We Go From Here (Single Mix)
09. Every Little Step
10. On Our Own
11. Rub You The Right Way (Single Mix)
12. Poison (Radio Remix)
13. Sensitivity (Warm + Sensitive Mix)
14. My, My, My (Single Mix)
15. B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me) (Radio Remix)
16. Wrap My Body Tight (Single Mix)
17. Humpin' Around (Single Mix)
18. Hit Me Off

Album: One Love (2004)

01. Conference Call
02. Been So Long
03. Hot2nite
04. Sexy Lady
05. Last Time
06. All On You
07. Wildest Dreams
08. Start Turnin' Me On
09. Love Again
10. One Love Interlude
11. That's Why I Lied
12. Come Home With Me
13. Best Man
14. Re-Write The Memories
15. Newness
16. Feelin' It
17. Leave Me

Album: Gold (2005)


01. Cool It Now
02. Mr Telephone Man
03. Lost In Love
04. My Secret
05. Count Me Out
06. A Little Bit Of Love (Is All It Takes)
07. With You All The Way
08. Earth Angel
09. Once In A Lifetime Groove
10. Girlfriend
11. Helplessly In Love
12. If It Isn't Love
13. Don't Be Cruel
14. My Prerogative
15. You're Not My Kind Of Girl
16. Can You Stand The Rain
17. N.E. Heartbreak
18. Crucial


01. Every Little Step
02. On Our Own
03. Poison
04. Rub You The Right Way
05. My, My, My
06. B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)
07. Sensitivity
08. When Will I See You Smile Again
09. Wrap My Body Tight
10. Do What I Gotta Do (Radio Edit)
11. Money Can't Buy You Love
12. Humpin' Around
13. Hit Me Off
14. I'm Still In Love With You
15. You Don't Have To Worry
16. One More Day


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Deele

Collection of The Deele

The Deele are best-known as the group that brought Babyface (b. Kenny Edmonds) and L.A. Reid (b. Mark Rooney) to prominence. Based in Indianapolis, IN, Bobby G. Summers and L.A. Reid formed the Deele in the early '80s with lead vocalist Carlos "Satin" Greene, Darnell "Dee" Bristol, Stanley Burke, and Kevin Roberson. Prior to joining the Deele Babyface had been a member of Manchild, who had a minor R&B hit with "Especially for You" in 1977.

The Deele had their first hit in late 1983, when "Body Talk" began climbing the R&B charts. Though the song only reached 77 on the pop charts, it reached number three on the R&B charts, helping the group's debut album Street Beat crack the Top 100. Two subsequent singles from the record, "Just My Luck," and "Surrender," dented the R&B charts, but the group's second album Material Thangz, was a disappointment, launching only one hit R&B single with the number 14 title track.

Between the release of Material Thangz and 1988's Eyes of a Stranger, Babyface and L.A. Reid began making a name for themselves as urban producers and songwriters, with their work for Pebbles ("Girlfriend") and the Whispers ("Rock Steady") becoming hits. In the wake of Babyface and Reid's new-found success, Eyes of a Stranger became a hit, going gold and launching the Top Ten pop and R&B hit, "Two Occasions," as well as the number ten R&B hit "Shoot 'Em Up Movies." Following the release of Eyes of a Stranger, the group went on hiatus, with Babyface and L.A. Reid continuing their successful production and songwriting work.

The Deele reunited without Babyface and Reid in 1993 to release Invitation to Love, which failed to earn much attention. Allmusic by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Album: Street Beat (1984)

01. Body Talk
02. I Surrender
03. Just My Luck
04. Sexy Love
05. Street Beat
06. Video Villain
07. Crazy 'Bout 'Cha
08. Working (9 To 5)

Album: Material Thangz (1985)

01. Let's Work Tonight
02. Stimulate
03. All I've Ever Known
04. Suspicious
05. Material Thangs
06. I'll Send You Roses
07. Sweet November
08. Sweet Nothingz

Album: Eyes of a Stranger (1987)

01. Two Occasions
02. Shoot 'Em Up Movies
03. Let No One Separate Us
04. Eyes Of A Stranger
05. Dry Your Eyes
06. Can-U-Dance
07. She Wanted
08. Hip Chic
09. So Many Thangz
10. Eyes Of A Stranger - Reprise

Album: Invitation to Love (1993)

01. Imagination
02. Save My Life
03. The Wisdom Af a Fool
04. Infatuation
05. Feel It
06. Invitation to Love
07. Rewind the Tape
08. Are You Ready to Love
09. Baby I'M Hooked on You
10. Slowalk
11. I Feel Love Again
12. I Can't Get Over You
13. My Love For You Will Last Forever

Album: Greatest Hits (1994)

01. Body Talk
02. Just My Luck
03. I Surrender
04. Video Villain
05. Crazy 'Bout 'Cha
06. Material Thangz
07. Sweet November
08. I'll Send You Roses
09. Suspicious
10. Can U Dance
11. Dry Your Eyes
12. Two Occasions
13. Shoot 'Em Up Movies
14. Let No One Separate Us
15. Eyes of a Stranger
16. Hip Chic


The System

Collection of The System

Pioneering synth duo the System rode the '80s wave of emerging synth/MIDI music technology to help lay the foundation for contemporary electronic popular music with their upfront, unapologetic use of synths and intelligent songwriting.

In the early '80s, singer Mic Murphy and keyboardist David Frank met in New York. Collecting on studio time that he had bartered for in exchange for playing on sessions, Frank asked Murphy to join him in the studio to work on some ideas. After their overnight session, Murphy took the master tape to an engineer friend that transferred the tape onto a 12" lacquer record. The duo took the record to Atlantic's Mirage Records and were signed right away.

Their 1982 single "You Are in My System" quickly became the rage on both the dancefloor and on urban-formatted radio, leading to the release of Sweat on Mirage/Atlantic. Other tracks from the album got dancefloor attention, such as "Sweat" and "I Can't Let Go." Their next album, X-periment, included the infectious "I Just Want to Make You Feel Good," the sweet ballad "Promises" b/w "X-periment," and the stunningly passionate "I Can't Take Losing You." In 1986, the duo performed the title album track/hit single "The Pleasure Seekers" on Miami Vice. The LP contained "Groove" precursor "This Is for You," which was the second single. 1987 was a great year for the System, giving them their biggest hit. The title track of their album Don't Disturb This Groove went to number one R&B and number three pop. The tune was also used as the basis of one of the last tracks released by Tupac Shakur. The next release, Midnight Lover, cracked the pop Top 20.

Their fresh approach put the System in high demand as producers, songwriters, and musicians. They can be heard on Chaka Khan's cover of Prince's "I Feel for You" and Mtume's "Juicy Fruit" (both million-sellers). The latter record was later used by the Notorious B.I.G. for his gold record "Juicy." The list continues with Phil Collins' "Sussudio," Angela Bofill's "Can't Slow Down," Pauli Carmen's "Dial My Number," Ashford & Simpson, and Jeff Lorber's "Step by Step." They contributed to the movie soundtracks for two Eddie Murphy blockbusters, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America (the title track went Top Ten pop). Even though it seemed that everyone wanted to work with the System, the pair decided not to spread themselves too thin and turned down a lot of offers. They opened their own recording studio called Science Lab Music.

1989's Rhythm & Romance ("Midnight Special," "Have Mercy," "Soul to Soul") was the duo's last album. During early 1991, Mic Murphy released a solo album on East West called Touch ("Fit to Be Tied"), which had a lot of System overtones. Frank did concert dates backing Annie Lennox during the recording of her Live in Central Park CD and video (Arista). He's also active in production, working with Omar, Dionne Farris, female pop vocal trio Wild Orchid, and Rebbie Jackson. Allmusic by Ed Hogan

Album: Sweat (1983)

01. Sweat
02. You Are in My System
03. It's Passion
04. Stand Up and Cheer
05. I Won't Let Go
06. Go For What U Know
07. Now I Am Electric

Album: X-Periment (1984)

01. I Wanna Make You Feel Good
02. Dangerous
03. Lollipops and Everything
04. Get Jumpin'
05. Escape
06. Promises Can Break
07. X-Periment
08. Bad Girl
09. I Can't Take Losing You

Album: The Pleasure Seekers (1985)

01. The Pleasure Seekers
02. It Takes 2
03. Big City Beat
04. Love Won't Wait For Lovin'
05. This Is For You
06. My Radio Rocks
07. Did In By A Friend
08. I Don't Run From Danger

Album: Don't Disturb This Groove (1987)

01. Don't Disturb This Groove
02. Come as You Are (Superstar)
03. Save Me
04. Heart Beat of the City
05. Groove (Instrumental)
06. Nighttime Lover
07. House of Rhythm
08. Didn't I Blow Your Mind
09. Soulboy
10. Modern Girl

Album: Rhythm And Romance (1989)

01. I'm About You
02. Soul To Soul
03. Wicked
04. Midnight Special
05. I Don'T Know How To Say
06. I Wanna Be Your Lover
07. You Got Me (Where You Want Me)
08. Have Mercy
09. Face The Music
10. Think About It
11. Guardian Angel
12. Diggin' Your Rhythm

Album: ESP (2000)

01. Heaven in Your Eyes
02. As God Is My Witness
03. Supernatural
04. Love's Deja Vu
05. Tell Me
06. Soul Food
07. Good as Gold
08. You Are in My System [Version]
09. Midnight Train
10. Hole in My Love
11. Can't Let You Go


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

After 7

Collection of After 7

After 7 emerged in the '90s as a solid contemporary ensemble able to perform creditably in either vintage soul or modern new jack and urban styles. The Indianapolis trio includes brothers Melvin and Kevin Edmonds (the brothers of producer/performer Babyface) and Keith Mitchell (cousin of Babyface's longtime partner L.A. Reid). They signed with Virgin in 1989 and had immediate success with their LP After 7. Such songs as "Can't Stop" and "Heat of the Moment" were major winners on the urban and quiet storm circuit, and a remix of "Can't Stop" also attracted sizable dance attention. They recorded with Johnny Gill, then enjoyed another hit release in 1992, Takin' My Time. It included a sterling remake of the Originals' "Baby, I'm For Real." Allmusic by Ron Wynn

Album: After 7 (1989)

01. Don't Cha' Think
02. Heat of the Moment
03. Can't Stop
04. My Only Woman
05. Love's Been So Nice
06. One Night
07. Ready or Not
08. Sayonara

Album: Takin' My Time (1992)

01. All About Love
02. Kickin' It
03. Can He Love You Like This
04. Truly Something Special
05. Baby I'm For Real
06. Takin' My Time (Interlude)
07. No Better Love
08. Takin' My Time
09. G.S.T
10. Love by Day, Love by Night
11. He Said, She Said
12. Takin' My Time (Reprise)

Album: Reflections (1995)

01. 'Til You Do Me Right
02. Cryin' for It
03. Save It Up
04. Damn Thing Called Love
05. How Did He Love You
06. What U R 2 Me
07. How Do You Tell the One
08. Sprung On It
09. How Could You Leave
10. Givin' up This Good Thing
11. I Like It Like That
12. Honey (Oh How I Need You)

Album: The Very Best of After 7 (1997)

01. Sara Smile
02. Ready or Not
03. Can't Stop [Remix]
04. Heat of the Moment [Remix]
05. One Night
06. Baby I'm for Real (Natural High)
07. Not Enough Hours in the Night
08. Can He Love U Like This
09. Takin' My Time
10. Gonna Love You Right [Remix]
11. Nights Like This
12. 'Til You Do Me Right


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