Another addition to the "shoulda been a bigger star" list
29-year old wallflower | West Lafayette, IN | 09/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My mother has always been a lover of the smoother side of music, be it pop, rock or R&B (the occasional louder act like U2 or the Cure can be included in her favorites, too). A great deal of these artists I remember back when I was younger & naturally thought they were the stuff only people older than me listened to. Since discovering that I myself have a little bit of an older gene in my music system, I'm starting to discover these artists as pretty good all along. James Ingram is one of those people.
I first heard of him from "I Don't Have The Heart" which finally became his first #1 hit, but had no idea he had been around for a while before that. As the liner notes in IT'S YOUR NIGHT show, James was heard on a demo for "Just Once" that was given to Quincy Jones. Quincy not only liked the song, but the singer as well, and featured James on that song as well as "One Hundred Ways" on his 1981 THE DUDE album. "Just Once" won a Grammy, a rarity for an artist who hadn't even released an album yet. When his duet with Patti Austin on "Baby, Come To Me" shot to #1 on its second release thanks to its use on GENERAL HOSPITAL, the clamor for an album was even louder. Finally, in late 1983, we got it with IT'S YOUR NIGHT.
The buzz surrounding James in the 2 years before the album's release was more than warranted because IT'S YOUR NIGHT turned out to be another excellent slice of sophisticated R&B-pop we had come to expect from the Quincy Jones school. Granted, it's not earth-shatteringly great as, say, THRILLER (James had co-written "P.Y.T." for that behemoth) which literally ruled 1983. But while that might not have been the intention, even with its slightly bum moments, IT'S YOUR NIGHT is still pretty fine.
The album started out with the uptempo funk of "Party Animal", which was pleasant & slightly hip-shaking, but don't expect Cameo or Zapp, for it is still the kind of uptown R&B from the Q camp. Perhaps this would have been better suited to THRILLER, for Michael Jackson could have done well with this one. Even here, it's apparent that James needed to choose his faster songs with care.
He did that with "Try Your Love Again", the title track & the big-band rave-up "One More Rhythm" (with an appearance by childhood idol Jimmy Smith on organ). These are uptempo tunes that James sounds more comfortable with, and are genuinely infectious at that. I can picture jitterbugging just listening to "One More Rhythm" every time. "Yah Mo B There" is more than just another groove-accented tune, for as I long wondered what it was about, it was about the Man Upstairs. I will say that Michael McDonald kind of dominates this song a little bit so as to almost eclipse James, but it's still an excellent song that was deservedly the biggest hit from the album (and I think another Grammy-winner).
The biggest hits of James's career have been ballads, and it's no surprise that the album's biggest highlights are those. Before the album's release, James re-teamed with Patti Austin to sing "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" from the 1982 movie BEST FRIENDS. The song was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to "Up Where We Belong" from AN OFFICER & A GENTLEMAN. While most movie themes are often made to order & thus, rather unimaginative, this one definitely is original (which you'd expect from the team that wrote "The Windmills Of Your Mind" & "The Way We Were"). The chemistry that James & Patti demonstrate on this song is so genuine, it's almost a wonder to discover they were just friends. They definitely should collaborate again!
Other ballads like "Whatever We Imagine" & "There's No Easy Way" are solid tunes that could easily have found success on the still-flourishing Adult Contemporary radio & charts. That said, "She Loves Me [The Best That I Can Be]" sounds like it was written especially for that purpose alone, it not having much of an emotional element to it like the other two. James himself said that hearing "There's No Easy Way" broke his heart when he first heard it, and it's quite evident in his performance. Will someone please cover this song?!
After this album, James Ingram kind of faded into the background as younger, harder artists ruled the R&B genre throughout the decade. By the end of the decade, he'd see a bit of a resurgence, winning the biggest non-duet hit of his career. However, as his debut album showed, he had all the promise to become a front-level star. Even today, James has been more keen to be heard singing for other artists rather than himself. Hopefully, someone will take a chance on him again & maybe even create another winner like IT'S YOUR NIGHT."
For die-hard fans and avid collectors only?
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 05/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most folks will probably know of James Ingram through the tunes "Just Once" and "One Hundred Ways", his Grammy Award-winning performances on Quincy Jones's 1981 album The Dude. The man has a phenomenal voice. It beggars belief that he didn't go on to become the massive star we all expected he would.
This was his debut album, released in 1983 and naturally Quincy Jones was behind the boards. I've had it on cassette for years and simply had to get it on CD, no matter the cost. My tunes on here are the funky "Yah Mo B There", Ingram's duet with Michael McDonald, written by Ingram, McDonald, Jones and Rod Temperton; the glorious ballad "She Loves Me (The Best That I Can Be)", written by Brian Neary and James Photoglo; the earnest ballad "Whatever We Imagine"; the Rod Temperton-penned "One More Rhythm" (the only Temperton song on here, appallingly); and last but not least, the stunning ballad "How Do You Keep The Music Playing (Theme from "Best Friends")", his duet with Patti Austin. It's only my opinion but I think that Ingram is at his best when he's performing ballads.
Interestingly, it was the title track that took the university dancefloors by storm back in the day but it never really did anything for me.
There are a number of "Best Of" compliations floating around and they are probably better value for money than this is. While it's a quality set of soul/r&b songs, it didn't set the charts alight and I would argue that it's one is for die-hard fans and avid collectors only. I happen to be both :)"
A Masterful Collection
P. Andrew Roach | St. Louis, MO United States | 06/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased the LP in its release year and have been waiting for the CD. Produced by Quincy Jones, it is an exceptional recording, a masterful collection. The arrangements, the compositons, and the melodies are solid and soulful. James performs wonderfully! There are ballads and dance tunes. Thumping rhythm sections, spritely horn sections (as in big band!) and the brilliantly irrepressible Jimmy Smith! When you want a recording with a range of performances and an outstanding vocalist, look no further."
Another voice that is missing from today's charts!
Reginald D. Garrard | Camilla, GA USA | 06/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Ingram, like so many of his contemporaries, seems to have been abandoned by current producers and the CD-buying public. That is a shame because Ingram possesses one of the most melodic tenors ever to stand before a microphone. The 20-year-old "It's Your Night" showcases the singer in various elements: slow jams, party songs, and songs that inspire the heart. Although the album never went higher than #46 on the Billboard 200, it did produce five hits on respective Billboard rankings: "Party Animal" (high as #21 on Hot R & B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks), "How Do You keep the Music Playing" (#5 on the Adult Contemporary chart, #45 on the Pop singles one, and #6 among Black singles), "She Loves Me (The Best That I Can Be)" (#19 of Adult Contemporary), "Yah Mo B There" (#10 on Adult Contemporary), and "There's No Easy Way", making it to #58 on the Hot 100. Quincy Jones' production is evident in the entire album, featuring a talented band of musicians, arrangers, and background guests, notably Patti Austin, Luther Vandross, Howard Hewitt, and Michael McDonald."
This Album still Kicks Booty!
email@example.com | usa | 08/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Ingram was One of My Favorite Artists back in the day.I use to wear this Tape out.matter of fact I still got the Tape&Cd.Jimmy Smith is Grooving on "One More Rhythm" that was my first introduction to Jimmy smith as a Kid thanks to brother James Ingram. when Jimmy smith laid down that Organ solo on Michael Jackson's Song"bad" then i knew I had to go to school on brother Jimmy smith.back to this Album"Ya Mo Be There" with Michael Mcdonald was a Cut.Quincy Jones's Production&Arranging Vib are all over here.The Q Camp is all over here.Rod Temperton,Glenn Ballard,Patti Austin,Greg Phillinganes,etc... but James Ingram's soulful Pipes is what makes this album still so Tight.James Ingram is One of the most slept on Vocalists Ever IMO.I was Grooving to this Album recently.still Slamming."