A very good album (that could've been a great one)
Olukayode Balogun | Leeds, England | 05/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a fan of Patti Austin for goodness knows how long. I first heard her voice via the work she did back in the 70s with people like Bob James, Earl Klugh, Ron Carter, Hank Crawford, Eric Gale & Lee Ritenour. Aside from her extensive session work, she also had a very lucrative career singing jingles, apparently (as did Luther Vandross at the time). I then began to collect her albums, (of which she has many), on vinyl and they are all treasured. This is the only one I'll be transitioning to CD though as on the whole, I find Patti Austin is better enjoyed at home than on the road. Ironic really, considering this album's title.
I first heard Austin work with Quincy Jones on his 1978 album Sounds...And Stuff Like That!!, where she performed the stunning tunes "Love Me By Name", "Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)" and the beautiful duet with Luther Vandross, "I'm Gonna Miss You In The Morning". Then there was "It's The Falling In Love", her duet with Michael Jackson on his 1979 album Off the Wall, and the brilliant Grammy Award-winning "Moody's Mood", her duet with George Benson on his 1980 album Give Me the Night, both Quincy Jones productions, of course.
But it was on Q's 1981 album The Dude that I thought Austin shone the brightest, giving stunning performances on songs like "Razzamatazz", "Turn On The Action", "Betcha' Wouldn't Hurt Me" and my personal favourite, "Somethin' Special". So I guess it was inevitable that Q would go on to produce an album for Austin and this, also from 1981, is the product in question. In terms of musical quality, depth, smoothness and all that, it's top notch as one would expect but it's my belief that Austin drew the short straw where the songs was concerned. It's not that I don't like them, quite the opposite; with the exception of the out of place reggae-influenced "Symphony Of Love" (which, with all due respect to the memory of Bob Marley, I could have done without, thank you), I love them all. It's just that apart from the ballad "Baby, Come To Me", her duet with James Ingram (written by Rod Temperton, of course) and the magnificent "Oh No, Margarita" (written by Austin and Michael Broddicker), even I can admit that none of the songs here are really standout, remarkable or memorable - not even the other three Temperton tunes - which is a huge shame, really.
Austin gives her all though. My buddy Joe and I were listening to this a few weeks ago and we both agree that while her lead vocal on the verses might be a bit wanting, her multi-layered, multi-textured background vocals on the choruses are simply unbeatable. She does all the vocals herself, apart from on "Do You Love Me?" (an excitingly upbeat tune featuring cracking guitar work by Steve Lukather) and "Baby, Come To Me", where James Ingram helps out on BVs. A remarkable feat. Chaka Khan is the only other female artiste I know of who is able to pull it off this successfully. She's more jazz than anything else these days but Austin remains one of my unsung heroes of modern soul. I think she's awesome.
Apart from the aforementioned, other favourites include the Linda Creed & Thom Bell classic, "Stop, Look, Listen" and the closing ballad "The Island". On the whole, a very good album that had the potential to be a great one but didn't quite make it.
Some album trivia:
1) "Baby Come To Me" didn't make much of an impact on the charts when it was first released in 1982. It was then used on the ABC soap opera "General Hospital" and this generated so many enquiries about the song that the record company decided to release it again early in 1983. It went straight to #1.
2) Austin was interviewed for a magazine shortly after this album was released and the interviewer remarked on how much she sounded like Michael Jackson. I don't recall the exact words but Austin laughed (I've seen her on TV and she's a very funny lady) and said something along the lines of, oh no, honey; get it right. It's Michael Jackson who sounds like ME! I recall laughing out loud.
3) The album featured people like Louis Johnson on bass, Greg Phillinganes on keys, David Foster on synthesizers, Paulinho Da Costa on percussion and Eric Gale on guitar.
4) Austin ceased to be Quincy Jones's muse following this album. Q's next project, Michael Jackson's Thriller, did not feature her at all and neither did any subsequent projects, at least, not as a lead vocalist (except for a duet she did with James Ingram on his Quincy Jones-produced album It's Your Night). Eventually, on Jackson's Bad and Q's own Back on the Block, Q introduced Siedah Garrett as the main lead female vocalist."
Maine Man | Portland, ME | 10/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I guess everyone agrees that this is a great album. I just wish they would rerelease it, WITH the extended 12" version of DO YOU LOVE ME. It was a #1 dance track when originally released, and today still stands with the best of them."