Sunday, November 13, 2016

Roberta Flack-Blue Lights In The Basement (1977)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: November 13, 2016

This time, I've gone all the way back—to a period that was a little bit before my time. It's not too often when I dip into the 70's with my music-listening, but seeing how organizing the 'R' entries in my library these past few days has given me an opportunity to reconnect with some familiar voices, I felt it was time I devoted some time to the lady who pierced millions of hearts with her timeless soul hit, "Killing Me Softly". But it's not "Killing Me Softly" that you'll find on this particular Roberta Flack album that I dug out for my listening pleasure, then decided to serve up for your listening pleasure as well. Instead, you'll get the supremely magical—and one of THE greatest ever soul classics in popular music history—"The Closer I Get To You". Performed as a duet with the late and fellow soul legend, Donny Hathaway, this song whisks me away to a very special place every time I hear it on the quiet storm radio channels, which is where my ears and I got acquainted with it many years ago (as I imagine it did for other soul music listeners). The production sets the stage first—dreamy and twinkly and groove-chilled to the bone with a swirling, synthesized 'fairy dust' arrangement above it all—then the unified voices of the dazzling pair; sweet n' sultry Roberta matched up with the commanding and tender Donny is a glorious combination! Quite honestly, the music makes we wanna stay tuned in all day long and all night long! There's very few classics from the 70's that have that uncanny ability to take hold of me and refuse to let go, and I can proudly say that "The Closer I Get To You" is one of them! But there's more Roberta magic being flashed elsewhere in the basement, like on the keeper of a darling song about promise and commitment that is "This Time I'll Be Sweeter" (I love her lofty, tender vocals here; they're so perfect!), "25Th Of Last December" (this one has that warm n' fuzzy holiday feel, the kind where the singer is reflecting on a fond Christmas memory and the dreamy music unfolds itself like a blanket of snow spreading peace nd calm over an entire city) and "Love Is The Healing", whose soothing air allures the ears and comforts the heart in the same way that both her duet with Donny Hathaway and "This Time I'll Be Sweeter" do. Roberta's not known to be a jazz artist, per se, but she sure puts on an impressively jazzy effort on "I'd Like To Be Baby To You"—that is, whenever the song jumps from the slow and sensually bluesy groove and picks up tempo. A song that simply makes you smile: "Fine, Fine Day". It bubbles over with happiness, as Roberta's sweet words of painting picture perfect day of love above the sunny reggae rhythm. And this one simply bittersweet: "After You". What am I gonna find? What am I gonna do? Those are two of the questions she poses during her haunting search for answers of how she'll fill the void once the man in her life is gone forever. But there's nothing sour at all being served up on this 'Blue Light Special', every selection satisfies some part of the soul, and I invite you to partake in it just as I have:

1. Why Don't You Move In With Me
2. The Closer I Get To You (Duet With Donny Hathaway)
3. Fine, Fine Day
4. This Time I'll Be Sweeter
5. 25Th Of Last December
6. After You
7. I'd Like To Be Baby To You
8. Soul Deep
9. Love Is The Healing
10. Where I'll Find You

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