Sunday, January 21, 2018

Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack-Born To Love (1983)


You've seen this pair featured here at "The Music Spectrum" before, but that was to individually highlight select albums from their respective solo careers. But for tonight's feature presentation, two of the greatest soul singers in contemporary music unite to bring you "Born To Love", a fine collection of duets that I've been hooked on for the better part of three months now! Going back to the late summer and early fall of last year, I was determined to go back in time and to start exploring the discography of many of the music legends whose music is still fairly unknown to me. And considering that, around that same time period, I was in the process of gathering up the 'R' artists in my music collection, it was a perfect time to check out everything that Ms. Roberta Flack recorded—both during my favorite decade as well as during the 70's before I was born. I'd been moving right along—one album at a time in no particular order—when I came to a dead halt with what at first I thought was her 1983 solo release until I'd hear the familiar voice of Peabo Bryson joining in with her. As always, listening to Peabo paired up with the sweet soulful voice of a lady is always a joy, and nothing that he and Roberta perform here may be more enchanting than the memorable opener, "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love". Even before playing this whole album, I had already known about and heard that quiet storm classic countless times between all the hours of tuning in to the soft rock and r&b radio stations during my lifetime. Sometimes, though, it's just better to hear it in its uninterrupted album so that you can enjoy all of its original magic. Yet that's not the only quiet storm slow jam that is worthy of celebration. Equally enchanting on the ears is the marvelous "I Just Came Here To Dance", where they confess not having been looking for love when they came to the party, but ending up finding a lover anyways. It's like a romantic play on that old adage that you often find exactly what you're looking for when you're not even looking for it. "You're Lookin' Like Love To Me" is one of the sweetest soul songs I've ever heard, talking about how a man or a woman can be so beautifully appealing to the eye that it instantly triggers romantic affection. That starry soft rock radio glow envelops me every time I listen to the dreamy and cuddly number about the possibilities of loving again on the one simply called "Maybe"; I get the exact same feeling listening to "Blame It On Me". Peabo is absent, however, while Roberta is performing alone on "Can We Find Love Again?". Would've sounded great as a duet, but Roberta gives a scintillating performance, questioning the chance for romance to get fired up again. I especially love her powerful, rising vocals whenever she delivers the title lyrics in sync with the breezy groove—just so, so perfect. Peabo and Roberta surely conquer the quiet storm slow gems, but they prove they can also thrill you on the dance floor too! "Heaven Above Me" is the first piece of evidence—a terrifically jazzed-up pop jam that might sound as a surprise coming from this soulicious pair known more so for their ballads. And that second piece of evidence? "Comin' Alive". If I had to vote, this surprise of a post-disco jam would have earned the award for my personal 'Super Addiction Of The Year' for 2017! I just love everything about this song—from Roberta's opening grown to the groovy dance rhythm to the sparkly, magical lyrics about one who brings the other to life with the other's romantic charm. But the part of this song that I'm eternally hooked to is the breakdown when they go 'comin' alive, comin' alive, whooo!, I got this feeling that I comin' alive '. Unfortunately, the breakdown only occurs one time in the original recording, which wasn't nearly enough for me. So I had started a mini side project where I made like a DJ/producer, using special software to create my own remix to extend that breakdown beyond the original eight bars (you music composers know what I'm talking about here). The end result was actually two working extended remixes: the four-and-a-half minute '2017 Extended Mix' and the seven-and-a-half minute '2017 Super Extended Mix'. The latter one I am especially proud of, and includes the Australian electronic pop duo EMPIRE OF THE SUN as a special guest (you'll have to listen for yourself). My "Music Spectrum" exclusive creations have pretty much satisfied me in the absence of official remixes (I don't believe there are any), although I have a couple more ideas for two other mixes I would like to work on, one that extends that twinkly beat drop right after that breakdown part. I the meantime, I'll just keep on loving "Born To Love" as it is now; no telling when I'll be able to overcome my ongoing addiction and advance forward in Roberta Flack's discography:

1. Tonight, I Celebrate My Love
2. Blame It On Me
3. Heaven Above Me
4. Born To Love
5. Maybe
6. I Just Came Here To Dance
7. Comin' Alive
8. You're Lookin' Like Love To Me
9. Can We Find Love Again?

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

10. Comin' Alive [2017 Extended Mix]
11. Comin' Alive [2017 Super Extended Mix]

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