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Forever, for Always, for Love

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Album Review

New York City native Luther Vandross did not generate any number one hits with his second effort for the Epic imprint. Nonetheless, he presents another solid album. The smooth crooner has demonstrated a keen ability to attractively arrange remakes with such beauty and suspense as he did with three of the four featured releases. On the vintage ballad "If This World Were Mine," Vandross teams up with Cheryl Lynn. The single peaked at number four on the Billboard R&B charts. He lays his signature on a jammin' medley remake of "Bad Boy/Having a Party." The chandelier-swinging number stepped in at number three. He concludes with the Temptations' gem "Since I Lost My Baby." Penned by Smokey Robinson and Warren Moore, this mournful mid-tempo number tipped in at 17. "Promise Me," "Once You Know How," "She Loves Back," and the other selections are supreme compositions. Luther Vandross' dominance of the R&B arena was beginning to surface.

Customer Reviews

Black Classic

How does one follow innovation? If you’ve already altered your choice field of art, how can you improve upon that or, at least, repeat the act? Though he was nearly overwhelmed with a full schedule of touring and production for artists like newcomer Cheryl Lynn, as well as his sheroes Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross managed to meet the newly acquired label deadline for his sophomore project, Forever, For Always, For Love. One of the catchiest sounds on the radio in 1982 (and ever since for that matter) was the opening “Oh yeah!” and Luther's scatting kicking off the album on “Bad Boy/Having a Party.” “Well alright!” It was visual as your last house party whether you were the kid hoping to sneak out or the adults doing the bump at the party. A blend of Luther’s brilliant original with Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party,” it was yet another testament to Luther’s gift of reworking cover tunes. Packed with party talk and backing vocals you could hear smiles through, everyone within earshot was ‘at the party.’ It was a swing groove arrangement that would be revisited for years to come. "She Loves Me Back" was an undeniable jam due not only to Marcus Miller's incredible bass work and Doc Powell's guitar, but Luther's adaptation and command in a funk pocket definitive to R&B 80's landscape. It was vocally rhythmic like "Never Too Much," but even more playful like nothing on Luther's debut. “I bought her candy canes and dolls and flowers and I took her to Coney Island. Now who could do more than that?” Luther had found a way to engage even the younger audiences who may have suffered through their parents’ heavy rotation of the seven minute “House is Not a Home” throughout the previous year. With the lead-off and this one, now even they had some Luther to dig on. The cover ballad this time was ambitious to say the least-a cover of the David Ruffin-led Temptations singing a Smokey Robinson penned classic, "Since I Lost My Baby." To handle the work of the Temps backgrounds however, Luther employed his entire background arsenal with the female tones pushing the harmonies. In the hands of less capable arrangers, producers or vocalists, this would not be a recipe for success. But Luther finds a way of making what would otherwise be a depressing lyric, light and even pleasurable. Clocking in under five minutes, it's simplistically sweet and enough to make even the most die-hard Temps fan appreciate Luther's rendition. Unnerving to note, however, is upon its initial release Forever was panned by the critics, namely one Nelson George who in his “Too Much Luther” review wrote, “I’m disturbed by signs of creative stagnation…” and called much of the album “barely tolerable filler.” Perhaps George caught on to the fact that three of the sophomore release’s tunes were near carbons of tunes on his landmark debut. But "Bad Boy," "Once You Know How" and “She Loves Me Back” were definite upgrades from their mirrors, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. To use a quote of what George claimed "self-indulgent" title cut: "I'd be a fool to ever change if she says she loves the way I am." Ignored by the less than favorable critics is the treasure found in the title cut and "Promise Me." Both starting with self-assessments that draw us more into Luther's conversational approach to balladeering, the former is a subtle, but effective marital ode caressed by sweeping string arrangements. It is patient, but not long-winded. The latter is a bit more stripped down-merely Luther, Marcus, Doc, Yogi Horton on drums and, of course, Nat Adderly Jr. on keys. No dramatic strings here and as with the title cut, no background assistance-just the confronting verse, reflective and hopeful bridges, and finally, the reeling plea of the chorus: "Promise me you'll leave me never, and that we'll be in love forever." Luther seemed not only to deflect the sophomore slump, but to do it with ease and joy as opposed to succumbing to newly found pressure from all around. When up-tempo, it was a blast. When mellow it was serene, sanguine and adoring. Forever, For Always for Love compliments Luther's previous work like knife-to-fork and creates another staple position in the black music definitive jukebox.

Yeah Luther...you threw down.

This is my favorite Luther album. The combination of awesome lyrics, fantastic production and Luthers' vocal chops make this album a must hear for any R&B music lover. Remember; it was with THIS album that Luther established his place in R&B history. -Tone

My personal favorite album

Very underrated album. The title song 'Forever For Always, for Love' still gives me chills. Forever, Luther!

Biography

Born: April 20, 1951 in New York, NY [The Bronx]

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Luther Vandross was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1980s and '90s. Not only did he score a series of multi-million-selling albums containing chart-topping hit singles and perform sold-out tours of the U.S. and around the world, but he also took charge of his music creatively, writing or co-writing most of his songs and arranging and producing his records. He also performed these functions for other artists, providing them with hits as well. He was, however, equally well known for...
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