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Busy Body

Luther Vandross

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Album Review

Luther Vandross has acquired a reputation for releasing solid, quality albums. Whereas some artists, whether intentional or unintentional, release albums with one or two good songs, Vandross makes every recording count regardless if every song is released. This project falls in line with one superb composition after another. From the alluring arrangements to the striking melodies, every song glitters with a delightful spirit. The New York native did a remarkable job on the medley "Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)." Showing his appreciation for the Carpenters ("Supertar") and Aretha Franklin ("Until You Come Back to Me"), Vandross created a masterpiece with the combination of these two songs. It was a number five single on the Billboard R&B charts. "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye," a duet with Dionne Warwick, is another work of art by the serenading tenor. It peaked at number seven. With a hurdling groove, "I'll Let You Slide" pranced its way to number five on the Billboard R&B charts. From a supernatural lyric to a suspenseful string arrangement, "Make Me Believer" summed up the four releases cresting at 48. Only three selections remain, and all three could have easily charted. This is a splendid album.

Customer Reviews

A Hat Trick

Like clockwork Luther Vandross returned from tour and production with renewed faith despite the critics panning his previous work. As with the Grammys giving more credence to pop newbie, Sheena Easton for Best New Artist after his debut, black music fans spoke their devotion in volumes as he sold 1 million copies in the time he'd only sold half that previously. This could easily be viewed as more of the same, save for 3 acts of the apostles: two of Luther's most beloved ballads (1 original and 1 cover) raises the bar for him; the appearance of one of Luther's deified idols in Dionne Warwick; Marcus Miller's composition, production, and ever-growing presence on Luther's recordings. For the first time Luther shared production credit. Though he and childhood buddy/jazz legacy Nat Adderly Jr. had collaborated from day one with budding jazz innovator Marcus Miller, he'd only been credited as a musician and composer until his contributions to Busy Body spoke a little too loud to go unaccredited as a producer. Though there were up tempos in the past, this project would be front loaded with them and Luther yielded to his younger 'brother's' direction a bit more this go 'round. That may or may not have been a good thing. Busy Body has undoubtedly the worst first song of any Luther album. Perhaps the placement of "I Wanted Your Love" as track one was that the title cut was somewhat of a continuation of the story. With all the love available to the main character, he's not getting the ONE he wants. "Busy Body" is a much more approachable and desirable dose of the story. If indeed the lead-off was to make us appreciate its follow-up, boy DO we! Though "I'll Let You Slide" and "For the Sweetness of Your Love" attempt to redeem the false start, the up tempos were ironically more essential, when Miller was in supporting role and the ballads are the true gold of Busy Body. The true magic begins with "Make Me a Believer" (song four) where the truly creative songwriter that is Luther Vandross shines. "Superman can fly high, way up in the sky, because we believe he can. So what we choose to believe will always work out fine. It's all in the mind" Metaphoric for a love or dream deferred, it's hopeful in a way that very few writers consistently give. Luther never looks to commiserate, but to look for love with optimism and share that same outlook with his listener. "Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me" raises the bar one step higher as it is the perfect marriage of two classics near and dear to Luther. "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" he fell in love with when idol #2 Aretha Franklin, recorded it hand delivered by Stevie Wonder in 74. The other, a Leon Russell (writer of A Song for You and This Masquerade) ode originally called "Groupie," renamed by Rita Coolidge, then made a classic by The Carpenters. "Superstar" had many a life before, but none like the one Luther would give it. Intro-ing the tune with merely Until's bridge, hook and a string accompaniment, the stage (literally) is set for another "House is Not a Home" performance. Nat Adderly's keys and string arrangement begin chapter two of this dramatic tale. The love of a musician who's swept into town, made a promise to return and left never to be heard from again is a heartbreak tale it'll take seven more minutes to adequately express. It was a forced release by the label as the 9:04 version was already receiving more airplay than any up tempo or shorter single they'd tried to get played. The attention and patience Luther had willed out of his fans from the first album was here to stay. There was always a longing Luther had for mainstream popularity in a time that an extra large black man was not exactly the image for MTV in 1983. This isn't shocking when one considers the androgynous black and white artists that pervaded the video waves from glam rock hair bands to Mary Kay/Lutrasilk models doing their best Prince/Michael impersonations. What is disturbing however, is how the Adult Contemporary radio didn't accept Luther as an equal even with his idol, Dionne Warwick at his side on one of the best recordings of her career and best ballads of '83. "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye" was a couple's last plea for reconciliation or retreat-perfect for the daytime soap operas now using contemporary artists for their themes and scores. It would go completely ignored by the Hot 100 and lightly dent the Adult Contemporary and Black singles charts. Blame that one on the label-who was partially responsible for Luther's lack of PR as even they weren't convicted in selling him to audiences outside of twenty-something or older blacks. Even on his most magnificent cover tune to date (evident in its chart placement) "Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me," black audiences would again have to be Luther's validation that he was indeed crucial to the music business that year. In 1983 only four Black artists sold 1 million copies or more. Michael Jackson (who was actually revolutionizing sales in general), Prince, a newly solo Lionel Richie, and Luther Vandross. He was able to do this without the video play of Prince or Michael, or pop crossover access afforded to all three. Luther Vandross' was ours, and we didn't care whether he released a video or not, buying his albums and supporting him was as imperative and as much a responsibility as that of supporting Teddy in the 70's, Otis in the 60's and Ray in the 50's.

Excellent

I was 3 when my parents bought this on LP and we had just purchased our first house. I remember my parents playing the bejesus out of this lp. There are many warm memories associated with this release. The absolute best songs on this lp are Make Me A Believer, How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye (go find Dionne's LP with the same title, it's produced by Luther and it's absolutely breathtaking - Dionne never sounded better!) and Superstar. I have purchased 3 vinyl copies and 2 cds due to repeat plays....and I will continue to purchase copies because it is just that damn good. Go get it, now!

there will never be another luther

i love this cd it brings back fond memories of me and my mom listening to this album over and over again thats what makes a good album.. and artist ..

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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