Thursday, 5 July 2012

Boomerang Week: Toni Braxton - Love Shoulda Brought You Home (1992)

And now we come to arguably the centrepiece of the whole album. L.A. & Babyface wanted a Whitney Houston-style female vocalist to be the figurehead of their then recently-launched LaFace records label and boy, did they get one. Formerly of gospel supergroup The Braxtons, her début album is a stonker, with not only this track, but also classics like Another Sad Love Song and Breathe Again.
Love Shoulda Brought You Home was the first solo single by Braxton. Written by Babyface, Daryl Simmons, and Bo Watson, it served as the follow-up release to Give U My Heart, the duet with Babyface. The two songs were initially submitted to Anita Baker, but due to her impending pregnancy she had to decline. The single became a top forty hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and her second consecutive top five hit on the U.S. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. One year later, the song was included on her eponymous debut album, Toni Braxton.
The title is an allusion from a line in Boomerang; in the film, Halle Berry's character, Angela Lewis, angrily tells her man, Marcus Graham (Eddie Murphy), after he spent the night with another woman, "Love should've brought your ass home last night." The music video, directed by Ralph Ziman, showed an angry Braxton, fed up with her boyfriend and testifying that if he really cared, then love should have brought him home last night.
As an aside, she found true worldwide success with tracks from her second album Secrets, with You're Makin' Me High and the Diane Warren-penned Un-Break My Heart, a version of which she did at her live concert at Wembley Arena, a concert which I had the distinct privilege of attending. She dedicated her rendition of the Un-Break My Heart to the recently deceased Princess Of Wales, and sang it to imagery of Diana on the giant video screen behind her.
Now I'm no Daily Express reader, but even I had a lump in my throat at that point.

Boomerang Week: Johnny Gill- There You Go (1992)

I saw Johnny Gill live at Wembley Arena in 1991 as a 'warm-up' act to Janet Jackson on her Rhythm Nation world tour. So much for a warm-up act; he threatened to steal the show, so good was his vocal performance. Amongst other songs at the concert, he did a near 17 minute version (you read that right) of' My My My , paying homage to Teddy Pendergrass' Love TKO and Marvin's Lets Get It On along the way - WOW. It was recorded and released as the B-side to Wrap My Body Tight, so I'm one of the many thousands of fans screaming in the background!
He also took over from Bobby Brown as the main vocalist in New Edition at about the same time; NE didn't miss Bobby for one moment with JG on board. If anything, with Johnny's distinctive vocals, New Editions' sound matured; tracks like Can You Stand The Rain and Boys To Men (note spelling) attest to that.
There You Go is a typically slick LA & Babyface produced ballad, good enough to have been included onto any of his albums; it was initially exclusive to the soundtrack - he did a similar trick on two other soundtracks -  I'm Still Waiting on New Jack City and Let's Just Run Away on Mo' Money. Both the latter track and There You Go were included on a later re-release of his 1993 album, Provocative.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Boomerang Week: Kenny Vaughan and the Art of Love - Feels Like Heaven (1992)

Yet another gem from the Boomerang OST; well, not quite. This is the full four minute version of Feels Like Heaven (the version used was only two minutes); shades of Take 6 with the accapella vocals. Again, we think that this could have made waves in the charts had it been released and had the right airplay.
I defy a modern act, reliant on Autotune to sound good to do vocals like this.

Boomerang Week: Shanice Wilson - Don't Wanna Love You (1992)

Remember the track I Love Your Smile? Well, Shanice had a pretty decent R&B career back then, and tracks like this show you why. Produced by L.A. & Babyface, Don't Wanna Love You was never released but is strong enough to have held it's own in the charts.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Boomerang Week: A Tribe Called Quest - Hot Sex (1992)

ATCQ don't get the props they deserve in 2012; a shame, as they are one of the great lyrical hip-hop acts.
Formed in 1985, members are Q-Tip (Kamaal Fareed), Phife Dawg aka Phife Diggy (Malik Taylor), and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. A fourth member, Jarobi White, left the group after their first album but rejoined in 1991. Along with De La Soul, the group was a central part of the Native Tongues Posse (that also included the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul), and enjoyed the most commercial success out of all the groups to emerge from that collective. Many of their songs, such as Bonita Applebum, Can I Kick It?, I Left My Wallet in El Segundo, Scenario, Check the Rhime, Jazz (We've Got), Award Tour and Electric Relaxation are classics.
They released five albums between 1990 and 1998 and then disbanded that year, as they wanted to persue solo careers. In 2006, they reunited and toured the US, and released The Lost Tribes, a compilation of unreleased and rare material. The group are pioneers of alternative hip-hop music and have undoubtedly helped to pave the way for innovative hip-hop artists.
Now you've seen the video, you're no doubt thinking why is Q-tip wearing a burn mask? I've found two different explanations.
The first one is (incredibly) that he was beaten up by Teddy Riley and crew over the line:
"strictly hardcore tracks, not a new jack swing" in the song We Got the Jazz. The injuries he incurred couldn't be covered by make-up, hence the mask. More of an urban myth, to be honest, and anyway,  It wasn't even 'Tip's line, but Phife's.
Another much more plausible (and accepted) explanation is Q-Tip didn't want to do a video for the song and that Paramount Pictures (the film's studio) and Jive Records (ATCQ's label) consented the group's availability against their wishes, so he wore the mask as a protest.

Boomerang Week: The LaFace Cartel - Reversal Of A Dog (1992)

The LaFace Cartel, made up of recently-unleashed LaFace records labelmates Damian Dame and Highland Place Mobsters, a yet-to-hit-the-mainstream TLC and the star-in-waiting and still criminally underrated Toni Braxton.
It was never released as a single; it serves more as a showcase for the label's prodigious talent roster. As a fan of the label I would suggest the albums of the talents included as must-haves if you are a 90's R&B fan.
And while you would expect this many people on one song to be either a horrible mess of  mismatches or a sickly We Are The World lighters-in-the-air anthem, it more than holds it's own against the rest of the Boomerang track listing.
Bow-wow-wow-yippee-yo-yipeee-yay, mofos.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Boomerang Week: Keith Washington - Tonight Is Right (1992)

Keith Washington. If you've never heard of this man and you like soul ballads, get on Amazon and buy all of his stuff shaprish; nearly everything he's ever done is gold.
Chanelling a fair bit of Luther Vandross in his vocal delivery, he first scored a hit single in the US in 1991 with Kissing You, which was also used (oddly) as background music for the TV series General Hospital. Kissing You was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance Male and won a 1992 Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single Male. The song also topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for one week. He also recorded a duet with Kylie Minogue, their co-composition If You Were With Me Now in 1991 (on PWL Records) which reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart. The début album that contained this gem - Make Time For Love, on Quincy Jones' Qwest label - contained such instant classics as the title track above and also When You Love Somebody, Are You Still In Love With Me and the gorgeous Kissing You. That last song, together with Candlelight & You, his duet with Chanté Moore are probably shoo-ins for my wedding first dance whenever that happens.
Speaking of wedding, in June 2009, Washington married his long time girlfriend, Stephanie Grimes, and also revealed his plans to release a new album. He has since branched out into radio himself, as he now hosts the night-time slow jams show Kisses After Dark on Detroit radio station WDMK-FM 105.9.

Boomerang Week: Aaron Hall feat Charlie Wilson - Everything's Gonna Be All Right (1992)

Aaron Hall KILLED it, then Charlie Wilson BURIED it. New Jack Swing tuneage of the highest order.
It was also the first collaboration between teacher (Wilson, former frontman of The Gap Band) and pupil (Hall); a result of Wilson's 1991 release Sprung on Me. On that song, Charlie mimicked the Guy sound with his own distinct vocals, which was his pointed response to Hall not giving any credit to Wilson being his vocal mentor and being largely responsible for his distinctive vocal style.
This lead to the track Everything's Gonna Be All Right produced by Buster & Shiavone. While the title directly ties to a narrative  they are trying to reconcile with a woman, it no doubt also alludes to their own reconciliation.
A vocal powerhouse of a song; 'father' and 'son' in perfect harmony.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Boomerang Week: Babyface Feat. Toni Braxton - Give U My Heart (1992)

Give U My Heart is a duet recorded by Babyface and Toni Braxton for the Boomerang soundtrack. Essentially made to give Braxton a platform to showcase her talents, the collaboration was released as a single the same year, reaching no.29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no.2 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (queued behind another song from Boomerang, Boyz II Men's End of the Road).
Other than the soundtrack, it can be found on two of Braxton's greatest hits albums, 2003's Ultimate Toni Braxton and 2007's The Essential Toni Braxton, and as a B-side on some versions of her 1993 single Another Sad Love Song.

Boomerang Week: Boyz II Men - End Of The Road (1992)

Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way: End of the Road first surfaced on the Boomerang soundtrack and of course took Boyz II Men to a whole different stratosphere. It still hasn't lost its power, even now.
Recorded in May 1992, it was the winner of the Grammy for best Song that year. Written and produced by LA & Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is Boyz II Men's most successful single and replaced Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie as Motown's most successful single. It was also the last Motown single to reach no.1 on the UK singles chart. The song is listed at no.43 on Billboard's All Time Top 100. It topped the U.S. charts from August 15 to November 7, 1992, setting a record for most weeks at number one with 13 weeks, beating Elvis Presley's 11-week hold with the AA-side Hound Dog / Don't Be Cruel. Presley's record had stood for 36 years.
However, two weeks after End of the Road left the top spot, Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You reached number one, and remained there 14 weeks, one week longer than End of the Road; Boyz II Men's new record stood for only 17 weeks.
The group's next single I'll Make Love to You, however, would tie Houston's record, and their 1995 collaboration with Mariah Carey Boyz - One Sweet Day - would break it, logging 16 consecutive weeks.

20 not out: Boomerang Soundtrack 1992 - 2012

Its 20 years to the day since the film Boomerang was released. A film from an era when an Eddie Murphy feature was a must see, and the film that bought a certain Halle Berry to prominence.
All that and an absolutely BANGIN' soundtrack. Fans of LA & Babyface's work form an orderly queue here.

The idea of having a soundtrack album that not only is a commercial success in it's own right but exists almost as a separate entity to the film itself is nothing new. It's been going on for many years, from Beverly Hills Cop, to Michael Keaton's Batman (which actually had two, one each by Danny Elfman and Prince), but the 1990's produced a new wrinkle - the R&B soundtrack.
Between Mo'MoneyBoyz In Da HoodNew Jack CityNew York Undercover and a plethora of others, record companies discovered that they could not only showcase new talent and preview new tracks from established artists, but make a very nice little profit doing it. So much so, that the soundtracks to some of the films are remembered long after the film itself has faded from memory.
Boomerang isn't one of those films; it is a good film and hails from a time when Eddie Murphy made films that needed no excuse to watch.

Murphy played the character of Marcus Graham, a successful advertising executive and infamous womaniser. After his company merges with another, Marcus meets his professional and romantic match in Jacqueline, played by Robin Givens. As his work and love life begins to suffer, Marcus sets his sights on Jacqueline’s assistant, Angela, played by a then relatively unknown Halle Berry.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin, Boomerang featured an array of other noteworthy talent, including Martin Lawrence, David Allen Grier, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt and Tisha Campbell.
In a previous interview about the film’s success, Hudlin noted, "Typically when it comes to Black characters, either you have to be a successful, smart business person, or you're hip, but you're never both.... And one of the reasons why the movie has had such enduring popularity is because the character is both. He's much more in the Cary Grant mode of business person."

Not only was the film a success (it grossed more than $131 million globally at the box office), but so was it's soundtrack. The album reached the top five of the Billboard 200 chart, and included the number-one hit End of the Road by Boyz II Men. The soundtrack also debuted singer Toni Braxton, with her trademark single Love Shoulda Brought You Home.
Boomerang is great ear candy and a perfect fit for one's musical time capsule. And this week we'll share with you tracks from this memorable album. In our opinion, the album can be played through in it's entirety (although I'd Die Without You by P.M. Dawn and 7 Day Weekend by Grace Jones aren't to our taste, so are not covered here) and still stand the test of time, 20 years on.