Quarter Life Crisis: Rapturous

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I turn 25 this year and resting in a the comfortable grey area of a 'quarter life crisis'. To celebrate, for the next few weeks of September, I'm recapping some of my favorite albums and singles that are turning the big 2-5 along with me...

Let me let you in on a little tiny dream of mine: I want Anita Baker to sing at my wedding.

I know. Audio Diva has lost her mind.

To make this happen, of course I'm going to shell out the big bucks. I'll forgo a lavish ceremony. I'll make the wedding party eat Twinkies if need be to cut back on funds. I don't even have Mr. Audio Diva in mind, but like some little girls who don't let their feminism gusto cloud their pursuits of happiness, I intend to put a ring on it and then have Anita Baker singing fit into the equation somehow.

The main request is that she's going to do "Sweet Love"---right down to the opening crash of cymbals and that rocking movement she does when she's getting into her singing zone. Knowing myself, I will get greedy and poke her to do all of the Rapture album at the reception, just because well---Rapture is special.


Rapture is one of those rare moments where every single song works, is memorable, and became a hit or received continuous radio airplay. In retrospect, it's almost like the soul-jazz genre's answer to Thriller. Nowadays, that task is either impossible, or happens so rarely that it's hard to believe an album like Baker's 1986 hit did in fact exist.

Rapture is also the prototype for a second album that doesn't play into the stereotype of "sophomore slump" as it brought Baker to the attention of those who had been sleeping on her talents. Baker had released The Songstress in 1983, with the stunner, "Angel" as a lead-off. It caught little fire, but Baker and her buttery alto tone was a gift that would keep on giving. With Rapture, Baker continued the tradition of vocalists like Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughn and made the "quiet storm" genre a mainstream affair. Hits such as "You Bring Me Joy", "No One In The World", and the sublime title track, put Baker in good company with the likes of Sade and Basia as they too took the sophisticated soul/jazz scene by storm around this time, making it vogue to be soothing. In the midst of hard edge drum machines, glossy guitar licks, and frosted lipsticked pop stars, Rapture managed to get five songs charted, including the top 10 hit of "Sweet Love", and earn Baker two Grammy awards. Plus it's an album that has lasted way past it's expiration date as I know in my 25 young years I enjoy it even more than albums that are more geared to my age bracket.

Sometimes I wonder if Baker had released this album today would it have had the same impact. True, we have Adele and Jill Scott who keep Baker's spirit of personalized soul anthems going. Yet there is something to really treasure in Rapture, and to be thankful that Anita Baker and her voice hit the spot at the right place and the right time.

Notable Tracks

Sweet Love
Don't you just want to sing this song as loudly and as freely as possible right when you hear that percussion opening? I know I do. *clears throat and grabs microphone hairbrush*



Caught Up In The Rapture
A true song for the lovers out there. Baker wined and dined with this one.



Been So Long
Penned by Baker herself, "Been So Long" accentuated Baker's ear for jazz, as she did one hell of a scatting breakdown towards the end. Sarah Vaughn would have been proud. This is a personal favorite of mine.



Mystery
Rod Temperton wrote and produced this brooding piece that sounds like a throwback to his Heatwave days (is it just me or do I hear some "The Star Of A Story" in there?). Not a hit for Baker, but one of the album cuts that surpasses being filler.



Same Ole Love
There was always something special about this song for me, just the way Anita sings it---just real attention to detail. In someone else's hands it wouldn't be as spectacular, but Baker's voice really dances around it quite nicely. Love it when the chorus kicks off.

2 comments:

  1. Now I know what I'll be listening to on my commute home from work. :)

    And no Audio Diva; you haven't lost your mind. Your wedding would be the event of the year. Anita Baker just does something to the soul...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anita Baker does indeed do something for the soul, I couldn't agree more!

    ReplyDelete

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