Review : Luther Vandross - Hidden Gems
PopmattersLuther Vandross was highly successful as a solo artist in the ‘80s and ‘90s on the R&B—and to a lesser extent, the pop—charts. But he had been in the music business long before he broke out as a solo star. As early as 1972, people were recording his songs and using him as a vocalist. His first high-profile connection was on David Bowie’s 1975 album Young Americans. The shape-shifting Bowie had become fascinated with the Philadelphia soul style, and an old friend of Vandross’s was his guitarist at the time. Vandross showed up, co-wrote the heavy funk of “Fascination” with Bowie, helped out during the rest of the recording sessions and went with Bowie as a singer on the resulting tour. Bowie in turn helped introduce Vandross to some other famous musicians, including Bette Midler, and before long, Vandross was singing (backing and sometimes lead vocals), writing, and arranging – not only for singers and for his own quintet, but also for musicals and commercials. The list of artists he worked with in the late ‘70s is a veritable who’s who of pop and R&B stars, including Chic, Carly Simon, Sister Sledge, Quincy Jones, the Spinners, Roberta Flack, Donna Summer, Ben E. King and Ringo Star.
Finally, in 1981, Vandross got a solo contract and released Never Too Much, which eventually went on to reach double platinum status in America. He released five more albums in the ‘80s; all of them went platinum, and three again reached double platinum. The ‘90s saw him put out five albums as well, with slightly less commercial success (two double platinum, two platinum, and one gold). However, he won four Grammys in the ‘90s to make up for the lack of the third double-platinum record. Vandross released two more albums and earned himself four more Grammys in the ‘00s. Over the length of his career, Vandross’s records went to number one on the R&B charts at least eight times, and to top 10 on the pop charts seven times. The man was a commercial giant, selling over 30 million albums – not including the albums he appeared on, co-wrote, arranged and contributed to.
The purpose of the recently released Hidden Gems is to expose Vandross’s fans to his “seldom-heard deep album tracks and movie soundtrack songs,” though considering how many people have already purchased his albums, this may be unnecessary. The compilation is heavily biased towards his later career material—12 of the 15 tracks are from the ‘90s or ‘00s – and towards his syrupy ballads. In addition, it includes two soundtrack songs, from Dustin Hoffman’s Hero (1992) and Wesley Snipes’ Money Train (1995), little-known films with soundtracks “long out of print”, according to the album’s liner notes. While “The Thrill I’m In”, from Money Train, was produced by ‘80s pop producers Jam & Lewis, they were far past their chart-ruling ‘80s heyday at this point, and these two songs are mainly notable for their rarity....full text
LuthervandrossThere's a moment toward the end of the dance track “You Really Started Something” where R&B legend Luther Vandross performs his trademark vocal runs. As he begins, he demonstrate the full range of his voice, transitioning from a low rumble to a transcendent high note. In between he softly laughs, clearly enjoying showing off his talent. Indeed, Vandross established himself as a consummate singer and interpreter during his all-too-short life, and his sheer joy of music and vocalization always shined through in his recordings. Some of these lesser-known tracks, culled from movie soundtracks and studio albums, have been compiled into a new collection, Hidden Gems. By the time the album ends with the aforementioned song, the listener understands why Vandross was such a unique talent and to this day is imitated, but never equaled....full text
ElmoremagazineOn July 1, 2005, the era of the stand-and-sing vocalist ended when Luther Vandross passed away at age 54. Without the compliment of sultry dancers and pyrotechnics, the late crooner was unmatched in the ability to captivate an audience armed only with his voice, his instantly unmistakable voice. Between 1981 and 2005, Vandross earned legendary status in soul music history, achieving a staggering 26 top ten R&B singles; more than Ray Charles, more than the O’Jays. As wonderful as hits like “Never Too Much,” “Here and Now,” and “Power of Love” are, there’s a wealth of overlooked material that’s equally as potent. With the release of Hidden Gems, it shall go overlooked no more.
Hidden Gems is a collection of songs seldom heard by the casual Vandross fan; 15 selections of album tracks, soundtrack cuts and modest charting singles. After hearing his angelic tenor finesse itself around mid-tempo ballads like “Buy Me a Rose” or songbook standards like “The Impossible Dream,” it’s evident that every Luther song is essential to lovers of music and lovers of love. There’s no doubt that Luther could’ve made his fans scream simply by singing the back of a cereal box, but Hidden Gems is far more enjoyable....full text
Luther Vandross Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
Luther Vandross Lyrics
- 1. Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me
- 2. When You Call On Me/Baby That'S When I'Ll Come Run
- 3. Bad Boy / Having A Party
- 4. Bad Boy/Having A Party
- 5. Power Of Love/Love Power
- 6. Superstar / Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)
- 7. Shine
- 8. Dance With My Father
- 9. Power Of Love / Love Power
- 10. Wait For Love
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