Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anita Baker - Rapture (1986)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by a CD.

I listened to a lot of different music in college, quickly moving on to the latest new artist or whatever Billboard or Rolling Stone was telling me about the hot new trends. But no matter what came and went, I would always return to Anita and this album, a rich blend of jazz, pop, and soul. The music is so timeless and smooth. It sounds as good today as it did in '86. In 1989, Rapture was ranked #36 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s. In my book, that ranking is a little off, because I'd put it in the top 15, maybe even the top 10. Anita always brings her A game; strong but tasteful. What a smoky voice! So soulful with just the right touch of melisma. So much better than similar artists like Sade or early Toni Braxton. Mariah and Beyoncé should listen to more Anita Baker; they could learn a lot. I could go on and on about how great this music is, but I think you should discover it for yourself. My recommendation is to enjoy this album late at night with some wine and candlelight; preferably in a hot tub.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #11 (Mar 21, 1987)
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #1

Tracks: Sweet Love is an incredible song, winning the 1987 Grammy for Best R&B Song. It is easily the best song on this disc and my favorite Baker song ever. The other 8 songs are all good in their own way. I never tire of listening to these songs. If there's a weaker track, it's probably Mystery. Even so, Baker's interpretation of that song is 10 times better than the one done by The Manhattan Transfer a few years earlier.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I don't remember many music videos from the mid-'80s, but the one for No One In The World has stayed with me because it is soooo cheesy. Set in the 1940's, Anita sings for a group of soldiers that have just returned from World War II. After she sings, a soldier turns to his date and says, "Now I know why I fought the war!" That still cracks me up.

Near the end of the song Been So Long, Anita does some amazing scat singing which contains just gibberish; phonemes chosen for their sound rather than their meaning. During that singing, she scats the words "hubba bubba." I never though anything about it, but I was dating a girl around 1988 and she thought that was hilarious. Needless to say, we didn't date very long.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Compositions (1990)

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