In late 1985, early 1986 I had a chance to see Luther Vandross in Chicago at Rosemont Horizon. Well, at least I think that’s where it was. That was a long time ago.
He was just about ready to cross over. That’s one thing I remember about the concert. He was still just a Soul/R+ B star at that time. I know for sure that he hadn’t crossed over yet! I do remember it was a great concert. Besides Luther, The Isley Brothers and Starpoint were also on the bill. It was fun seeing Ernie Isley wale on that classic solo on “Who’s That Lady.” That was a real ground breaking piece of music back in the day. Not only was his playing great, but running a guitar through a “leslie” was way ahead of its time.
This album was released shortly after that and really helped begin the process for crossing Luther over to a mainstream white audience. The crossover was helped with the fact that the title cut was included in the Bette Midler, Danny DeVito film “Ruthless People.”
The album was your typical Luther soft soul set in your typical 80s production, but he made it work for him. He released some outstanding albums in that period. “The Night I Fell In Love” which was released right before his is one of my favorite soul albums of all time. This was close, real close, but just a hair below that one.
This album actually charted higher in the UK than it did here in the states. It peaked at #14 here and hit as high as #3 in the UK. Maybe the movie was bigger there?
Another song that helped Luther cross over was “There’s Nothing Better Than Love.” This track was a duet with Gregory Hines. He was a known name already having won a few Tonys and Emmys by that time. What he wasn’t known for at that time was a singer! So people headed to the song just to know more just about that.
“Stop to Love” was another great tune here, as was “See Me” or “So Amazing” if you like that good slow stuff. “Anyone Who Has a Heart” is was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. He does them proud!
One thing that people don’t know about is that Luther began his career as a back ground singer on some songs that even you, if you’re a rocker, would know! For instance, that’s Luther you can clearly here supporting David Bowie on Young Americans. He also did some work with Carly Simon, Barbara Streisand and yes, even Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.
In closing, I’ll leave you with another of my classic stories from back in the day. I mentioned earlier that I saw Luther before he crossed over to mainstream. I go see the show and I’m wearing this butt-ugly black, gray and white shirt from “Chess King!’ My friend and our dates take out seats. I notice that the brother in front of me is wearing the same shirt. Later he turns and says “20,000 people here and two white guys, and the one sitting behind me is wearing my shirt. Ain’ that an ‘F-in’ bitch” We both had a good laugh about it.
– Larry Carta
- “Stop To Love” 5:19
- “See Me” 5:29
- “I Gave It Up (When I Fell in Love)” 4:45
- “So Amazing” 3:41
- “Give Me the Reason” 4:45
- “There’s Nothing Better Than Love” 4:42
- “I Really Didn’t Mean It” 5:43
- “Because It’s Really Love” 6:13
- “Anyone Who Had a Heart” 5:45
- Paulinho Da Costa Conga, Percussion
- Gregory Hines Duet
- Yogi Horton Drums
- Cissy Houston Vocals
- Paul Jackson, Jr. Guitar
- Marcus Miller Bass, Vocals
- Doc Powell Guitar
- Ira Siegel Guitar
- Fonzi Thornton Vocals
- Luther Vandross Vocals
- Kirk Whalum Saxophone