Tuesday, July 05, 2011

My Favorite Albums: Forever, For Always, For Love

July 1st was the 6th anniversary of the passing of Luther Vandross; given that, I thought it made sense to start for “favorite albums” series with 1982’s Forever, For Always, For Love (see the cover flow page).

I love this album for two reasons: first off, it’s probably Luther’s best album. I still get goose bumps every time I hear the opening sequence to “Bad Boy/Having A Party” (sing it with me – “Ahh Yeah… scooboody, dooboody, dee dee…”). It’s amazing what Luther and frequent collaborator Marcus Miller did with this Sam Cooke track; it doesn’t sound anything like the original. Luther does another masterful cover of the Temptations “Since I Last My Baby”.

The gems of the album, however, are the mid-tempo “Promise Me” and the magnificent title track… which gets me to the second reason for my love of this album. Years ago, when I was a child, my dad would play this LP all the time… usually after my brother and I were supposed to be asleep. I loved “Promise Me”: the stings sounded so “grown up”, the bass “thump” set a nice groove, and the quirky echo effect in the chorus was unlike anything I’d ever heard.

My love affair with “Forever, For Always, For Love” actually came after I was in high school. By then, I had entered my “golden age” of music discovery (more on that later)… but for some reason I had forgotten how great this track was. It wasn’t until I heard it on the radio (during 3rd period) that I realized what I’d lost. There’s a waltz-like beauty to the song– probably due to the ¾ time measure. Luther kicks off the track with the old school talking intro, before breaking into a harp-backed vamp about loneliness. There’s so much sadness in the song; but somehow, Luther changes direction and guides the song towards hope and second chances with the greatest musical bridge I’ve ever heard in popular music (starting at the 2:38 mark).

Enjoy the tracks and buy this album if you don’t have it!

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