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5 Albums Celebrating Milestones in 2016/’90s R&B Edition

For week six (just two more!) of ‘5 Albums Celebrating Milestones in 2016,’ we’re going to lock the music bedroom door and get lost in albums by dearly departed legends  Luther Vandross and Natalie Cole, as well as make some music babies to 112’s debut set, find out if Christina Applegate ever became a P.M. Dawn fan and wonder what in the music world happened to Mr. Tony Rich.

Luther Vandross/Love Power/25 YO The seventh studio album by the late, great Luther Vandross, the sensual set would earn the gone-too-soon legend two American Music Awards for “Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist” and “Favorite Soul/R&B Album” and one Grammy Award for “Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male.”

Of course, as anyone who locked the music bedroom door and got busy to this album knows, the highlight was its sexy title track, which hit #7 at the Billboard Hot 100 which would help push the album to double platinum status. If you’ll also remember, the following year, Mr. Vandross linked up with Janet Jackson (and Bel Biv Devoe!) for the Mo’ Money inspired hit single, “Best Things in Life Are Free,” and it was certainly Love Power that helped Luther maintain a lucrative career well into the ’90s and beyond (Dance With My Father, anyone? Sigh),all the way to his unfortunate death in 2005. 

Mr. Vandross’ lost presence is still felt in the music industry today, and Love Power is one of the reasons why. 

Natalie Cole/Unforgettable (With Love)/25 YO A music world shattering set by late diva Natalie Cole. Unforgettable‘ focuses on covers of standards previously performed by her late legendary father, Nat King Cole. The critically acclaimed record also became very successful in crossing over into the Pop, Jazz, and R&B markets and is considered to be the major comeback recording that had been brewing since Cole’s late 1980s records. 

With 7 million in sales, Ms. Cole’s iconic album also took home the 1992 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and five additional Grammys: Record of the Year, Traditional Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, Arrangement Accompanying Vocals and Producer of the Year, as well as the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Female the same year.

While we still can’t figure out why the Grammy Awards didn’t pay proper tribute to the late songstress this year, there’s no denying that when you listen to her duet with her father on the album’s sultry title track, you know music heaven must be sounding really great right now. 

P.M. Dawn/Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience When it comes to P.M. Dawn’s critically acclaimed 1991 debut record, there’s pretty much one only one that can be said–“Christina Applegate, you gotta put me on.”

That and those harmonies and Spandau Ballet’s “True” for life. 

112/Self-titled/20 YO One of the first R&B records served to us from Sean Combs’ Bad Boy label (Bggie & Kim were also red-hot at the time), the album contained slick bedroom ready production from Mr. Puffy as well as vocal contributions from Boyz II Men crooner Wanya Morris.

A between-the-sheets that romp featured Bad Boy label mates the late Mase, Faith Evans and Mr. Biggie Smalls who assisted the boys on the classic remix of single, “Only You,” which still plays out as that ’90s music joint. And of course, there’s the love makin’ sonnet, “Cupid,” which still hits the right spots even twenty years later.

Those blessed 112 music days certainly were the days, weren’t they? 

Tony Rich/20 YO As any ’90s kid out there knows. male driven R&B was a force to be reckoned with baby makin’ crooners all doin’ their thing including 112, Boyz II Men, Keith Sweat (“Twisted” equals thief), Immature and Mr. Tony Rich, who delivered the acoustic guitar last jam “Nobody Knows” and award snatching accompanying album, Words. 

Thanks to “Nobody Knows,” Mr. Rich (who used the moniker “The Tony Rich Project”) and his sultry debut became an instant hit, mostly for the fact that the multi talented Rich produced, wrote, performed and arranged the entire set. The following year, Words won the Grammy Award for the Best R&B Album, and then Rich was pretty much never heard from again. 

However, “Nobody Knows” still gets us every time, so get ready to not call your ex and to not reach for that cookie dough in the fridge after listening again, because this track…sigh…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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