Most Wanted! Change – The Glow Of Love
I remember the emotion which happened to be mine the very first time I got to hear ‘The Glow Of Love’. I was just like: ‘Say wot?’ Literally caught up by the flow of its arrangements. Not to mention the vocal performance of a then quite underrated Luther Vandross. OMG, its producers had just come up with what would become an instantly identifiable sound. This putting them – Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi – straight into the first league. Eventually competing for supremacy with other pairs such as Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards (Chic). If not Willie Lester & Rodney Brown (Sharon Redd, Bobby Thurston), although to a lesser extend.
The magnetic ‘The Glow Of Love’ most likely started it all for Luther Vandross. On the heels of Charme‘s memorable cover version of ‘Georgy Porgy’, although he first didn’t get credited for his performance. And a few months before the release of Vandross‘s famous ‘Never Too Much’.
– The end of the 70’s saw the establishment of a new team en route for worldwide recognition in the Disco/Funk circuit. On one hand, Jacques Fred Petrus, a French West Indies native who would act as an executive producer. And on the other, Mauro Malavasi, an Italian musician, songwriter, arranger and producer who crafted their sound in his Bologna-based studio. A song which he elaborated with bass player Davide Romani and guitarist Paolo Gianolio.
They started their collaboration back in 19878. Delivering no less than two albums. Respectively for Macho and Peter Jacques Band. With both of them in a typical Italian Disco vein.
1980 marked a big change for them artistically speaking. This with the arrival of Change‘s ‘The Glow Of Love’ album. An album which saw them defining a new standard and, in the meantime, a signature sound in the Disco/Funk circuit. With thanks to cuts such as ‘A Lover’s Holiday’ or ‘Angel In My Pocket’ featuring Jocelyn Brown. It also brought Luther Vandross to the first league with gems such as its title track and ‘Searching’. But also The B.B.& Q. Band, High Fashion and Zinc to a lesser extend.
Change released 6 albums between 1980 and 1985 and an impressive series of classics in the meantime. From ‘The Glow Of Love’ to ‘Hold Tight’, ‘Heaven Of My Life’ and ‘The Very Best In You’. Not to mention ‘Change Of Heart’ and ‘You Are My Melody’ with production work courtesy of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. And, last but not least, the Nick Martinelli produced ‘Mutual Attraction’ back in 1985.
An accusation of tax evasion by the US Internal Revenue Service hit Petrus back in 1986. As a result, he put his activities on hold and fled to his native Guadeloupe. He got shot a few months after, in the late Spring of 1987, reportedly by a Swiss man whom he’d had a dispute with a few hours before at his owned club L’Elysée Matignon in Le Gosier…
A performer, but also a songwriter, he collaborated with countless artists and bands. From Quincy Jones to Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (‘Back Together Again’), Chic (‘Dance, Dance, Dance’), Chaka Khan or Diana Ross. But also Charme with whom he did a cover version of Toto‘s ‘Georgy Porgy’. Not to mention Jocelyn Brown Sharon Redd and David Bowie. And I’m not even talkin’ about his activities as producer along with bassist Marcus Miller and sound engineer Ray Bardani. The latter leading him to craft Cheryl Lynn‘s ‘Instant Love’ then Aretha Franklin‘s ‘Jump To It’ and ‘Get It Right’ albums in 1982 and 1983. This resulting in gems such as ‘Instant Love’ for Lynn. And ‘Jump To It’, ‘(It’s Just) Your Love’ and ‘Get It Right’ for Franklin.
Despite a couple of album releases as simply Luther, Vandross would get his breakthrough as the lead singer of various tracks on Change‘s ‘The Glow Of Love’ debut-album back in 1980. He refused contributing to its follow-up though because of a financial disagreement with its executive producer, Jacques Fred Petrus. Although he would sing backing vocals on The BB&Q Band‘s eponymous debut album from the same management team. From then on, he signed a solo record deal with Epic. Going straight to the position #1 in the charts with the title cut from his ‘Never Too Much’ debut-album the year after.
‘Never Too Much’ opened an impressive list of successes which established Vandross as the #1 R&B singer for two decades. The man varying the pleasures upon different moods. From ballads to R&B grooves and eventually hybrids such as ‘Give Me The Reason’ back in 1986. Not to mention his (unofficial) flirt with House vibes as Big L on ‘Heaven’. This with remixing work courtesy of Tommy Musto in 2002.
Among his masterpieces, ‘The Night I Fell In Love’, ‘My Sensitivity (Gets In The Way)’, ‘I Wanted Your Love’, ‘It’s Over Now’ and ‘Power Of Love’. Not to mention ‘The Rush’ which David Morales remixed it an outstanding way and ‘Always And Forever’ to name a few. Vandross also happened to share the duties back in 1992 with Janet Jackson, Bell, Biv, DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. Delivering the boiling ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’. A cut which got extra exposure as a part of the ‘Mo’ Money’ OST with production work courtesy of Jam & Lewis. Meanwhile, some of you might also remember his collaboration with Masters At Work on ‘Are You Using Me’ back in 1998. A track which, for some reason, only saw the light as a Promo 12″ on Virgin.
An unreleased cut of his – ‘Love It Love It’ – which he co-wrote with Hubert Eaves III eventually saw the light as a part of a posthumous Greatest Hits package by the end of 2014.
Luther Vandross has sold more than 35 million records worldwide and received 8 Grammy Awards.
He sadly died from diabetes and hypertension at the JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ on Jul. 01, 2005, at the age of 54.