Classics: Cheryl Lynn – Instant Love (Columbia)
Gifted with a unique voice, Cheryl Lynn proudly stands on a bunch of timeless classics. Beginning with ‘Got To Be Real’, her biggest classic ever which marked her debut back in 1978. But also the most remembered ‘Georgy Porgy’ along with Toto, ‘Shake It Up Tonight’ produced by Ray Parker, Jr. of the Raydio fame. Not to mention the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis produced ‘Encore’…
‘Instant Love’, the title cut of her Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller produced album of the name, would make no exception in 1982. Featuring Fonzi Thornton and Tawatha Agee among others on backing vocals and Nat Adderley, Jr. on keyboards…
From the very first time I heard this gem, I remember it was… Instant ove!
– A Los Angeles, CA native, Cheryl Lynn started singing with her church choir. Eventually getting her break courtesy of The Gong Show back in early 1976. A TV talent show which brought her to the attention of CBS who signed her 2 years after. Her professional singing career started during that same year (1976). This when she obtained a job as a backing vocalist for the national touring company of the musical drama ‘The Wiz’.
1978 happened to be a key year for Lynn. Appearing along with Toto on their rendition of ‘Georgy Porgy’. But also delivering her self-titled debut-album along with producer David Paich of the Toto fame, along with David Foster in the songwriting team. An album which spanned the memorable ‘Got To Be Real’ (her biggest success) and ‘Star Love’. Keepin’ on with the same team, she eventually delivered her follow-up album (‘In Love’) the year after. It didn’t generate the same following though. And this despite the presence of gems such as the infectious ‘Love Bomb’ and the quiet stormy ‘Don’t Let It Fade Away’. Not to mention the firing ‘Feel It’ on some Hi-Energy vein.
By 1981, Ray Parker, Jr. brought her back to the top. Producing the boiling hot ‘Shake It Up Tonight’. The key track from her third album, ‘In The Night’. Meanwhile she would team up the year after with Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. This resulting in the release of another smash hit by the likes of ‘Instant Love’, the title track of her fourth album. Lynn came up 2 years later with ‘Preppie’, her fifth album. Most likely producing all its track to the exception of ‘Encore’ left in the hands of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The aforementioned becoming her second #1 single. Meanwhile the latter also produced ‘Fidelity’ and the title track of her 1985 ‘It’s Gonna Be Right’ sixth album.
She made a brief stop at Manhattan Records with the release of her seventh album, ‘Start Over’, in 1987. Then made a return in the Top 10 with ‘Every Time I Try To Say Goodbye’. A track from her eighth album – ‘Whatever It Takes’ – which she co-produced with Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken. And by the end of 1995, after a 6 year hiatus, she delivered her last album to date (‘Good Time’). Eventually joinin’ forces with New Jack Swing mogul Teddy Riley on its title track. An album which only had a limited resonance at the time as only released in Japan, on Avex…
– Not that many artists happened to be producers in addition to their careers. And even less coming to do so with an alter ego. This is nevertheless what singer Luther Vandross and bassist Marcus Miller managed to do on many occasions.
Along with sound engineer Ray Bardani, they crafted an instantly recognizable signature. A sound one could hear for instance on Cheryl Lynn‘s ‘Instant Love’ album. But also Aretha Franklin‘s ‘Jump To It’ and ‘Get It Right’ albums. As on the major part of Vandross‘s repertoire.
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.