Lost but not least: Michael McDonald – I Want You (Reprise Records)
One of the most beautiful voices ever – a baritone singer able to reach high registers – Michael McDonald has embraced everything. From Soul/Jazz (along with Steely Dan) to smooth soul on the vibrant ‘On My Own’ with Patti LaBelle. But also Disco/Funk (on the Quincy Jones produced ‘Yah Mo Be There’ along with James Ingram). Or Californian Rock, as a member of The Dobbie Brothers (remember ‘Long Train Runnin’ or ‘What A Fool Believes’).
With the latter disbanding in 1982, he would make his debut as a solo artist the same year. This with the release of ‘If That’s What It Takes’ album including the seminal ‘I Keep Forgettin’. A cut which Warren G made his while sampling it on the G-Rap anthem ‘Regulate’.
1993 would be synonymous with the delivery of his ‘Blink Of An Eye’ album on Reprise Records. A collection most likely enlightened by the presence of his cover version of Marvin Gaye‘s classic ‘I Want You’.
Once again, he would come up with the kind of vibrant performance for much on his reputation. This with Marcus Miller on bass and French drummer Manu Katché. But, would you believe it? ‘I Want You’ never saw the light as a single for some reason…
As a result, you’re only left with the album version to get this underrated treasure on vinyl…
A St. Louis, MO native Michael McDonald attended the McCluer High School. There, he started playing with a bunch of local bands before movin’ to L.A., CA to set up his musical career.
By 1974, McDonald joined Steely Dan‘s touring band. Providing lead and backing vocals, he appeared on various recordings of the band. From ‘Katy Lied’ to ‘The Royal Scam’ and ‘Aja’ in the mid-70’s. Then ‘Gaucho’ in 1980. Eventually playing keyboards as well. Meanwhile The Doobie Brothers recruited him to temporarily replace a then sick Tom Johnson who was their lead singer. This would mark the start of a fruitful collaboration. With the man soon after becoming a permanent member of the group, contributing to some of their most memorable recordings. From ‘Long Train Running’ to ‘What A Fool Believes’ to name but a few. But also working as a session vocalist/keyboardist for countless artists around. Beginning with Kenny Loggins (‘This Is It’), but also Toto, Aretha Franklin and The Winans. Eventually sharing the duties with Patti LaBelle on the vibrant ‘On My Own’ back in 1986.
McDonald opened his account as a solo artist, releasing ‘If That’s What It Takes’ in 1982. An album which features the vibrant ‘I Keep Forgettin (Every Time You’re Near)’. With Warren G and Moloko usin’ parts of it, respectively on ‘Regulate’ and an acoustic version of ‘Familiar Feeling’. Meanwhile, ‘Yah Mo B There’, a duet with James Ingram, won the 27th Annual Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. This with production work by the likes of Quincy Jones.
Among his best recordings ever, ‘Sweet Freedom’ which appeared on the soundtrack to the Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines film ‘Running Scared’ back in 1986. But also his outstanding cover version of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘I Want You’. A song which he recorded as a part of his 1993 ‘Blink Of An Eye’ album. Although it never saw the light as a single for some reason.
McDonald has released a total of 9 albums to date. With his latest – ‘Wide Open’ – back in 2017. And he totalizes 5 Grammy Awards.