Minnie Riperton

Adventures in Paradise

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Adventures in Paradise, the follow-up to Perfect Angel -- an album featuring Minnie Riperton's biggest hit, much assistance from Stevie Wonder, and several of his associates, as well as an iconic outer sleeve -- tends to be viewed as a flop, at least by those who disregard Minnie as a novelty one-hit wonder. If the album is a flop on principle because none of its three singles was as big as "Lovin' You," or because Stevie was no longer around, so be it, but it's borderline classic by any other measure. The key collaborators here, outside of Minnie's songwriting husband Richard Rudolph, include keyboardist Joe Sample, guitarist Larry Carlton, saxophonist Tom Scott, and harpist Dorothy Ashby. Hardly poor substitutes. Most importantly, the album's three central songs were co-written with Leon Ware, who had come up with the Jackson 5's "I Wanna Be Where You Are" and was on the brink of writing what would become the entirety of Marvin Gaye's I Want You, along with his own excellent Musical Massage. Each of the Riperton/Rudolph/Ware songs ooze playful sensuality, desire, and lust -- especially "Inside My Love" (a Top 30 R&B single), a swooning slow jam filled with double entendres. If it weren't for the supremely seductive innocence in Minnie's voice, the words would likely fall flat in their directness ("You can see inside me/Will you come inside me?/Do you wanna ride inside my love?") The opener, "Baby, This Love I Have," is even more heated, with Minnie's frustrated yearning wrapped around a lithe arrangement. (It's gentle six-note guitar-and-bass intro would later resurface in A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime.") The songs written by Minnie and Rudolph alone match up well with the best of Perfect Angel, and they're deceptively eclectic, mixing and matching soul and rock with touches of country and adult pop. The album was tailor made for the kind of '70s radio format that would not balk at spinning Boz Scaggs, LTD, and Fleetwood Mac back-to-back-to-back. But, for whatever reason (poor promotion, closed minds), it did not do nearly as well as it deserved.

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