Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross

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Luther Vandross made a return to form, of sorts, with his 2001 self-titled album, and his first bow for former Arista chief Clive Davis' new label, J Records. Luther Vandross ranks as the singer's best since 1991's critically and commercially lauded Power of Love, and it produced the single "Take You Out," which proved to be the velvet-voiced crooner's first Top 40 pop hit since "Endless Love," his drippy hit duet with Mariah Carey from 1994's covers collection Songs. Luther Vandross employs a bevy of the day's hottest producers and songwriters, in an effort to bring Luther back into the mainstream, and for the most part it works, although it infuriated more than a few old-school purists. Luther effortlessly brings on the funk on stellar up-tempo tracks, such as "Grown Thangs," the neo-disco of "Say It Now" (which recalls his classic "Never Too Much"), and the fabulous "How Do I Tell Her," the latter two utilizing a long standing trademark of Vandross' stellar female background vocals that nearly steal the show. The album also includes the classic ballads -- lush, romantic quiet storm numbers such as "Hearts Get Broken All The Time," the melodic "I'd Rather," "Any Day Now," and "Love Forgot." Additionally, Vandross delivers an inspired cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic "Are You There (With Another Guy)," The album's second single, "Can Heaven Wait," is a lush ballad that was destined to become a massive hit, but, unfortunately, due to the overly melodramatic nature of the song, which recalls R. Kelly at his schlockiest, the single stiffed. Nonetheless, Luther Vandross is the singer's most engaging, exciting, and compelling album in years, and shows Vandross in step with changing times, all the while still managing to hold on to the essence of what made him so famous in the first place.

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