Michael Henderson

Slingshot

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In the mid- to late '70s, Michael Henderson had a reputation for being a quiet storm-oriented singer. R&B fans associated him primarily with romantic material, whether it was with Norman Connors ("Valentine Love," "You Are My Starship," "We Both Need Each Other") or on his own ("At the Concert," "Take Me, I'm Yours," "Be My Girl," "In the Night-Time"). But the success of the quirky "Wide Receiver" in 1980 reminded Henderson's admirers that he was also quite capable of delivering an aggressive funk jam. Nonetheless, romantic soul ballads and slow jams remained a high priority for him, and they dominate 1981's Slingshot (which was originally released on vinyl LP by Buddah before being reissued on CD by The Right Stuff in 1995 and Funky Town Grooves in 2011). Slingshot contains a few infectious funk smokers ("Geek You Up" and the title track), but for the most part, this is a quiet storm album, and Slingshot's biggest hit, "Can't We Fall in Love Again," is a romantic duet with the late Phyllis Hyman. Quiet storm enthusiasts also found a lot to admire about "Come to Me" (a male/female duet with singer Venna Keith) and "Take Care." It should be noted that although most of Slingshot was produced by Henderson himself, Chuck Jackson produced "Can't We Fall in Love Again" as well as two gems associated with Jerry Butler, aka the Ice Man: "Never Gonna Give You Up" (which Butler co-wrote with Philadelphia soul icons Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff) and Burt Bacharach/Hal David's "Make It Easy on Yourself." Henderson (who turned 60 in July 7, 2011) excels on both of those Butler-associated classics, and it isn't hard to understand why quiet storm stations paid a lot of attention to this album. Indeed, lovers of romantic soul can't go wrong with Slingshot.

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