The Whispers

Songbook, Vol. 1: The Songs of Babyface

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The Whispers' latter-day recordings were uniformly solid, but it took an album like Songbook, Vol. 1: The Songs of Babyface to remind many listeners what a valuable soul institution they were. The idea behind any "songbook" collection is to showcase a particular songwriter, as well as the skills of the interpretive artist. Choosing the songs of Babyface, one of the most successful and respected composers of contemporary urban soul, was a savvy move for the Whispers, since it proves that the group is hip enough to know what's what in the urban universe and by focusing on Babyface's songs, the album assumes that he's one of the great soul songwriters of his time. Songbook, Vol. 1 doesn't necessarily prove that last point -- simply put, he's not as good as Stevie Wonder or Smokey Robinson -- but it remains a fine, fine record, featuring terrific versions of "You're Makin' Me High," "Two Occasions," "For the Cool In You," "Whip Appeal," "As Soon As I Get Home," "My, My, MY" and "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)."

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