Michael Henderson

Wide Receiver

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Although Michael Henderson was best known for romantic ballads and smooth quiet storm grooves in the mid- to late '70s, his biggest hit was the quirky funk smoker "Wide Receiver." When this 1980 gem soared to number four on the R&B singles charts and Buddah followed it up with another funk single, "Prove It" (Henderson's cynical commentary on the entertainment business), the R&B press acted like he had suddenly turned into George Clinton or Bootsy Collins. But in fact, the singer/bassist had always been capable of providing wicked funk grooves; anyone who had heard "Whip It" (not to be confused with the Devo hit) and "I Can't Help It" on 1977's Goin' Places, or "Happy" on 1978's In the Night Time could attest to that. The truth is that Wide Receiver isn't much different from Henderson's previous releases, with its hardcore funk jams taking up one-third of the album at best, and romantic ballads, slow jams, and quiet storm material dominating the self-produced Wide Receiver just as they had dominated In the Night Time, Solid, Goin' Places, and Do It All. It's just that this time, Buddah chose to give the funk tunes the most promotion; nonetheless, the quiet storm formats that favored smooth album tracks like "Reach Out for Me" and Henderson's cover of the Four Tops' "Ask the Lonely" knew that he hadn't abandoned them. Even though Wide Receiver contained Henderson's biggest hit, it wasn't his best-selling album; that honor goes to 1978's gold In the Night Time. But Wide Receiver sold respectably, and it was a valuable addition to his catalog.

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