Saturday, January 16, 2016

"Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" by Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack

Song#:  1522
Date:  07/09/1983
Debut:  89
Peak:  16
Weeks:  29
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Bryson was getting quite used to doing duets with quality female vocalists. He teamed up with Natalie Cole for the album We're the Best of Friends (#7 R&B gold LP), joined Melissa Manchester for the song "Lovers After All" (#25 AC/#54 Pop/#34 R&B), and recorded the concert album Live and More (#10 R&B) with Roberta Flack. The pairing with Flack was particularly successful and that prompted the two singers to record a full studio album together. Titled Born to Love, the LP became a successful gold-seller (#8 R&B/#25 Pop) thanks in part to this first single. The song would be Bryson's biggest hit to-date at Pop (#16) and AC (#4). It would also be a winner at R&B hitting #5. The song would continue to have a long life after its chart days thanks to its use in weddings/receptions.

ReduxReview:  Oh that tinkling Rhodes keyboard that opens the song! That sound became a staple in a lot of ballads from the 80s. It ended up becoming a cliché and worn out by the end of the decade, but early on it was a sound that indicated a pretty ballad was about to happen. And indeed it does with this song. Despite the saccharine lyrics, this is a lovely track perfectly executed by Bryson and Flack. It was written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser. Masser was already a successful songwriter, but he would go on to have tremendous success co-writing ballads that Whitney Houston would make famous like "Saving All My Love for You, "Didn't We Almost Have it All" and her remake of "Greatest Love of All." This song added a good notch to his songwriting bedpost.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although he had toured with a couple of bands since 1966, Bryson didn't fully get involved in the music business until he joined up with Atlanta's Bang Records as a writer, producer and arranger. He worked for Bang for a few years and during that time he got hooked up with producer Michael Zager. Bryson would sing with Zager's band and appear on the 1976 single "Do It with Feeling" (#3 Dance/#25 R&B/#94 Pop). The single was credited to Michael Zager's Moon Band featuring Peabo Bryson. That same year saw Bryson stepping out on his own with his debut album Peabo, for the Bang imprint Bullet Records. It would peak at #48 on the R&B chart and feature three Top 30 R&B singles. It also led to his deal with Capitol Records where his success continued to grow.


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