Sunday, December 11, 2016

"Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" by Luther Vandross

Song#:  1877
Date:  04/28/1984
Debut:  95
Peak:  87
Weeks:  4
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Vandross' duet with Dionne Warwick, "How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye" (#4 AC, #7 R&B, #27 Pop), served a dual purpose. It was the first single and title track to Warwick's Vandross-produced LP and it also served as the first single from Vandross' third album Busy Body. For his follow-up, Vandross released this lengthy medley. At 9-plus minutes, the song was way too long radio and for getting issued on a 45 single. At first the song was edited down to a 5-plus minute version and issued on a 12" single. Then later it was whittled down to eliminate the second song and released on a 45 as just "Superstar (Don't You Remember...)." The medley version ended up being a hit at R&B reaching #5 and its strength there allowed it to cross over to Pop for a few weeks.

ReduxReview:  It's funny, the other day I was listening to this song. I was in a Vandross mood and pulled out his The Best of Love collection on which this song appears. This is a beautiful rendition of "Superstar" and I think it has influenced a lot of singers including American Idol second season winner Ruben Studdard, who sang this on the show. Although it is slightly drawn out and the "Until" opening makes it sound a little old-fashioned, it is still a wonderfully arranged song with a great vocal turn from Vandross.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This medley is made up of two cover songs. The first tune, "Superstar," was written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell. Originally known as "Groupie (Superstar)," the song was first recorded by Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (featuring Eric Clapton) in 1969. (Note - for those that don't know Bonnie Bramlett as a music artist may remember her from the TV show Roseanne on which she played Bonnie, Roseanne's friend and restaurant co-worker.) Other artists like Joe Cocker and Bette Midler caught on to the song, but it wasn't until it got recorded by the Carpenters in 1971 that the song became a hit. It reached #2 on the Pop chart and #1 AC. Vandross began performing the song in his shows earlier in the 80s and finally recorded it for his third album. His recorded rendition included a second song, "Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)," which begins the medley. That song was originally co-written and recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967. It was not released as a single and actually did not see the light of day until it appeared on Wonder's 1977 compilation album Looking Back. However, the tune became a big hit when Aretha Franklin sang it in 1973. Her single reached #1 at R&B and #3 Pop.


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