Monday, April 24, 2017

"The Last Time I Made Love" by Joyce Kennedy & Jeffery Osborne

Song#:  2021
Date:  08/18/1984
Debut:  76
Peak:  40
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Joyce Kennedy tried to get a career going in the early 60s recording several R&B singles, but besides getting local attention the songs couldn't break her nationally. As the 70s came around, Kennedy met fellow musician Glenn Murdock and the pair began to work together. They formed the soul/funk/rock band Mother's Finest and began to tour. The band got picked up by RCA, but after a lackluster debut album, they were dropped. It would take four years before they would get their next shot with Epic Records. By that point, they were known as a killer live act and their sound had evolved to be closer to hard rock than R&B. A second self-titled album got released to solid reviews and more albums would follow. Along the way they became known as a dangerous opening act because they slayed the crowds before the headliner could issue a single note. They toured with the likes of Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, and The Who. After a 1983 album, the band decided to take a break and that led to Kennedy recording a solo album. However, for this album she set aside the hard rock sounds of Mother's Finest in favor of a more contemporary R&B sound with a little AC/pop thrown in. This first crossover single, a duet with R&B/AC star Jeffery Osborne, introduced her new direction and the results were quite positive. The ballad made it to #2 at R&B while hitting the Top 40 at both Pop and AC (#37). It would end up being Kennedy's only solo effort to reach the Pop chart. Her follow-up single, a remake of Carole Bayer Sager's "Stronger Than Before" would reach #30 at R&B. A second album didn't yield the same results and it ended Kennedy's solo career. She returned to Mother's Finest and has been with them since.

ReduxReview:  If you've ever heard anything from Mother's Finest, then you will quickly realize that this was a dramatic change in sound for Kennedy. It's as if Ozzy Osborne suddenly did a Neil Diamond cover album. Kennedy's roots were in early 60s R&B, so this is not unfamiliar territory for her, but for folks used to her belting out some hefty rock, this was quite a change. The song itself, a Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil composition, is your standard R&B/AC crossover tune. It's fine and lovely, and the Kennedy/Osborne pairing is terrific, but the song is not all that strong. Kennedy is an amazing vocalist and performer, but this is a little bit of a letdown. Regardless of the style or genre, she deserved better material. Her version of "Stronger Than Before" was much better.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia: The 1975 self-titled LP from Mother's Finest helped to break the band to a national audience. Along with all their touring, they ended up with a little radio airplay thanks to the single "Fire." It was a minor blip on the Pop chart at #93, but the exposure certainly helped. Their next album, Another Mother Further, featured their best charting hit at Pop, the #53 "Baby Love" (#79 R&B). However, their best effort at R&B came in 1989 when "I'm 'n' Danger" got to #11.


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