Saturday, May 6, 2017

"In the Name of Love" by Ralph MacDonald with Bill Withers

Song#:  2032
Date:  09/01/1984
Debut:  89
Peak:  58
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Smooth Jazz

Pop Bits:  MacDonald's father was a famous Calypso musician and it wasn't long before MacDonald got himself involved in music. He began his music career as a teenager playing the steelpan (or steel drums) for Harry Belafonte's tours and shows. Along the way he expanded his repertoire and soon he was a go-to percussionist for studio work. He would end up recording with legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, and many others. Along the way he also recorded his own solo jazz/crossover albums beginning with 1976's Sound of a Drum. A trio of songs from that album made it on the Dance chart and got to #7. Two of those songs were formally issued as singles and made it to the lower rungs of the R&B chart. He issued two more albums for the small Marlin label before getting signed to Polydor. His first album for them was Universal Rhythm and it contained this first single, which featured vocals by Bill Withers. The song was a hit at AC reaching #6 while also getting to #13 at R&B. It was popular enough to crossover to Pop where it just missed getting into the top half of the chart. It would be MacDonald's only single to reach the Pop chart. While he would continue to record albums over the years, MacDonald would mainly work in the background as a musician and songwriter. He often performed in Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band. He passed away from lung cancer in 2011.

ReduxReview:  I dunno. I guess I was expecting more here. With MacDonald's writing background I thought this would be another standout track, however I'm just not loving it. I think they were going for "Just the Two of Us, Part 2" and it didn't really work. The sound is there, but the memorable hook and melody is missing. It's nice background music for wining and dining, but that's not necessarily good. That means it pleasantly blends into the background and nothing about it stands out. Plus, the time period for this style of song had kind of passed by, so unless it was an absolutely brilliant tune it wasn't going to go far on the Pop chart.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Back around 1970, MacDonald decided to open a music publishing company along with William Salter. The pair struggled for nearly two years trying to get the company established. Finally, in 1972 a song that the pair wrote got picked up. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway recorded the tune "Where Is the Love" for their self-titled duet album. The song was released as a single and it got to #5 Pop and #1 R&B. Flack and Hathaway would receive a Grammy for their performance. Now established songwriters, others came calling. The pair would have another big success in 1981 when their song "Just the Two of Us" became a #2 Pop/#2 AC/#3 R&B hit for Grover Washington, Jr. That song featured the vocals of Bill Withers, which then led to Withers co-writing and performing on this MacDonald single.  2) MacDonald would win a Grammy for writing "Just the Two of Us," but years earlier he got two Grammys for being included on a famous soundtrack album. MacDonald recorded a song called "Calypso Breakdown" that was used on the huge hit soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. When that album won the Grammy for Album of the Year, it netted MacDonald a Grammy for being a performer and one for being a producer.


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