Tuesday, April 9, 2019

"One Step Closer to You" by Gavin Christopher

Song#:  2733
Date:  05/24/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  22
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  This Chicago-born singer/songwriter first gained attention when he was a member of a band called Lyfe. That group featured an up-n-coming singer named Chaka Khan. When she left to join Rufus, Christopher then helped to form the band High Voltage. Oddly, two members of that band also defected over to the Rufus camp. By 1974, Rufus' second album was a gold seller that featured the major hit "Tell Me Something Good" (#3 Pop/#3 R&B). Since Gavin had a relationship with several members of the band, he had a direct line to submit some of his songs and indeed the band picked up his tune "Once You Get Started" for their third LP. It served as the lead single and it got to #10 Pop/#4 R&B/#2 Dance. That success led to Christopher getting his own record deal. A self-titled debut album on Island Records came out in 1976, but it failed to generate interest. Christopher then moved to RKO Records for a second self-titled LP in 1979. It too sank away quickly. Meanwhile, he was still supplying songs to Rufus who took Christopher's "Dance Wit Me" to #39 Pop/#5 R&B in 1976. Christopher would work with other artists like Herbie Hancock and Curtis Mayfield, but he still had solo aspirations. He signed on with Manhattan in the mid-80s and was able to record a third album titled One Step Closer. This first single from the LP gained an audience and it would go on to hit #9 at Dance and #25 at R&B while nearly getting inside the Pop Top 10. The success of the single led to a follow-up album that featured the #10 R&B hit "You Are Who You Love," but it seems that wasn't enough to sustain label interest and the LP became Christopher's last solo effort. He would continue to work in the music business up until he died from congestive heart failure in 2016.

ReduxReview:  The shuffle-style groove of this song is ear-catching and I've always wondered if Michael Jackson was paying attention to it because his "The Way You Make Me Feel" sounds suspiciously similar. This is a smart song that was well-done by the production team (see below) and Christopher sounds very good. I remember back in the day that I came close to buying this single. I'm guessing I didn't because I lacked money enough to buy it along with other singles. It's a song that has kind of been forgotten these days, which is too bad. It's a solid tune and it probably should have done better on the chart. It's also too bad that this was Christopher's only Pop chart entry. He's a good songwriter and a terrific vocalist and it's unfortunate his solo career didn't fully take off. This is a lost little gem from the era.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song and its associated album was one of the first big successes for the songwriting and production team of Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers. The pair would continue to work with many artists including Stephanie Mills, Jennifer Holliday, 98 Degrees, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, and many others. They also work with Donny Osmond for his comeback single "Soldier of Love" (1989, #2 Pop) and with NSYNC for their hit "(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You" (1998, #8 Pop). Along the way, the pair also formed their own band called Rythm Synidicate. The band's 1991 debut album would featured the #2 Pop hit "P.A.S.S.I.O.N." But perhaps their biggest success and claim to fame was discovering superstar Rihanna. Rogers found the fledgling singer while in Barbados and brought her to the States. She was signed by Def Jam and the Sturken/Rogers team would oversee her 2005 debut album Music of the Sun. The LP featured the singer's first Top 10 hit "Pon de Replay" (#2 Pop) which Sturken and Rogers co-wrote and produced. They also headed up her second LP, the double-platinum A Girl Like Me, and contributed the song "Shut Up and Drive" (#15 Pop) to her 6x platinum seller Good Girl Gone Bad.


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