Friday, September 4, 2020

"Don't Make Me Wait for Love" by Kenny G with Lenny Williams

Song#:  3247
Date:  08/29/1987
Debut:  79
Peak:  15
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Kenny G's third album, Duotones, took off when its third single, "Songbird," became an unexpected mainstream hit getting to #4 Pop/#3 AC/#23 R&B. Kenny G was signed to Clive Davis' Arista Records and to help sell the instrumentalist to the masses, Davis hooked the sax player up with top-notch songwriters/producers and also encouraged the inclusion of vocal tracks figuring those would be more welcome at radio as singles than an instrumental. Surprisingly, the LP's first two singles, both vocal tracks, each made the R&B chart, but failed to go mainstream. Then the instrumental "Songbird" was released and oddly that smooth jazz track truly kickstarted Kenny G's career. For a follow-up, the label decided to re-release the album's first single "Don't Make Me Wait for Love." On its first go-round, the song could only manage a #77 showing at R&B. As a follow-up to "Songbird," it got a lot more attention and it ended up  in the Pop Top 20 while peaking at #2 AC and #17 R&B. The two hits certainly drew folks to the album and Duotones would eventually sell over five million copies.

ReduxReview:  This is a very good AC/pop song, but it could have been done by any artist. Kenny G didn't write or produce the track so it was basically a song picked for him to record and he just added his sax flourishes. It was like recent hits by instrumentalists like Herb Alpert ("Diamonds") and Jeff Lorber ("Facts of Love"). It was a marketing ploy that was meant to bring attention to instrumental artists whose albums wouldn't normally sell in big quantities. In other words, adding commercial elements to sell singles and albums. It worked well for a few artists and it did provide Kenny G with a entry point with singles from his first three albums, but then he proved that he could get a mainstream instrumental hit on his own without Clive Davis' pop vocal push. Frankly, I think this song would have been better without Kenny G. His sax gets in the way of what is a nicely written tune. His playing becomes especially annoying at the end of the song where he goes off the rails repeating a lick. It was inappropriate and it nearly killed the song. Lenny Williams' vocals are quite good, but one could only imagine what someone like James Ingram or Luther Vandross could have done with the song minus Kenny G's honking.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song featured soul singer Lenny Williams. In the early 70s, Williams took on the lead vocalist role in the funk band Tower of Power. Williams would supply the vocals on what would become the band's biggest single, 1973's "So Very Hard to Go" (#11 R&B/#17 Pop). He would record three albums with Tower of Power while also kicking off a solo career. His biggest solo hit came in 1977 with "Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!," which got to #10 Dance/#31 R&B. He would have several other mid-charting singles at R&B over the years, but was unable to get on the Pop chart as a solo artist. His only appearance came when he did the vocals for this Kenny G track.


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