Sunday, February 7, 2021

"Without You" by Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle

Song#:  3398
Date:  02/06/1988
Debut:  93
Peak:  89
Weeks:  3
Genre:  R&B, Adult Contemporary, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  After first hitting both the Pop and R&B charts for the first time in 1975, it took nearly ten years for Bryson to finally earn his first Pop Top 10 hit. It came with 1984's "If Ever You're in My Arms Again" (#10) a track from Straight from the Heart, his first album after a label switch to Elektra. It was a positive step forward, but then his next two albums for the label failed to deliver a significant hit. He gave it another go with his thirteenth studio album Positive. While assembling the LP, Bryson got the opportunity to record a song for an upcoming film. He got teamed up with new R&B star Regina Belle and the pair recorded "Without You," a song that would be used as the love theme for the Bill Cosby spy comedy Leonard Part 6. The single would be released to promote the film and Bryson's upcoming album. The ballad would be a hit at AC reaching #8 while also getting to #14 R&B. However, it couldn't get off the ground at Pop and disappeared after a short three weeks. A second single from Bryson's album was released, but it failed to chart and with those results, Bryson and Elektra parted ways. Bryson's next two albums, one for Capitol and one for Columbia, would each spawn an R&B #1, but neither generated much interest at Pop. He would finally find himself back in the Pop Top 10 twice in the 90s with two film songs. First was "Beauty and the Beast," a duet with Celine Dion from the Disney film of the same name. It would reach #9 Pop/#3 AC. Then in '92, Bryson would be paired once again with Regina Bell for "A Whole New World," a song from Disney's Aladdin. That track would reach #1 Pop, #1 AC, and #21 R&B. Both songs would win the Oscar for Best Original Song.

ReduxReview:  This tune was written by hitmaker Lamont Dozier and it was the best thing to come out of the debacle known as Leonard Part 6 (see below). It was a sweeping AC-leaning track that was awash in 80s production and featured lovely vocals by Bryson and Belle. The song rightfully did well at AC, but the ballad was probably not the best fit for pop radio at the time. It was suited for a more adult audience rather than those who were dancing to Madonna or rockin' to Bon Jovi. So I'm not surprised it didn't get far on the chart. It's not the most memorable of songs, but it is lovely to hear.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was used in the Bill Cosby vehicle Leonard Part 6. Cosby had been a major star for many years, but he was at the peak of his popularity in the late 80s thanks to his hit TV sitcom The Cosby Show. He hadn't been in a film since 1981 and with his star brighter than ever it seemed like the right time to dip back into the movies. Cosby had a story he developed about a retired CIA agent and it didn't take much to convince a studio to make a film out of it. The spy spoof would be filmed and then released during the holiday season of '87. With Cosby attached, it seemed like Santa was going to deliver the studio a major hit for Christmas, but they ended up with a giant lump of coal. Things didn't look good early on when Cosby and the director were at odds. Then as the film was getting prepped for release, Cosby publicly denounced the film and basically told folks to stay away from it. Well, they did. The movie ended up being a big box office bomb and it was savaged by critics with many calling it not only one of the worst films of the year, but of the worst of all-time. It would go on to win a trio of Golden Raspberry awards including Worst Actor (Cosby), Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay. Weirdly, Cosby took the award "wins" in stride and even requested that his awards be made of 24k gold and Italian marble, which he actually got and showed off to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.


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