Wednesday, October 19, 2022

"Turned Away" by Chuckii Booker

Song#:  3957
Date:  07/08/1989
Debut:  95
Peak:  42
Weeks:  14
Genre:  R&B, New Jack Swing

Pop Bits:  This L.A.-born singer/songwriter began to hone his skills as a musician while in his teens. It certainly helped to have a soul legend, Barry White, as a godfather and that connection came in handy earlier in the 80s when White signed Booker to his production company. Booker's songs got recorded by a couple of artists including one by White, but when an attempt to kick off his own solo career didn't materialize, Booker decided to move on. His first major gig came when he joined up with the funk/R&B band Tease in 1986. The band was signed to Epic Records and a self-titled album released in '86 spawned the #11 R&B hit "Firestarter." After a second album in '88 that fared less well, Tease disbanded. Booker would then work behind the scenes as a session player. He would perform on Vanessa Williams' 1988 debut album and co-write one of the tracks. Then through a demo tape Booker was able to get a solo deal with Atlantic Records. With few exceptions, Booker would write, sing, and play all the instruments on a debut album simply titled Chuckii. This first single was issued out and it would become a big hit at R&B reaching #1. The song was able to cross over to the Pop chart where it nearly cracked the Top 40. A second single, "(Don't U Know) I Love U," would get to #4 R&B, but failed to make the Pop chart. Another Top 20 R&B entry would follow. Thanks to the hits, the album would peak at #18 R&B/#116 Pop.

ReduxReview:  A good chunk of new jack swing tracks were hard hitting grooves. That was kind of the nature of the genre. There were occasional exceptions and this was one. I'd say this was more of a "sweet" sounding new jack tune, even though the lyrics were on the sad side. It was a nicely written tune with rich chords and could have easily been turned into a ballad. In fact, it might have worked better as one, but being the 90s the new jack approach fit just fine. This single really should have made the Top 40, but at least it topped the R&B chart.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Booker's second album, 1992's Niice 'N Wiild, wouldn't be quite as successful as his debut, but it still was able to spawn one major hit with the #1 R&B/#68 single "Games." The LP would get to #13 R&B. While maintaining a solo career, Booker also worked as a producer/songwriter for other artists including the R&B outfit Troop. Booker wrote and produced the band's first R&B #1 hit, 1990's "Spread My Wings." With more production and session work coming his way, Booker then left his solo career behind after his second album to work behind the scenes.  2) A connection to a highly successful songwriting/production team led to one of Booker's career highlights. It seems that in '89, Booker attended a party for the release of Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 album. He had met Jackson a few times previously, but wasn't all that familiar with the burgeoning superstar. Apparently she approached Booker at the event and asked him to be the musical director for her upcoming tour. The out-of-nowhere offer caught Booker off guard and he wasn't sure how it was even possible. Then Booker found out that Jackson's production team Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis had recommended Booker for the job. Obviously, Booker signed on for the work, but the deal got even better when Jackson offered him the opening act spot on several of the tour dates.


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