Wednesday, June 14, 2023

"Here and Now" by Luther Vandross

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  4148
Date:  12/23/1989
Debut:  78
Peak:  6
Weeks:  27
Genre:  R&B, Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Six albums into his career (all platinum/double-platinum sellers), Vandross still had yet to have a single reach the Pop Top 10. The closest he got was the #15 "Stop to Love," which was from his '86 album Give Me the Reason. His popularity was so great that his '88 album Any Love would be his first to make the Pop Top 10 (#9) despite not containing a major hit. After that effort, Vandross' label chose to close out the decade with a compilation album. The double disc set The Best of Luther Vandross...The Best of Love would be issued out in the fall of '89. It contained hits and key tracks from Vandross including tracks from when he fronted the group Change. It also featured two new tracks including this single, which was released to help promote the set. The song would be Vandross' fifth to top the R&B chart. It would cross over to Pop where the tune would take a leisurely climb up the chart finally peaking at #6 in its 18th week. It would also get to #3 at AC. Not only would the song earn Vandross his first Pop Top 10 hit, but it would win him his first Grammy (Best Male R&B Vocal Performance). The single would also go gold (it would receive a platinum certification in 2021). The compilation would get to #2 R&B/#26 Pop and eventually hit the triple platinum mark.

ReduxReview:  Finally! After having a few terrific songs unable to crack the Pop Top 10, this ballad finally did the trick for Vandross. It would lead to more Top 10s (see below) and kick off what was arguably Vandross' most successful period. Vandross was an excellent songwriter, but unfortunately he did not have a hand in this one. It was written by Terry Steele and David L. Elliott (Dionne Warwick's eldest son). Regardless, it was a beautiful song that was worthy of its Top 10 placement. It took a long while to get there, but with folks finally realizing the goods Vandross had to offer, it eventually became a big crossover hit. The Vandross catalog is chock full of great songs and performances that are essential listening. That first compilation album, which had to be made into a double disc due to all his hits and key tracks, ended up being the tip of the iceberg with more classics to follow. At minimum, folks should go and listen to that comp at least once. Whether you become a fan from it or not doesn't matter. You just have to appreciate the talent that was Luther Vandross.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  With plenty of momentum following this hit, Vandross would return in '91 with his next studio album Power of Love. Its lead single, "Power of Love/Love Power," would be a #1 R&B/#3 AC/#4 Pop hit, Its follow up, "Don't Want to Be a Fool," would be another winner getting to #4 R&B/#5 AC/#9 Pop. The album would be a #1 R&B/#7 Pop double platinum seller. Vandross would earn a fourth Pop Top 10 with the collaboration soundtrack single "The Best Things in Life Are Free" (#10 Pop/#1 R&B/#3 Dance). Used in the 1992 film Mo' Money, the song would be a duet between Vandross and Janet Jackson, and would featured supporting vocals by Bell Biv DeVoe and Ralph Tresvant. Vandross' final Pop Top 10 hit would come in 1994 via a remake of the 1981 Diana Ross/Lionel Richie #1 classic "Endless Love." Mariah Carey would join Vandross on the track, which peaked at #2 Pop/#7 R&B/#11 AC. Vandross would continue to record albums over the years with all of them at least hitting the gold mark. He would have one last significant hit in his career. In 2004, Vandross would release the album Dance with My Father. The title track, written by Vandross and Richard Marx, would go on to be a sentimental hit reaching #4 AC/#28 R&B/#38 Pop. However, its popularity rose when the tune won two Grammys, one for Song of the Year and one for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The album would debut at #1, become a double platinum seller, and would win the Grammy for Best R&B Album. Prior to its release, Vandross had suffered a stroke and was in a coma for about two months. He would recover enough to do a video thank you when he won the Grammy for Song of the Year. However, just over a year later in 2005 Vandross would die from a heart attack.


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