required listening

CD Review

REGINA BELLE  -  Show Me The Way : The Columbia Anthology

Soul Music (UK) SMCR 5181D (2cd)

You Got The Love; Gotta Give It Up; Good Lovin’; How Could You Do It To Me; Show Me The Way; Please Be Mine; After The Love Has Lost Its Shine; Baby Come To Me; Intimate Relations; This Is Love; Make It Like It Was; It Doesn’t Hurt Anymore; What Goes Around; So Many Tears (+ Cool mix); Do You Wanna Get Serious; Interlude–Passion; Quiet Time; Love; Someday We’ll All Be Free–Save The Children; If I Could; Dream In Colour; Could It Be I’m Falling In Love; Love TKO; I’ll Be Around; You Make Me Feel Brand New/JAMES J.T. TAYLOR & REGINA BELLE-All I Want Is Forever/JOHNNY MATHIS w/ REGINA BELLE-Better Together/PEABO BRYSON feat. REGINA BELLE-I Can’t Imagine

When Regina Belle first came to the attention of soul music aficionados, it was by way of being a guest duet vocalist on the Manhattans’ 1986 hit single, ‘Where Did We Go Wrong’.  The group’s attention had been sparked by radio personality, Vaughn Harper, who had seen the lady performing jazz, her principal metier at the time but, with that Columbia Records’ track providing the breakthrough, it was a simple journey for Regina to also join the major and this 2cd set from Soul Music reflects her period with the company between 1987 and 1995.  Anita Baker had very much led the way for singers in the vocal mould also embraced by Regina and thus it would not take long before ‘Show Me The Way‘ was climbing the ‘Billboard‘ r&b singles chart, finally settling at #2 for three weeks.  Nevertheless, it would not always be plain sailing and, much to the shock of this scribe at the time, single number four, ‘After The Love Has Lost Its Shine‘ - a truly magnificent ballad - by-passed the listings.  ‘So Many Tears‘ had, however, made #11 r&b in the interim and Regina also flew high over on the Elektra label with a duet with Peabo Bryson, ‘Without You’, from the movie, ‘Leonard, Pt.6’.  Another duet took her back to the #2 spot in short order, viz ‘All I Need Is Forever’, a highly commercial outing (slightly marred by a rock guitar two-thirds through) shared with Kool & the Gang’s James J.T. Taylor and another movie song, this time from the Gregory Hines vehicle, ‘Tap’.  If there’s a general criticism of the music here, it is a reliance on computer-generated instrumental support but that’s the late eighties I guess.  Musically, it’s not always the hits that are the best cuts here although, that said, there’s no disputing the worth of ‘Make It Like It Was‘, a number one r&b winner, as was its predecesor, ‘Baby Come To Me’.  While cd-one concentrates on Regina’s first two albums, ‘All By Myself‘ and ‘Stay With Me’, cd-two principally spotlights ‘Passion‘ (1993) and ‘Reachin‘ Back‘ (1995), the latter nicely reworking material associated with Philadelphia, including a couple of Spinners‘ hits, ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love‘ and ‘I’ll Be Around‘ and the Teddy Pendergrass‘ ballad, ‘Love TKO’.  Popping back to the ‘Stay With Me‘ set, we have a medley of Donny Hathaway’s ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free‘ and Marvin Gaye’s Save The Children’, while ‘Better Together‘ is taken from an album of Johnny Mathis duets.  Regina Belle’s last r&b top-tenner for Columbia was the #9 chartster, ‘If I Could’, a delicious Ron Miller-Marti Sharron-Ken Hirst torcher, previously cut by Nancy Wilson - oft cited by Regina as a prime influence - and Carl Anderson, among others.  It’s a standout!

review posted 15/2/19 /