After a lengthy break on the bench, ‘TGJ Replay’ is back!
Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ segments, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest retrospective segment – a written quest, if you will, to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday.
Unlike its ‘Rewind’ and ‘Vault’ predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits. Today we roll down memory lane to Queen of Quiet Storm Anita Baker (who celebrated a birthday this week) and her 1994 comeback album ‘Rhythm of Love’:
1986 saw R&B enchantress Anita Baker skyrocket to the top of charts with the success of her sophomore album ‘Rapture’, lined with what would later become her signature hits like ‘Sweet Love’, ‘Same Ole Love (365 Days)’, and ‘You Bring Me Joy’. Following its success with her 1988 #1 album ‘Giving You The Best That I Got’, Baker – aptly dubbed the Queen of Quiet Storm – reigned over R&B and pop charts alike with her jazz-tinged offerings.
But, when the Quiet Storm potentate’s platinum-selling 1990 album ‘Compositions’ didn’t make much noise on charts (despite being greeted with massive critical acclaim), the songstress took time off to regroup and focus on her family life.
The ensuing four years were certainly not for nought, however. With a renewed, modernized sound and sassy new image to match, Anita returned with her fifth album ‘Rhythm of Love’ – a 90s melting pot of pop, jazz, rock, and R&B. While the musical recipe was one Baker had long perfected, unlike its predecessors, ‘Rhythm’ showcased a sexier Anita – one full in touch with her womanhood and unabashedly baring her ‘Body And Soul’…
‘Body & Soul’
Kicking off the album with the piano-laced single ‘Body & Soul’, Baker thrilled fans with her new sultry sound and look. That now iconic haircut was a symbol that the new Anita had certainly arrived. And, if the song’s performance on charts was indication, her arrival was more than welcomed.
‘Body And Soul’ (live)
Peaking in the lower top 40 and giving Baker her first top 40 since 1988’s ‘Just Because’, the song’s success provided its parent album, ‘Rhythm of Love’, a sturdy launching pad as it would go on to debut at #3 on Billboard 200 with sales of 184,000.
A steady seller for much of 1994 into 1995, ‘Rhythm of Love’ was a homerun with critics as well. Lauded for its lining with high-spirited remakes of ‘My Funny Valentine’, Carly Simon‘s ‘You Belong To Me’, ‘The Look of Love’, and ‘It’s Been You’, the album managed to masterfully weave together cool of the 90s slow-jam without losing touch with Anita’s old school -isms (so to speak). That is to say, the jazziness that drenched her music and separated her from the pack of powerhouse divas that she shared tenancy with on Billboard charts.
‘My Funny Valentine’
‘It’s Been You’
Proof of the new Anita was probably most evident in her now iconic ‘I Apologize’ video. Literally baring her ‘Body And Soul’ , fans immediately gravitated to the sexy slow jam with no apologies needed nor requested…
At a time where gangsta rap, baby-making R&B, and rumpshakers were ruling charts, Anita showed ’em how to be sexy while maintaining a level of class. Tapping into a sensuous side that her well-covered 80s-self would have never dared, ‘I Apologize’ launched itself right onto a list of the decade’s most memorable R&B hits all courtesy of that unforgettable scat at the end (reminiscent of her earlier hit ‘Been So Long’) and, of course, that video.
Turning up the heat in a world where Toni Braxton had become music’s new baritone it girl, the song’s sister content and parent album would later lend Baker four (overall) Grammy nods, but it would be ‘Apologize’ that would land her 8th trophy. This time in the ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance’ category.
‘I Apologize’ (live)
Yes, the album’s promotion may have ignited a legal battle between Baker and label Elektra Records [consequently ending her stay aboard that label]. But, unsatisfactory promotion or not, the album pressed passed the double platinum mark and gave the songstress her fourth consecutive platinum seller.
While we anxiously await her newest project ‘Love In The Future’, we look to the past to bob our heads to the likes of ‘I Apologize’ and ‘Sometimes I Wonder Why’. We still get all our life from her ‘My Funny Valentine’ rendition, but you tell us: