Albums Review by EDF
When LOVIN’ YOU and INSIDE MY LOVE was released, Minnie had finally found success that had taken her the best part of a decade to find. Unfortunately, she was not allowed to enjoy her success for too long and in 1976 Minnie announced on a chat show that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Talking openly about this subject was still a bit taboo but nevertheless Minnie dedicated her time and energy to make people aware of the cancer. In 1977, President Carter presented her with the American Cancer Society’s Most Courageous Of The Year award. Minnie continued to spend just as much energy of her energy on her music career and did not let her situation slow or get her down. While making the MINNIE album, included here, she discovered that her cancer was terminal and lost her fight on July 12, 1979 at the young age of 31. EMI have released four of her albums as two “2 on 1” CD’s.
When it came to selecting a producer for STAY IN LOVE, a few heads were scratched in amazement when Freddie Perren was hired for the production duties. At the time, Freddie was famous for producing the more up-tempo Jackson 5, so what he brought to the table was a more structured sound that had elements of funk and disco. The opening YOUNG, WILLING AND ABLE sets up the general uplifting mood, which in turn finds Minnie in fine form. Be amazed by Minnie’s fourteen seconds of sustaining a high pitch note on COULD IT BE I’M IN LOVE. CAN YOU FEEL WHAT I’M SAYING is the first of the real slow burning tracks that Minnie was so good at delivering and is hard not to be seduced by. Even though Stevie Wonder was not available to produce the STAY IN LOVE album, he did compose the disco-like STICK TOGETHER. Amazingly, this album has less ballads than Minnie’s previous albums but the other one to note on this album is also the title track with the slightly over the top Ahh’s from the backing singers.
By now Minnie’s fate was sealed as news of her cancer being terminal was delivered during the recording of the MINNIE album. This album feels more like Minnie is closing the book of her life. The opening track, MEMORY LANE is a pleasant reminder of what has come to pass and there seemed to be desperate pleas to the ad-libbed refrain of “save me” as if Minnie knew that she had not finished what she had set out to do. Stevie Wonder gets things going on LOVER AND FRIEND but are the sentiments directed at Mr Wonder? The mournful orchestral intro to RETURN TO FOREVER reflects the regret of love lost from long ago. The party flavoured DANCIN’ & ACTIN’ CRAZY and LOVE HURTS brings us back to disco mode. The Jose Feliciano flavoured NEVER EXISTED BEFORE goes off on a dream like trip that only Minnie could master. The weakest song here is I’M A WOMAN that sounds like her answer to Donna Summer’s moaning and groaning disco tracks. However, the surprise track here is a cover of The Doors’ LIGHT MY FIRE, reinterpreted with a little help from Feliciano, making the song sound more sensual and smooth than it has any right to be.
STAY IN LOVE is the more structured out of the two albums and MINNIE suffers too much from the opening three tracks highlighting the predicament that faces Minnie but that aside, this is as good an album as it would get considering the circumstances. With her songs presently being sampled by the likes of 4 Hero and Nu Yorican Soul, there will probably be more examples of Minnie Riperton’s work to be heard.
Stay In Love