Perfect Angel (1974)
Reasons/It's So Nice (To See Old Friends)/Take A Little Trip/Seeing You This Way/The Edge Of A Dream/Perfect Angel/Every Time He Comes Around/Lovin' You/Our Lives
Considered Minnie Riperton's best album, from 1974, this was produced by Stevie Wonder, who also played keyboards and drums on it (credited as "El Toro Negro"). It dates from a time when good soul albums were ten-a-penny and Stevie Wonder was at the top of his game, producing Syreeta Wright as well. Riperton was best known for her high voiced vocal on her huge hit, Lovin' You (included on here) but this album is not simply lots of songs that sound like that one. It is actually quite rock-ish and funky in places. There are a few similarities with Syreeta's work to be found here.
Reasons is a funky, rock-ish opener featuring a muscular rock guitar, some funky Stevie Wonder keyboards and a strong, varied vocal. Those famous high-pitched bits are introduced near the end. It's So Nice (To See Old Friends) is a very Wonder-ish laid-back groove. Again it has a rock-style drum backing, along with some robust acoustic guitar.
You can hear Wonder's influence all over the dreamy, magic carpet-evoking Take A Little Trip (which he wrote), particularly on the drum sound. It has a lovely, melodic and deep bass line too. It could have been from Fulfillingness' First Finale. It is the only track on the album actually written by Wonder. The lively and breezy soul groove of Seeing You This Way sounds just like a Wonder song too, although it isn't. Minnie exercises her remarkable pipes on this one, achieving real heights, so to speak.
The Edge Of A Dream is a comparatively longer, very typically mid-seventies soul ballad - slow and seductive in its rhythm. This ended the original first side of the album.
Perfect Angel is more in the gentle Lovin' You style, which will have pleased those who bought the album on the back of the single. Every Time He Comes Around is probably my favourite track on the album. It is a gritty grinder of a funky ballad, enhanced by some wonderful Isley Brothers-style fuzzy guitar. It cooks from beginning to end.
Then we get the memorable birdsong and subtle keyboards intro to Lovin' You, followed by a gentle acoustic guitar and Minnie's soaring, now iconic vocal. It was a huge UK number two hit in the spring of 1975. It always makes me feel very nostalgic.
This pleasant album ends with the once more very Wonder-influenced slow ballad, Our Lives, featuring his trademark harmonica and some nice percussion.
The mid-seventies was a fertile period for soul albums. This was one in a long line. It has slipped under the radar a bit, but not by the soul cognoscenti.