Music Home


Luther Vandross
Various Producers

Luther Vandross had an amazing streak going.  Every album he had released since his 1981 debut Never Too Much had gone platinum.  Then he decided to leave Epic Records and jump to Virgin (the home of Janet Jackson).  The move turned out to be a disaster.  I Know failed to sell a million copies ending the winning streak.  Furthermore, Luther was convinced the album's lackluster sales were due to Virgin's poor promotion of it.

So Luther jumped ship once again and joined Clive Davis' new venture J Records.  He had a lot to prove and that motivation resulted in Luther's best album ever.  I've sometimes felt that Luther is coasting on some of his albums.  He usually has two or three good songs mixed in with many mediocre ones.  But you keep buying his albums knowing he possesses one of the greatest voices in history and is capable of producing another A House Is Not A Home (one of the greatest vocal performances ever).

On this album, Luther is working hard on every track and it pays off sweetly.  He ventures into some new funky territory by utilizing young, fresh producers as on the lead-off single Take You Out (produced by Warryn Campbell, Harold Lilly and John Smith) and Grown Thangs (Jon B).  He still showcases his classic form by working in his long time collaborators Nat Adderly (on Burt Bacharach's Any Day Now) and Marcus Miller (on the gorgeous Love Forgot).  But my favorite track is his masterful vocal performance on the Diane Warren penned If I Was The One.

Longtime Luther fans rejoice because he's finally delivered an album you can love from the first track to the last.

More 2001 Albums:

Michael Jackson - Invincible
Produced by Michael Jackson, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Teddy Riley, and others
If you can get past his increasing weirdness, you'll be amazed at how Michael Jackson is still putting out the best music after all these years.  The stand out tracks are the Darkchild gems Untouchable and You Rock My World and Teddy Riley's surprisingly good mellow tunes Don't Walk Away and Whatever Happens (featuring Carlos Santana).
JOE - Better Days
Produced by Various Producers
This could be JOE's best album to date.  His usual bedroom lyrics are mostly replaced with more compassionate soul like the wonderful Isn't This The World.  The album has lots of winners like the lead-off single Let's Stay Home Tonight, the title track, and the humorous I Like Sexy Girls.
Maxwell - Now
Produced by MUSZE and Stewart Mathewman
Almost as good as his fantastic debut, Now features the spectacular remake of Kate Bush's This Woman's Work, the uptempo Get To Know Ya and the smooth Lifetime.
Lisa Stansfield - Face Up
Produced by Ian Devaney
I'm not sure why the geniuses at Arista decided not to release this album Stateside but once again, Lisa Stansfield does not disappoint.  I especially like 8-3-1.
Sting - ...All This Time
Produced by Kipper & Sting
Sting recorded this live album featuring some of his best solo and Police-era songs at his home in Tuscany on September 11.  The lyrics from Fragile (printed in the CD insert) are very poignant: "Nothing comes from violence, and nothing ever could." 
India.Aire - Acoustic Soul
Various Producers
A nice fresh sound from newcomer Aire has sparse arrangements and intelligent lyrics (like the hit Video which features the clever lyrics: "Keep your silicone, what God gave me is just fine"). I also like Always In My Head and Part Of My Life.
Brian McKnight - Superhero
Produced by Brian McKnight
Brian McKnight decided to take more chances and showcase more of his musical diversity on his latest effort.  Unfortunately, for the most part, this makes for a disappointing album although I do like the hard rocking title song in spite of its silly lyrics.  Another gem is the beautiful ballad Still.
Alicia Keys - Songs In A Minor
Various Producers
Alicia Keys is an amazing young talent that possesses a great voice which doesn't sound like a nineteen year old's (when she recorded this album).  Also impressive is that she wrote almost every song on this album, she plays the piano and shares production credits.  I particularly like A Woman's Worth.
Patti Austin - On The Way To Love
Produced by Paul Brown
Paul Brown has done an impressive job of producing albums by jazz veterans (Al Jarreau's Tomorrow Today and George Benson's Standing Together).  While this album is not quite as good as those, Mr. Brown once again shows a knack for bringing out the best from talented artists.
Usher - 8701
Various Producers
8701 is probably Usher Raymond's best album and features U Got It Bad (one of the best songs of 2001) and U Remind Me.
Babyface - face2face
Produced by Babyface and others
On his latest effort, Babyface works hard to remain hip and relevant to today's R&B scene.  However, it just doesn't seem to work and seems very contrived.  However, there are some flashes of brilliance that make this worth a listen like How Can U Be Down.