In the fall of 2002, R&B music was a changing landscape. However, that didn’t stop The Prom Queen Of Soul, a.k.a., Mrs. Whitney Houston, from releasing her fifth album Just Whitney on December 10th, 2022. Just Whitney was Houston’s fifth studio album and the first after she renewed her contract with Arista for $100 million.
Second Listen Sunday: James Ingram, It’s Your Night
Vocalist James Ingram was no stranger to the music industry as his older brother Philip was a member of the late seventies R&B band Switch. Before releasing his debut, It’s Your Night, Ingram had already built a fan base two years prior. On Quincy Jones’ 1981 album The Dude, Ingram supplied vocals for “Just Once” and “One Hundred Ways,” garnering him three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. For his efforts on “One Hundred Ways,” he garnered the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
Both songs mentioned above set the stage for Ingram, which arrived in stores on July 27, 1983. Ingram opens the set with the funky bop “Party Animal,” which will kick your party off. The arrangements by Ingram, Mark Vieha, and Quincy Jones are downright funky. In addition, the backing vocals of Luther Vandross and Philip Ingram come through concise and clear.
The dance floor vibes continue on the Michael McDonald-assisted “Yah Mo B There.” In addition to the writing talents of the vocalists and the legendary Quincy Jones, Rod Tempeton also adds his magic. McDonald and Ingram have tremendous musical chemistry in the song and get a chance to shine in the song.
“She Loves Me (The Best That I Can Be)” is the album’s first ballad. However, given Ingram’s earlier efforts, I found the song to be a bit lackluster. Ingram picks up the up-tempo “Try Your Love Again” and transitions into a solid ballad with “Whatever We Imagine.” “One More Rhythm” is next and features the smooth pen game of Rod Tempeton. The song has a finger-snapping groove and would fit perfectly on the soundtrack to a Broadway musical.
The album’s big ballad arrives in the form of “There’s No Easy Way.” Ingram takes the listener to church as he elegantly croons a song about breaking up. Barry Mann pens the lyrics, which affectionately let us know, “There’s no easy way to break somebody’s heart.” Ingram and Man collaborate again on the next song, the funky “It’s Your Night,” a strong album track that may be my favorite song on the project.
Patti Austin’s duet “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” rounds off Ingram’s debut. Michel Legrand composed the Oscar-nominated song for the 1982 film Best Friends, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. I had not heard this song in decades, but given the popularity, it makes sense that Ingram placed it as the closing song.
Despite a misstep in the sequencing, Ingram delivered a solid debut that would kick off a fantastic career.
Final Grade: B+
It’s Your Night is available on all streaming platforms
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