For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I wanted to revisit Jon B.’s criminally underrated third album, Pleasures U Like. Joining me in discussing the album is Keith Sweat super fan and Marvel Guru, Edward Bowser from Soul In Stereo
- Reviews & Dunn – What were your initial thoughts on hearing the lead single “Don’t Talk” from Pleasures U Like?
Edward Bowser – Real talk my “Don’t Talk” feelings were mixed – at least initially. Jon B was mainly known for his slow jams or a couple midtempo burners here and there. We hadn’t yet heard Turn Up Jon B so I found the transition a bit jarring, especially since most of his peers in 2001 were also embracing that sound. But “Don’t Talk” is just SO catchy that it didn’t take long for it to draw me in. So while initially I was skeptical when it seemed like our boy was chasing trends, he almost immediately won me over. Now it’s one of my favorite cuts from him.
- When Jon released his third album, I was in my first year of college and living in Huntsville, Alabama. The lead single did not have any radio play in that area. Where were you in 2001 and do, you remember hearing “Don’t Talk” all on your local station?
EB – 2001 was a big year of transition for me. Pleasures U Like landed right before I graduated from college, moved 800 miles away from my hometown to Louisville, Ky., and started my first career job. “Don’t Talk” is one of the songs of that era that conjures memories of packing, moving and starting a new life. But no, I don’t remember “Don’t Talk” on either of the stations in my home state of Virginia or my new state of Kentucky. The single got decent play on BET thought – that’s where I heard it.
- Reviews & Dunn – After the opening interlude, Jon teamed with Nas for the bop “Finer Things.” I always thought this song was single-worthy. What are your thoughts?
EB – I could see it as a strong single, especially considering the massive comeback Nas experienced that year. Jon has surprisingly good rap cameos – 2pac, AZ, and more – and this is near the top of the heap.
- Reviews & Dunn – The first seven tracks (sans the interludes) on Pleasures U Like all still hold up twenty years later. In my opinion, they highlighted Jon’s versatility. Do you have a particular favorite?
EB – The first half of Pleasures U Like is extremely strong and it’s home to pretty much all my faves on the album – “Finer Things,” “Don’t Talk,” “Overjoyed,” etc. My personal favorite is “Don’t Talk” but since y’all will be calling me basic for picking the single I’ll shout out “Boy is Not a Man” instead.
- Reviews & Dunn – As strong as Pleasures U Like is, every album has some filler. For me, the filler song on here is the AZ collabo “Layaway.” What is the filler song for you?
EB – As I said in my mini-review of this album over on SoulInStereo.com, Pleasure U Like’s strength comes from its superior album cuts BUT, like many albums in this era, it’s a little bloated and really starts to feel long in the tooth in the last third or so. I like “Layway,” as I mentioned earlier, but y’all can have “All I Want is You.” I’ve definitely heard worse but it’s pretty forgettable.
- Reviews & Dunn -Drake sampled “Calling On You” for “Cameras” from his Take Care album. I am not the biggest Drake fan, but I will give Aubrey credited for the way he used the sample. What was your reaction when you heard it?
EB – Here’s something that will shock the Soul In Stereo heads – Aubrey made a song I liked! Now to be fair, “Cameras” is from Take Care – far and away his best LP and back when he was putting actual effort into his craft. When I first heard “Cameras” I knew the beat was familiar but I couldn’t place it at the time. I certainly would have never guessed it was from a decade-old Jon B song. But hey, I’m a fan of sampling when done well, as it was here. Give the devil with the heart carved into his forehead his due.
- It is no secret that I am a huge New Edition fan, particularly of Ralph Tresvant. I would have loved to hear Ralph join Jon on a remix of either “Now That I’m With You” or “Lonely Girl.” You are a huge Keith Sweat fan; what is the one song you would have love to hear Keith on from this album?
EB- First of all, playa, let’s properly address R&B royalty, it’s KING KEEF. Keith makes magic on every duet and I think “Do It All Again” is the perfect fit for him. The production is already cut from the Sweat cloth and the longing lyrics are right up Keef’s alley. Bring begging back to R&B!
- Reviews & Dunn – Jon’s label dropped the ball on this album from a promotional standpoint. Honestly, Jon could have easily had a good six to eight-month run on this project with the proper promotion. Where do you think the promotion went wrong?
EB – Obviously “Don’t Talk” seemed to be abandoned as quickly as it emerged, so that’s a big problem. I do wonder if listeners, like I was initially in 2001, were taken aback by “I might be tipsy bay-bayyyyyy” Jon and if a more trademark yet modern Jon B cut like “Lonely Girl” would have done better. But if the label isn’t going to put steam behind it, the project was doomed from jump. Clearly the potential for greatness was there.
- Reviews &Dunn – It is hard to narrow down a top three for me with Pleasures U Like, but “Do It All Again,” “Calling On You,” and “Inside” has the most plays in my Apple Music. What are your top three?
EB – I’d have to sit and analyze every track with a pen and pad (yes I still use those) album review style to say for sure. But “Lonely Girl,” “Boy is Not a Man” and “Inside” are jumping out at me right now.
- Reviews & Dunn – Our good friends over at YouKnowIGotSoul.com shared one of the rare bonus tracks (All For You) from this album over a decade ago. The other bonus tracks that I know of are “True Love,” “Ain’t Nothing,” and “What Do You Want.” I would not mind hearing either Lucky Daye or Luke James do a modern take on “True Love.” If you have listened to the bonus tracks, who would you like to hear cover one of them in 2021?
EB – Oh this is easy. Kevin Ross on “True Love.” He has the tone and temperament to make magic.
- Reviews & Dunn – The 20-year-old Derrick would rate Pleasures U Like with a grade of B+. The more mature and life experienced 40 years old I would rate it an A-. What is your final ranking?
EB – Well you know I do star ratings instead of letter grades and Pleasures U Like is an easy 4 out of 5 stars, or around a B+ for your scale. Very solid project – second only to his celebrated signature release Cool Relax – but that bloated runtime keeps it from hitting the next level.
- Reviews & Dunn – Is there anything you would like to add, and where can fans find you on social media?
EB – Oh I’m everywhere. Holla at a playa at SoulinStereo.com, get at me on Twitter @etbowser, Instagram at @EdwardBowser, be sure to listen to the SoulBack podcast on all streaming platforms and if you love music discussions like the ones here, join us on Facebook at the Soul In Stereo Cypher group. We’d love to have you.