For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Slow Jam Saturday: Mariah Carey, Bliss
Mariah Carey was already one of the biggest stars in music when her seventh studio album, Rainbow, hit stores on November 2nd, 1999. At the time, I was a senior in high school living in El Paso, Texas. Before that, I had spent the last six years outside Washington D.C. Naturally, living so close to Chocolate City with numerous urban radio stations, album cuts weren’t that hard to come by. Particularly during the quiet storm.
Unfortunately, El Paso only had one mainstream radio station, so it was sporadic that an album cut would get radio play. However, I’ve always considered myself a music head, so I would spread the word around my high school whenever I discovered a slow jam bop from an artist.
So naturally, back in 1999, when I heard “Bliss” this week’s pick for Slow Jam Saturday, I had to get my A&R on. As with her previous two albums, Daydream and Butterfly, Rainbow found Mariah Carey going in a more urban direction. One of the most surprising things about Rainbow was that Carey eighty-sixed longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff in favor of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis for the ballads.
“Bliss” is the third track on the album and one of the first slow jams that Carey worked on with Jam & Lewis. The song starts with an angelic sound before Mariah comes in at the nineteen-second mark, seductively crooning,
“Touch me baby
It feels so amazing (yeah)
And you stimulate me
And you make me want you more and more”.
When we hit the chorus, Mariah has the listener in a romantic frenzy as she effortlessly shows off her whistle register. Even in the simplicity of production, Mariah shows why she’s one of the best in the game. Furthermore, as far as I know, no singer has ever attempted to cover the song on a reality TV singing competition due to the vocal complexity.
“Thank God I Found You” and the far superior (Make It Last Remix feat. Joe & Nas) may have been the big ballad single from Rainbow. However, with “Bliss,” Jam & Lewis produced a sensual slow jam for Carey that was never crass but tasteful and personally stood the test of time.
Final Grade: A
“Bliss” from Rainbow is available on all streaming platforms.
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
One of the most talented men in indie music, Eric Roberson, kicked off his 30th-anniversary tour last night in Pittsburgh, so for this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to revisit Mr. Roberson’s third album, The Vault 1.5, which hit record stores in 2003. As Erro fans know, Roberson initially hit the scene with the lovely ballad “The Moon” while studying at Howard University. Roberson’s first record deal didn’t go as planned, but not one to just lay down, Roberson continued to build a name for himself by writing for the likes of 112 and Will Smith. Additionally, Roberson collaborated with Jill Scott, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Cam’ron.