Picture of Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday : Marc Nelson, I Want You

For this week’s Second Listen Sunday pick, I’m taking you back to 1991 to highlight the debut solo album by premier vocalist Marc Nelson, “I Want You.” It’s often forgotten, but it deserves recognition. As R&B experts know, Nelson was born into music as he is the son of Phyllis Nelson, best known for the dance hit “I Like You.”
Nelson was one of the founding members of Boyz II Men while still a student at Philadelphia’s renowned High School of Performing Arts. However, due to personality conflicts and impatience, Nelson left the group before they hit the big time. Nelson would end up signing with Capital Records, and his solo album, I Want You, was released only a few months after his former group’s debut “Cooleyhighharmony” in the fall of 1991.

Nelson’s debut single is a cover of Marvin Gaye’s well-known 1976 track “I Want You”. Despite his young age of under 21 at the time of recording, Nelson delivers the song with his style and smooth vocals, capturing the essence of unrequited love and the longing for reciprocation portrayed in the original. The track showcases Nelson’s wisdom beyond his years as he expresses his deep desire for his romantic interest while realizing that his love has not fully returned. The song even includes a rap that seamlessly fits into the overall sound.

The second single from Marc’s album was a ballad titled “Count on Me.” This ballad showcases Marc’s vocal abilities, and despite its solid composition, the album failed to perform commercially. Due to this lack of commercial success, Marc did not receive a third single from his label. It appears that the label struggled to market Marc effectively, particularly after hearing other R&B ballads such as “Holiday” and “Summer Love,” which are sung better than some other singers’ entire catalogs making music today.

The rest of the album is typical NJS filler. His label’s attempts at the iconic sound with songs “It’s My World,” “Treat Her Right,” and “Step to Me” all come off as with tracks that some of the heavyweights at the time turned down. The up-tempo numbers come off as forced since Marc is a balladeer at heart. Although Nelson’s vocal abilities were exceptional, and he would later succeed as a writer and member of the group AZ Yet, his debut is a classic example of a singer and his record label’s inability to distinguish his talent from that of his contemporaries.

Final Grade: C+
Marc Nelson’s “I Want You” is available on all streaming platforms.

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