Monday, July 22, 2013

Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack - Born to Love

Today (July 22nd) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Born to Love, the second collaborative album from R&B singers Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack. This one charted at number 25 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 15 in the UK, and number 8 on the US Billboard R&B charts.

Side one opens with “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love”. This first single from the album went to number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 5 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 4 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 2 in the UK. This one, about committing fully to a romantic relationship by taking it to the next level, became a huge slow dance juggernaut in the mid-80’s.

The ballad “Blame It on Me” tells of those who have fallen out of love and can no longer keep up the facade. Maturely, they take all the responsibility for the failure.

“Heaven About Me”, released as a single in the UK, went to number 84. A mid-tempo beat moves this song about the discovery of a new relationship. The saxophone and keyboards also add to the interesting blend.

The mid-tempo jazzy rhythms of the title track “Born to Love” are next. Bryson takes this one on solo.

Side two begins with “Maybe” which peaked at number 68 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This tender ballad is about taking one more chance to see if things will work out. The expectations are tempered though as the title indicates.

“I Just Came Here to Dance”, released as the final album single in 1984, went to number 15 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. It paints the picture of two random people encountering one another at a night club and finding more than just a night out moving to the music. Sometimes you find the right person when you are not even looking. This one sort of hits home for me in that is how I met my future-wife on a Saturday night back in the summer of 1989.

“Comin’ Alive” is next with its mid-tempo groove.

The single for “You’re Looking Like Love to Me” reached number 58 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 41 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 5 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. It sums up those early days of dating, when one starts analyzing the feelings that are growing and tries to determine where things might end up going.

“Can We Find Love Again” goes back to the question that has been covered by a number of earlier tracks as well. Can old flames be rekindled again?

Born to Love is a good R&B record. The songs cover universally understood topics about relationships, and the music is cleanly composed. What sells this one, for me, is how wonderfully the voices of the two stars work together. There is no denying that Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack made a wonderful duo in the early 80's.

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