Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tavares - Madam Butterfly

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday.

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Madam Butterfly, the seventh studio album the five Tavares brothers. The record spent eleven weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 92. I also hit number 90 in Canada and number 13 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one starts with “Straight From Your Heart”. As the album’s second single, it reached number 77 on the US Billboard R&B singles chart. It features a strong dance beat, accentuated nicely by a horn section. The percussion driven bridge features a “testify” moment with the “audience”.

“Games, Games” slows things down as it reflects upon how manipulative some people can be. This one showcases the vocal harmonies that were one of the siblings’ signature strengths.

The title track “Madam Butterfly” floats in next on a smooth mid-tempo groove.

The B-side to the second single was the tender and comforting ballad “Let Me Heal the Bruises”. The singer leaves the door open for his former girlfriend to return to him if she desires.

Side two begins with “Never Had a Love Like This Before”; as a single this slow jam went all the way to number 5 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“One Telephone Call Away” is a mid-tempo “reach out and I’ll be there” kind of a song. The underlying bass line and the harmonica accents are two of the elements I like on its arrangement.

“My Love Calls” keeps the alternating pattern of tempos going with another heartfelt ballad.

The up-beat “Positive Forces” emphasizes those things in life that can keep driving you forward. This one is definitely a standout track on the record for me; I think it might have made a good single.

“I’m Back For More” closes things out with a guy giving in to old feelings of love.

This was my first listen to Madam Butterfly; I liked it well enough. I definitely found it interesting that Tavares stepped back from the prominent disco sounds at the time to deliver a more traditional 70’s R&B record.

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