Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Woman In Red (soundtrack)

Today (August 28th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of The Woman In Red, the soundtrack album for the film of the same name. The romantic comedy, starring Gene Wilder, Charles Grodin, Gilda Radner and Kelly LeBrock in her screen debut, was an adaptation of a 1976 French film called Pardon Mon Affaire.

The record, written and produced by Stevie Wonder, was a smash success. It spent forty weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 4. It also reached number 5 in France, number 4 in Australia and New Zealand, number 3 in West Germany, and number 2 in Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. It scored the top spot on the charts in Italy, Norway, and Sweden, as well as on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with the title track performed by Wonder. “The Woman In Red” is a funky mid-tempo jam about an alluring and mysterious woman.

“It’s You” is a duet between Wonder and Dionne Warwick. Their two voices blend quite well, especially on the love song’s chorus.

Next is a gentle flowing instrumental track entitled “It’s More Than You”.

“I Just Called To Say I Love You”, the lead single, became a number 1 smash world-wide. It won an Academy Award for the Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award, and was nominated for three Grammy Awards. In 1986, Wonder guest-starred on an episode of The Cosby Show where he performed a rendition of it with the cast. This is one of those songs that I will end up singing along to whenever it comes on, having heard it so much especially during the mid-80’s. I am sure it is a popular karaoke number as well. It has a great melody and a simple, universal lyrical sentiment. The album version runs over six minutes long and includes a vocoder, synthesized verse; I actually prefer the single edit.

Side two starts with “Love Light in Flight”. As the second single, it hit number 44 in the UK, number 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 10 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 4 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The mid-tempo tune was a dance floor favorite as well. It has been awhile since I had heard this track, but I recalled how much I liked it back in the day and quickly picked it up.

Warwick performs “Moments Aren’t Moments”, a soulful swinging number. It reminds me quite a bit of her hit songs from the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Wonder and Warwick duet again on “Weakness”.

The closing track “Don’t Drive Drunk”, the third single, stalled at number 62 on the UK charts. This morality tale was used for a number of public service announcement commercials here in the US in 1985 and even name drops the Mothers Against Drunk Driving nonprofit organization. It does have a catchy dance hook to it.

To my recollection, I do not believe I have ever seen The Woman In Red. I was, however, familiar with the three singles from the album which are, in my opinion, the best tracks from the record. If you want to give the whole thing a spin, you can find it over on Spotify and other streaming sites.

No comments: