Friday, October 3, 2014

Chaka Khan - I Feel For You

Earlier this week (the 1st) marked the thirtieth anniversary of I Feel For You, the fifth solo studio album from Chaka Khan. It spent forty-nine weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 14. It also charted at number 71 in Australia, number 15 in the UK, and number 4 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one opens with the dance jam “This Is My Night”. As the second single, it stalled at number 60 on the US Billboard Hot 100, yet it went to number 14 in the UK, number 11 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart. With a solid synth line and persistent beat, it starts the party on a strong note.

“Stronger Than Before”, a ballad written by Burt Bacharach, Bruce Roberts and Carol Bayer-Sager, is a heartfelt plea for another chance at making a relationship work.

“My Love Is Alive” was first a hit for Gary Wright in 1976. Khan and her musicians infuse it with a B-boy hip-hop rhythm, truly reinventing it for a new decade.

“Eye To Eye”, the fourth single, went to number 16 in the UK. Co-written by the Sembello brothers (Dan, John and Michael), the mid-tempo tune has a very funky R&B groove at its foundation. Dan and Michael also performed on the track as well.

The B-side to the third single was “La Flamme”. Like other tracks on the record, it takes into account the sounds of the street at the time; it features a lot of scratches and cuts used by club deejays.

Side two begins with the title track, a cover of Prince’s 1979 single “I Feel For You” from his debut album. This first single from the album was a huge smash hit for Khan, hitting number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 in Ireland and the UK and on the US Billboard R&B and Dance charts. Grandmaster Melle Mel provides the memorable rap intro followed by Stevie Wonder’s harmonica hook, all before Khan begins to deliver her vocals. This was a big dance favorite of mine during my sophomore year of college; when it played at parties or in the clubs I had to hit the dance floor (as did everyone else). It is no wonder that Khan won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance Female with the song.

Next up is “Hold Her”. It starts out like a ballad, with Khan’s voice soaring on some big notes. Then, less than a minute in, it shifts into a simmering mid-tempo dance groove.

“Through the Fire”, the third single, went to number 77 in the UK, number 60 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 16 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and number 15 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This ballad was written by David Foster, Tom Keane and Cynthia Weil. Khan knocks it out of the park vocally.

“Caught in the Act” was selected as the B-side to the second single. At its core is a slow, steady drumbeat delivered by Joe Mardin, one of the song’s co-writers. Alec Milstein, the other writer, is present on backing vocals.

The closing track “Chinatown” was also the B-side to the first single.

I Feel For You is a fantastic R&B record from start to finish. With it, Chaka Khan put her major mark on the mid-80’s. While I did not own it back in the day, this is one of the records I am very glad to have as part of my digital music library today.

For more Chaka Khan, click here.

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