|Studio album by Minnie Riperton|
The Record Plant, Los Angeles
|Producer||Stevie Wonder and Richard Rudolph (as Scorbu Productions)|
|Minnie Riperton chronology|
Perfect Angel is the second studio album by Minnie Riperton, released in 1974 by Epic Records. The album contains the biggest hit of Riperton's career, "Lovin' You", which topped the U.S. Pop Singles chart for one week in early April 1975.
In 1973, a college intern for Epic Records found Riperton in semi-retirement. She had become a homemaker and a mother of two in Gainesville, Florida. After he heard a demo of the song "Seeing You This Way", the rep took the tape to Don Ellis, VP of A&R for Epic. Riperton signed with Epic Records, and the family moved to Los Angeles, California.
Riperton's husband, Richard Rudolph, said that shortly after she was signed to Epic, Ellis asked them who they wanted to produce the album. Riperton requested Stevie Wonder, who was very busy at the time with his band Wonderlove. Rudolph said that Wonder was a huge fan of Riperton's and agreed to produce Perfect Angel under one condition. According to Rudolph, because Wonder was signed to Motown and concerned that they would not allow him to work on the project, Wonder said that he would only produce it under a pseudonym and with Rudolph as co-producer. Therefore, Rudolph recounted, they created the name El Toro Negro for Wonder and a production company called Scorbu Productions.
With associate producers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff on hand engineering and programming the synthesizers, Riperton and company recorded Perfect Angel at the Record Plant in LA, Stevie Wonder's choice of studio on the West Coast. Perfect Angel was a musical romp through rock (“Reasons”), easy-going pop (“Seeing You This Way”) with a wonderful message song that closed out side one (“On The Edge Of a Dream” – written in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr). Wonder wrote the title tune as well as “Take a Little Trip”.
The album would have had eight songs, but Wonder felt that one more was needed to meet the industry standard of a 40-minute album. He asked Riperton and songwriter-husband Richard Rudolph to come up with a tune that they considered to be their “most embarrassing song”. With hesitation, Riperton did mention a lullaby she sang to her daughter Maya to put her to sleep at night so that she and Rudolph could spend “grown-up time”. With Rudolph’s help, Riperton came up with "Lovin’ You" – which was quickly recorded with Wonder on electric piano and synthesizers, whilst Rudolph supplied the chirping birds from a sound effects reel. Epic released Perfect Angel in June 1974, one month before Wonder’s Fulfillingness' First Finale hit the record stores. While the album represented Riperton’s eclectic musical directions, it posed a marketing dilemma with the label: is she a rock, soul or pop singer? As for radio, "Reasons", the first single, was embraced by the rock stations, but R&B radio weren’t too keen on the hard-rocking guitar work heard on the disc. “Every Time He Comes Around” and “Seeing You This Way” hit a similar brick wall.
The sales started out slow and Epic was ready to move on to the next record. The solution to this issue was found when a few MOR (Middle Of the Road) radio stations were playing “Lovin' You” from the album. When Riperton and Rudolph learned about this, they asked Epic to give the song a shot as a single release. The label agreed and “Lovin’ You” was on 45 in January 1975. The single made a slow three-month climb to #1 on the pop charts in April (#3 R&B), thanks to an intense promotional schedule (her TV appearances on American Bandstand and Soul Train aired the same Saturday afternoon) and several in-person concert appearances. The album went Gold on the strength of "Lovin' You" and remains the only Gold Album in Riperton's career. Minnie Riperton was finally revered as the "lady with the high voice and flowers in her hair." The album also featured the song "Every Time He Comes Around", with Deniece Williams singing the background vocals.
After Riperton died from breast cancer in 1979, Stevie Wonder performed the title track on Soul Train, as a special tribute to Riperton.
All songs written by Minnie Riperton and Richard Rudolph except where indicated.
- "Reasons" – 3:25
- "It's So Nice (To See Old Friends)" – 4:47
- "Take a Little Trip" (Stevie Wonder) – 4:11
- "Seeing You This Way" – 2:51
- "The Edge of a Dream" – 4:20
- "Perfect Angel" (Stevie Wonder) – 3:41
- "Every Time He Comes Around" – 3:55
- "Lovin' You" – 3:44
- "Our Lives" – 5:42
- Minnie Riperton – lead vocals
- Stevie Wonder (as El Toro Negro) – piano, drums, cymbals, bass drum, harmonica
- Michael Sembello – lead guitar
- Marlo Henderson – guitar
- Reggie McBride – bass
- Ollie E. Brown – drums
- Rocki Dzidzornu – congas
- Deniece Williams, Yvonne Wright, Shirley Brewer, Lani Groves – backing vocals
- Baker Bigsby – assistant remix engineer
- Malcolm Cecil – engineer, associate producer
- Kent Duncan – mastering
- Barry Feinstein – cover photography
- Ann Garner – artwork
- Robert Margouleff – engineer, associate producer
- Gary Olazabal – assistant engineer
- Richard Rudolph – producer
- Stevie Wonder (as Wonderlove) – arranger, producer
Four artists who performed on this album (Stevie Wonder, Deniece Williams, Michael Sembello, and Ollie Brown [of Ollie & Jerry]) would all find themselves sharing space on the pop singles charts within a year of each other, a decade after this album's release.
- Perfect Angel at Amazon.com
- Christgau, Robert. . The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2012-04-16.
- Konjović, Slobodan. "Minnie Riperton - Perfect Angel". Džuboks (in Serbian) (Gornji Milanovac: Dečje novine) (8 (second series)): 23.
- Eskow, Gary (February 1, 2008). "Classic Tracks: Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You"". Mix. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- "Minnie Riperton US albums chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-06-29.
- "Minnie Riperton US singles chart history". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-06-29.