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Babyface - Topic

Christmas with Babyface Play

Babyface had long demonstrated a talent for smooth, seductive, laid-back contemporary soul before he recorded his holiday album, Christmas with Babyface. Those years he spent perfecting his style were put to good use -- not only did he turn into a reliable hitmaker, but he developed an alluring, mellow sound that appealed to all generations of listeners, which is exactly what is needed for a successful holiday album. And Christmas with Babyface is exactly that -- a warm, friendly, and inviting holiday record, with enough soul for younger listeners and enough style for old folks. It may not be a classic, but it is a lovely record ideal for romantic winter nights or relaxed holiday parties. ~ Leo Stanley, Rovi

Face2Face Play

Babyface took his sweet time to deliver the sequel to The Day, a rare flop in his catalog, waiting nearly five years to release Face2Face. He wasn't exactly in seclusion, since he still worked relentlessly as a producer and songwriter, even masterminding the tremendous pop-punk soundtrack for the 2001 film Josie & the Pussycats. All this activity, combined with the subtleness of The Day, is in no way preparation for Face2Face, a gleaming, stylish platter of urban funk and smooth soul that is easily among his very best records. As Babyface's sense of craft deepens, he's become more assured with what he wants to do on his own records. Though he's dabbled in funk since the beginning of his career, the grooves here cut deeper and are flashier than ever before, and the sweet croon of his voice just makes them seem deeper. Then there are the ballads that he's always excelled at -- they're just as good here, but they not only offer good contrast, they sound better in this context, surrounded by such exquisite dance numbers and grooves. Even if Face2Face fails to match the chart heights of, say, "Whip Appeal," Babyface has never been in better form, and from beginning to end, this record captures him at the peak of his powers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

The Day Play

The Day was the first album Babyface released after being elevated into a virtually guaranteed hitmaker in the mid-'90s through his work with Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Madonna, and Mariah Carey, among many others. The album confirms his skill for subtle, inventive songwriting and accessible, polished yet soulful production. Babyface can straddle the line between hip-hop and traditional soul better than nearly any other artist, as evidenced by the hits he has orchestrated for other artists. On his own, he is still compelling -- his voice is as smooth as silk, and nearly as seductive -- but it doesn't quite have the force of personality as his greatest productions. Nevertheless, The Day qualifies as state-of-the-art mid-'90s soul, featuring a handful of terrific songs, and a lot of extremely pleasurable filler. [The 2001 CD reissue adds historical liner notes and three bonus tracks: remixes of "Everytime I Close My Eyes," "This Is For the Lover in You," and "Everytime I Feel the Groove," the last of which was previously unreleased and not found on the original album in any form.] ~ Leo Stanley, Rovi

Grown & Sexy Play

Not everyone was left convinced by Babyface's previous solo album, 2001's Face2Face. Many critics and fans found it to be a desperate act of some form, containing several stabs at with-it youthfulness that would've sounded out of character on his early albums with the Deele, not to mention something he put together almost 20 years later. He was either tired of doing the expected or was attempting to appeal to more than the thirty- and fortysomethings (or both). Those who were left disappointed by that album will probably be happy to have the Face of old back with Grown & Sexy, a back-to-basics album that sounds a lot more natural in comparison. While this is very familiar territory, few cover it as well. Written with longtime partner Daryl Simmons and produced with relative newcomer Gregg Pagani (LeAnn Rimes, Will Smith), Grown & Sexy doesn't have any songs that immediately jump out and fall in line with the biggest hits, but it does make up for that with its consistency. Mostly light and easygoing, though not without its fair share of female-male drama (and a couple touches of humor), it's capped off by a great dancefloor track in the form of "She's International," showing that he needn't necessarily stick to ballads with acoustic guitars. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi

Lovers Play

On his first album, Babyface sings with just enough earnestness to be soulful and just enough sophistication and slickness to avoid sounding too much like a throwback. [The 2001 CD reissue adds historical liner notes and three bonus tracks: a "Free Style Mix" of "Mary Mack," a "Jazz Lover's Mix" of "Lovers," and a 12" version of "If We Try."] ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi

A Closer Look Play

Babyface has established himself as both a performing and production star in the '90s. His alternately innocent, hurt, and disillusioned vocals are this decade's equivalent of the soul/love songs of the '70s and '80s. He can sing sentimental material, tender tunes, or seem angry and confused. His lyrics get overly coy, but they've struck many responsive chords among women in particular. It's not soul, but it's what many who never heard Sam Cooke think it is. ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi

For the Cool in You Play

In late 1993 Babyface, who was at the top of his game as pop/R&B's hottest writer and producer, released his acclaimed solo album For the Cool in You. The album featured four hit singles, those being the title track, "Never Keeping Secrets," "And Our Feelings," and the song that went on to become his signature tune, "When Can I See You." In early 2001, the album was reissued with three bonus tracks, which do the album a great deal of service and widely expand its musical boundaries. "For the Cool in You" is served up with two additional mixes. One is the Quiet Storm Vocal Mix, which, as the name implies, is a laid-back, mellow quiet storm groove. The other is the album's closer, the Midnight Luv Instrumental Mix, which is a fine, mellow, jazzy way to close off the album. Finally, "When Can I See You" is served up with the Urban Soul Basement Mix, which is a dance-house version of the song. This version may displease some of the song's original fans (it was an acoustic ballad in its original inception), but ultimately serves to expand the musical boundaries of the album. For a record that was originally pop/R&B, the reissue is a jazzier offering that includes house music and makes for a surprisingly good listen from start to finish. Also included are beefed-up liner notes, which include all of the original liner notes' artwork. ~ Jose F. Promis, Rovi

Tender Lover Play

Babyface's solo debut yielded the first number one R&B hit of the 1990s while establishing Edmonds as a major personality and performer. He wrote or co-wrote much of the material and even played several instruments. It was a combination of slick production and nicely sung sentimental tributes and heartache ballads. [The 2001 CD reissue adds historical liner notes and three bonus tracks: a "Dub L.A." version of "Tender Lover," a 12" version of "Whip Appeal," and a 12" version of "My Kinda Girl."] ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi

A Collection of His Greatest Hits Play

As can be expected with a Babyface retrospective, the songs are top notch and the production is excellent. At his peak in the mid-'90s, Babyface was arguably the American music industry's hottest producer/songwriter. He also established himself as a top-rate balladeer, as evidenced by the songs on this selection. "Everytime I Close My Eyes," "Never Keeping Secrets," and "When Can I See You" are quintessential slow jam Babyface. His up-tempo numbers, such as "It's No Crime" and the Shalamar cover, "This Is for the Lover in You," are just as engaging. However, despite the inclusion of some of his best ballads and up-tempo hits, this album suffers from several glaring omissions, and leaves one hoping for a more complete product, or at least a second volume to complement what's lacking in this one. Glaring omissions include two hits from his Tender Lover album, those being "My Kinda Girl" and the title track. Incidentally, both those songs were remixed (and greatly improved) when released as singles, so their inclusion on this hits package would have been a huge bonus for the singer's fans. Other omissions include his hit duet with Pebbles, "Love Makes Things Happen," his hit duet with Toni Braxton, "Give U My Heart," early singles "Mary Mack" and "Lovers," later singles "And Our Feelings" and "Rock Bottom," as well as his har- to-find duet with Lisa Stansfield, "Dream Away," and his Top Ten hit with protégé Jon B., "Someone to Love." Omitting those songs in favor of non-hit album tracks such as "Soon as I Get Home" seems a tad bewildering. For completists, this collection is thoroughly lacking, but for the casual listener, it's a pleasure nonetheless. As a final note, two new songs are included, "When Men Grow Old" and "Reason for Breathing," as well as a live, unplugged version of a hit he wrote for Eric Clapton, "Change the World." ~ Jose F. Promis, Rovi

The Essential Babyface Play

After his stint with the Deele in the late '70s, Babyface (along with co-conspirator L.A. Reid) almost single-handedly set the standard of commercial adult contemporary R&B since the early '80s, when he rose to prominence as an in-demand songwriter and producer. He's been responsible for an armada of hits rivaled by only a few other producer/songwriters in modern commercial chart history, writing hits for Madonna, Boyz II Men, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and a legion of other artists. However, within that span of time his solo efforts have been sorely overlooked by mainstream audiences, being primarily accepted only by die-hard R&B fans. This makes the Essential Babyface release all the more important, as it's a survey of just his works and not productions of other artists. It's a comprehensive look at his career, from the quiet storm ballads of his early years like "Whip Appeal" to the up-tempo urban radio hits like "How Come, How Long" (featuring guest vocals by Stevie Wonder), and leaves no stone unturned in between. Unlike his 2000 collection, Essential Babyface doesn't rely so much on his productions for other artists, which makes it instantly appealing to die-hard fans and gives casual listeners an appreciation of the depths of Babyface's talent. The only exception comes from his MTV Unplugged medley, featuring two of his all-time biggest productions: the Boyz II Men anthems "I'll Make Love to You" and "End of the Road." The Essential Babyface is easily the strongest representation to date of Babyface as an artist, and not just a producer/songwriter. ~ Rob Theakston, Rovi

S.O.U.L. Play

This ten-track budget compilation, part of an extensive series from Sony, includes some of Babyface’s most popular singles, but certainly not every significant highlight from his catalog. There was no apparent method to the selections. The Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 hits “It’s No Crime,” “Whip Appeal,” and “Every Time I Close My Eyes” are here, but the just-as-successful likes of “When Can I See You” and “This Is for the Lover in You” are missing. While no song is truly undeserving of inclusion, S.O.U.L. is not the “just the major smashes,” ideal point-of-entry overview it could have been. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi

Love Songs Play

This set, released in 2001, contains 75 minutes of Babyface's most romantic ballads with a couple midtempo singles (such as "For the Cool in You") thrown in for good measure. It picks from Face's Epic albums, from the 1986 solo debut Lovers through 1996's The Day, with the inclusion of several Top Ten R&B hits, like "Whip Appeal" and "Every Time I Close My Eyes," as well as the excellent album cut "Soon as I Get Home." Naturally, this cannot act as a substitute for a proper Babyface anthology like The Essential Babyface (where you can get some uptempo high points like "My Kinda Girl"), but it does dig a little deeper into the type of material Face has done best. The disc was repackaged and retitled in 2009, just in time for Valentine's Day, made part of Legacy's From the Heart series. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi
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