Philip Bailey: Philip Bailey –
Review by RJM – Rating:Even though Philip Bailey had enjoyed success in his gospel career, he resurfaced in 1994 to release his fourth secular solo project eight years after «Inside Out». This self-titled work is my choice among Philip’s first five solos, edging out «Chinese Wall» because it’s much more even. There’s really nothing I dislike on «Philip Bailey», though the chorus of «Crazy Things You Do For Love» comes close.
Overall, this is the most soulful of Philip’s solos, which is another reason it’s my favorite; I just like this kind of music better than the variety represented by his first three albums. Also, «Philip Bailey» seems more like his own project, bringing people in to help him produce it, rather than turning it over to a single producer as was done in his previous three albums. Philip co-wrote all but four of the 12 cuts, and pop-soul star Brian McKnight wrote the other four.
Despite the fact the electronics makes it difficult to listen to the whole album in one sitting, don’t let the technology of «Philip Bailey» scare you off. The winners here are «Stay Right Here» in spite of its constant beat and tempo, and the only (unfortunately) wholly acoustic entry, «Diamond Just Like You», which features PM Dawn. «Just Like Summer» is nice, as is the duet with Natirah Ali, «Yours». Any semi-acoustical breaks are appreciated.
Earth, Wind & Fire regular Sheldon Reynolds does backing vocals on «Stay Right Here» and «Something’s Missing», and saxist Scott Mayo makes his first appearance in the EW&F universe on «I’m Ready».
The real standout and only single released from «Philip Bailey» is Brian McKnight’s soulful «Here With Me». I’ve found the CD single of «Here With Me» featuring five different versions. Apparently, Mr. Dallas Austin went berserk in the mixing room. I think I’ll wait for the Waco Houston remix.
The strength of «Philip Bailey» is within the vocal arrangements and catchy choruses, but certainly not the music. It’s nice contemporary Black pop, with Philip’s signature – nothing really spectacular. It went nowhere on the charts – another manifestation of the problem all of his solos besides «Easy Lover» have encountered. Philip may be the vocalist the most people have heard while not knowing his name.
Philip was helped by several people on this work, so I often wonder why he never got Maurice White to produce him, and perhaps do some background vocals. Would we have to call such a product EW&F?
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