BootLeg Betty

Food for the soul

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Photo: Ron Sachs

Food for the soul
New Straits Times
07-13-2003

IF music be the food of life, give me love songs… Love songs are the soul food of our lives. Little wonder why record companies continue putting out compilations of love songs, much to the delight of music fans.

Forever And Ever, the fourth album in the “Forever” franchise created by Warner Music, is already shaping up as another best- seller. “We’re always looking to build a long-lasting franchise,” says Adrian Lim, Warner Music’s marketing director. “Admittedly, some concepts don’t have sustaining power. But in that wild mix, love songs have such a broad- based appeal that it’s as good as drawing your own number to a lottery ticket.”

The “Forever” franchise started in September 1999 with Forever which sold a promising 30,000 units, encouraging Warner Music executives to build upon it. The following year, Forever More, scored another win with sales topping the 40,000 mark. Last July, the third album, Forever Love, broke the previous sales records with an impressive 60,000 sales. It was sweet victory for Warner Music particularly since it was released in a generally depressed market over-flooded with pirated product. Forever Love stayed on the top of the local RIM charts for months supported by a big- budget television advertising blitz.

The latest album in the series, Forever And Ever, is set to keep the sales momentum going with sales of over 20,000 units barely a month after its release. The compilation, featuring love songs from 1970-1990, is a testament to the staying power of love songs.

“In one sense, Forever And Ever is a unique compilation as the songs are targeted at all age groups,” says Lim. “We’re confident that this compilation will set the benchmark for future albums in the series.”

Among the notable songs featured include Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler. Although the song was recorded by a number of artistes – Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers, and Gladys Knight – the Divine Ms. M gave the song its fullest life. The song topped the US pop charts for three straight weeks and went on to win Grammys for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Midler sang the song at the reconciliation service in New York a week after the September 11 tragedy. Midler’ s version also appeared in the movie Beaches in which she starred alongside Barbara Hershey.

Another highlight is Don’t Know Much by Linda Ronstadt and New Orleans’ favourite son, Aaron Neville. Coincidentally, Midler first recorded the song, originally titled All I Need To Know. This song, too, topped the charts in 1989 and won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo or Group with Vocals. Don’t Know Much is widely credited for rejuvenating the stalled careers of Ronstadt and Neville.

On the R&B front, Forever And Ever spotlights three singers who enjoyed their biggest career success with the songs featured on this album. Natalie Cole’s Miss You Like Crazy was the singer’s biggest hit in more than a decade – and understandably so: she recorded the song 120 times before it was a perfect take! Diana Ross and Whitney Houston earlier rejected the Michael Maser ballad before Cole picked it up.

Karyn White became an overnight star with the R&B number one hit single, Superwoman, written by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Contrary to the song’s lyrics, which deal with marital problems, White is a fulltime housewife and mother.

Although Peabo Bryson has been an R&B staple for many years, he enjoyed crossover success with If Ever You’re In My Arms Again, thanks largely to its use in the popular soap series, Santa Barbara. The song was a Top 10 hit on the pop singles, Adult Contemporary and R&B charts.

If you need an album of songs to declare your love to someone special, Forever And Ever is an ideal gift and memento.

Author not available, Food for the soul. , New Straits Times, 07-13-2003, pp 14.

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