on May 11, 2000
With the release of "Rapture" in 1986, Anita Baker singlehandedly introduced the "Quiet Storm" genre, a rich blend of jazz, pop, and soul, to the masses. Finding the likes of "Sweet Love" and "Caught Up in the Rapture" on pop radio was always a rich treat, and her popularity helped foster a taste for mature pop.
Years after its release, "Rapture" is still as smooth and sweet as ever. Anita's smoky, Sarah Vaughan-influenced vocals are flawlessly showcased in a worthy set of songs set to spotless production. Songs like "No One in the World" and the uptempo "Same Ole Love" are among Baker's staples in adult contemporary radio, and jazz stations and fans alike will likely never tire of the lush and soulful "Been So Long," one of Baker's all-time classics that gives an example of the perfect scat.
Elsewhere, Baker gives what is arguably her most soulful performance ever on "You Bring Me Joy," and a sultry cover of Manhattan Transfer's "Mystery" easily trumps the original. The fact that Baker still performs most of these songs in her concerts proves that "Rapture" is a sentimental treasure for many a music fan, and one listen to the record's flawless execution makes it easy to see why.
on June 20, 2005
While I was growing up, my mom constantly played music by Stephanie Mills, Patti LaBelle, Mikki Howard, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Sade,and Earth Wind & Fire. Now that I'm older, my music collection is quite similiar to my mom's. In fact, she's always asking me if she could borrow my CDs. Back in the day my mom had Anita Baker's "Rapture" and now I have that in my CD collection too. Words can't describe how exquisite and pleasing this album is to my ears. All of these songs are classics and each time I hear them it feels like I'm hearing them for the first time. What I love about Anita Baker is that she has never changed her style and has stayed true. You know, there's a lot of dumb artists out there, like Mariah Carey, who want to waffle between genres- depending on what's popular at the moment- and they sound phony. Not Anita Baker. Her current music is just as classic as it was back in the day.
on February 20, 1999
In a world full of spiced up, digitally mastered and re-mastered electric, glossed-over albums, we should all be thankful for an album such as this. Great musicians combined with a great lady come out to make a damn near perfect album. Anita Baker made her mark with "Rapture." It left its imprint on the industry and ears of millions, who haven't recovered yet. A timeless classic, Baker single-handedly invinted the "quiet storm" genre with "Rapture," and in the process became known as one of the most adored rhythm and blues songstresses ever. Having little to nothing in common with her contemporaries who sing of love and heartache without knowing the first thing about it, one truly feels a difference in the soft, sexy, and last (but not least) relaxing voice of Anita Baker. Few artists have the control or power over their voices as she does. She uses her god-given vocals like a chiseling tool, careful to carve out just the right sculpture. And with tracks such as "Sweet Love," "You Bring Me Joy," "No One In The World," and "Same Ole Love," it becomes evident, how great of an artist she truly is.
on January 27, 2002
I'm old-fashioned! At a time when record lables are frantically trying to force the next so-called 'Diva' upon an unsuspecting music lover I, for one, tend to 'zig while they zag'. Simply put....while everyone else is concentrating on the next darling of the Pop/Soul genre ( Jill Scott...take notes! ) I rush back to my roots and wait for all the hoopla to die down before stepping back into my local record store to be barraged once again with that 'Next Big Name!' But while other consumers pocketbooks fall victim to the Marketing/PR depts. enticing come-on's I wisely dance around those 'snake-oil' salesmen and purchase music that is destined for longevity/classics....not for a momentary pleasure. Well, for the most part I do! Although I am guilty of buying a Mariah Carey cd ( hopefully we live and learn! ). Anyway, that's how it came about to my purchasing a second copy of Anita Baker's " Rapture ".
To put it simply a more succinct album title would be hard to find. I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't found this disc to be an absolute joy and in some cases an almost revelatory experience to one degree or another. Anita's voice, smokey and dangerous one moment, is innocent and yearning the very next. The first single " Sweet Love " which sets the album off on just the right note ( no pun intended! ), is at once R&B, Soul, Gospel and with just the right touch of Jazz thrown in as well. She exudes a confidence and masterful technique that I only hear in some of Jazz's greatest female singers i.e. Sarah Vaughn being the obvious parallel. Each song for that matter complements the last so well that I don't believe I've ever put this disc on without listening all the way through non-stop. It's truly that good! My personal highlight being " Caught Up In The Rapture " is a perfect example of subtle phrasing and tonal quality that I suspect you will never hear in a Toni Braxton or Whitney Houston cd! Their fine singers in their own right but they simply do not possess the emotional maturity and the musical insight that Anita so obviously does. These are songs that only a singer who is truly 'grounded' in all aspects of harmony/scales could understand and release with such awe inspiring results. No doubt we all, as music lovers, have dozens of cd's with singers emoting on the incredible joys and tragic heartache that " Love " sometimes deals us but Anita is one of those indescribable singers who makes you feel as though she's lived through these songs and is passing along some hard-earned wisdom. Definitely a cd to enjoy with a glass of wine and a broken heart.
In the end while rummaging through my own 'music library' only Marvin Gaye's " Let's Get It On " comes close enough for me to equate as having as much sheer power, intensity and true passion! And ultimately rewarding the listener with an almost religious experience, whether it's your intial introduction to this remarkable disc or even, like me, your hundreth! A more emotinally draining/revelatory experience would be hard to find! After 15 years of listening to Anita Baker I find I'm still in " Rapture!! "
on June 13, 2005
When Anita Baker sings "You Bring Me Joy" it sounds like a wondrous gospel song! So rich and fulfilling, she lets it all out in this one!! "Been So Long" has deep smokey tones alternating with gorgeous highs and everything in between. Anita proves with her loose and free vocal that she is truly a jazz diva! On "Mystery" Anita soars into a vocal bliss! The emotional tones in "No One In The World" rise into the stratosphere! This is an exceptional vocal and the ultimate love/blues song!! "Watch Your Step" is a hot, upbeat song. This cd is one of Anita's soulful best!!!
on September 4, 2005
On its release, immediate comparisons between Anita Baker and Nancy Wilson/ Sarah Vaughan abounded. These comparisons were a compliment, of course. However, Anita Baker really is in a class all by herself.
"Rapture" is such a classy album. The difference here was that Ms Baker didn't have to alter her style to cater to a mainstream audience; instead, that mainstream audience came to her.
I remember listening to this album for the first time all those years ago - it was such a breath of fresh air. Ms Baker's unique blend of nuanced soul, adult contemporary pop and modern jazz was a stunning. The album opens with the soaring vocals of "Sweet Love" which is excellent. However, it's "You Bring Me Joy" that puts shivers down my spine. The calibre of this gorgeous track is out of this world. I'll give this one 10/10!
"Caught Up In The Rapture" is perhaps the most radio-friendly track on the album. It's a real easy, mid tempo track with a lovely, catchy chorus.
"Been So Long" is a sophisticated, jazzy track with a Sarah Vaughanesque vocal performance. There's not one duff track here and I can quite happily listen to this album from beginning to end - without skipping any tracks. The music has stood the test of time and it still sounds fresh when played today. If you haven't discovered the treasures of this album, I recommend that you give it a try - you won't be disappointed!
on May 23, 2007
This is simply one of those recordings that is a must have for those who love first class, essential, Rhythm & Blues done by a gifted vocalist with a first class voice. She has that combination of range, power and knows when and how to use it.
Not to make you think that she is a jazz vocalist or that this is a jazz recording, which it is not, but the most obvious comparison I can make in richness of voice, power of delivery and inventive phrase, would be Sarah Vaughan. Trust me that is BIG company. That is a very good thing. Vocalists like that come along every few decades.
Most importantly she has the soul and heart of a true romantic. These songs just go straight to the heart of you. No vocal acrobatics at the expense of the song or the intended sentiment. When she belts it out, it is at the moment in which the intensity is necessary.
Most of these pieces are ballads and all are love songs but they are delivered with sophistication, sensuality, sincerity and power.
When I first heard this and then saw her perform this, she held me transfixed.
The poignancy of "No One In The Word", "Rapture", "Sweet Love", "Mystery" and "You Bring Me Joy" amidst good solid instrumentation, make these five pieces true high points and memorable R&B. The pieces have something that is often lost these days. That ability to shift to accentuate a point of mood and then back again.
There is a lithe sensuality throughout this recording that is missing from much of the so called quiet storm recordings where romance is lost for the schmaltz or sexuality.
There is a a balance. Throughout Anita delivers with as fine a voice as I've heard before or since. She has a beautiful rich voice. Round tones and an impressive range. When she belts it out she does so in context and not as a means on to itself.
More people should know of this recording.
Anita Baker is one of a kind and if you get just one Anita Baker recording, get this one, you won't be sorry.
on June 17, 2006
Whew! This album is an oldie but goodie that always sounds refreshing and new just like your first time hearing it.
Do you remember when originality, creativity and mind-bending talent were prerequisites for professional singers?
Do you remember when a solo artist/group put out a 10-track album AND ALL 10 TRACKS were classic?
Even if you don't, you need to hear this Anita Baker debut because class is in session!
Baker truly was an innovator who bridged old school soul with new 1980s flavor. She's got a more classic, more refined sound and a more deeply understated vocal approach than your Whitney Houstons and Mariah Careys of the music world.
If you're into artists like Roberta Flack, Nancy Wilson, Sade and some of Toni Braxton's earlier work, you'll love this LP if you haven't already heard it.
Outstanding musicianship and a relaxed, soulful vibe are this album's high points.
Given the more high energy, in-your-face bruskness of the majority of today's R&B, Baker's laid back energy is a welcomed change a of pace that makes this debut seem all the more incredible, enjoyable and relevant.
This LP is from a different time in music history. Recommended!
on February 13, 2000
What a voice.This was Anita's second Album,and what a Joy. "You bring me Joy," is one of my favorite songs ever,next to Carly Simon's,"Were so Close." I play this song everytime I'm on vacation,and looking at the Ocean. I hit the repeat button over and over again. Every song on this CD is great."Sweet Love," the first single from the record was a huge hit for Anita,along with "Caught up in the Rapture." I have bought every CD Anita's recorded after this one,and never have I been dissapointed,but this one's the best She has given us. I hope Anita gets back in the recording studio,and we get another taste of that beutifull voice.
Following Anita Baker's 1983 debut lack of success,Anita Baker realized that her husky and rangy vocal approach required a broader musical base. That album has essentially been a combination of quiet storm style soul ballads and spirited live band oriented funk. Extremely capable on both,what was needed for Baker was a sense of identity. An Anita Baker sound as it were. By signing up the legendary Atlantic Records,she worked with producer Michael Powell for a sophomore release on the label. And the end of this story not only made Anita Baker a huge vocal giant of her day,but may have energized a certain approach to music a little as well.
"Sweet Love" opens the album with an exciting drum,piano fanfare-with a lushly sung and chorded melody where Anita's voice breaks into full gospel fueled power on the choruses and scaling all the way up her range at the end. "You Bring Me Joy" brings out that gospel aspect even further with a full on female backup singer choir backing her up on the choruses. "Caught Up In The Rapture" combines a slow crawling,stripped down funky rhythm with a combination of piano based melody,round synthesizer washes and sumptuous vocal harmonies. "Been So Long" drags out a swinging shuffle with flute like synthesizers on the bluesy vocal choruses.
"Mystery" takes a powerful rhythm guitar and harmony drenched ballad originally written by Rod Temperton for the Manhattan Transfer several years earlier and has Anita transform the songs with her trademark vocal elasticity. "No One In The World" is a mid tempo and very melodic light funk number that's very much defined by it's use of bass/guitar interaction with Anita's vocals. "Same Ole' Love" is one of my favorites on this album. It's essentially two songs in one-starting with a bouncy and melodic uptempo number and than going into a bluesier chord progression on the choruses. "Watch Your Step" concludes the album with a type of contemporary uptempo and melodic soul/pop/gospel number musically-similar in flavor to the music Luther Vandross was producing during the same year.
On this album,the ingredient less evident on Anita's debut album came into full focus: her complete focusing of the soul/gospel vocal approach through the harmonic range of jazz. Vocally speaking? That had probably already been there from the outset. Musically it was another matter on this album. Bringing in people such as bassist Freddie Washington,who'd worked with everything from Stevie Wonder to Patrice Rushen as well as session musicians that had spanned the 70's and 80's such as Rufus's John Robinson,EWF's Don Myrick,Paul Jackson Jr and Greg Phillinganes helped bring that harmonically expansive jazziness of Anita's vocal approach onto the instrumental stage of this album as well. Considering the fact that soul/funk music during the mid 80's seemed to be a bit more mechanical musically? It's no small feat that this album helped establish Baker as a vocal superstar but the vitality and endurance of expertly produced live musicianship as well.