Saturday, February 21, 2009
FLASHBACK REVIEW: PATTI LABELLE SCORED FIRST # 1 SINGING SWEET, YET POWERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL
IF ONLY YOU KNOW
TAKEN FROM THE PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RELEASE "I'M IN LOVE AGAIN"
PHILADELPHIA INTERNATIONAL RECORDS
WRITTEN BY CYNTHIA BRIGGS, KENNY GAMBLE, DEXTER WASEL
PRODUCED BY KENNY GAMBLE & DEXTER WANSEL
In the winter of 1984, singer Patti LaBelle had received a telephone call and learned that her single "If Only You Knew" had topped the R&B charts. Girlfriend was so excited, that she ran around her house screaming, and waking up her friend and former make-up artist Rudy Calvo, who had spend the holidays with the powerhouse vocalist.
"Get up, Get Up" I screamed, jumping on the bed LaBelle wrote in her award-winning autobiography "Don't Block The Blessings: Revelations of a Lifetime." "I'm number one!"
The powerhouse vocalist had every reason to be celebrating; it was her first # 1 hit as a solo artist, and it became a favorite among her fans, and peers, who play this song at family gatherings, dinners, and while they're making love.
After the break up of her group LaBelle, Patti had released several albums and singles on Epic Records including "You Are My Friend," "Music Is My Way of Life," "Release" and "I Don't Go Shopping" which didn't do as well as it could have. She later signed with Philadelphia International Records, run by the talented team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who had helped put Philadelphia on the music map, and was eager to have LaBelle on the label. Especially Gamble, a childhood friend who knew he could give the powerhouse vocalist a number hit, and his goal was reached when "If Only You Knew" topped the R&B charts for four weeks in the winter of 1984.
What make this song beautiful is the rhythm section, strings, lyrics about being afraid to express true feelings to a person that you love, co-written by Dexter Wensel and Cynthia Briggs, and mellow, yet soulful vocals by Patti, who recorded the song in a midrange, yet powerful style instead of singing in the powerful style she's known for.
After twenty-five years, this song is still beautiful as it was when it was first release, and it still provides the soundtrack for those who dreams about being with a person that they admire, but still don't know how to express their feelings to them.
Unknown Facts about "If Only Your Knew"
Though the song was featured on Patti's 1983 gold album "I'm In Love Again," the single was originally recorded in 1981, for her Philly International debut album "The Spirit's In It." Gamble put it in the can (a term for storing it in the vault) and wanted to wait for the right time to release it.
The song's co-writer Dexter Wensel had Patti record the song smiling so she can sing clearly.
"There were some takes when she was mulching the words abit" Wensel said in the Book of Number one Rhythm and Blues Hits.
"I said Patti when you're smiling and singing, it seems that the words came out so clear. So I asked her to smile when she sang a couple of takes, which she did and the words came out as clear as a bell."
This song has been covered by several artists including R&B group Soul For Real and R&B/Jazz singer, who each recorded their renditions of the classic on their albums "Candy Rain" and "Pure Pressure", with the latter becoming a radio hit.
Singers Mariah Carey and Brian Mc Knigt have each performed this rendition of this song while paying tribute to Patti. Carey performed it when LaBelle was honored by Essence Magazine in 1998, while Mc Knight performed this classic when she was honored by the United Negro College Fund.
SWV lead singer Coko usually performs this classic during her solo tours and solo seagments, and always gets a wild round of applause from the audience who loves her live rendition of the classic.