Classics: Anita Baker – Giving You The Best That I Got (Elektra)
‘Giving You The Best That I Got’… Here’s pretty much what Soul/Jazz songstress Anita Baker managed to do back in 1988. Meanwhile reachin’ a rare emotional level on her performance of this smoothie.
Livin’ in Britain at the time, I remember hearin’ it for the very first time by the time of its release on Radio 1. With thanks to Robbie Vincent who, unsurprisingly, heavily championed it back then.
Besides, how could it ever have been different at the end? With ‘Giving You The Best That I Got’ being exactly what producer Michael J. Powell managed to do. With the same applying to Perri Sisters, responsible for the background vocal arrangements.
As a result now wonder why nor how ‘Giving You The Best That I Got’ became Baker‘s most successful charted single at the end…
A native of Toledo, OH, Anita Baker spent most of her youth in Detroit, MI, where she arrived at the age of 2 after the tragic loss of her parents. There she had quite a tough childhood, eventually losing her forster parents when she was 12. That didn’t get her from starting to sing at the age of 16 in some of the Motorcity’s nightclubs. There, she would be discovered by Chapter 8 band leader David Washington who soon after invited her to join the group. Something she did back in 1975.
It would take another four years before Chapter 8 secured a record deal with Ariola then released their eponymous debut-LP. An album which saw Baker duetting with bandmate Gerald Lyles. But also takin’ the lead on ‘I Just Want To Be Your Girl’.
Strangely enough, Chapter 8 was dropped after Ariola got bought out by Arista. With the label execs considering Baker didn’t have star potential as the lead singer of the band.
From then, she returned to her hometown where she worked as a waitress and a receptionist. This until 1982 when Otis Smith, a former associate of Ariola, offered her to start a solo career under his Beverly Glen label.
Although she started getting recognition back in 1983 with the release of her (aptly) titled debut album (‘The Songstress’), she literally rose to worldwide stardom 3 years after. This with her ‘Rapture’ album which spawned the classic ‘Sweet Love’ and ‘Caught Up In The Rapture’. And after two years promoting it on stage, the album had sold over 8 million copies worldwide out 5 million were sold in the United States alone.
Unsurprisingly, her 1988 ‘Giving You The Best That I Got’ album confirmed her position as a leading force in the Soul/Jazz circuit. With thanks to its title cut which became her most successful charted single, along with long time producer Michael J. Powell. With the same applying to its follow-up (‘Compositions’), two years after. Itself bringin’ extra goodies such as ‘Talk To Me’ and ‘Soul Insipration’ among others.
1994 saw Baker handling a consequent part of the production of her ‘Rhythm Of Love’ album. Beginning with its infectious title track, but also ‘Body And Soul’. In addition to this, the quiet stormy ‘I Apologize’ saw her collaborating with producer Barry J Eastmond. And, last but not least, she joined forces with producer Tommy LiPuma on her cover version of the classic ‘The Look Of Love’.
Strangely enough, it would take some ten years before seeing any new material by the lady. Anita Baker returning to the forefront and on a new label (Blue Note) back in 2004 with ‘My Everything’. An effort featuring luminaries such as Babyface, Perri, Gerald Albright and George Duke among others. ‘Christmas Fantasy’, which saw the light the year after, being her last studio album to date. And the 2012 released ‘Lately’, her last studio recording to date. Itself from a project she never managed to finish for some reason.
By the beginning of 2018, Anita Baker eventually confirmed she had retired. But a few months later, she announced she’d come out of retirement.
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