Classics: Toni Braxton – Un-Break My Heart (Frankie Knuckles – Franktidrama Club Mix) (LaFace Records)
Question… If ever asked to define Toni Braxton in one song, which one would it be? Chances are great ‘Un-Break My Heart’ would come first. One of those top performances which an artist rarely duplicates as a matter opf fact? This makin’ of it and there more precisely of ‘Un-Break My Heart’ Braxton‘s signature song. With thanks to its smooth Hispanic subtle fragrance.
The least we can say about this Frankie Knuckles and Satoshi Tomiiie rework is that it turns ‘Un-Break My Heart’ into a way different affair. Bringin’ its vocal performance into another perspective. And, by that, revealing other seducing details of it. Eventually givin’ it a stellar Deep House feel over a bumpin’ bass-driven rhythm pattern…
‘Un-Break My Heart…’ What an appealing invitation. Don’t you think?
– A native of Severn, MD, Toni Braxton began performing by the end of the 80’s as The Braxtons. This while sharing the bill along with her 4 sisters (Tamar, Traci, Towanda, Traci and Trina). Then delivering their debut-single back in 1990 on Arista. A cut titled ‘Good Life’ which, despite the poor reaction it received, got to the attention of Atlanta-based famous production pair L.A. & Babyface who eventually offered her to record a demo before signing her on their own label.
Toni‘s eponymous debut-album saw the light in 1993, selling over 10 million copies worldwide. Thus getting her to earn 3 Grammy Awards. Its follow up, ‘Secrets’, released 3 years after, sold even more, spanning the Billboard #1 hits ‘You’re Makin’ Me High’ and the David Foster penned ‘Un-Break My Heart’ featuring Shanice Wilson as a backing singer. With the latter most likely becoming her signature song. Delivered with an alternative remixed version by the likes of the late Frankie Knuckles…
Her third offering – ‘The Heat’ – saw her jumpin’ on the Third Millenium with extra success. Its leading single – ‘He Wasn’t Enough’ – bringin’ her her
sixth Grammy Award for ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance’. Meanwhile her three following albums saw the light in the middle of health issues and contractual disputes with her former manager.
Braxton would eventually get back to the forefront back in 2014, sharing the bill with long time producer, Babyface, on a duet album entitled ‘Love, Marriage & Divorce’. The latter getting them to collect an additional Grammy Award for ‘Best R&B Album’ the year after.
She eventually made her debut on Def Jam Recordings with the ‘Sex & Cigarettes’ album in March 2018. Meanwhile teamin’ up with various producers including Babyface, Antonio Dixon and Fred Ball. And she contributed to her sister Traci‘s vibrant ‘Broken Things’. A cut which we welcomed as our Single Of The Week by the end of April that same year…
– A quick typing – ‘Frankie Knuckles’ – in the search box of our site should give you a certain idea of his legacy. And, by that, of the consideration we have for him. Standing among the most prolific but first and foremost talented producers/remixers of his generation. With his name firmly associated to a signature – the Def Mix Sound – and an alter ego – David Morales. Themselves synonyms with some of the most brilliant episodes in the maturation of the contemporary groove.
A native New Yorker, Frankie Knuckles arrived right on time to witness the early stages of the nightclubbing and its music – Disco – in the Big Apple. Eventually hangin’ out with his friend, Larry Levan, before comin’ to play Disco, Soul and R&B jams at The Continental Baths and The Gallery.
Knuckles relocated to Chicago, IL by the second half of the 70’s. This after a friend of his by the likes of Robert Williams had opened a space that was to become The Warehouse. Eventually inviting him to play on a regular basis. There, he came with a blend of everything, from Disco classics to European electronic fueled sounds and Rock. The whole setting up the foundations as what was to become House Music by the middle of the 80’s. This along with the use of drum machines and samplers.
Knuckles made his thing in Chicago, eventually collaborating with Jamie Principle. But he also happened to join forces with David Morales and For The Record DJ Pool founder Judy Weinstein under the Def Mix Productions banner to help manage remix requests and handle artist business affairs.
All in all, on his own or along with either David Morales or Eric Kupper, Frankie Knuckles has remixed and produced over 600 releases. With the list of those he happened to rework the music of givin’ a better idea of the impact he generated. And this way above the strict spheres of House Music. Beginning with blasts from the past such as My Mine‘s ‘Hypnotic Tango’ which he came to rework. But also Jago‘s quite sought after ‘I’m Going To Go’. Then Double Exposure‘s ‘My Love Is Free’ and Diana Ross (‘Love Hangover’). Eventually bringin’ fragments of his universe on Swing Out Sister‘s ‘Notgonnachange’. The latter being an example of the demand he generated in the UK. From Tongue’N’Cheek‘s ‘Tomorrow’ to L.A. Mix‘s ‘Live Together’ and D*Note (‘D*Votion 99’). Not to mention Lisa Stansfield‘s ‘Change’ or Loose Ends‘ ‘Hangin’ On A String’).
Of course, Frankie Knuckles made some noise in the House scene. Responsible for seminal tracks such as ‘Tears’ along with Satoshi Tomiie and Robert Owens. But also ‘And I Loved You’ featuring the same Tomiie and Arnold Jarvis. Both of them on FFRR. And how to not think of the burning ‘One Man’ by the likes of Chanelle back in 1989? Or Lil Louis feat. ChinahBlac‘s ‘Fable’??? With the same applying to Hercules & Love Affair‘s ‘Blind’. Then Sybil‘s ‘Let’s Yourself Go’. With the list to be incomplete without a mention to the Director’s Cut signature which he put together along with long time friend Eric Kupper.
And, just like David Morales, he also created serious bridges with R&B names. Beginning with Michael Jackson (‘Rock With You’). But also Chaka Khan (‘Ain’t Nobody’) and David Peaston (‘We’re All In This Together’). This in addition to The Gap Band (‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’) and Chanté Moore (‘This Time’). Then Toni Braxton (‘Un-Break My Heart’) and Womack & Womack (‘MPB’). Not to mention En Vogue‘s ‘You Don’t Have To Worry’ or Will Downing‘s ‘A Love Supreme’…
Meanwhile, under his own banner, Knuckles also made quite an impression. Delivering his debut-album – ‘Beyond The Mix’ – back in 1991. And in the meantime one of his biggest classics ever by the likes of ‘The Whistle Song’. Eventually sharing the bill four years later with Jersey songstress Adeva on the ‘ Welcome To The Real World’ album. With his final album – ‘A New Reality’ – seeing the light back in 2004.
Frankie Knuckles sadly died on March 31, 2014 in Chicago, IL, of complications from diabetes. He was 59…