“Always” by James Ingram (1986)

Nothing spectacular here–just a very well-written, very well-performed midtempo pop/soul song from 1986.

Somewhat surprised that this wasn’t a bigger hit. It fits right into that Billy Ocean/Jeffrey Osborne/Mike McDonald pocket from the summer of 1986 (to mention three other artists who are not only similar in repertoire but also released five-star singles that summer.)

James is a befuddling case overall. He was money when he was on other peoples’ songs, and money when other people guested on HIS songs, but couldn’t do squat by his lonesome. Until the horrid “I Don’t Have The Heart” somehow made its way to #1 on the pop charts at the end of 1990. I don’t have the heart to think of how much payola that took. I also don’t have the stomach to listen to that song again.

“Always” is much better is what I’m saying.

Unnecessary: the weird basso laughing during the bridge. Whose idea was that? The better idea was having El DeBarge and Howard Hewett sing backgrounds on this joint.

Anyway, here’s James turning it out on Soul Train.


NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Alright” (Kris Kross feat. Supercat, 1993): Man, I wish I had an excuse for why I like “Alright” so much. Wait, I do! It was released right around the time I graduated high school, setting my first official summer of freedom off right (and really, it was my one and only summer of complete freedom). Also, it samples Slave’s “Just A Touch Of Love”, which was and is one of my favorite tunes ever. Nice job, Jermaine Dupri. This got lots of play in the cassingle rotation that summer.

“Always” (Erasure, 1995): Andy Bell has the capability to sound like a fucking angel on Earth. He whispers his way through “Always”, and it feels like a warm hug-no small feat for a song performed entirely on a synthesizer.

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