“Bad Boy/Having A Party” by Luther Vandross (1982)

A popular Luther Vandross trope became songs that were a combination of original compositions with established classics. “Bad Boy/Having A Party” was the first and wound up being one of the best. There’s at least two more of those on this list, and several that are not, including “Power Of Love/Love Power” (a top 5 pop hit) and “Knocks Me Off My Feet/Going Out Of My Head”, which traded the original composition and just mashed two covers up.

This 1982 track, the opening number and first single from the excellent Forever, For Always, For Love*, combines Luther’s slinky, sly “Bad Boy” with Sam Cooke’s jubilant “Having A Party”. The songs are melded seamlessly in a way that feels contemporary (for the time) and nostalgic. The imagery is of those old school house parties; a warmth emanates from “Bad Boy” that’s absent from a lot of “get up and dance” party jams. And of course, Luther’s singing (and that of his familiar backup troupe, including Cissy “Whitney’s Mom” Houston) is impeccable.

*No one thinks of Luther as having an imperial period a la Stevie or Prince or Radiohead or whoever. But from 1981-1986, Luther released five classic albums in a row: Never Too Much, Forever, For Always, For Love, Busy Body, The Night I Fell In Love and Give Me The Reason. All state-of-the-art, impeccably performed pop-soul. He deserves more props.

And to prove that, here’s a Soul Train performance in which he’s singing live. I only recall two other artists doing that on the show: Patti LaBelle and Mariah Carey-two artists that Luther went on to duet with or perform alongside.

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