“Heaven Sent You” by Stanley Clarke (1984)

Stanley Clarke came to prominence as the bassist for jazz supergroup Return to Forever, but by the time “Heaven Sent You” came out in the summer of ’84, he’d already branched out beyond jazz into adult contemporary pop and soul. The album “Heaven Sent You” appeared on, Time Exposure, found Clarke dipping a toe into more synthesized, electronic waters. Perhaps he was trying to get some of that Herbie Hancock “Rockit” money.

At any rate, “Heaven Help Me” is a synth-reliant slow jam. Clarke’s electric bass adds flavor throughout, but the star of this particular show is the butter cream singing of Howard Hewett. By the time of “Heaven”‘s release, Hewett was known as the main voice of pop group Shalamar. The group was in a bit of transition at this time, and “Heaven Sent You” provided a great forum for Hewett to get his name out there as a solo artist. His warm vocals melt the icy instrumentation and ooze all down the sides like syrup on a stack of pancakes. I wasn’t old enough to understand the power a good slow jam mix tape could have when played in the right situation, but had I been ten years older, “Heaven Sent You” would’ve gotten prime placement on a “get in dem draws” compilation.

Interesting factoid which I imagine was the reason Clarke and Hewett connected in the first place: a professional alliance with keyboardist George Duke was already in place by 1984. A Clarke/Duke collaboration album turned out to be an unexpected pop success. Duke had also become a renowned producer and was recruited to help the “new” Shalamar with their upcoming album, Heart Break. Duke has hits with Clarke, Duke works on an album by Hewett’s group, Hewett sings on a new tune by Clarke (he also co-wrote it), Duke produces it, the rest is slow jam history.

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