MELI’SA MORGAN-DO ME BABY.

MELI’SA MORGAN-DO ME BABY.

There aren’t many artists whose debut single reaches number one in the US R&B Charts. If there are, then even fewer will have had their debut album reach number four in the US R&B Charts. This was the case, when Meli’sa Morgan released her debut single and album Do Me Baby. However, this was no overnight success, if such a thing even exists. Instead, Meli’sa had paid her dues, firstly as lead singer of Shades of Love and then High Fashion. Meli’sa’s career really took off, when she became a solo artist, releasing a cover version of Prince’s Do Me Baby as her debut single. Suddenly, Meli’sa had a number one US R&B hit single, and then a top ten US R&B album, Do Me Baby, which will be released by SoulMusic.com on 26 March 2012. Before I tell you about the music on Do Me Baby, I’ll tell you about Meli’sa’s career.

Like many artists, Meli’sa’s first sang in church, where she sang gospel music with the Starlets of Corona. It was whilst singing gospel music, that Meli’sa got her first break in the music industry. This came when Meli’sa became lead vocalist for Shades of Love, a dance group. With Shades of Love, Meli’sa had her first hit in 1982, when Body To Body (Keep In Touch) charted, reaching number twenty-six on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play Chart. Later in 1982, Meli’sa was approached by Jaques Fred Petrus, to join his newly formed studio band High Fashion. 

High Fashion was a trio of New York based vocalists that included Alyson Williams, Eric McLinton and Meli’sa. The group only ever had one hit single, Feelin’ Lucky Lately, in 1982. After just a year as a member of High Fashion, Meli’sa left the group,  becoming a session singer in New York. However, when Meli’sa decided to pursue a solo career, that’s when her life was turned upside down.

Having signed Capitol Records as a solo artist, Meli’sa would release her debut single in 1985. The song chosen was a cover version of a Prince song, Do Me Baby. This was a clever choice of track, given Prince was going through the hottest period of his career, seemingly writing one great track after another. Now the song was chosen, a producer was needed. Paul Lawrence was hired and the song was recorded. On its release, the impact of Do Me Baby would be huge.

Released in 1985 as Meli’sa’s debut single, Do Me Baby raced to number one in the US R&B Charts, while reaching number forty-six in the US Billboard 100. Suddenly, Meli’sa’s life was turned upside down, with her having to constantly tour and make TV and radio appearances, including on the legendary Soul Train TV program. This was when Meli’sa and her record company Capitol decided it was imperative that an album was recorded. That would be the next move in the career of Meli’sa Morgan.

With collaborator Lesette Wilson in tow, Meli’sa and Lesette set about writing tracks for Meli’sa’s debut album. In total, they cowrote five tracks, while other songwriters contributed three tracks. This included Do Me Baby, which became the title of the album. Having written the material that would become Do Me Baby, Meli’sa headed to the studio, to record her debut album.

Recording took place at two studios in New York, Digital By Dickinson and Celestial Sounds. With producers that included Meli’sa and Lesette, Pul Lawrence, Brian Loren and Dennis Lambert and Jeremy Smith eight tracks were recorded. Joining Meli’sa on backing vocalists was Freddie Jackson, who Meli’sa would collaborate with in 2005 on the single Back Together Again. Now that Do Me Baby was recorded, the album was set for released in 1986.

Meli’sa released her debut album Do Me Baby in 1986, with the album having a similar success as her debut single. The album reached number four in the US R&B Charts, while reaching number forty-one in the US Billboard 200. An added bonus for the release of Meli’sa’s first album, was when Do Me Baby was chosen for the soundtrack to Eddie Murphy’s latest film The Golden Child. The soundtrack was  released in late 1986, giving Meli’sa’s nascent career a huge boost. However, there was further success still to come for Meli’sa, when a trio of other singles were released from Do Me Baby.

Chosen as the second single from Do Me Baby was Do You Still Love Me? It reached number five in the US R&B Charts. Next to be released as a single was Fool’s Paradise, which reached number twenty-four in the US R&B Charts. The only disappointment was when Heart Breaking Decision failed to chart. Overall, Meli’sa’s debut album Do Me Baby had been a huge success, not only commercially, but being critically acclaimed. However, what does Do Me Baby sound like? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Do Me Baby opens with the third single released from the album, Fool’s Paradise, co-written by Meli’sa and Lesette Wilson. Opening with a combination of plucked bass, keyboards and drums, the track mixes funk and soul seamlessly. Meli’sa’s vocal is delivered soulfully, with a combination of passion and power, while backing vocalists augment her vocal. While Meli’sa adds soul to the track, the arrangement reveals a funky groove, thanks to the rhythm section, guitars and synths. The lyrics are clever, some of the best on the album. They’re about a young woman who falls in love with a guy who becomes famous, only to start tripping. Delivered with emotion and passion by Meli’sa, in a powerful, soulful style, this is fantastic way to start any album, never mind a debut album.

Paul Lawrence produced Meli’sa’s debut single Do Me Baby, and produces two other tracks on the album, including Heart Breaking Decision. This was the fourth single released from Do Me Baby, and the only one not to chart. Given the quality of this ballad, it should’ve done much better. Co-written by Freddie Jackson and Meli’sa, this mid-tempo track features a vocal that reminds me of Chaka Khan at her prime. Here, Meli’sa demonstrates her full vocal range, delivering the lyrics powerfully, with a real intensity and emotion that matches the lyrics. With a backdrop of keyboards, synths, rhythm section and guitars accompanying her, Meli’sa’s vocal isn’t as strong at the start, but is still impassioned and laden with emotion. All the time, her vocal grows in power and intensity, but not once, does Meli’sa lose control of her voice. This demonstrates her talent and versatility as a vocalist, on one of the best tracks on Do Me Baby. Not only that, but it’s impossible not to get swept up in the emotion and heartache of the track.

Do You Still Love Me is another of the four singles released from Do Me Baby. It’s a slower track, with a dramatic introduction where and a piano plays an important role in the arrangement. Augmented by slow, spacious drums, they give way to Meli’sa’s vocal. She delivers the track much more thoughtfully, using a more subtle restrained style, to get across the questioning, poignant lyrics. She asks “do you still love me” against a thoughtful, understated arrangement. There’s a sense of vulnerability and insecurity in Meli’sa’s vocal, that’s tinged in sadness. Her vocal is multi-tracked so she sings backing vocals, while a sultry, saxophone drifts in and out of the arrangement. Although pensive and poignant, this is a beautiful track, perfectly suited to the subtle arrangement.

I’ll Give It When I Want It sees a feisty, sassy Meli’sa delivering the lyrics against an arrangement sprinkled with funk and soul. With the rhythm section and guitars adding a touch of funk, flourishes of piano and keyboards augment Meli’sa’s confident vocal. Here, she delivers the lyrics in a sassy, powerful style, before almost rapping the lyrics in a self-assured style. This she does against a quick, driving arrangement. Meanwhile backing vocalists, accompany Meli’sa, adding some soul to a track that’s catchy, laden with hooks and has a real contemporary sound. 

Of all the covers of Prince songs I’ve heard, Meli’sa’s version of Do Me Baby has to be right up their with the best. There’s even a Prince “sound” to the arrangement, where the rhythm section, guitars and keyboards combine perfectly. However, it’s Meli’sa’s vocal that makes the track. Unlike other tracks, she delivers the track in a more restrained, breathy style. While backing vocalists add to the Prince sound of the track, Meli’sa’s voice is sensuous, full of longing and desire. Later, stabs of synths accompany Meli’sa as her voice grows in strength and passion, soaring high above the arrangement. This is just the finishing touch to a classic cover version, one that Prince himself would be proud of. So good is this track, that I even prefer it to the original.

Getting To Know You Better produced by Bryan Loren dramatically bursts into life. Synths and drums crash dramatically, while funky bass joins keyboards as Meli’sa’s vocal enters. Here, Meli’sa’s vocal is louder and stronger, sung against an electronic, eighties sounding arrangement. Unlike many similar sounding tracks from this era, this track is one that has aged well. As the track reveals its charms, Meli’sa’s vocal grows in strength and emotion,  the arrangement reverberates around her impassioned vocal, while soulful backing vocalists add to the track’s eighties charms.

Now Or Never sees Meli’sa offer an ultimatum on one of five tracks from Do Me Baby written and produced by Meli’sa with Lesette Wilson. The arrangement is similar to Do You Still Love Me, with its much more understated sound. It’s just piano and bass that open the track, with Meli’sa’s vocal soaring gracefully above the arrangement. Her delivery is subtle and beautiful, as she asks “can you truly say that you’ll love me forever.” This song has some of the best lyrics on the album, perfectly suited to arrangement. Here, the bass and piano offer contrasting sounds, with the bass moody and broody, while the piano offers brightness and optimism, as it drifts in and out the track. Meanwhile, Meli’sa delivery is not only impassioned and emotive, but heartfelt and beautiful. When combined with the understated arrangement, this is one of the highlights of Do Me Baby.

Closing Do Me Baby is Lies, produced by Paul Laurence, which has a quite different sound. It’s another relationship song, with Meli’sa’s voice full of frustration and disappointment. Meanwhile synths, guitars and the rhythm section revisit an eighties sounding arrangement. Again, this works well, with Meli’sa’s exasperated vocal reflecting the betrayal by her partner, and the lies he’s told her. Delivered in a powerful, sassy style, she’s had enough of his lies and cheating, deciding it’s time for change. There’s a Chaka Khan influence to Meli’sa’s delivery, which combines with the busy, dramatic arrangement. Synths, the rhythm section and guitars drive the track along mixing an eighties sound with a bright catchy hook, resulting in another impassioned performance from Meli’sa Morgan to close her debut album Do Me Baby.

When listening to Meli’sa Morgan’s debut album Do Me Baby, I was immediately struck by how polished and professional this was for a debut album. Although Meli’sa had previous experience as lead vocalist in both Shades of Love and High Fashion, and had been steeped in music all her life, this is a highly accomplished, quality album, full of some wonderful music. Although the single Do Me Baby is a peerless cover version of Prince’s track, there’s much more to Meli’sa Morgan’s music than that. Whether it’s uptempo tracks or beautiful ballads, Meli’sa can deliver them just as comfortably. Two of the best tracks on Do Me Baby are ballads, Do You Still Love Me and Now Or Never. Both have lovely understated arrangements which suit the lyrics perfectly. Of the four singles released from the album, Do Me Baby, Do You Still Love Me, Fool’s Paradise and Heart Breaking Decision, these are a quartet of tracks of the highest quality. The only one not to chart was Heart Breaking Decision, which seems remarkable given the track’s quality. With music as good as this, it was no wonder Do Me Baby sold so well on its release in 1986. If you’ve never heard Do Me Baby, then it’ll be rereleased on 26 March 2012 by SoulMusic.com. Along with the eight tracks on Do Me Baby, there are seven bonus tracks included, which are twelve inch versions of the singles. This allows fans old and new of Meli’sa Morgan’s music, to revisit her highly accomplished and professional debut album Do Me Baby again, reminding them of just how talented a vocalist Meli’sa Morgan is. Standout Tracks: Heart Breaking Decision, Do You Still Love Me, Do Me Baby and Now Or Never.

MELI’SA MORGAN-DO ME BABY.

Do Me Baby - Expanded Edition

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