Although many people will remember Cheryl Lynn for her debut single Got To Be Real, a real disco classic, which reached number one in the US R&B Charts in 1978, there’s much more to Cheryl’s career than just one song. Quite the opposite, Cheryl’s career has spanned five decades, releasing nine albums between 1978 and 1995. Her first six albums were released on Columbia Records, between 1978 and 1985, starting with Cheryl Lynn, produced by Marty and David Paich and featured Got To Be Real. It gave Cheryl her biggest commercial success, reaching number twenty-three in the US Billboard 200 and number five in the US R&B Charts. The follow-up was 1979s In Love, which was produced by Barry Blue, which reached number 167 in the US Billboard 200 and number forty-seven in the US R&B Charts. After a two year break, Cheryl was ready to record her third album, which would become In The Night, which will be rereleased on 2nd April 2012, on BBR Records. Another new producer was hired, with Ray Parker Jr. chosen, but could he help Cheryl replicate the success of her debut album on In The Night?

The choice of Ray Parker Jr. for In The Night was a shrewd move, as he was going through a successful period, producing Raydio, Patti LaBelle, Deneice Williams, Barry White and Herbie Hancock. It also gave Cheryl access to some of Los Angeles hottest session musicians, which Ray hired for the sessions. This included a rhythm section that included guitarist Wah-Wah Watson, bassist Marcus Miller and drummer James Gadson. Add to this percussion player Ollie E. Brown and Gene Page who arranged the strings. With this multi-talented band, they headed to the Amerycan Studios in Los Angeles.

Now that Cheryl and her band were settled in the Amerycan Studios, they started recording the nine tracks that would make up In The Night. Cheryl cowrote four tracks, two with Ray, who wrote two other tracks and cowrote another. On the nine tracks, Cheryl was able to demonstrate not just her five octave vocal, but her musical versatility, on tracks that combined soul, funk and disco. Once the nine tracks were recorded, In The Night would be released in June 1981.

Before the release of the album In The Night, Shake It Up Tonight was released in May 1981, as the first single, reaching number seventy in the US Billboard 100, number five in the US R&B Charts and number five in the US Disco Charts. After the success of Shake It Up Tonight, In The Night was released in June 1981, reaching number 104 in the US Billboard 200 and number fourteen in the US R&B Charts. In The Night was the second single, released in September 1981, reaching number seventy-nine in the US R&B Charts. The third and final single was Show You How, released in November 1981, which failed to chart. Although In The Night hadn’t matched the success of Cheryl Lynn, Cheryl’s debut album, it was a much bigger commercial success than In Love her previous album. This must have pleased everyone connected with the album, including producer Ray Parker Jr. and of course Cheryl. However, what made In The Night such a successful album? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Opening In The Night is Shake It Up Tonight and straight away, you realize why this track was chosen as the first single. It’s a stunning disco track, that allows Cheryl to demonstrate her five octave range, as she delivers a sassy, impassioned and joyful vocal. She’s accompanied by lush, cascading strings, the tightest of rhythm sections that sprinkle funk throughout the arrangement, while piano and Fender Rhodes and percussion augment the rhythm section. As the strings swirl and sweep, Cheryl’s voice is passionate and powerful, as she delivers the lyrics. Together with her band, they combine to produce a hook-laden track, one with a real feel-good sound and a highlight of In The Night.

Show You How sees a change in style, with Cheryl dropping the tempo on this R&B track. Her voice is starts of gently, emotive and beautiful, while Marcus Miller lays down a meandering bass line. Strings sweep gently in the background, as the rhythm section combine as Cheryl’s voice grows in power. Backing vocalists add to the emotion, as washes of Fender Rhodes are joined by sultry horns. They’re just the finishing touches to the track, especially the backing vocalists, when they’re combined with Cheryl’s impassioned vocal. Together, they add to the power and emotion of this gorgeous track.

In The Night was the second single from the album, and sees Ray Parker Jr. play most of the instruments on the track, including synths, bass, guitar, drums and piano. Like other tracks, Gene Page arranges the strings. The track has a different sound, with synths, playing a bigger role in the arrangement. Synths, the rhythm section and guitars combine with Cheryl’s gentle vocal, before subtle strings enter. A punchy bass and drums accompany Cheryl, while synths and piano are joined by subtle, backing vocalists. As the track progresses, Cheryl’s voice mixes a tenderness, with emotion and beauty. Although the track relies upon synths more than other tracks, it has aged well and still sounds as good as it did back in 1981.

On Hurry Home, it’s immediately apparent that something special is about to unfold. The arrangement is slower, with space left throughout, that highlights the tenderness and devotion in Cheryl’s voice, as she awaits the arrival of the man she loves. It’s just a combination of the rhythm section, guitar, piano and synths. Here, a bass synth and string synth are used effectively, providing the perfect, slow and spacious backdrop for Cheryl’s needy vocal. This results in another beautiful track, one that again, demonstrates Cheryl’s versatility as a vocalist, and whether ballads, soul or disco, she can deliver each with aplomb.

I’m On Fire was one of the tracks written by Ray Parker Jr. and demonstrates his talent as songwriter and producetr. It has a similar introduction to Shake It Up Tonight, and has a similar quality. Opening with a rhythm section that includes a funky bass, lush strings enter, swirling above the arrangement. Then the drums signal the entrance of Cheryl’s vocal, which is a mixture of power, frustration and emotion, while punchy, soulful, backing vocalists accompany her. Ever-present is Marcus Miller’s funky bass, as the track reveals its hook-laden and catchy charms. Later, Cheryl’s voice grows in power, as she unleashes her five octave range, on a timeless, contemporary, sounding track, that’s another of In The Nights best tracks. Why a track as good as this wasn’t released as single seems strange? 

With Love On Our Side is a slower track, that opens with a a moody sounding rhythm section and thoughtful strings. They give way to Cheryl’s vocal which is laden with sincerity and accompanied by flourishes of piano and guitar. Through most of the track, the arrangement and vocal have a thoughtful, pensive sound that are sympathetic to the lyrics. However, later, Cheryl’s vocal is transformed into a powerful and impassioned style, with backing vocalists accompanying her as the song head’s to its dramatic ending. Although very different to the previous track, this song has one thing in common, its quality.

After the previous slower song, Cheryl ups the tempo, delivering another dance-floor friendly track with If You’ll Be True To Me, which she cowrote with Ray. The arrangement features Ray playing guitar, bass, piano and drums, while Gene Page arranges the strings and Cheryl contributes backing vocalists. Again, she’s transformed into a disco diva, with the tempo of 121 beats per minute perfect for the track. She delivers the song against a pounding disco beat, punctuated by a punchy bass, while strings dance above her. When she delivers her lead vocal in a powerful,  style, she also answers them, with her backing vocals. Like the two other dance-floor friendly tracks, this is another irresistible sounding track, hugely catchy, and featuring an impassioned vocal from Cheryl.

So far, Cheryl has delivered a trio of great dance tracks, well now make that a quartet. What’s On Your Mind is the latest of these dance-floor friendly tracks. Co-written by Cheryl, it allows her to unleash that powerful, and sometimes, sassy vocal. This she does against a backdrop of blazing horns, funky rhythm section, percussion and keyboards. During the track, guitarist Wah-Wah Watson and bassist Marcus Miller play important parts in the track’s success, as do the horn section. However, it’s Cheryl’s vocal that steals the show, on the latest of her dance-floor friendly tracks.

Closing In The Night is Baby, co-written by Cheryl and Ray. Ray plays guitar, bass and synth, while John J. Barnes contributes synths and keyboards. It’s Ray’s bass that opens the track, before the keyboards and synths enter, as Cheryl’s vocal is strong and punchy. She delivers her vocal against an arrangement that combines drama and power with a funky style. While the track has a very different sound from other tracks, given its reliance on synths and keyboards, it still just works, proving that in the hands of a talented player and producer, synths could work really well and make great music. Mind you, not many other producers had such a talented singer as Cheryl Lynn to deliver the vocal in a powerful, punchy style.

Having spent some time listening to Cheryl Lynn’s third album In The Night, I can truly say that this is a stunning album, crammed full of some great songs. With the quartet of dance-floor friendly tracks that include, Shake It Up Tonight, I’m On Fire, If You’ll Be True To Me and What’s On Your Mind some of the highlights of In The Night. However, there’s much more to In The Night than just four songs, with Hurry Home a beautiful love song and With Love On Our Side a thoughtful sounding track. Two of the other tracks In The Night and Baby, rely more upon synths and keyboards, but this works really well, unlike many other songs from other artists from this time. Truly, from the opening bars of In The Night, to the closing notes of the album, there’s no let up in the consistent quality of the music. Each of the nine tracks feature Cheryl’s stunning vocal, accompanied by a multi-talented band and an experienced and talented producer in Ray Parker Jr. The result is that In the Night is a fantastic album, one that will appeal to anyone who like soul, funk and disco. BBR Records rerelease of In The Night is a very welcome release of one of  Cheryl Lynn’s best albums. Not only does BBR Records remastered rerelease of In The Night features the nine original tracks that made the album, but also features the single versions of Shake It Up Tonight and In The Night. Together, this makes In The Night a must-have album for fans of Cheryl Lynn’s music, or anyone who loves disco, funk or soul music. Standout Tracks: Shake It Up Tonight, I’m On Fire, If You’ll Be True To Me and What’s On Your Mind.


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