By 1983 Rene and Angela were about to release their third, and what would become their most successful album, Rise. This was Rene Moore and Angela Winbush’s follow-up to their 1981 album Wall To Wall. Their had started with their 1980 eponymous album Rene and Angela. Like their second album, Wall To Wall, Rise was co-produced by Rene and Angela with Bobby Watson, who’d co-produced their first two albums. Unlike their two previous albums, Rise would prove to be commercially successful, with two successful singles Banging the Boogie and My First Love being released from the album. Although Rise proved to be the album that launched Rene and Angela’s career, it was to be their final album for their label Capitol Records. After this, Rene and Angela signed to Mercury, where they’d the most successful period of their career. This included the release of their final album, 1985s Street Called Desire, which contained three top ten US R&B singles, including the number one single Your Smile. However, that was still to come, with Rise the album that proved to be the springboard for the launch of Rene and Angela’s career.  Before I tell you about the music on Rise, I’ll tell you about the making of the album.

After Wall To Wall, Rene and Angela were even more determined to find the success they believed their talent deserved. So, for the recording sessions at the various studios used, Rene and Angela arrived at the studios at 9pm and worked until 6pm, Monday to Friday. This pleased co-producer Bobby Watson, the brother of Rufus, from Rufus and Chaka Khan fame. Bobby had worked with Quincy Jones, and realized the importance of a professional approach to recording an album. It would prove more efficient, economical and hopefully, much more successful. In total, eight tracks were recorded, with each track co-written by Rene and Angela. Their new way of working meant that Rise was ready for release in May 1983, some two years after its predecessor Wall To Wall and would prove much more successful than it.

Before the release of Rise, Banging the Boogie was released as a single in April 1983. It reached number thirty-three in the US R&B Charts. The second single Keep Runnin,’ was released in July, the same time as the album. While Keep Runnin’ failed to chart, Rise reached number thirty-three in the US R&B Charts, the highest chart placing for any of Rene and Angela’s first three albums. However, things would improve when My First Love was released as the third and final singe, surpassing everything that had gone before, reaching number twelve in the US R&B Charts. This was a huge change in Rene and Angela’s career, with Rise proving the saying that third time lucky is true. Why was there this upturn in Rene and Angela’s fortunes with Rise? Was it purely down to a more focused, determined approach? That’s what I’ll explain when I tell you about the music on Rise.

Opening Rise is the title-track Rise, which, like all the tracks on the album is co-written by Rene and Angela. Rise is an uptempo track, that’s catchy sound almost explodes joyously into life. A combination of blazing horns, cascading strings, rhythm section and synths open the track. When Rene’s vocal enters, it’s accompanied by a myriad of handclaps, funky bass line and bursts of horns and swirling strings, before Angela’s vocal takes over. Both vocals are emotive and impassioned, as the rhythm section and synths drive this hook-laden dance track along. Everything about the track is perfect. The tempo of 120 beats per minute is dance-floor friendly, while the hugely catchy arrangement is polished, full of hooks and made all the better by the impassion and emotion in Rene and Angela’s vocals.

Of the three singles released from Rise, Keep Runnin’ was the only one to chart. Given it’s quality, this is surprising. Here, the tempo is quicker, 129 beats per minute, with swirling, sweeping strings, squelchy synths and handclaps key to the track’s sound. The vocals are delivered quickly, in a punchy, style that’s full of emotion. Although the arrangement is synth heavy, it’s still fabulously funky. Key to this are the quick, crisp drums and wandering, funky bass line, which combines well with the synths. Rene’s vocal is dramatic, while the backing vocals are punchy and soulful accompanied by handclaps. While the arrangement is synth heavy, this doesn’t stop it from being not only funky, but truly soulful, thanks to Rene and Angela.

When you hear the opening bars of My First Love, you realize that this is a very different track. Layer upon layer of slow, lush strings accompany Rene’s vocal. It’s thankful, full of emotion and love. Backing vocalists add to the track’s beauty and emotion, before Angela’s powerful, dramatic vocal. Like Rene’s, it’s heartfelt and emotive, delivered against an arrangement where strings are at the heart of the arrangement. Later, a keyboard solo is added, providing quite a contrast. However, until the closing notes, the track is beautiful and heartfelt, making it quite obvious why this track reached number twelve in the US R&B Charts.

From one hit single in My First Love, to Bangin’ The Boogie, the first single from Rise, which reached number thirty-three in the US R&B Charts. It’s a track that had all the ingredients for a 1983 club hit. Take a rhythm section that’s powerful, laden with energy and capable of driving a track along, mix with dueling guitars, synths, plus punchy, blazing horns. Add to this, Rene and Angela, who deliver the track in a joyous, inspirational style. Later, a beefy, bass synth plays an important part in trhe track, while the guitars duel dramatically and punchy horns punctuate the arrangement. When all these ingredients are mixed together, the result isn’t just a hugely catchy club for 1983, but a track that nearly thirty years later, still would fill a dance-floor.

There’s hardly any drop in the tempo on When It Comes To You, another of Rise’s uplifting, catchy tracks that reminds me of Ashford and Simpson. Stabs of synths, rhythm section and keyboards combine with handclaps and Rene and Angela’s vocal. When Angela’s vocal enters, it has the passion and power of Chaka Khan, while when Rene and Angela add harmonies, there’s an Ashford and Simpson influence. Later, synths and keyboards combine during a breakdown, before Rene and Angela contribute their tight, quality harmonies, against one of the best arrangements on Rise. All this, makes this one of the Rise’s real highlights and would’ve made a great and surely, successful single.

Wait Until Tonight sees the tempo increase, but the quality remain the same. It seems that there’s not a bad track on Rise. Again, there’s an Ashford and Simpson “sound,” which is a real compliment. The arrangement has a driving rhythm section, punctuated by synths, while Rene and Angela’s vocals combine. Then, Rene sings lead first, but good a vocalist as he is, Angela’s delivery is better. Her voice has a presence, power and passion, with anticipation and longing ever-present. Chiming guitars, funky bass and synths provide a backdrop to their vocals, along with finger clicks. As we’ve come to expect, Rene and Angela don’t disappoint, delivering vocals that are variously, emotive, while full of anticipation and longing. Together, with an arrangement that mixes funk and soul seamlessly, this another great track from Rene and Angela.

Can’t Give You Up opens with swirling, sweeping strings weaving their dramatic, but lush and beautiful sound, before the rhythm section and keyboards add drama. When Rene and Angela’s vocals enter, their vocals are heartfelt, full of emotion and sincerity. As strings cascade, guitars chime and drums add drama, Angela’s vocal grows in power and passion, displaying how good a vocalist she is. Then, when they join, singing harmonies, their vocals blend beautifully, one complimenting the other perfectly, on what’s a beautiful love song, full of emotion and adoration.

Closing Rise is Take Me To the Limit, which sees the tempo climb, while synths play a bigger roll in the arrangement. Rene’s vocal is delivered a breakneck speed, with strings sweep and swirl, bursts of synths squelch and horns punctuate the arrangement. Later, Angela takes over the lead vocal, displaying the power and presence her vocal has. It’s replaced by the combination of synths, horns, strings and rhythm section, before Rene and Angela return, as they bade farewell to Capitol Records on a rousing track, which sees eighties electronic music, funk, soul and post-disco unite as one.

It seems ironic that, just as Rene and Angela were making a commercial breakthrough with Rise, and the two successful singles released from the album Banging the Boogie and My First Love, they’d be bidding their fond farewells to Capitol Records. After that, they’d sign for Mercury, releasing 1985s Street Called Desire, which contained three top ten US R&B singles, including the number one single Your Smile. While they’d find the success their talents warranted on Mercury, Rise pointed at the success that would follow. Not only did Rise reach number thirty-three in the US R&B Charts, and contained two hit singles, but was crammed full of quality tracks. These eight tracks never once disappoint, proving that Rene and Angela’s much more focused, organized and professional approach to recording Rise paid off. Apart from the three singles, Banging the Boogie, Keep Runnin,’ and My First Love, there are several other highlights on the Rise, including When It Comes To You, Wait Until Tonight and the beautiful Can’t Give You Up. Of the two other tracks, Rise which opens the album and Take Me To the Limit, which closes Rise, they’ve all got one thing in common…quality. This is what makes Rise, which was rereleased by BBR Records on 16th April 2012, the perfect introduction to Rene and Angela’s music. It features some wonderful music, and for anyone who has still to discover Rene and Angela’s music, Rise is the best place to start. After, that you can investigate the other three albums they released between 1980 and 1985 released by two multi-talented singers, songwriters and producers, Rene and Angela. Standout Tracks: My First Love, When It Comes To You, Wait Until Tonight and Can’t Give You Up. 


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