ANGELA BOFILL-INTUITION.

ANGELA BOFILL-INTUITION.

When Angela Bofill signed to Clive Davis’Arista Records, he decided to mentor his latest signing. For five albums, Angela was one of the labels most successful artists. Sadly, things went sour for Angela after her fifth album Teaser. Her final two albums 1984s Let Me Be The One and 1985s Tell Me Tomorrow saw a drastic change in Angela’s fortunes. The commercial success she’d enjoyed was almost a distant memory. Angela’s relationship with Arista was no longer the same. No longer was she one of Arista’s chosen ones. Following the failure of Tell Me Tomorrow, Angela left Arista. 

Three years later, Angela made a comeback. She signed to Capitol Records, and hooked up with producers Norman Connors and Vincent Brantley. He produced Angela’s comeback album Intuition, which was recently released by SoulMusic Records. Would Intuition see Angela Bofill recapture the commercial success she’d previously enjoyed? That’s what I’ll tell you, once I’ve told you about the rise and fall of Angela Bofill.

Having signed to Arista Records, Angela Bofill released her debut album Angie in 1978. It was produced by Dave Gruisin and Larry Rosen. Not only did Angie reach number forty-seven in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty in the US R&B Charts, but featured the single This Time I’ll Be Sweeter, reached number twenty-three in the US R&B Charts. Clive Davis it seemed, hadn’t lost his Midas touch.

A year later, Angela released her sophomore album, 1979s Angel Of The Night. Again, it was produced by Dave Gruisin and Larry Rosen. Reaching number thirty-four in the US Billboard 200 and number ten in the US R&B Charts, this would be Angela’s most successful album. Angel of The Night featured What I Wouldn’t Do (For The Love Of You). It reached number eighteen in the US R&B Charts. Things looked good for Angela. She looked like being one of the biggest names of the eighties.

Angela’s third album Something About You, released in 1981. Dave Gruisin and Larry Rosen were replaced as producer by Narada Michael Walden. He’d established a reputation as a successful producer. Something About You reached number sixty-one in the US Billboard 200 and number thirteen in the US R&B Charts. It featured two top thirty US R&B singles. Something About You reached twenty-one and Holdin’ Out For Your Love reached number twenty-six. After the success of Something About You there was a gap of two years before Angela’s next album, which featured her biggest single.

Narada Michael Walden produced Angela’s most successful album Too Tough. Released in 1983, it reached number forty in the US Billboard 200 and number six in the US R&B Charts. The title-track gave Angela her biggest single, reaching number five in the US R&B Charts. Then Tonight I Give In reached number twelve in the US R&B Charts. To build on the momentum, Angela headed back into the studio, releasing another album later in 1983.

Teaser, released later in 1983, shows how quickly an artist’s fortune can change. IT reached number eighty-one in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty in the US R&B Charts. It looked like Narada Michael Walden had lost his Midas touch. That was the case. Little did Angela know, this was as good as it got for her at Arista.

Following Teaser, the success Angela enjoyed almost dried up. 1984s Let Me Be The One stalled at number thirty-nine in the US R&B Charts. Produced by Mic and Frank Murphy, synths were very much de rigeur on Let Me Be The One. While this was popular at this time, Angela’s fans didn’t take to this new sound. So, to try and revive Angela’s career, George Duke was hired for what was her final album for Arista.

By 1985, when Tell Me Tomorrow was released, Angela’s relationship with Arista wasn’t what it had been. She was no longer one of the label’s stars. Even George Duke couldn’t revive her fortune. Tell Me Tomorrow reached a lowly fifty-three in the US R&B Charts. When the title-track was released as a single, it stalled at just number seventy-two in the US R&B Charts. This was a inauspicious end to Angela Bofill’s time at Arista. 

On leaving Arista, Angela moved to California. She was newly married and had a young daughter. The last thing on her mind was returning to a recording studio. She did, after a couple of years spending time with her family. Rejuvenated, Angela was ready to restart her career. 

Angela’s manager shopped her round various labels. Eventually, they signed on Capitol Records. She decided that she should reconnect with the fans she lost during her synth years. So work began on what became Intuition, an eleven track album. Intuition saw Angela work with producers Norman Connors, Vincent Brantley and Jeff Caruthers.

For Intuition Angela wrote just one song, Love Overtime. Producer Vincent Brantley cowrote Everlasting Love with Jeff Carruthers. The pair then penned Festival/Down The Line with Harvey Bruce. Jeff Carruthers cowrote Intuition with Juana Merceron and Mel Lewis. Other tracks included Ross Vannelli’s I Wanna Stop, Jacques Burvick’s In Your Lover’s Eyes and Special Lover, written by Jeff Hirsch and Phil Cody, Along with three other tracks, Love is In Your Eyes, Long Gone and For You and I, this collection of songs became Intuition.

Unlike previous albums Angela had recorded, Intuition was her only album working with multiple producers. Norman Connors produced four tracks while Vincent Brantley and Jeff Carruthers produced five tracks. The other track, Love Overtime, was produced by Angela. Working with two producers, meant working with different musicians and at different studios.

A total of eleven studios were used to record Intuition. Considering there are just ten tracks on intuition, that’s pretty good going. As for the session musicians and backing vocalists, it’s almost a cast of thousands. Among them are some of the top session musicians. This includes drummer Harvey Mason, guitarist Paul Jackson and David T. Walker and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa. Given the amount and quality of personnel working on Intuition, Capitol Records were determined to give Angela Bofill every opportunity to revive her career. However, were their efforts successful?

On the release of Intuition in 1988, it reached just number thirty-eight in the US R&B Charts. At least it was an improvement on 1985s Tell Me Tomorrow. The lead single from Intuition was I Just Wanna Stop. It reached number eleven in the US R&B Charts. This gave Angela her biggest single in five years. Love In Your Eyes was the followup to I Just Wanna Stop. Sadly, it failed to chart. However, Intuition had rejuvenated Angela Bofill’s career. Her return from a sabbatical had proved to be a relative success. Should Intuition have fared better? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

Love Is In Your Eyes opens Intuition. Slow, eighties drums give way to the keyboards and a meandering funky bass. There’s a jazzy twist to the track as Angela’s tender, heartfelt, but needy vocal enters. Straight away, she has your attention. As for style, comparisons can be drawn to Anita Baker. Guitars join a loose, languid rhythm section, while sweet harmonies sweep in. They’re the perfect foil to Angela’s needy, sensual vocal.

Again, there’s an eighties electronic sound to Intuition. Here, it’s as if Angela’s been influenced by Madonna. Her, breathy vocal and then her delivery lead to this comparison. A tougher, funkier arrangement with washes of synths and rhythm section accompanying a sassy, strident vocal from Angela. The result is a memorable slice of eighties dance music.

A wistful horn opens I Just Wanna Stop. It’s a laid-back slice of jazz, where Angela’s vocal is heartfelt and soulful. Keyboards, rhythm section and gospel-tinged backing harmonies accompany Angela. They’re the perfect accompaniment to her vocal. It soars elegantly above the arrangement. So too, does the melancholy horn, as Angela delivers a soulful, impassioned masterclass on the highlight of Intuition.

Long Gone was produced by Norman Connors. A mid-tempo track, that tells a story. The lyrics are about a woman who one morning, discovers her partner has left her. She discovers he’s “Long Gone.” Washes of synths and crisp drums combine as Angela discovers her inner diva. Her vocal is deeper, delivered with power and a sense of urgency. She’s unable to believe what’s happened. Her vocal is emotive, full of hurt and frustration, at being treated and cheated on, by a man whose “Long Gone.” 

For You And I was a duet that Angela sang with Peabo Bryson, who’d established a reputation as a successful singer. Together, they create a track that has a eighties sound. Against an understated backdrop, Angela and Peabo scat, before Angela delivers a tender, emotive vocal. Peabo’s vocal is very different. It’s powerful, impassioned and sometimes showy. Keyboards, rhythm section and jazzy guitars join swooping, gospel-tinged harmonies combine. Spurred on, and not wanting to be outdone by Peabo, Angela unleashes a breathtaking vocal. Along with the harmonies it’s a show-stealer, on a track that’s emotive, dramatic and quite beautiful.

Fragile, Handle With Care was written by Angela. Just subtle keyboards accompany Angela’s wistful vocal. Soon, it grows in power. So does the arrangement. The rhythm section and keyboards combine with Angela’s needy vocal. It’s accompanied by sweeping harmonies. They’re the perfect foil for Angela as she lays bare her soul. Later, a blistering  guitar solo adds to the drama. It seems out of place. Much better are the harmonies. They seem to encourage Angela to even greater heights of neediness, emotion and sheer soulfulness.

In Your Lover’s Eyes sees Angela dramatically scat. This she does against an eighties electronica arrangement. It’s slow, spacious and adds to the drama. Just drums and synths combine as Angela delivers an impassioned vocal. Tight, soaring  and cooing harmonies accompany her. Just like other tracks, they provide the ying to Angela’s yang.

Love Overtime sees the tempo increase. Stabs of horns, wandering keyboards and a funky rhythm section get busy. Angela rediscovers her earlier inner diva. She struts her way across the arrangement. Sassy and feisty describes her delivery. Punchy harmonies, synths and synthetic horns provide a backdrop. Later, adding the finishing touch is a blazing saxophone solo. From there Angela and her backing vocalists trade licks on this hook-laden fusion of soul and funk.

Festival/Down The Line is something of an epic. Six minutes long, Festival’s Latin sound is a brief taste of what might have been. From there, Down The Line is another track with a Madonna influence. The synths, drum machines and Angela’s vocal lead to this comparison. So do the breathy harmonies. A rasping saxophone fills the gaps left by the vocal, while washes of synths and crispy drums give the track a dance-floor friendly sound.

Special Lover comes from the pen of the man Phil Cody and Ken Hirsch. Ken wrote Anita Baker’s Magnus Opus No One In The World. Straight away, Special Lover is a track that oozes quality. From the synths, chiming guitars and hissing hi-hats right through to the drums that provide the heartbeat, it’s a quality slice of soulful music. It’s as if Angela’s realizes this and raises her game. Her vocal is sassy, sensual and emotive. Cooing harmonies accompany her, while the loose, languid and funky arrangement unfolds. Everything drops into place perfectly. This includes the rasping saxophone, slap bass and harmonies. The result is one of the highlights of Intuition.

Closing Intuition is Everlasting Love. Angela scats. There’s a wistful sound in her vocal. No wonder. What she thought was “Everlasting Love” isn’t. She’s heartbroken. Sadness and regret fills her vocal. Harmonies reflect her hurt and heartache, as the understated arrangement allows Angela’s vocal to take centre-stage. Just a slow thoughtful drums, acoustic guitars, keyboards and sweeping harmonies combine as the song reaches a melancholy crescendo. 

Capitol Records decision to sign Angela Bofill was vindicated by Intuition. Granted it was far from Angela’s most successful album. It was more successful that her last two albums for Arista. Intuition surpassed the success of 1984s Let Me Be The One and 1985s Tell Me Tomorrow. It also featured I Just Wanna Stop, which was the second most successful single of Angela’s career. Looking at all this, it’s easy to make a case for Angela to have been given more time. After all, her career couldn’t be rejuvenated with just one album. No. Her career had been in reverse since Teaser. So, Angela needed time to rebuild her career. Sadly, she didn’t get more time. There was nobody at Capitol who was willing to go in and fight Angela’s corner. What could’ve been the rebirth of Angela Bofill’s career, proved to be a missed opportunity.

After Intuition, Angela released two more albums. 1991s I Wanna Love Somebody reached number fifty-one in the US R&B Charts. Five years later, in 1996, Love In Slow Motion failed to chart. Angela Bofill never released any more albums. A singer who could’ve and should’ve been one of the biggest stars of her generation was lost to music. 

The sad thing about this situation is that Angela Bofill was blessed with a great voice and an abundance of talent. Not only was she was a talented singer, but a gifted songwriter. However, having released ten albums in eighteen years, Angela Bofill called time on her recording career. While Intuition was far from the most successful album of Angela Bofill’s career, it’s an album that demonstrates what she was capable of. 

Ballads, duets and dance tracks all feature on Intuition. One minute Angela is delivering a heartbreaking ballad, the next her vocal is jazz-tinged and the next she’s a sassy, strutting diva. Angela was a  truly versatile vocalist, who when Intuition was recorded, was only thirty-one. When she released her final album, she was just forty-two.  Her voice would only have gotten better with age. It would’ve matured with age. Sadly, we never got to hear Angela Bofill’s voice maturing. Instead, albums like Intuition, which was recently released by SoulMusic Records, is a tantalizing glimpse of Angela Bofill, who could’ve and should’ve been, one of the most successful singers of her generation. Standout Tracks: Love Is In Your Eyes, I Just Wanna Stop, Love Overtime and Special Lover.

ANGELA BOFILL-INTUITION.

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