Looking back on my own musical understanding? The husky,deeply rangy and jazz flavored vocals of Anita Baker remain to this day as a key aspect of my musical core when it comes to singers. One thing about her that I did not know is that her musical career not only didn’t start as a grooving quiet storm based artist specializing in lush,mid-tempo ballads. But that she actually started out in the late 70’s with the primarily uptempo funk/soul based band Chapter 8. The most startling part of it was that she was fired from the band (after their self titled debut) because they actually didn’t think she was a very good singer.
Understanding her late 80’s album smashes such as Rapture and Giving You The Best That I Got and their accompanying hit songs very well? It never occurred to me that her actual solo debut album came out in 1983,on the Beverly Glen label. And that it was so unsuccessful that a lot of people had actually never heard of it. Elektra had to reissue it with new cover art following her huge success there. Actually had the original vinyl first-only later picking it up on CD being so impressed by it’s contents. As a whole? It is actually fairly familiar territory for Baker admirers,save for some startling exceptions. One of which is a song called “Squeeze Me”.
The song opens with a dramatic drum roll that outro’s with a spiraling bass synthesizer. The beat becomes a steady two by two dance rhythm-over which the fan faring horn section is embraced by that always present (and very brittle) synth bass. The refrains also had an orchestral string type synthesizer into the mix and a powerful,thick rhythm guitar as well. The instrumentation bleeds together into a strong thickness of sound that is both very exciting and very sleek all at the same time. When Baker’s vocal chorus takes presidents? The overall sound of the music becomes more stripped down to accommodate them. This occurs most strongly on the final chorus of the song.
While being more than aware of Anita’s creative trademark of allying herself with strong funky soul musicians and producers throughout her career? It was still very much a shock to hear her so successfully make a straight up boogie funk jam right of the solo box. Some might see this as her not having a strong individual sound yet. But considering the presence of Michael Jackson associated session aces as Jerry Hey,Nathan East and Paul Jackson Jr. aboard for this song? Hearing Anita’s distinctive voice belting out such a hefty funk number is has actually given me an even stronger view of her talents as an instrumentally minded singer in the vein of the jazz sirens who influenced her.