Luther Vandross - Love Luther (2007)

Luther Vandross
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It's almost hard to believe that we live in a world in which Luther Vandross is no longer with us. The most beloved male vocalist of the past quarter century passed away in 2005 but he left behind a musical legacy to be cherished for generations to come. Blessed with a versatile tenor voice, Vandross charmed millions with his smooth and romantic music. With a track record of 30 million worldwide album sales, 20 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum certifications in the United States alone, and 8 Grammy Awards, he had a profound impact on the music industry as a talented songwriter, producer, and arranger.

Just in time for the holidays is Love, Luther, a 56-track, deluxe display-book package of four CDs that features all of his hits as well as rare and previously-unreleased material that chronicles his splendid 27-year career. Disc One opens with "Ready For Love,"  a demo discovered on a cassette tape dated 1979-1980 which finds Vandross singing in exquisite form alongside a piano accompaniment. "Meet Luther Vandross" is an advertisement that introduces the music world to a future star in the making, and segues into "The Glow of Love," the Top 40 R&B hit with the studio group Change that placed Vandross on the musical map. Here in an extended version is "Never Too Much," which was one of the funkiest tracks of its era,with a thumping bass line courtesy of Marcus Miller. However, it's the covers of "A House Is Not a Home," "Since I Lost My Baby," "If This World Were Mine," and "Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)" that, due almost exclusively to Vandross's exquisite delivery, surpassed the original versions to become the definitive recordings of these songs.

Disc Two can be considered "the romantic disc," with some of Vandross' most celebrated love songs such as "If Only For One Night," "Wait For Love," "There's Nothing Better Than Love," and "Here and Now." Other highlights from this disc include the Monserrat Sessions, which consist of three intimate rehearsal recordings. Disc Three features "Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)" with his group Luther and "Georgy Porgy" with Charme. "Endless Love," the 1981 hit for Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, gets transformed into another classic cover song with Mariah Carey as does "The Closer I Get To You" with Beyonce. Rounding out this boxed set is Disc Four which showcases Vandross later hits like "Dance With My Father," "Take You Out," and the dance number "Shine." A track that stands out from this particular disc is the hard-to-find "Hot Butterfly", a 1978 disco number cut performed with Gregg Diamond's Bionic Boogie.

There have been countless compilations with Vandross' hits that have been released since his passing, but Love, Luther is the finest of them all. Whether you are a beginner to the legacy of Luther Vandross or a longtime fan, this is a package that you will definitely want to add to your music collection. 

By Christopher Whaley
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