Ruby Turner - Livin’ A Life Of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991

Ruby Turner
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Ruby Turner - Livin’ A Life Of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991

Ruby Turner knows how to manage expectations. A talented singer who grew up in a musical family in Jamaica and England, Turner took to music and the stage as her talent opened doors. Turner was performing in musical theater by her mid-teens, and her gifts compelled mentors and peers to invest in her musical future. Through it all Turner remained determined to learn, grow, enjoy the ride and prepare herself for the end of the trip.

 “I wasn’t taking any of it seriously,” Turner said in an interview with liner notes writer Justin Kantor for the anthology Livin’ A Life Of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991. “I had a 9 to 5 job and never really saw music as a way of making a living.

Ruby Turner - Livin’ A Life Of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991

Ruby Turner knows how to manage expectations. A talented singer who grew up in a musical family in Jamaica and England, Turner took to music and the stage as her talent opened doors. Turner was performing in musical theater by her mid-teens, and her gifts compelled mentors and peers to invest in her musical future. Through it all Turner remained determined to learn, grow, enjoy the ride and prepare herself for the end of the trip.

 “I wasn’t taking any of it seriously,” Turner said in an interview with liner notes writer Justin Kantor for the anthology Livin’ A Life Of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991. “I had a 9 to 5 job and never really saw music as a way of making a living.

Turner exceeded her expectation due to her talent and because her musical training - in church, musical theater and the club circuit of the 1980s - left her well positioned to be move easily between pop, and synth infused R&B of the late 1980s, hip-hop infused New Jack Swing of the late 80s and early 90s and music fans’ eternal love affair with classic soul and rock.

Livin’ A Life of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991 is representative of the full range of Turner’s talents, and it will serve as an education for American listeners who largely know her from her American chart hits including “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” which topped the Billboard R&B charts in 1989, and her album of Motown covers, The Motown Songbook.

The two-disc set includes some surprises. The bulk of disc one contains Turner’s cover work, and fans of her Motown album will hear Turner perform tunes from that project such as “What’s Become of the Brokenhearted,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Baby I Need Your Lovin’.” However, the disc includes a gospel infused cover of the Alice Cooper song “Only Women Bleed” that is timely considering the articles fillings news feeds and cable news headlines these days.

Disc two stands as a real treat that showcases the underrated Turner’s vocal dexterity on tracks such as the New Jack Swing of “Rumors” to the seductive bass driving funk of “Provoking (Love Stroking).” As an artist, Turner was easily fluent in the many musical movements taking place in R&B during the late 1980s and early 1990s. “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” her biggest hit, showed that Turner could hang with British soul leaders Loose Ends and Soul II Soul in bringing the percussive Caribbean infused funk to the States. Tracks such as “It’s A Cryin’ Shame” reveal that Turner was hip to what was going on in the club scene and “Surrender” could have easily been a candidate for Quiet Storm Radio.

Of course, the time line included in the anthology’s title reminds us that Turner’s time at Jive did eventually end. However, the realism that Turner retained as her star began to rise sustained her as musical tastes changed. She continued to sing and make albums after her time at Jive ended, and she went on to become a fixture on the big and small screen as an actress. Ruby Turner exceeded her wildest expectations. The quality of the work on the anthology Livin’ A Life of Love: The Jive Anthology 1986-1991 explains why. Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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