Five Best Songs From Anita Baker’s ‘Compositions’ Album
Anita Baker is nothing short of a legendary figure when it comes to R&B. An endless stream of female vocalists have emerged and faded away since her reign, but few have left as strong an impression on music enthusiasts than she has done over the years.
Born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Detroit, Mich., Baker got her start in the music industry as a part of the group Chapter 8 before embarking on a solo career. Linking with Beverly Glen Records, she released her debut album, The Songstress, in 1983, which sold over 300,000 copies. The album may have been a success, but Baker's relationship with Beverly Glen was proving to be fractured due to alleged financial misappropriation and contractual limbo.
Eventually moving over to Elektra Records, the singer delivered with her sophomore album, Rapture, in 1986, which spawned the hit singles "Sweet Love" and "You Bring Me Joy." She transformed from a promising vocalist to a star artist with this effort. Selling over five million copies and scoring two wins at the 1987 Grammy Awards, Rapture afforded the young diva a chance to perform at President George Bush's inauguration, a stark contrast to her humble days as a waitress before her newfound fame and fortune. Giving You The Best That I Got, Anita Baker's follow-up to Rapture, was unleashed in 1988, and sold over three million copies and earned the singer her third Grammy Award win despite mixed reviews from choice critics.
After a tumultuous year in 1989 that included a miscarriage and backlash for her growing reputation of being a hot-headed diva, Anita Baker looked to silence the negativity with her fourth studio album, Compositions. Released on June 12, 1990, Compositions reflects Baker's growth as a songwriter. “I did a lot more writing on [Compositions] than I ever thought I would,” she told Jet magazine. “After my first Grammy for songwriting I had a little more confidence. I leaned into it a little bit more.”
While some critics weren't impressed, such as writer Robert Christgau, who pegged it "a dud" in his assessment of the album at the time, Compositions continued Anita Baker's award tour, winning her another Grammy as well as being her third consecutive album to reach platinum certification. With 20 years since its release, we listen to the LP once more to find the tracks that do it justice and reflect the brilliance of Anita Baker. Check out Five Best Songs From Anita Baker's Compositions Album below.
"If I lost you now it would take my heart from me / I can't imagine life without the love of you," croons Anita Baker on "Soul Inspiration," the second single released from Compositions. Co-written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, the track builds from a lullaby into a festive jam during the course of the track, which is provided by producer Michael J. Powell. Despite falling short of a top ten slot on the R&B charts, "Soul Inspiration" still crept into the top 20, peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard charts. An infectious ditty that has more than stood the test of time, "Soul Inspiration" remains a delight and a testament to the greatness of Anita Baker.
Anita Baker delivers yet another superb offering with the album's closing track, "Fairy Tales." Co-written by the trio of Baker, Michael J. Powell and Vernon Fails, "Fairy Tales" finds the R&B legend giving her feathery octaves a rest, instead opting to flex her power vocals. She's no one-trick pony. The third single released from Compositions, "Fairy Tales" earned Baker yet another top ten hit and served as quite the bookend to a timeless album.
The lights get dim on the slow-burning offering "Whatever It Takes." Written by Gerald Levert, this tune is among the many deep album cuts from the legend's catalog that has become a fan favorite among her most devoted supporters. Sensuous and subtle with an air of desire, Baker shines on the track and concocts the perfect jam for a romantic night in with that special someone.
Compositions begins with the outstanding selection "Talk to Me." Produced by Michael J. Powell and co-written by Baker, Powell and Vernon Fails, the track is upbeat and showcases the songstress' vocal range and impeccable nuance. Peaking in the top five of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, the song is the biggest radio hit off Compositions and continued Baker's streak of classic singles.
Her fourth album reaches its climax on the epic love ballad "More Than You Know." One of the LP's more passionate moments, the effort features impeccable songwriting and plenty of emotion to spare. Anita Baker's soothing vocals collide with the live instrumentation splendidly, which makes for a memorable number.