Title - Old Friend: The Deluxe Collections 1976-1998 [9CD]
Artist - Phyllis Hyman
SoulMusic Records is exceptionally pleased to present the first-ever box set of the music of the late Phyllis Hyman, who created a wonderful legacy of recordings over close to twenty-years that continues to resonate today with her dedicated global audience and beyond.
Creatively traversing the soul/R&B and jazz genres from the mid-Ď70s until her passing in June 1995 from suicide, with her instantly recognizable and distinctive vocal style, Phyllis developed a solid cadre of discerning music buyers with albums for Buddah, Arista and Philadelphia International Records (all collated here along with a number of bonus tracks and guest appearances for a total of 113 tracks).
Appropriately named Old Friend: The Deluxe Collections 1976-1998, this 9CD box-set has been lovingly created by SoulMusic.com founder David Nathan in cooperation with Glenda Gracia, manager & executrix of the Phyllis Hyman estate, who contributes a moving up-close-and-personal essay.
The first disc is the self-titled Phyllis Hyman and marked Phyllisí official album debut and includes the US R&B/dance charted single, Loving You, Losing You, co-penned by Philly soul maestro Thom Bell who also co-wrote Betcha By Golly Wow, which Phyllis recorded with jazz drummer Norman Connors in 1976 along with a duet with Michael Henderson (We Both Need Each Other), resulting in her first exposure to a wider audience.
Disc One: PHYLLIS HYMAN: EXPANDED EDITION
1. LOVING YOU, LOSING YOU
2. NO ONE CAN LOVE YOU MORE
4. I DONíT WANT TO LOSE YOU
5. DELIVER THE LOVE
6. WAS YESTERDAY SUCH A LONG TIME AGO
7. THE NIGHT BIRD GETS THE LOVE
8. BEAUTIFUL MAN OF MINE
9. CHILDREN OF THE WORLD
10. BABY (IíM GONNA LOVE YOU) [Bonus Track]
11. DO ME [Bonus Track]
12. YOUíRE THE ONE
13. WE BOTH NEED EACH OTHER Ė Norman Connors Feat. Phyllis Hyman And Michael Henderson [Bonus Track]
14. BETCHA BY GOLLY WOW Ė Norman Connors Feat. Phyllis Hyman [Bonus Track]
15. JUST IMAGINEÖ Ė Norman Connors Feat. Phyllis Hyman [Bonus Track]
As Iím sure you are fully aware, this 1977 debut set from one of musicís most emotional and beloved singers is a doozy of a collection right the way through and, to my mind, Skip Scarboroughís No One Can Love You More is indicative of her plentiful sensual charm and her rich vocal timbre.
Although Hymanís vocal prowess is well-known, this set also shows that she was gifted with an uncommon maturity. Hyman was only in her mid-twenties when this was recorded, and her self-possession enabled her to glide through the majority of the material here.
Indeed Hymanís version of Thom Bell and Linda Creedís I Donít Want to Lose You (originally recorded by the Spinners) is even more of a tearjerker, but from singing the chorus in the intro to a Sarah Vaughan-like scat in the middle, the song was made hers.
Also on this expanded edition are both sides of Phyllisí 1976 single for Desert Moon Records along with some delightful duets.
The second disc is SOMEWHERE IN MY LIFETIME which marked Phyllisí addition to the Arista Records roster when Buddah Records was acquired by the Clive Davis-helmed label.
The title cut was co-produced by Barry Manilow and six tracks were included from Phyllisí 2nd Buddah LP, Sing A Song which only gained release outside the US in 1978.
Disc Two: SOMEWHERE IN MY LIFETIME: EXPANDED EDITION
1. KISS YOU ALL OVER
2. SOMEWHERE IN MY LIFETIME
3. LOOKINí FOR A LOVINí
4. THE ANSWER IS YOU
5. SO STRANGE
6. GONNA MAKE CHANGES
7. LIVING INSIDE YOUR LOVE
8. BE CAREFUL (HOW YOU TREAT MY LOVE)
9. SOON COME AGAIN
10. HEREíS THAT RAINY DAY
11. SO STRANGE (12″ VERSION) [Bonus Track]
12. KISS YOU ALL OVER (12″ VERSION) [Bonus Track]
13. SWEET MUSIC [Bonus Track]
14. LOVE IS FREE [Bonus Track]
15. SING A SONG [Bonus Track]
16. AS YOU ARE Ė Pharaoh Sanders Feat. Phyllis Hyman [Bonus Track]
Hymanís second album is similar to many of her efforts: a great singer, but too many so-so songs. The album starts off with a cover of Exileís disco/pop hit, Kiss You All Over, but despite her best attempts, the horrible lyrics and the songís origins make this a waste of precious studio time.
The lachrymose title-track ballad, produced by Barry Manilow and Ron Dante, finds Hymanís voice poorly recorded and placed into a schmaltzy arrangement.
Still, the album features quite a few of the songs she came to be identified with: The Answer Is You, Gonna Make Changes, and Gary Glennís Be Careful (How You Treat My Love), all skillfully produced by then-husband Larry Alexander and Skip Scarborough.
The song Be Careful followed the Norman Connors example of providing Hyman with a sympathetic arrangement, then getting the best take possible.
After all of the botched crossover attempts and so-so dance moves, Somewhere in My Lifetime ended on a good note. Hereís That Rainy Day has her accompanied only by a piano, and she turns in an affecting performance, neither self-pitying nor melodramatic.
Although this effort had a few career-threatening detours, Hymanís charisma and some solid songs make this a solid effort.
This newly expanded edition features bonus tracks from Sing A Song and a guest appearance with saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, As You Are as well as 12 inch single versions of Kiss You All Over and So Strange.
The third disc is YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME which saw Phyllis teamed with James Mtume & Reggie Lucas, hitmakers for Stephanie Mills. The result was Phyllisí biggest R&B/dance hit with the now-classic title track.
Disc Three: YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME: EXPANDED EDITION
1. YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME
2. SOME WAY
3. UNDER YOUR SPELL
4. THIS FEELING MUST BE LOVE
5. BUT I LOVE YOU
7. HOLD ON
8. GIVE A LITTLE MORE
9. COMPLETE ME
10. YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME (SINGLE EDIT) [Bonus Track]
11. UNDER YOUR SPELL (SINGLE EDIT) [Bonus Track]
12. MAGIC MONA [Bonus Track]
13. IíLL BE AROUND Ė McCoy Tyner (Featuring Phyllis Hyman) [Bonus Track]
14. LOVE SURROUNDS US EVERYWHERE Ė McCoy Tyner (Featuring Phyllis Hyman) [Bonus Track]
15. IN SEARCH OF MY HEART Ė McCoy Tyner (Featuring Phyllis Hyman) [Bonus Track]
16. IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD [Bonus Track]
You Know How to Love Me was most definitely Hymanís most successful album and was carefully tailored to become the artistís crossover breakthrough, with prolific producer/songwriters James Mtume and Reggie Lucas on board.
The end result is a carefully constructed blend of contemporary disco-styled songs and ballads, some better than others, and the more routine tracks are always rescued by Hyman stellar pipes.
The album never truly realized its full potential, but does include the song that would become one of Hymanís signature tunes, You Know How to Love Me.
The song was never a blockbuster hit, but has grown into a classic, covered by artists such as Lisa Stansfield and Robin S. Other highlights include the excellent quiet storm of Some Way, which allows Hymanís husky voice to shine, the somber, sublime piano ballad But I Love You, and the jazzy saxophone ballad Complete Me.
You Know How to Love Me is as close as Hyman truly came to becoming a commercial force and is an important and essential chapter in this starís musical legacy.
This is the case of an album that was not a blockbuster upon initial release, but, like a great overlooked film, has grown into a classic whose importance will only increase with the passing of time.
This expanded edition includes the Thom Bell-produced Magic Mona, three tracks on which Phyllis guested with jazz pianist McCoy Tyner and In A Sentimental Mood from the Duke Ellington Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies (in which Phyllis starred and was nominated for a Tony Award).
The fourth disc is 1981ís CANíT WE FALL IN LOVE AGAIN which featured Phyllisí highest-charting R&B hit, the title track a duet with Michael Henderson.
Disc Four: CANíT WE FALL IN LOVE AGAIN: EXPANDED EDITION
1. YOU SURE LOOK GOOD TO ME
2. DONíT TELL ME, TELL HER
3. I AINíT ASKING
4. CANíT WE FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Ė Phyllis Hyman & Michael Henderson
5. THE LOVE TOO GOOD TO LAST
6. TONIGHT YOU AND ME
7. THE SUNSHINE IN MY LIFE
8. JUST ANOTHER FACE IN THE CROWD
9. CANíT WE FALL IN LOVE AGAIN (SINGLE VERSION) Ė Phyllis Hyman & Michael Henderson [Bonus Track]
10. YOU SURE LOOK GOOD TO ME (SINGLE VERSION) [Bonus Track]
11. TONIGHT YOU AND ME (DISCO VERSION) [Bonus Track]
12. SLEEP ON IT [Bonus Track]
13. IF YOU EVER CHANGE YOUR MIND [Bonus Track]
14. IN BETWEEN THE HEARTACHES [Bonus Track]
Although Hyman was a premier vocalist, she was often given songs hat betrayed her impressive gifts, and this effort too often proves the point.
Leading this 1981 set is You Look So Good to Me, reminiscent of the Pointer Sistersí hit Heís So Shy. As talented as she was, girl-group sweetness wasnít her forte. The meandering dance workout I Ainít Asking is short on lyrics and Hyman has to riff over half of the song.
The title track brought her back to a sense of normalcy, featuring duet partner Michael Henderson, the then-labelmates steam it up and exchange screams.
With his booming voice, Henderson was one of the few male singers who had both the vocal range and persona to match her. The most pleasant surprise here is Hyman reuniting with Norman Connors on The Love Too Good to Last, which was arranged by Paul Riser and written by Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, and Peter Allen.
Hymanís take was warm, polished and sexy; she didnít give an inch on her phrasing to tackle the abrupt cadences of the lyrics. The Sunshine of My Life, with a smooth sax solo from Gary Bartz, sounds like it came from one of Connorsí own classic late-í70s or early-í80s albums.
Other tracks now included - all of them with production by Norman Connors and Natalie Coleís co-producer Chuck Jackson - feature three tracks not on the original LP.
The fifth disc is GODDESS OF LOVE which was Phyllisí final LP for Arista with production from Narada Michael Walden (the R&B/dance hit Riding The Tiger) and Thom Bell.
Disc Five: GODDESS OF LOVE: EXPANDED EDITION
1. RIDING THE TIGER
2. GODDESS OF LOVE
3. WHY DID YOU TURN ME ON
4. YOUR MOVE, MY HEART
5. LET SOMEBODY LOVE YOU
6. FALLING STAR
7. WE SHOULD BE LOVERS
8. JUST ME AND YOU
9. JUST TWENTY FIVE MILES TO ANYWHERE
10. IíM NOT ASKING YOU TO STAY [Bonus Track]
11. RIDING THE TIGER (DANCE VERSION) [Bonus Track]
12. RIDING THE TIGER (SINGLE EDIT) [Bonus Track]
This 1983 set was Hymanís last effort for Arista. During the early í80s she easily maneuvered between R&B and jazz with a skill few artists possessed. Regrettably, this takes Hyman away from jazz and often puts her knee-deep in pablum.
The album splits the production duties between Narada Michael Walden and Thom Bell, the tracks with Walden may be a little too mainstream for Hyman acolytes.
Glossy í80s dance exercises Riding the Tiger and Goddess of Love have Hyman singing goofy lyrics like Youíll feel the fear of my name and My skin never lies.
Even Grace Jones couldnít do anything with that. Walden acquits himself nicely with the good, hooky ballad Why Did You Turn Me On, a song he put on one of his own albums a few yeas before.
The work with Bell is below his customary excellence. He and his writers must have used all of their best tracks for Deniece Williamsí classic My Melody, because Hyman is left with mostly re-treads.
After a few so-so tracks, Goddess of Love does go out with a bang. The sparsely arranged Just Twenty Miles to Anywhere has Hyman finally getting lyrics of a substantive nature so she could soar, and displays all of the greatness Hyman had to offer; itís too bad that most of this album didnít follow suit.
This expanded CD also includes a bonus track from the Bell sessions, Iím Not Asking You To Stayí along with two different versions of Riding The Tiger.
The sixth disc is LIVING ALL ALONE and marks Phyllisí 1986 pacting with Kenny Gamble & Leon Huffís Philadelphia International Recordsí label and resulted in immediate success with two Top 20 R&B hits, the title track and the perennial Old Friend, which remained a staple of Phyllisí live shows.
Disc Six: LIVING ALL ALONE: EXPANDED EDITION
1. LIVING ALL ALONE
2. FIRST TIME TOGETHER
3. IF YOU WANT ME
4. SLOW DANCINí
5. OLD FRIEND
6. YOU JUST DONíT KNOW
7. AINíT YOU HAD ENOUGH LOVE
8. SCREAMINí AT THE MOON
9. WHAT YOU WONíT DO FOR LOVE
10. BLACK AND BLUE Ė Barry Manilow & Phyllis Hyman, Featuring Tom Scott [Bonus Track]
11. SACRED KIND OF LOVE Ė Grover Washington, Jr. Featuring Phyllis Hyman [Bonus Track]
Coming off a successful though problematic tenure with Arista, Phyllis Hyman signed with Philadelphia International shortly after the label switched from CBS to Capitol.
Like Shirley Jonesí 1986 album Always in the Mood, Living All Alone typified the synth-based but still melodic mid-to-late-í80s Philly sound.
The producers and writers gave her an albumís worth of instant-classic singerís songs. The albumís first single, the bittersweet You Just Donít Know, typified the powerful and classy proceedings. First Time Together also follows the same style.
While Hymanís vocals are top-notch here, fans listening to Living All Alone canít help but be struck by the sense of melancholy apparent in the sessions. Thatís not true of the title track, an oddly sensual song that has her trademark fire, as she does some great vocalizations and screams, and seems to live the lyrics.
The poignant Thom Bell and Linda Creed gem Old Friend quickly became a fan favorite and thus, and although most of Living All Alone is emotionally draining, it is still one of Hymanís finest efforts.
This expanded edition features guest appearances with Barry Manilow and Grover Washington Jr. on both Black And Blue and Scared Kind of Love, respectively.
The seventh disc is 1991ís PRIME OF MY LIFE which brought Phyllis her 1st R&B chart-topping single, Donít Wanna Change The World (with the rare non-rap version included on this expanded edition) and included notable tracks Living In Confusion and Meet Me On The Moon.
Disc Seven: PRIME OF MY LIFE: EXPANDED EDITION
1. WHEN YOU GET RIGHT DOWN TO IT
2. I FOUND LOVE
3. DONíT WANNA CHANGE THE WORLD
4. PRIME OF MY LIFE
5. WHEN I GIVE MY LOVE (THIS TIME)
6. I CANíT TAKE IT ANYMORE
7. WALK AWAY
8. LIVING IN CONFUSION
9. MEET ME ON THE MOON
10. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO OUR LOVE
11. (THE) HOTTEST LOVE AROUND [Bonus Track]
12. DONíT WANNA CHANGE THE WORLD (NO RAP VERSION) [Bonus Track]
Listening to Phyllis Hymanís 1991 emotional tour de force Prime of My Life is at once a happy and sad experience. Happy because it finds Hyman at a moment when she was not tortured by her inner demons and tragic because it provides an undeniable glimpse into Hymanís tortured soul and the pending suicide which would materialize four years later.
Prime of My Life granted the sophisticated lady her first R&B chart-topper with the saucy Donít Wanna Change the World, which incorporates elements of new jack swing, hip-hop, and early-í90s house, and even features a rare, sexy rap by the songstress herself.
The album opens with the jazzy quiet storm hit When You Get Right Down to It and features several shimmering, gorgeous ballads, most notably the timeless audience favorite Meet Me on the Moon, one of the high points of Hymanís catalogue, period.
Other gems include the light, bittersweet closer Whatever Happened to Our Love, I Canít Take It Anymore, which is a sad tune pitted against a happy beat, and the self-assured yet ultimately tragic Prime of My Life.
One of the true highlights, however, is the over-seven-minutes-in-length Living in Confusion, which Hyman belts with unmistakable integrity, growling out the bewildered lyrics with overflowing conviction, and provides more than a glimpse into what was really going on in the singerís life.
Hyman could take an average song and tear through it like a tiger, which is what made her music so appealing. This album is a true gem and proves that the husky-voiced Hyman was a timeless song stylist in a class all her own.
As aforementioned, one of the additional bonus tracks here is the rare non-rap version of Donít Wanna Change The World along with Hottest Love Around, which was only previously available on a CD single.
The eighth disc is I REFUSE TO BE LONELY, and with primary production by Nick Martinelli (who had worked on Phyllisí 1991 CD) was released after her passing in June, 1995 and features five tracks co-written by Phyllis including the title track and standout Itís Not About You (Itís About Me).
Disc Eight: I REFUSE TO BE LONELY
1. I REFUSE TO BE LONELY
2. WAITING FOR THE LAST TEAR TO FALL
3. THIS TOO SHALL PASS
4. IíM TRULY YOURS
5. IíM CALLING YOU
6. BACK TO PARADISE
7. ITíS NOT ABOUT YOU (ITíS ABOUT ME)
8. IT TAKES TWO
9. WHY NOT ME
10. GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON TO STAY
As noted, I Refuse to Be Lonely was released five months after Phyllis Hymanís terrible suicide, and it is virtually impossible to listen to this album without realizing that many of these songs more than faintly hint at the tragedy that was brewing.
This immaculately produced set begins with her self-affirming, yet ultimately tragic ballad I Refuse to Be Lonely, which finds Hyman basically crying the lyric.
Not all the songs on this set are so maudlin, however. I Refuse to Be Lonely is followed by the jazzy Waiting for the Last Tear to Fall and the dramatic and impressive This Too Shall Pass, which finds Hyman convincing herself that her troubles will soon be over, set against a backdrop of heavy percussion and soaring backing vocals.
Hyman gets jazzy on It Takes Two and provides a sophisticated quiet storm ballad with Why Not Me. Hyman also sounds sexy and less depressed on the piano ballad Iím Truly Yours and the happier, jazzy Back to Paradise, which still keeps with the troubling prophetic nature of the album with the repeated lyric Iíve been waiting here at the gates of heaven.
All of this is only heightened by the last song, prophetically titled Give Me One Good Reason to Stay, where Hyman sings Itís true Iím leaving/My bags are at the door.
Phyllis Hyman, despite all her troubles, managed to leave the world another wonderful set of classy, sophisticated quiet storm jazz ballads with I Refuse to Be Lonely, augmented by her one-of-a-kind, brutally raw and honest voice.
Nancy Wilson has previously spoken up and whilst lamenting Hymanís passing also pondered at the marvels she would have produced had she chosen to record the songs of Cole Porter or George Gershwin. This album, however, only hints at the wonders which, sadly, the world will never know.
The ninth, and final disc of this highly impressive new box-set is FOREVER WITH YOU which consists of a collection of previously-unreleased recordings that Phyllis had recorded for Philadelphia International Records, including four she co-wrote, notably The Strength Of A Woman, as well as a memorable version of Hurry Up This Way Again, a 1980 R&B hit for The Stylistics.
Disc Nine: FOREVER WITH YOU
1. FOREVER WITH YOU
2. FUNNY HOW LOVE GOES
3. COME RIGHT OR NOT AT ALL
4. THE STRENGTH OF A WOMAN
5. HURRY UP THIS WAY AGAIN
6. HOW LONG
7. SOMEONE TO LOVE
8. TELL ME WHAT YOUíRE GONNA DO
9. THE KIDS
10. SET A LITTLE TRAP
11. NO ONE BUT YOU
Issued three years after Phyllis Hymanís death, Forever With You collected 12 unreleased songs recorded between 1985-1995, during her tenure with Philadelphia International.
Not a single track on this set sounds like filler - the whole album is comprised of well-produced, elegant, and sophisticated songs, running a gamut of musical styles, and further showcases the loss that the music world suffered with Hymanís tragic passing.
The album opens with the upbeat, Latin-tinged title track, and then heads into quiet storm territory with Funny How Love Goes (a duet with newcomer Damon), Come Right or Not at All, The Strength of a Woman, and her faithful cover of the Stylisticsí Hurry Up This Way Again.
The album veers into left gear with the energetic house track How Long, which works incredibly well and, had things gone differently, could have opened up a whole different market for Hyman.
Someone to Love, the greatest torch song Barbra Streisand never recorded, is a definite album highlight, and brings to mind the music of classic Hollywood films of the 1940s.
Hyman even tackles hip-hop lite with Tell Me What Youíre Gonna Do, provides a socially conscious quiet storm ballad with The Kids, and vamps coyly on the sexy Set a Little Trap, another album highlight.
This set closes with the shuffling, hip-hop-laced No One But You and the soaring ballad Souvenirs. Forever With You, which also includes several songs co-written by Hyman, is a must for any fan, and sounds like an actual, cohesive set, as opposed to a compilation of rarities and unreleased material.
As always, and with respect to all her albums, the star is Hymanís tortured, elegant, and ferocious voice, and the unparalleled conviction that she injects into each song.
Renowned writer Janine Coveney provides a heartfelt tribute with an overview of Phyllisí music, whilst SoulMusic Recordsí Michael Lewis offers his thoughts on Phyllisí compelling live performances.
In a beautifully-designed box with artwork by Roger Williams along with stellar mastering from Nick Robbins, Old Friend: The Deluxe Collection is a fitting celebration of Phyllis Hymanís contribution through music, to commemorate the anniversary of her 72nd birthday, on July 6th, 2021.
Official 9CD Purchase Link