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  Minnie Riperton

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This angel-voiced songstress was one of the most heartfelt soul singers of the 1970s, injecting her work with a sincerity that guaranteed you felt her emotion, whether it was the sexy "Inside My Love" or the determination of "Reasons." 

Oddly enough, she began her career with the psychedelic outfit Rotary Connection, who are best known for "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun," later remade by Nuyorican Soul.  After she left the group, she landed a spot in Stevie Wonder's backing singers Wonderlove.  He was taken with her presence and helped secure a solo deal with Epic.

Her debut was Perfect Angel, which was an accurate description of her demeanor.  It became a popular hit largely thanks to "Loving You," one of the most sensual ballads ever. 

Adventures in Paradise was funkier thanks to the assistance of the Crusaders, who were moonlighting in between their own records.  "Inside My Love" was even more explicit than "Loving You," yet her vocal abilities made you forget you were listening to some very serious sex talk.

Tragically, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977, and after serving as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, she died in 1979. 

Minnie Riperton's Deepest Grooves

Rotary Connection (Cadet, 1967)

Songs (with Rotary Connection) (Cadet, 1969)

Come To My Garden (Janus, 1969)
Her first solo album, with the original version of "Les Fleur."

Hey Love (with Rotary Connection) (Cadet, 1971)

Perfect Angel (Epic, 1974)
Stevie Wonder is all over this album, playing drums and keys, writing and producing. "Reasons," "Edge of A Dream" and "Take A Little Trip" are all fan favorites that didn't make it as singles. 

Adventures in Paradise (Epic, 1975)
This may be her best album. Funky backing by the Crusaders, and the title cut has been sampled several times. Minnie was attacked by the lion during the photo shoot but she wasn't hurt.

Stay In Love (Epic, 1976)
Another strong album. "Stick Together" is a classic underground disco cut. "Can You Feel What I'm Saying" is very sweet soul in the vein of Marvin Gaye's I Want You album.

Minnie (Capitol, 1979)
Released after Minnie's death, this has "Memory Lane" and her take on the classic rocker "Light My Fire."

Capitol Gold: Best Of (Capitol, 1990s)
The only collection of her work available in the United States, this has the usual compilation flaws of omitting key tracks ("Reasons," "Edge Of A Dream," "Baby This Love I Have"), but this is apparently as good as it's going to get until/unless they reissue the individual albums.

Her Chess Years (Chess, 1997)
A bunch of Rotary Connection tracks, along with cuts performed under the name Andrea Davis and a group called the Gems.

Free Soul (EMI Japan, 1999)
Japanese-only greatest hits collection.

Pearls: Anthology (Right Stuff, 2001)
I spoke too soon.  This is the best collection of her work ever assembled, covering her entire career and including some unreleased footage.  You still need the original albums to get the songs that fell through the cracks, but this will satisfy all but diehard completists.  

Copyright 2001 B. Graff.  All rights reserved.

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