Tuesday, November 28, 2006
My Special Love - La Toya Part 2
One of my first posts was dedicated to La Toya's debut album (see the November archive) and I thought it was about time that I got around to her second release, the utterly delicious "My Special Love". "My Special Love" was not as successful as "La Toya Jackson", which is a great shame because it is much better. With one major exception, "My Special Love" does not have any obvious singles or standout tracks. Instead, the album is consistently excellent from beginning to end. "My Special Love" should have been the album that launched Toy Toy into the pop stratosphere with her less talented brothers but, like just about everything else in La Toya's colourful life, things did not go to plan and the album bombed.
According to Toy's autobiography, her father and then manager, Joe, basically screwed everything up. He alienated contacts in the industry, interfered with the record company and decided on who Toy should work with. The mystery is how the fucking thing ended up being so good. The album begins with a cover of Billy Ocean's disco hit "Stay The Night", which was also the first and only single released from the album. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest mistakes with the whole project. "Stay The Night" is great fun but hardly distinctive enough to launch an album. The sad thing is they had any number of excellent songs to choose from.
"Fill You Up" is not one of the above mentioned excellent songs. "Fill You Up" follows the disco-lite formula of "Stay The Night" but lacks any sense of melody. It is by far the weakest song on the album, although "Fill You Up" is not awful by any means. The next song, "Giving You Up", is a fantastic collaboration with brother Randy. This is an insanely catchy pop tune that shows what Toy Toy can do when given good material. It also demonstrates Randy's rather formidable singing voice. "Giving You Up" is followed by the wonderful "Love Song", a track that many Toy fans name as their favourite from the album. "Love Song" is top shelf Toy! The funky brass backing combined with La Toya's attitude filled vocal delivery results in a truly toytastic pop moment.
"I Don't Want You To Go" is the album's requisite power ballad and La Toya launches into the song with her passionate high pitched vocals. I'm convinced Toy Toy hits notes in this song that have never been captured on record before or since. The song shows what La Toya's pipes are capable of! La Toya is assisted on the next song by her obese sister, Janet. Toy and Janet wrote "Camp Kuchi Kaiai" together and the song is about as ridiculous as the title suggests. Janet obviously used the experience to observe, some might say steal, La Toya's magical vocal delivery. Be warned, some of the notes hit on this song are so high that my dog hits its head against the wall in pain when I play it. I think it was probably Janet's last good song.
The penultimate song, "Summertime With You" is a warm and breezy song that is the perfect soundtrack to any sunny day. Toy has never sounded so relaxed and confident. That leads us to the last song on the album and the only song that stands head and shoulders above the others. In fact, I think "Special Love" might be my favourite La Toya song. Ever. The orchestral opening is an exquisite touch and makes the subtle disco beat that follows all the more unexpected. The music reminds me of a melancholic interpretation of John Paul Young's "Love Is In The Air". The result is something akin to a demented wedding waltz, only at a wedding where the groom is terminally ill or about to spend 25 years in prison. Ok, maybe I've listened to the song once too often, so make up your own mind.
This album was only released on CD in Japan and the pleasure of owning a copy will set you back anywhere up to $US 200. Jamie, internationally reknowned Toy fan, recently announced that an American company is considering a re-issue. Fingers crossed that it comes to fruition. In the meantime, search second hand record store's for a vinyl copy and enjoy my small selection from the album: