“Perfect Angel” is the second studio album released by American Singer Songwriter Minnie Riperton and was the album that gave her much success becoming her only Gold selling album (over 500,000).
The album is most famous for the song “Lovin’ You” which is the track that encapsulates the vocal style Riperton made so famous with the five octave range with the whistle register that made everyone sit up and take notice.
Riperton enlisted the production of Stevie Wonder for this album and when first going into this album I expected a lot smoother sound given my knowledge of “Lovin’ You” but found there was so much more to this album that I had initially thought.
The opening track “Reasons” is a funk/rock song with guitars taking the lead in this track. This is as far away from what I expected from a Minnie Riperton track and is utterly fantastic.
It’s got everything that is required to make me love a song. It’s got that dirty funk rock that I love and her vocal is so full of diversity. When she hits her high note and holds it as the guitars are funking away it is just mesmerizing. Wonderful.
After quite a loud opener things take a calmer turn with “It’s So Nice (To See Old Friends)”. This song is very light and airy with it’s instrumentation being simple and basic. This is a very pretty ballad though and her vocal fits perfectly to the music.
“Take A Little Trip” is a song where you can really hear the Stevie Wonder arrangements clearly. Lyrically the song sees Riperton sing to someone who is closed minded and needs to open his mind up and explore instead of saying things he doesn’t believe and following the crowd. I love the tone of this song and the delivery is wonderful yet not over the top.
“Seeing You This Way” keeps in with the feel of the album which is very light and breezy with the instrumentation retaining that jazz funk and soul style which has Riperton in wonderful voice. This track though is very throwaway and doesn’t capture the attention of the listener as many of the other tracks do.
Track 5 is “The Edge Of A Dream” and this is such a beautiful song. The lyrics are of optimism and hope. It is a song that talks about the wonder of the world and the happiness in our freedom should carry us all through. The way Riperton flows over this track is engaging and powerful without her vocal getting carried away.
The title track is “Perfect Angel”. For someone like myself who is a keen listener of Stevie Wonder there is a clear and obvious production and writing that could have only come from the man himself. This is a real strong point of this album and the diverse nature of her vocal is displayed on here. The sweetness is replaced with a more sexy inflection in her voice but this works just as well.
A bit of research on this track shows that Wonder had the melody of this song written in 1969 but never found an artist who could express it the way he wanted until he met Riperton who no doubt nails it.
“Every Time He Comes Around” starts with the electric guitar and moves into the sexy chilled out number which is just brilliant. I close my eyes and think of how this would be live. I see a smoky club, with a band looking sharp and playing even sharper with a beautiful looking Riperton in the middle of the stage captivating everyone with her vocal prowess. Wonderful song.
“Lovin’ You” is the penultimate song on the album. It is the most famous Minnie Riperton song and I doubt there are many people who haven’t heard it. It is a song that you will still hear frequently on the radio today and is just one of those classic songs.
The song is simple in it’s production and the instrumentation is just Stevie Wonder playing the keyboards. I was never a fan of the sound effects used which have birds singing as I thought it made the song a little cheesy when her high vocal note is enough to do that.
I love the verses of this song and the way she sings so clearly and directly. This is a very direct song in it’s message of loving someone in every way.
Near the end of the song she sings “Maya” to the melody which is actually when her daughter Maya (actress Maya Rudolph) had walked into the studio. Sadly you never hear this on this on the radio version but I find this such as strong moment of ultimate love for her child when her does this and makes what happens to Riperton even sadder.
The final track is “Our Lives”. A 6 minute track about her live and her family. The happiness Riperton gives off in this song is heart warming. There is a sincere tone to her voice as she seems to be singing about her husband and that even when they are apart they come back together like nothing has happened.
The song is fitting with the rest of this fantastic album where Riperton under the guidance of Stevie Wonder is able to articulate the positives in life and the wonder of the world as well as expressing it all in her stunning voice.
Just under two years after the release of this album Riperton revealed on US TV that she was suffering with breast cancer and had undergone an mastectomy. Sadly the cancer had already spread and Minnie Riperton died in 1979.
This album captures a moment of her life that was full of happiness and warmth. So many people go their lives without feeling any of this and Riperton knew she was blessed to have found it.