Pure Pleasure covers a wide musical range, with Phil's instantly recognizable vocal sound providing emotional continuity and consistency. Whether it's "You Say I Say" a bright and breezy cut, co-written and co-produced by Phil with fellow star vocalist James Ingram or his dramatic, passionate reading of The Spinners' 1974 classic "Love Don't Love Nobody", the album is a showcase for the man's all-encompassing talent.
Phil gives that Patti La Belle early '80s classic "If Only You Knew" an intense, ultra-soulful workout. while he treats Earth, Wind & Fire's "After The Love Has Gone" ( a duet with singer Vesta Williams which was also featured on GRP's hit album The Benoit / Freeman Project) with tender, loving care.
"My approach was to make a record that wasn't boring. that people might find meaningful 10 years from now, that I didn't reflect a fad" says the East St. Louis native. "I felt that the song would determine the direction of the album and I really lived with the 11 songs before recorded them. That allowed me to deliver them with a certain sincerity, like I really knew them..."
Making the point, Pil mentions "Angel Of the Night" one of the album's many highlights. " I wrote the lyric of that song as the result of a dream I had...and the effect it had on me, how it made me feel about being more tender, compassionate, and understanding, about my life and about my wife..."
A truly heartfelt ballad "When It Comes To Love" is another example of a song that Phil holds dear. "To me, that's in the classic vein of a '70s Philly slow ballad... I call it a 'singer song' and in terms of sublect matter, it's all about reviewing a relationship and knowing you've got to laugh with it, cry with it, feel pain, care for it... you do what you gotta do for love..."
Working with a team of acknowledged hit making producers that included Barry Eastmond, Dennis Lambert, George Duke, Keith Thomas and Narada Michael Walden, as well as co-producing two cuts himself, Phil feels justifiably proud of his latest work. "I 'm really satisfied with what I do, but I'd like to think that when my kids listen to this album twenty years from now, they'll be able to say, 'Dad could sing and he sounded pretty good on this record!"
Phil Perry's emergence as a unique and distinctive artist comes after years spent honoring his craft, paying dues in the music business. It was singing in his local East St. Louis church that Phil first began his God-given musical gift and during his junior high school years, he began singing with a local doo-wop group, The Montclairs, recording a couple of albums for the Louisiana-based Jewel-Paula label in the late '60s and early '70s. With Phil as key member and primary composer and arranger, The Montclairs opened for a bevy of R&B acts including Rufus & Chaka Khan, The Ohio Players, The Miracles and Edwin Starr.
In 1979, Phil moved to Los Angeles, hooking up with producer Chuck Jackson who signed the singer to Capitol with Kevin Sanlin, another original member of the Montclairs to from the duo Perry & Sanlin. The team recorded two albums for the label and after the duo dissolved, Phil began writing and developing a sterling reputation as a background singer.
After launching his solo performing career at local LA clubs, Phil began a working relationship with guitarist Lee Ritenour, a performing relationship that continues to the present time. A meeting with Quincy Jones through James Ingram led to a stint touring with Jones as a backup singer and the word was out. Phil found himself working with composer Michael Colombier as well as singing on albums by a diversity of artists that included Sergio Mendes, George Duke, Barbara Streissand and Patti La Belle.
In addition to singing the theme song for the movie Arthur II, Phil toured Japan, SE Asia, Europe and Brazil with Ritenour and it was the JVC Jazz Festival appearance at LA's Hollywood Bowl with the guitarist that Capitol Record's A&R executives heard Phil's powerhouse vocals sound and signed him to the label for the second time.
Released in February 1991, The Heart Of The Man became a consistent seller, thanks in part to the hit single "Call Me', Phil unmistakable reading of the 1970 Aretha Franklin chestnut. "That Aretha liked it was more than enough for me...but the fact is that record made me known to a lot more people," Phil notes. "That music buyers responded so well to the album shocked me! I Love making music and I didn't go into the studio with commercial success in mind. I mean, I Knew I didn't fit the mold, I didn't sing hip-hop, I wasn't a young 'new jack'. I was dumfounded that people got into the album the way they did".
Touring in 1991 with Capitol labelmate Dave Koz, Phil drew a rave reviews from audiences and critics alike and he kept the momentum going with further dates overseas with Ritenour. While preparing to record his second album, Phil continued performing with GRP co-founder Dave Grusin and his brother Don and doing jingles. "Hey, I have to pay the bills," the genial singer laughs. "I just feel blessed that I get called..." In the past year, his other activities included work as a songwriter if the title track for GRP labelmate Patti Austin's "That Secret Place" album and vocal work on supergroup Fourplay's goldplus "Between The Sheets" set.
Aware that his arrival on the music scene hasn't been without its fair share of ups and downs, disappointments and setbacks, Phil is philosophical about his career, "Before I ever recorded my first song, my father used to sneak out of the house to do gigs anyway. But I was willing to take the chance that my Dad would be angry with me because I just knew I would have done anything to sing..."
That kind of life-long commitment to music is what distinguishes Phil Perry as a one-of-akind artist. His passion for singing is in full evidence on Pure Pleasure, whether he's caressing the lyrics of "Heaven", grooving out on "Love It, Love It" (a Luther Vandross penned original).
Of his new association with MCA/GRP, Phil notes, "My involvement in different musical capacities is encouraged, this is a company that is more receptive to having its artist be self-contained. I get a chance to show that I can do as a writer and producer as well as an artist and that's very important to me." Justifiably proud of his first work for the label, he describes Pure Pleasure an album that is "Full of passion, full of explosive musical and vocal performances and it's more well-rounded than the last record."
With the sensual groove of "One Touch" as a lead single, Pure Pleasure is the fulfillment of all the promise Phil displayed on his last album and in his work with others. "You know, I've been such a sideman on so many projects now I'm ready to be up-front," Phil smiles. That's a desire that should easily be met with Pure Pleasure, a solid album of great music from Phil Perry, truly a soul man for the '90s.