In the sixties and seventies, it was Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass; in the eighties, Luther Vandross; now the nineties belong to Johnny Gill.
Like the great Soul singers of the past, Gill has all the right stuff-- a natural voice of tremendous force, a soaring falsetto, and the gift of impeccable timing. Both patient and urgent, sensitive and sultry, Johnny raises romance to new heights.
In addition to his long string of solo hits -"Rub You The Right Way," "Wrap My Body Tight," "My, My, My" and "Fairweather Friend"--Gill was the voice of the New Edition on smashes such as "If It Isn't Love," "You're Not My Kind Of Girl," "Can You Stand The Rain," and "Crucial." He also enjoyed a No. 1 record with Stacy Lattisaw -- Where Do We Go From Here. Since signing with Motown in 1990, Gill has sold over 15 million albums.
The first single from Gill's forthcoming album is also the title cut. Let's Get The Mood Right is Babyface's sexiest song since "My My My."
"Let's Get The Mood Right" is the right statement of how I feel about love," says Johnny. "Sometimes someone else can express your own sense of romance. Face has that ability. He's a writer who goes beneath the surface to bring out hidden feelings. His melodies are poetry and his poetry is music. His songs show sensitivity towards women. Sensitivity is the key. Like Marvin Gaye said, we're all sensitive people with so much to give."
"Maybe," a soaring ballad with sure-fire, across-the-board appeal, was written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the team responsible for "Wrap My Body Tight" and "Rub You The Right Way."
"I Love the way 'Maybe' expresses all the uncertainties of love. When we start out, we're sure love's gonna be easy, a happily-ever-after fairy tale. The longer we live, the more we see how it's a matter of give and take. 'Maybe' says it all. The emotions surrounding love are as fickle as the weather. And when love doesn't work, maybe it's my fault, maybe it's yours. Maybe it wasn't meant to be, or maybe it was. Maybe love--lasting love--requires more of us than we ever imagined."
"Touch" was written by Bib Bub and produced by Bub and Jerome Jefferson. "'Touch' puts me back in touch with my roots," Johnny explains. "There's a sample from the O'Jays' 'Cry Together' that had me thinking of the backyard parties of my childhood. My dad was a minister, so R&B wasn't allowed. But we soaked in the sounds anyway. The sounds were in the air. I'd never compare myself to Eddie Levert or Marvin Gaye or Teddy Pendergrass--I see them on a higher level--but they were my influences, my inspirations.
"I think Teddy was on our minds when we wrote, 'Take Me (I'm Yours),'" Johnny continues, describing the song he wrote with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and others. "Teddy took his time. In singing ballads or making love you can never take enough time. The idea is to make it last. As boys we rush; as men we learn to linger. Learning about love is a lifetime proposition."
Tony Rich, one of the most successful of a new generation of singer-songwriter-producers, contributed "Bring It On," and the haunting "Having Illusions." "Having Illusions," Gill explains, "is another song close to life. The song says love can be deceptive. We think one way, but we feel another. Our heads and our hearts are out of alignment. Bringing them back into alignment requires patience and self-knowledge, not the easiest combination to come by."
"It's Your Body" may be the most passionate cut on the album. It's also a showcase for Johnny's vast array of musical talents. He wrote the music and words, produced the song, and played all the instruments. The subject is unapologetically sexual.
"Sometimes desire takes over," the singer admits. "Sometimes I feel so completely sexual about a woman that the only honest statement is, 'It's Your Body' that drives me crazy. The song honors the sensuousness of a woman--the softness, the beauty, the ecstasy of physical love.
"'Love In An Elevator' is an all-out fantasy," Gill explains. "It's funny and fun at the same time, going up and down, caught in the elevator of love. The mood sounded so funky to me that I picked up a bass and played the bass groove myself.
"'Simply Say I Love You' is a different kind of fantasy--I get to sing with Stevie Wonder," Johnny beams. "That's Stevie behind me. Stevie is my heart. He's one of the world's most beautiful spirits. He's also hysterical and crazy, and every time we get together it's lots of laughs and genuine brotherhood. I'm blessed to count Stevie, who was among my original musical inspirations, as a personal friend."
Al B. Sure and Kyle West wrote and produced the enticing "4U Alone." R. Kelly contributed "Someone to Love," a smoldering love song that Gill interprets with grace and grit.
As the Soul Man of the nineties, Gill keeps returning to a single theme that seems to unit his artistry intimacy. "When it comes to singing or loving, intimacy is everything," Johnny testifies. "As an artist, my hope is to become more intimate with my creativity. As a man, I want intimacy with a woman. Without true intimacy, there is no true love.
"..One of the most gifted artists I've ever had the pleasure of writing for. He'll be around for a long time." --Babyface
"... one of the premiere vocalists of our era... The man is bad!" --Al B. Sure
"He's one of the greatest crooners around... Makes you feel like you've gone to church." --Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
"He's put together an album that will be heard for a long, long time." --Tony Rich
"As a producer who's also a singer, I can really appreciate his talent. In the studio, on the stage, anywhere and anytime, I like to hear the man sing."