Sunday, July 17, 2011

The #24 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Mariah Carey" by Mariah Carey

We began in May featuring one album at a time each day that is part of The Top 100 Albums of All-Time in the Rock Era*, and are now inside the Top 25.

Mariah Carey hasn't put out anything close to this album in quality for over 15 years, but we're not judging artists here.  It is safe to say that she stunned the world with her debut.  Released at a time when music was suffering, it was a breath of fresh air, an injection of talent into the industry. 

 It was almost too good to be true, and alas, it was as we found out later that the album's quality had more to do with Tommy Mottola than Mariah Carey.  It was Mottola's selection of material, selection of musicians and guidance of Carey's career that was responsible for the tremendous success of this album.  For instance, the high notes you hear on some of the tracks were the result of Carey experimenting in the studio.  Obviously, it takes talent that occurs once in a generation to hit those kind of notes so effortlessly.  Carey, not the best judge of her own talent nor her own material, wanted to get rid of the high notes!  Every single person in the studio, from Mottola to the musicians to the other producers, of course, recognized that these sounds had to be on the album for people to truly appreciate what a talent this was.  In short, Carey's vocal gymnastics inspired every female singer that has come out in the last 20 years and probably will do so for the next 50.  Carey of course doesn't write music nor play any musical instruments.

The masterpiece rose to #1 on the album chart and stayed there for 11 weeks; it also logged four weeks at #2 and 11 weeks at #3.  The album was a fixture in the Top 10 for 48 weeks and it remained a best-seller for 113 weeks (over two years).  To date, Mariah Carey has sold nine million albums, and it has an excellent Track Rating* of 9.18.

"Vision of Love" was a number one song in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, one of the top debut songs in history.  "Love Takes Time" also topped the charts in the United States and Canada.  When "Someday" and "I Don't Wanna' Cry" reached #1, Carey became the first artist since the Jackson 5 to see their first four singles go to #1.  "There's Got to Be a Way" was the fifth single from the album.

Those five songs right there are going to make this album better than just about anything else ever released.  But again, there's much more to the album than the singles.  "Vanishing" is probably one of the Top 10 or 15 Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.

"Vision of Love" was nominated for three Grammy Awards--winning for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  It won a Soul Train Music Award for Best Female Solo Single and a Songwriter Award at the BMI Pop Awards.  "Someday" was nominated for an American Music Award for Favorite Dance Single.

Carey also won a Grammy for Best New Artist, an American Music Award for Favorite Female Soul Artist, Billboard Music Awards for Top Adult Contemporary Artist, Top Pop Artist and Top Pop Album and Soul Train Awards for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Urban Contemporary New Artist.  She was also nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards and received nominations at the American Music Awards for Favorite New Rock Artist, Favorite Female Rock Artist and Favorite Female Soul Artist.

Mariah Carey:
1.    "Vision of Love" (Mariah Carey, Ben Margulies) --3:30
2.    "There's Got to Be a Way" (Carey, Ric Wake) --4:53
3.    "I Don't Wanna' Cry" (Carey, Narada Michael Walden) --4:48
4.    "Someday" (Carey, Margulies) --4:08
5.    "Vanishing" (Carey, Margulies) --4:12
6.    "All in Your Mind" (Carey, Margulies) --4:4
7.    "Alone in Love" (Carey, Margulies) --4:12
8.    "You Need Me" (Carey, Rhett Lawrence) --3:51
9.   "Sent From Up Above" (Carey, Lawrence) --4:04
10.  "Prisoner" (Carey, Margulies) --4:24
11.  "Love Takes Time" (Carey, Margulies) --3:49

Ben Margulies, Carey's songwriting partner, played drums and keyboards on the album, Narada Michael Walden played drums, Ren Klyce played line drums and directed Fairlight programming, Joe Franco played drums and percussion, Omar Hakin played drums and Ric Wake handled drum programming.  Jimmy Rip and David Williams, Michael Landau, Vernon Reid and Nile Rodgers contributed their guitar work, Chris Camozzi played both acoustic and electric guitar on the album and Marcus Miller played bass.  Rhett Lawrence played keyboards, Louis Bincaniello played keyboards, bass and helped with programming, Richard Tee played piano.  Walter Afanasieff played synthesized horns, keyboards, synthesizers and synth bass.  Billy T. Scott and his Ensemble and Fonzie Thornton sang backing vocals.

The album was recorded from December of 1988 to 1990 at Skyline Studios in New York City, Cove City Studios in Glen Cove, New York and Tarpan Studios in San Rafael, California.  Tommy Mottola was the executive producer of Mariah Carey.  Patrick Dillett, Bob Cadway and Dana Jon Chappelle were the engineers, while Dillett, Cadway, Lawrence, Larry Alexander and Chappelle mixed the project.  The great album was mastered by Bob Ludwig and Howie Weisburg.  Carey, with great assistance from Ben Margulies, Chris Toland, Walter Afanasieff, Wake, Rich Tancredi, Lawrence and Walden, arranged the album.  It was released June 12, 1990 on Columbia Records.

And it became an instant classic.  Mariah Carey's self-titled debut is at #24 All-Time.

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