Flyte Bros LogoLast year, I joined Popdose‘s Jeff Giles and Robert Cass for a column called “‘Face Time,” in which we discussed essential (and some non-essential) cuts in the catalog of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of the ’80s and ’90s. ‘Face and his partner Antonio “L.A.” Reid were one of the big 3 production teams that ruled pop and R&B during that era. There was also Teddy Riley and his New Jack Swing camp, and perhaps most notably, Minneapolis’s James “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Lewis. The former members of Prince offshoot band The Time turned out to be legends in their own right, composing and producing hits for a who’s-who of the music industry and proving to be as (if not more) influential than their purple-clad benefactor.

So in 2014, Jeff, Robert and I (along two new team members, fellow Popdose editor/Popblerd podcast co-host Michael Parr, along with badass co-conspirator Dr. Z) are back to talk all things Flyte Tyme.

Patti Austin | “The Heat Of Heat” (from Gettin’ Away With Murder, 1985) | #55 pop/#13 R&B

MJ: This was a pretty big urban radio hit. Didn’t cross over, though.¹

A little mellower than Jam & Lewis’s offerings of the time…
Jeff Giles: Patti’s last Hot 100 hit! She was forever barred for singing the words In the heat of heat / The heat is so hot.
MJ:  What is heat if not hot? -confucius²
Robert Cass: The heat of heat is on! It’s on the street of streets!
JG: Lyric shaming aside, I’m rather fond of this song from a production standpoint. There’s kind of a lot going on, but in the context of the times, it’s fairly tasteful.
MJ: Tasteful and lush in a way that many of their earlier productions weren’t. It’s like a smoother version of “Saturday Love” with kind of a gothic twist in the bridge.
JG: Lush is a good word. They seemed to favor a lot of hard lines in their ’80s work, but this goes in a very different direction. I’d be curious to hear how this track came together — what kind of mandate they had from Quincy, if any.
MJ: I think Q was in “Color Purple” mode at this point. I wonder if he was even involved.
JG: I know he was virtually absent for some Qwest signings — I’m pretty sure he didn’t give a shit about Jack Wagner — but I wonder if he held the reins tighter for pet projects like Patti.
MJ: This (sidebar) totally explains why you’re listening to The Dude, if your Twitter timeline is an indication of what’s on your stereo.
JG: It’s never a bad time for The Dude.
MP: Mmm-hmm.

RC: Speaking of which, I read in the recent George Benson autobiography that “One Hundred Ways,” sung by James Ingram on The Dude, was originally intended for Give Me the Night.

Quincy Jones played Benson’s version for some Warner Bros. executives at a party while the album was still being recorded. “According to Q, ‘One Hundred Ways’ blew the party away, but once they put on a new thing by Larry Graham called ‘One in a Million [You],’ people kind of forgot about ‘One Hundred Ways,’ so we ended up leaving it off of the record.”

RC: I’d never heard “The Heat of Heat” before. I especially like the use of strings up against those Vanity 6 keyboards. In fact, the string section reminds me of Deon Estus’s “Spell,” an adult-contemporary favorite from my middle school years. Can we talk influences, Deon? Let us know in the comments section.

Have you guys seen the back cover of Gettin’ Away With Murder, the 1985 LP that features “The Heat of Heat”? If anyone at Qwest suggested to Austin that she “wear something a little fun, a little sexy” for the photo shoot, then she did indeed get away with murder.
The back cover of Patti Austin's album "Gettin' Away With Murder"

MJ:  That outfit screams 1985. Patti’s facial expression screams “why am I posing for this picture with a fucking CAT?”

I’m not sure what her hair is screaming, but it’s definitely saying something.
I like that Deon Estus song. Sounds very much like Earth, Wind & Fire. He follows Popblerd on Twitter. Maybe he’ll read the article and answer us!
RC: It also screams “Robert’s second-grade math teacher.” I bought this album for baby makin’, Patti, not to learn about multiplication. (If Patti’s key demo was rabbits it’d be a different story, of course.)
¹-Actually, it charted a bit higher on the pop charts than I originally thought…
²-Not a real Confucius quote (I think.)

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