When you think of the depth and breadth of talent and hits from the 1980s rhythm and blues scene, more than likely an Atlantic Starr song will pop up here and there.
Started by the Lewis brothers (David, Wayne and Jonathan) from upstate New York, Atlantic Starr had two different lead singers during their 1980s R&B charting run, Sharon Bryant and Barbara Weathers, with their similarly soaring voices rising over smooth funk grooves laid down the Lewis brothers. The group will be profile on this Monday evening’s edition of TVOne’s successful series “Unsung,” which profiles black and urban musical influences from bygone eras.
They first hit the R&B top 20 in 1978 with their debut single “Stand Up” and last visited the upper echelon R&B charts in 1992 with “Masterpiece.” In between, there quite a few Atlantic Starr songs that everyone should know and appreciate and here is my definitive top 10. You can agree/disagree or add on in the comments if you like.
“When Love Calls,” from Radiant, 1980: Their first major R&B smash hit the top 5 in January of 1981. A mid-to-upper tempo synth influenced number in which Sharon Bryant warns her would-be lover to not pass up on the chance of a lifetime.
“Touch A Four Leaf Clover,” from Yours Forever, 1983: Sharon Bryant’s last album as Atlantic Starr’s leading lady yielded a very smooth song about how lucky one has to be to get close to her. Most famously covered by Erykah Badu on her first album.
“Silver Shadow,” from As The Band Turns, 1985: From the fittingly titled album that introduced Barbara Weathers as the new lead singer, Silver Shadow is a synth-masterpiece about rising to the top at whatever it is you want to do. A personal favorite of mine.
“Send For Me,” from Radiant: Probably one of the first major quiet storm of the hits of the decade along with “Am I dreamin’,” Wayne Lewis takes the reigns here and lets an old flame know that “Goodbye doesn’t mean a thing with you and I.”
“Always,” From All In The Name Of Love, 1987: The band’s biggest hit and a wedding day staple 25 years later, the song was actually written for the Brilliance album five years earlier, but was shelved. David Lewis pulled it out for All in the name of Love with Barbara Weathers and romance music history was made.
“Secret Lovers,” from As The Band Turns: Out around the same time as Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover,” there clearly was a lot of cheatin’ goin’ on in the mid-80s. Much like Stevie, Atlantic Starr makes it seem oh so right.
“Let’s Get Closer,” from Brilliance, 1982: One of the most underrated Quiet Storm gems of the decade, David Lewis entices his woman with promises of an everlasting love if she would just let him get “Closer than close, closer than most.”
“My First Love,” from We’re Movin’ Up, 1989: Not to be confused with the Rene and Angela smash, the Lewis Brothers share lead vocals on this song about a man who can’t forget the first woman he loved and mercifully lets his current lover down easy. This was the group’s last R&B number one.
“Am I dreaming,” from Radiant: Once again, another early 80s Quiet Storm masterpiece with Sharon Bryant and David Lewis playing the role of star-crossed lovers who believe their love is possibly too good to be true.
“If your heart isn’t in it,” from As The Band Turns: Written by Hamish Stuart (Average White Band, collaborator with Chaka Khan), the song poses a question/situation that anyone in a relationship gone sour can relate to.