Tuesday is the release date of “Take a Look,” Natalie Cole’s long-anticipated Elektra follow-up to her 1991 “Unforgettable With Love.”
That album, a collection of songs identified with father Nat King Cole that included the posthumous duet “Unforgettable,” sold more than 8 million copies and won seven 1992 Grammys.
Adding to the interest of the present set is the fact that its co-producer, Cole’s husband Andre Fischer, was recently appointed senior VP A&R of MCA Records’ black music division. As was the case with the first set, several of the tracks on “Take a Look” were produced by Elektra Entertainment executive Tommy LiPuma.
Like “Unforgettable With Love,” the new album is a selection of standards, though only “Calypso Blues” is identified exclusively with Nat King Cole.
“It was never Natalie’s idea for the new album to be a ‘Part Two’ of ‘Unforgettable With Love,’ ” Fischer explained late last week. “That album was a tip of the hat to her pop, and that’s it. I was a protective husband, helping her say goodbye to her father.”
Fischer asserts that Natalie was involved in the process from the beginning. “This is not just another chick singer; this is a woman who graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and who was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in fine arts. When we get in the studio, we check-and-balance each other; we’re both professionals.”
Fischer says that “75%-80%” of the album was recorded “live,” and notes that both he and LiPuma used many of the same musicians and called upon veteran engineer Al Schmitt for most of the recording and all of the final mixdown, “to assure continuity.”
As for the new MCA job, which he assumed on May 17, Fischer describes his function as “a cross between casting director, shop foreman, mechanic, magician, humanitarian and paratrooper,” charged with “attracting some great acts here and letting them know that they’re dealing with a musical A&R man, not a guy who used to sell used cars. I’m a musician first.”
Fischer — who rose to fame as a member of the rock/soul band Rufus, and who worked as production VP for 20th Century Fox Records from 1979-83 — says that he’ll soon be producing Jody Watley for MCA, and possibly some of the label’s other artists, and that his contract allows him to produce certain acts for other labels “as long as it doesn’t conflict with my work here.” Already in the can is an album he produced for Elektra by the great vocalist Nina Simone.