The late great Minnie Riperton’s spirited five-and-a-half octave range, enchanting eclecticism, and virtuosic approach to songcraft set an unparalleled standard that continues to influence generations to come. Yet for some time now, her brief, yet beautifully rich musical legacy remains undervalued in the annals of popular music. Frustratingly enough, the critical and popular consensus of Riperton’s music has notoriously skewed toward her chart-topping single “Lovin’ You” as her lone career apex, often eclipsing the singular body of work that stands alongside this commercial highpoint. Various compilations (2001’s exhaustive Petals: the Minnie Riperton Collection being the best overall) have surveyed highlights in her distinguished career, while Riperton’s artistic prowess is exquisitely showcased on her studio albums.
Perhaps the biggest culprit that has mired music enthusiasts from reinvestigating the full realization of her artistry lies in her catalog being long unavailable in the States, largely due to licensing and contractual conflicts that have played a detrimental role in how her work has been represented domestically. While her catalog has gotten loving recognition overseas, specifically in Japan and the UK, loyalists and stateside music enthusiasts have shelled out wads of cash on expensive imports of her albums over the years.
In alleviating the troubled treatment of Riperton’s musical legacy, Capitol Records is slated to release a double-disc reissue of her 1974 classic Perfect Angel on December 1st. The deluxe reissue will feature a fresh remaster of the original album, bolstered with single mixes and unreleased material from the album’s recording sessions. Interestingly, the reissue’s release is timed in observation of what would’ve been the beloved singer’s 70th birthday this year on November 8th.
While this certainly isn’t the first time this classic has been reissued in the States (its posthumous reissue was released on Capitol Records shortly after Riperton’s sudden passing in 1979, and then made its limited run on compact disc in 1988), it will be a definite treat for both Riperton’s fans and soul music enthusiasts alike, who have relished in its soulful glow for over 40 years. New audiences will also discover the beauty of Riperton’s immeasurable gift through this new reissue. Hopefully with the recognition and success of this forthcoming reissue, UMe/Capitol's catalog division will execute a highly-anticipated reissue campaign of Riperton’s broader discography after all.
Perfect Angel was Riperton’s follow-up to her 1970 baroque pop-soul masterpiece Come to My Garden. It was originally released in the summer of 1974 on Epic Records, after her short sabbatical from the music business. Both a commercial and critical watershed for Riperton, it found her pairing up with her husband Richard Rudolph and the legendary Stevie Wonder, who also served as the album’s producers.
“Minnie was my dear friend,” Stevie Wonder said in an official statement. “She was an extraordinary, vibrant person with an extra-special voice. I was a big fan of hers before we met and it was my honor to produce the album with Minnie and her husband Richard. Minnie had a positive energy that radiated throughout these sessions and throughout the rest of her life. When Minnie lived, she lived. She continues to live through this release.”
“The whole experience was a total surreal experience and a pure joy from start to finish," Rudolph shared with respect to the making of Perfect Angel. "Working with Stevie Wonder in that intimate setting really was more that just a dream come true. And you can feel the ‘wonder’ throughout the entire album. Minnie would be overjoyed to know that her music continues to touch people’s lives.”
The gold-selling album is best known for featuring Riperton’s iconic breakthrough single “Lovin’ You,” which topped the pop chart in 1975 (her only single to do so). The full tracklisting of the reissue package appears below.
DISC 1: Perfect Angel (Original Album)
02. It's So Nice (To See Old Friends)
03. Take A Little Trip
04. Seeing You This Way
05. The Edge Of A Dream
06. Perfect Angel
07. Every Time He Comes Around
08. Lovin' You
09. Our Lives
10. Lovin’ You (Single Version with Countdown) [Bonus Track]
DISC 2: A More Perfect Angel
01. Reasons (Extended Version)
02. It's So Nice (To See Old Friends) (Extended Version)
03. Take A Little Trip (Duet with Stevie Wonder)
04. Seeing You This Way (Acoustic Version)
05. The Edge Of A Dream (Extended Version)
06. Perfect Angel (Extended Version)
07. Every Time He Comes Around (Extended Version)
08. Lovin’ You (Alternate Band Version)
09. Our Lives (Extended Version)
10. Don’t Let Anyone Bring You Down (Perfect Angel Version) [Bonus Track]