Essential Atlantic: Roberta Flack, FEEL LIKE MAKIN' LOVE

Monday, March 7, 2022

Roberta Flack should have been sitting on top of the world in 1974. Her third album, Killing Me Softly, had been a top three hit, with the evocative title track peaking at #1 on the Hot 100. In the summer of '74, Flack released "Feel Like Makin' Love," a warm, atmospheric instant soul classic written by Gene McDaniels that shot straight to #1. The chart-topping achievement made Roberta Flack the first female artist to reach #1 on the Hot 100 for three consecutive years in a row since all the way back in 1940.

When it came time to make the album, however, Flack's longtime producer Joel Dorn, walked away from the project. It left the artist to produce the full-length herself, using the pseudonym Rubina Flake: "I knew what I wanted musically, but I didn't know a lot of technical things or the business aspects of producing," Flack told The Washington Post (via the Billboard Book of #1 Hits). "I learned the hard way. If you know what you're doing, you can't spend too much time on a album, though you can certainly spend too much money,"

Released in March 1975, Feel Like Makin' Love proved to be well worth the effort, climbing all the way to #5 on the Billboard Hot R&B Albums chart. On the mainstream Billboard 200, the record peaked at #24 over the week of May 10, 1975. The #1 album in America that week: Chicago VIII. Among the album tracks: a beautiful 13-minute Stevie Wonder composition, "I Can See the Sun in Late December." With originals like the quiet-storm jazz of "Mr. Magic," the bittersweet "Old Heartbreak Top 10," and the quirky acoustic folk of "Some Gospel According to Matthew," Feel Like Makin' Love is a gorgeous and tactile trip through the many corridors of Flack's musical mind.

"This was the first album that I produced myself, with the help of people like Gene (McDaniels) and Stevie Wonder," Flack recalled of Feel Like Makin' Love during a 2020 interview. "At the time, I didn't think it would be the hit it turned out to be."