Minnie Riperton Petals: The Minnie Riperton Collection

While there have been other collections seeking to commemorate the career of Minnie Riperton, none have come as close to being as definitive or representative as this new compilation. Riperton, who tragically died of breast cancer at the age of 31 in 1979, is best known for the hit single "Lovin' You," which showcased her glass-shattering vocals. Yet this song only represents only a small part of Riperton's career and whose artistic breadth was as wide as her five-and-a-half-octave range, and Petals reveals the singer in all her incarnations. The compilation finds her recording sides as a teenager for renowned label Chess, under the pseudonym Andrea Davis, in a '60s bubblegum girl group vein; as an integral part of Charles Stepney's grand sweeping arrangements, in the experimental psychedelic outfit Rotary Connection, and as a successful mellow soul artist. Through it all, it's striking how Riperton's powerful gift to intimate meaning through her voice was so malleable to so many styles and how much she managed to explore in such a short time. Whether she is soaring over the Middle Eastern instrumentation and classical strings on Rotary Connection's folky epic "I Took A Ride (Caravan)," or is holding a ridiculously high note for what seems like forever on the spiritual soul of "Inside My Love," Riperton's presence is literally spine-tingling. The effect her work on artists from Stevie Wonder to A Tribe Called Quest, who frequently sampled her music, is captured in the well-written accompanying liner notes. While there are some notable omissions ("Memory Band" and "I Am The Black Gold of The Sun") from the back catalogue of Rotary Connection, which now fetches eyebrow-raising prices, crucial tracks from her Come To My Garden and Perfect Angel albums, entries like an acoustic demo version of "Seeing You This Way" and the sensual "Light My Fire" duet with Jose Feliciano are hidden gems in this essential 35-track double CD tribute. (Capitol)