Friday, July 20, 2018

Carl Anderson: "One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era"

For "music night" this evening at The Wild Reed I share the song "Can't Stop This Feeling" by Carl Anderson, whose recordings from the 1980s and '90s I've been collecting and enjoying for the past three months or so.

Born February 27, 1945, Carlton Earl "Carl" Anderson was an American singer, film and theatre actor best known for his portrayal of Judas Iscariot in the Broadway and film versions of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Yet for almost two decades, Carl was an accomplished and well-respected song stylist, artfully blending jazz, soul, pop, and R&B influences into his own unique and unforgettable style.

For reasons that are frustratingly elusive, many of Carl's best recordings remain unknown to the general public. His most popular song is his duet with singer-actress Gloria Loring, "Friends and Lovers," which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1986. Carl died on February 23, 2004, after an 8-month struggle with leukemia. He was less than a week away from his 59th birthday.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I share this evening the music video for what is perhaps Carl's second most well-known song, "Can't Stop This Feeling." This video is followed by a review by Chris Rizik of the 2010 reissue of Carl's 1985 album, Protocol. "Can't Stop This Feeling" was the opening track of this stellar album, generally regarded as one of Carl's best. Enjoy!

Carl Anderson – Protocol (Reissue)
A Review by Chris Rizik (2010)

During the 1980s, Carl Anderson's immense talent was only matched by the wild inconsistency of the music he released. His debut album, Absence Without Love, was a major disappointment for fans who had waited nearly a decade after his seminal performance as Judas in the blockbuster movie Jesus Christ Superstar. And the follow up album, On and On, was only slightly better. Though he had teamed with first rate talent in making those albums, neither remotely did justice to his vocal stylings. But all the elements aligned in 1985 with Protocol, by far his best album of the decade and one of the most consistently enjoyable albums by a male soul vocalist that year. Teaming with producers Patrick Henderson, Al McKay (of Earth, Wind & Fire) and Gary Taylor, he fashioned an album that made good on the promise that was hinted at in his Superstar performance but was suppressed in his earlier solo work.

McKay brought the opening cut, "Can't Stop This Feeling," to the project and immediately created the greatest four minutes Anderson had ever recorded. The upbeat number was uber-infectious and Anderson tore it up with a a wonderful vocal performance. It was an auspicious opening to the album, but it was by no means the only high point. Unlike Anderson's earlier discs, Protocol included ballads that appeared tailor made for his expressive crooning. "Still Thinking of You" and "One More Time With Feeling" were top notch, and "Saving My Love For You" was a chillingly simple and beautiful coda to the disc. Some of the mid-80s Kashif-like production on "Let's Talk" and "Girl, I Won't Say No" sound a bit over the top now, but are more than offset by the subtler work on the dance number "What Will Happen Now" and the very nice "Love On Ice."

Clearly the material on Protocol was better than Anderson had had before, but there was also an obvious change in his approach to the disc – an increased comfort in driving the music where he wanted vocally – and it resulted in a great ride for listeners. Unfortunately, the album never received the promotion or attention it deserved, as for most popular music fans the introduction to Carl Anderson occurred a year later on the inferior "Friends and Lovers" duet with Gloria Loring and the accompanying slapped-together album. But Protocol did set the stage for the future direction Anderson would take with his career and several strong subsequent recordings over the next decade on MCA and GRP Records [the albums An Act of Love (1988), Pieces of a Heart (1990), Fantasy Hotel (1992), Heavy Weather / Sunlight Again (1994) and Why We Are Here (1997)].

Kudos to the gang at FunkyTownGrooves for reissuing this hidden gem of an album (with bonus cuts to boot [including the awesome "Light Me"). Protocol sounds as good [today] as it did a quarter century ago. It was a welcome addition to the soul world back then but, more than anything, Protocol answered the question that so many had been asking after Carl Anderson's first two album misfires: it showed that Carl Anderson really was a unique talent who could move beyond his Jesus Christ Superstar coming out party to become one of the most enjoyable male vocalists of his era.

– Chris Rizik

For more of Carl Anderson at The Wild Reed, see:
Carl Anderson
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)

Related Off-site Links:
Carl Anderson – Jazz Legend: The Official Website
Carl Anderson Memorial Page
Carl Anderson at – Ron Wynn (
Carl Anderson Biography – Chris Rizik (Soul Tracks).
Carl Anderson, Superstar's Judas on Stage and Screen, Dead at 58 – Kenneth Jones (Playbill, February 24, 2004).
Obituary: Carl Anderson, 58; Actor Played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar – Elaine Woo (Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2004).
Obituary: Carl Anderson, 58, Judas in Rock Opera – Reuters via The New York Times (February 27, 2004).
Carl Anderson Brought Judas to Life – Hank Stuever (Washington Post via Los Angeles Times, March 2, 2004).

Previously featured artists at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae

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