Clive Griffin – Commitment of the Heart (1993)
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Sony’s Next Big Thing of 1993!
A little explanation is in order, I can tell. You’ve never heard of Clive Griffin. (You have heard his voice — probably — but more on that in a minute.) He’s a footnote to a footnote now, but for a few months, Sony’s Epic/550 imprint did everything it could to convince the world that Griffin was a pop star in the making.
The label failed, of course, but before we start mocking them for their failure, let’s pause to acknowledge that records tank all the time, for lots of reasons, and hey, at least Epic put a little effort into promoting this one. And now that we’ve said something nice, let’s point out two things:
1. In making Clive Griffin a priority, Sony was committing millions of dollars to breaking a blue-eyed soul singer in 1993. They weren’t alone in this — various labels1 released new albums and/or singles from Michael McDonald, Daryl Hall, and Paul Young the same year — but that doesn’t make the decision any less misguided. No one was buying McDonald, Hall, or Young records in ’93, and those guys had name value.
2. Speaking of names: Pop stars are not named Clive.
Now, having said all this, the label did have cause for optimism where Griffin was concerned — he’d notched half of a Top 40 hit earlier in the year as Celine Dion’s duet partner for a remake of “When I Fall in Love,” from the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/OLLWiw2kI_s" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
(Side note: They really, really don’t write them like this anymore. “In a restless world like this is/Love is ended before it’s begun/And too many moonlight kisses/Seem to cool in the warmth of the sun”? Don’t you think Edward Heyman and Victor Young would slap the shit out of Soulja Boy if we could somehow bring them back to life?)
Anyway, as I said, Sony had cause for optimism here. But they were forgetting a crucial detail, which is that Celine Dion has been given special powers by the devil in exchange for eating babies and bathing in the blood of virgins, and the success of “When I Fall in Love” had everything to do with those powers, not to mention the fact that everyone in America saw Sleepless in Seattle twice that year.
Which brings us to the fall of 1993, and Clive Griffin’s American solo debut, “Commitment of the Heart” (download). I won’t tell you who wrote it, but I will say the songwriter’s name rhymes with Shmiane Shmarren, which should tell you everything you need to know about A) the album’s sound, B) the amount of money Sony was willing to spend on songs, and C) the label’s level of confidence in Griffin’s own songwriting ability.
Then again, after listening to the Griffin-penned B-side, “Sensual Feelings” (download), you can sort of understand Sony wanting to bring in some outside material, no?
In the end, it’s hard not to give Griffin a little bit of credit — unlike a lot of
one half-hit wonders, he knew when he was beat, and didn’t waste anyone’s time recording a follow-up album. He’s apparently something of an in-demand backup singer (his Wikipedia entry says he performed on Kylie Minogue’s “Your Disco Needs You”), and is available for your corporate or private event, but he seems to have put his dreams of stardom to rest. It’s kind of sad, I guess, but when you begin your career by sharing a microphone with pop’s leathery high priestess of the night, there really isn’t anywhere else you can go, is there?
1By “various labels” I mean Reprise, Epic, and Columbia — meaning that Sony was actually responsible for most of the blue-eyed soul albums that tanked in ’93 — but silly little details like this are the reason footnotes were invented.