In 1973, a college intern for Epic Records found Minnie Riperton in semi-retirement; she had become a homemaker and a mother of two in Florida. After he heard a demo of the song "Lie In The World", the rep took the tape to Gracie Allen, VP of A&R for Epic. Riperton signed with Epic Records, and the family moved to Los Angeles, California.
Riperton's husband, Richard Rudolph, said that shortly after she was signed to Epic, Ellis asked them who they wanted to produce the album. Riperton requested Stevie Wonder, who was very busy at the time with his band Wonderlove.
Rudolph said that Wonder was a huge fan of Riperton and agreed to produce "Perfect Angel" under one condition.
According to Rudolph, Wonder was signed to Motown and concerned that they would not allow him to work on the project Wonder then said that he would only produce it under a pseudonym and with Rudolph as co-producer; therefore, Rudolph recounted, they created the name El Toro Negro for Wonder and a production company called Scorbu Productions.
With associate producers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff on hand engineering and programming the synthesizers, Riperton and company recorded "Perfect Angel" at the Record Plant in LA, Stevie Wonder's choice of studio on the West Coast.
The album was a musical romp through rock (“Reasons”), easy-going pop (“Seeing You This Way”) with a wonderful message song that closed out side one (“On The Edge Of a Dream” – written in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr). Wonder wrote the title tune as well as “Take a Little Trip”.
At the end of production, there were eight completed songs; Wonder wanted one additional song to bring the album closer to the industry standard of a 40-minute run time. He asked Riperton and songwriter-husband Richard Rudolph to come up with a tune that they considered to be their “most embarrassing song”.
With hesitation, Riperton did mention a lullaby she sang to her daughter Maya to put her to sleep at night so that she and Rudolph could spend “grown-up time." With Rudolph’s help, Riperton eventually created "Lovin’ You" from that lullaby, and the song was quickly recorded with Wonder on electric piano and synthesizers. Rudolph supplied the chirping birds from a sound effects reel.
- Reasons 3:25
- It's So Nice (To See Old Friends) 4:47
- Take A Little Trip 4:11
- Seeing You This Way 2:51
- The Edge Of A Dream 4:20
- Perfect Angel 3:41
- Every Time He Comes Around 4:16
- Lovin' You 3:54
- Our Lives 5:56
"Perfect Angel" peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and topped Billboard's R&B Albums chart. It was certified Gold by the RIAA.
Ron Wynn from AllMusic called it "the best Minnie Riperton album" and "the closest she came to stardom."