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Richie, Lionel - 1982 Lionel Richie

ARTIST: Richie, Lionel
ALBUM: Lionel Richie
LABEL: Motown
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 2003, Motown, 38301


LINEUP: Lionel Richie - vocals * David Cochrane Darrell Jones, Tim May, Richie Zito, Joe Walsh, Fred Tackett - guitars * Nathan LeMar Watts,Nathan East, Joe Chemay - bass * John Robinson, Paul Leim, N'dugu Chancler -drums * Greg Phillinganes, Clarence McDonald, William Payne, Michael Lang - keyboards * Ernie Watts, William Green - saxophone * Leonard Castro, Rick Schlosser, Paulinho da Costa - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Serves You Right * 02 Wandering Stranger * 03 Tell Me * 04 My Love * 05 Round And Round * 06 Truly * 07 You Are * 08 You Mean More To Me * 09 Just Put Some Love In Your Heart


This isn't the first time Lionel Richie has featured here at Glory Daze, with his 1986 'Dancing On The Ceiling' being reviewed years back. Richie's 80's work was all AOR influenced and with this huge selling solo debut he certainly made an imprint with his style of easy listening melodic rock. Richie had always supplied the lighter side to The Commodores discography and this is evident when listening to some of their late 70's and early 80's efforts e.g. 'Still', 'Sail On' etc This style carried over into Richie's debut, which was far more AOR inspired than The Commodores later work and looking at the musicians on this album it's a familiar cast of session greats. This shift in style didn't sit well with Commodores fans, who felt Lionel was selling out to some extent, a fairly redundant claim when you consider just about every artist was pursuing a melodic direction in the 80's, even The Commodores themselves! This was of course a gigantic hit, pushing Richie into the upper leagues of solo artists, with some well known hits here. It's the lesser known tracks which work however, all of which would find favor with AOR listeners.

The Songs
It seemed many similar artists were keen on incorporating a decidedly more rock element into their sounds, with the likes of Al Jarreau, George Benson, Jeffrey Osborne and even Michael Jackson churning out some stylish West Coast material. Richie seemed to have the best grasp of it, as heard on the upbeat 'Serves You Right', a proper slice of AOR with all the ingredients needed to rope in fans of this genre. The keyboards are dominant and as is usually the case with Richie the hook is somewhat magical. 'Wandering Stranger' moves into powerful West Coast territory, able to compete with luminaries such as Christopher Cross, Greg Guidry and John O'Banion. You hear those names a lot here, but as they are standard bearers of that period and the sound, you know where this is heading by comparison. It's handled in Richie's trademark style though, with that identifiable sound he manufactured. The guitar solo is the stuff dreams are made of on top of that, just a top shelf classic overall. 'Tell Me' is another upbeat rocker of sorts, with shades of The Commodores involved, especially the horn section. It's also another essential listen, absolutely packed with melody that is truly addictive. The laid back 'My Love' was a major hit, still on the cusp on West Coast but in the lightest fashion indeed. By comparison 'Round And Round' is the real thing, this one on the verge of moving into circles inhabited by Michael McDonald or Player almost. If that sounds too good to be true then join the club, this ranks with their best work. The ultra ballad 'Truly' was one of Richie's biggest hits and as tear inducing as it is, the song still has lots of appeal, a sweeping, grand statement. The bright and bouncy 'You Are' is another example of Richie's light AOR, this too was a significant hit and can be heard commonly to this day. The album falls away with the last two tracks, 'You Mean More To Me' the better of the two, with 'Just Put Some Love In Your Heart' a mere minute and a half and petering out badly. The fact both are ballads doesn't help their cause either.

In Summary
Aside from those relative disappointments this is an album which stands alongside the best of the vintage year of 1982, which I'm sure most would admit was one of AOR's finest years. The way Richie embraced this sound was almost natural and 1983's 'Can't Slow Down' was on the same level. Of his three 80's albums this has the most West Coast appeal however and for that reason it's one for the record books.

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#1 | Eric on February 02 2013 14:00:51
The Commodores put out some great singles 'Just To Be Close To You', 'Easy' and my all-time favorite 'Sweet Love' but this album topped anything Richie had done before. Solid from start to finish.
#2 | reyno-roxx on February 02 2013 15:56:05
My favourite Commodores track is 'Got To Be Together' on the 'Heroes' album, which is very hard to get and rather pricey on CD. It's a brilliant track that I first heard on a German radio station that included it in a back to back mixture of songs that also featured Prism's 'American Music', Hawkwind's 'Shot Down In The Night' and The Korgi's 'Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime'. Bizarrely, the song has never been featured on any compilation of Commodores material, which is madness!
Anyway, I'm a big fan of 'Dancing On The Ceiling' and this album. Good review. Jeffrey Osborne's 'Don't Stop' album is worth looking into and worth picking up for 'The Borderlines' alone!
#3 | dangerzone on February 02 2013 16:45:29
Agree on the Jeffrey Osborne comment. I've been listening to his 80's albums and every one has some great moments.
#4 | gdazegod on February 10 2013 06:09:07
Throw Philip Bailey's name into the mix too. 'Easy Lover', 'Chinese Wall' etc..
#5 | kim_hp on September 06 2013 17:33:22
This was an album I decided to check out based on the review above, and I'm glad I did. Great stuff and "Round And Round" is killer westcoast of Ambrosia/Michael McDonald proportions.

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