Picks and Pans Review: Street Opera

updated 08/02/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/02/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Ashford and Simpson

The first side of this album is routine, with three of the four songs belaboring single lines ("Gonna love it away so cheer up," "We can make it work again" and "It takes a mighty mighty love"). But on the flip side, Nick Ashford and wife Valerie Simpson have turned out, in effect, a pop funk opera that is brave and imaginative in concept and musically dynamic. It is a series of five tracks in which a man anguishes over the fact that he can't support his family and feels he must leave them. Ashford's falsetto, without the no-doubt-about-it sexiness he exudes in person, is a little off-putting at times in this context, and Simpson, for all her energy and delicacy, is no Marilyn Home. But his worries are brutally explicit. Voicing frustration at not being able to care for his children, he says, "You wanna kick 'em/Or you wanna strike/No you don't know, woman." Her emotional response to this lament: "I do know/I do care/I understand what's out there."

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