Picks and Pans Review: Solid
Nickolas Ashford and his Mrs., Valerie Simpson, began as writer-producers for the Motown label during its golden years; they were responsible for such soul classics as the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell duet, Ain't No Mountain High Enough. Their subsequent work as performers of their own material has leaned on too many occasions to treacly love songs. The days when you could put one of their records on the turntable and be assured of a half hour of uninterrupted slow dancing with your partner are over. Solid, does provide some occasions for intimacy, such as the pretty Cherish Forever More, with a pithy sax solo contributed by Michael Brecker. But most of the album is made up of the kind of vivacious foot motivator that has resurrected the career of the Pointer Sisters. Outta the World, Babies and the title cut are all sharp and funky. The Jungle and Closest to Love, taken from the sound track of the forgettable film Body Rock, are just about pointless. But Simpson's voice has always pleased, and Nick Ashford's has never sounded as assured or pliable as it does on this record. (Capitol/EMI)
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