Picks and Pans Review: The Flag

updated 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Rick James

Much of The Flag is a smoke screen sent up by James to conceal just how barren this album actually is. A number of song titles (Freak Flag; R U Experienced) imply tributes to rock's greatest guitarist, Jimi Hendrix. But the songs actually pay scant attention to the Hendrix legacy. James's spoken political commentary at the beginning of Funk in America/Silly Little Man is a trite copy of Gil Scott-Heron's recitative talk-singing style, with none of Scott-Heron's biting intelligence. Even the song order seems pretentious as themes are repeated and reprised. This overembellished facade cannot hide the fact that James is creatively becalmed on The Flag. His strong, supple voice and superb arranging talents are wasted. James has given away better tunes to buddies like Eddie Murphy; he should have kept more of the good stuff for himself. (Gordy)

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