Picks and Pans Review: Time
Lionel Richie (Mercury)
On a couple of these tracks Richie, the staggeringly successful 1980s love balladeer, clips a page from Marvin Gaye's songbook, melding socially conscious themes with rolling rhythm and blues. It works on the first cut, "Zoomin'," which is about gang violence and reminiscent of Gaye's 1971 classic "What's Going On." And on "To the Rhythm," Richie sings about racial disharmony and even includes a guest rapper. But the remainder of the album delivers the for-lovers-only goods that his fans adore, and many of the molasses-tempo ballads are so lulling you'll think you're lying on a rippling water bed. Don't expect the lyrics to keep you awake. "You're the love of my life/You're my lady," he sings on one mid-tempo number. Full of lush string arrangements and Richie's finger-snapping and crooning, the album makes it hard to recall that he was once a true funkster who helped create 1977's delightfully crude "Brick House" with his old band, the Commodores.
Bottom Line: A few ballads with edge, but most cuts bleed only sap
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