Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie

Motown Records, 1982

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


You don't need to be a music reviewer to know that the finger of fame is fickle indeed. (Try saying that five times fast!) An artist can be topping the charts one day, and pouring milkshakes at the local Dog & Suds the next day. One album can top the charts for months at a time, the next album will collect the dust of ages in the "we'll pay you to take it" bins.

But there are some artists whose fall from grace I am at a loss to understand. One such artist is Lionel Richie. Granted, he might have suffered from overexposure at the height of his fame, but there's no denying that his music has been quality throughout most of his career. His self-titled debut solo album from 1982 is proof of this - and the surprising thing is that some of the best music never made it to the airwaves.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

After leaving the Commodores, Richie hit paydirt with a trio of songs from this album. "My Love" is one that people might not immediately recall, but as soon as the opening notes drift from the speakers, the lightbulb will go on. I don't know if I would call this one a ballad in the true sense of the word, but it's a great slow dancing song that has not lost any of its magic after almost two decades. Likewise, the ballad "Truly" is one that will bend your ear - if anything, I'd argue that this one is far too short.

But don't think that Richie doesn't know how to bring out the groove. The third single, "You Are," is yet another song that shows Richie's mastery of smooth R&B. Building from a soft groove to a powerful chorus, it's no wonder why Richie and this song drew a lot of attention in the early '80s.

If you think, however, that Lionel Richie has only those three good songs on it, you'd be sorely mistaken. If anything, one listen to this album will show that Richie was a lot more than the gentle balladeer that we heard on the radio. Two cuts in particular, "Wandering Stranger" and "Round And Round", both are uptempo R&B tracks that lay down a solid groove - and Richie knows how to work it to near perfection.

Possibly the best song on the album is a ballad - "Just Put Some Love In Your Heart". However, I do have a complaint with this track - it's far too short! Just when Richie has got me locked into the track - bam! - the album is over. Then again, maybe Richie knew that had he drawn out the track, it would have lost a lot of its momentum.

After one listen to Lionel Richie, I found myself wondering why this guy wasn't still near the top of the R&B or adult contemporary charts. It's not that Richie's style of love song has fallen out of chic, though I will admit there tends to be a little more "hardcore" R&B in some of today's songs. But this album not only proved that Richie could succeed as a solo artist, but that he was a singer extraordinaire - and this debut leaves no doubt in my mind that he's overdue for a resurgence in popularity.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


Lionel Ritchie fell off because he left his wife who had been with him since he was in college for a girl that could have been his daughter. Decisions like this can often tunr a genious into a fool. Wife got half of his money and he turn to alcohol and drugs. I agree his music has always been good. If lust took out Sampson a mortal man shouldn't take the risk. Lionel is an example of two sides of the sword. He got some young stuff but lost his career for it. His adopted daughter is more known by youngsters than he is.

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