October 01, 2007 12:00 PM

Funk This |

CRITIC’S CHOICE

R&B

It’s a real joy to hear Chaka Khan sing as only Chaka Khan can on her first disc with new material since 1998. Indeed, you’d have to go all the way back to those old Rufus records and earlier solo albums to find her sounding this inspired and fully ignited. Khan brings the funk right away, kicking the CD off with the Rufus-esque “Back in the Day.” “One for All Time,” an acoustic-guitar-laced ballad, is also reminiscent of vintage Rufus. Elsewhere, Khan, who famously remade Prince’s “I Feel for You,” puts her soulful stamp on “Sign ‘o’ the Times” (one of five covers), nicely incorporating a bit of her own hit “I’m Every Woman.” The album’s tour de force, though, comes when Khan teams up with one of her musical progeny, Mary J. Blige, on the fiery “Disrespectful,” which earns Blige props for doing the impossible: keeping up with Chaka.

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