Picks and Pans Review: Lionel Richie
Kenny Rogers’ appearance on one track of this LP—in a splendid duet on Richie’s own ballad, My Love—shows why they work together so well. The same graceful resonance that resulted when Richie produced Rogers’ 1981 album Share Your Love is evident, and the similarity between their styles is suddenly obvious. These are two attractive men, neither born with the most overwhelming vocal apparatus but both capable of projecting an alluring warmth and ease. The black-white difference, like that on another musical level with Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, seems complementary, not an obstruction. My Love is, however, only the highlight of a remarkable album. Richie wrote and arranged much of the material, and it is clear—as it is on his Commodores’ recordings—that he is rarely out of control of a situation. Surely no composer-arranger can create songs that are such irresistible invitations to dance as Serves You Right or Round and Round. And while he’s no word master (“And I know if you really care/I will always be there”), his ballads are languorous and fetching. The biggest puzzle on the album is what Jimmy Connors—an admirer of Richie who met him last year—does on Tell Me, where he is credited with a background vocal. From what is hearable, he must have been singing with a tennis ball stuffed in his mouth. If so, perhaps that is just as well.