1983, Music

Can’t Slow Down (1983) by Lionel Richie

He’s just putting out so much music, with an album every two years. It’s incredible. You can’t stop him and he won’t stop himself.


I just reread my review of Richie’s debut album and it’s full of complaints about the production and the general slickness of Richie’s sound. (Also, his lyrics.) I feel the same way about this record but this one is slightly superior I think. Just slightly.

Richie has a knack for strong melodies. There’s a reason why two of these songs are among the most ubiquitous of the ’80s, he has a knack for earworms. Even the non-hits are pretty damn catchy. And, to his credit, he does expand his sound a bit on “All Night Long (All Night).” (I have to write the bracket part because it’s amazing. This is not far away from Spinal Tap’s “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.”)

But Richie’s lyrics are pretty weak, even for R&B. They’re so sappy and sentimental it’s hard to believe they’re genuine. (I’m not saying they aren’t genuine, just that it’s hard for me to imagine the head space Richie was in when he wrote them.) As usual, some of them are not as bad as others, but don’t listen to this record for the lyrics (the lyrics).

The arrangements are pretty damn syrupy but I will say is (slight) detour into world music is welcome, even if I’ve heard it a million times. I’d prefer more of that diversity but what can you do?

The production is horrible ’80s production which has dated poorly. But, for some reason, I find it a little less offensive than the debut. Maybe I knew what I was getting into this time, maybe he got better or maybe the technology improved slightly. In any case, it sounds like the ’80s but not as horribly ’80s as the debut.

So I’ve bumped up the grade by one, because I think this is an improvement on the debut. I’m not feeling the 6/10 but I gave the previous record a 5/10 and this is better.


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