Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Rick James-Kickin'

Rick James around the Coldblooded era... Posted by Hello

Rick James-Kickin’

This 1989 album was to be and is James’s second release for Reprise. It was only released as a promo in the UK by way of WEA. While the worth of albums like this are often inflated due to the scareity of the product, for Kickin' the raves are deserved, this is good to great Rick James. Despite what was going on in James’s personal life, this era found him somewhat active. “Loosey’s Rap” was a no 1 hit in 1987. The Everywhere I Go” appeared on Warner Brothers’s soundtrack Colors.

Fans of James often found his post Throwin’ Down output downright spotty. Even with the best efforts of this era like Glow James’s confidence and attentions often flagged. Even more so on The Flag. Unlike the textbook so-so Wonderful, Kickin’ has James sounding somewhat like himself again and in strong voice.

No doubt songs like the muscular and ethereal “U Got It Real Good” and infectious title track would have sounded a tad old in comparision to Prince, rising West Coast rap and New Jack Swing. And oddly enough that fact made this not sound as played out as it could of been.

Still there’s no excuse for everything here. On the corny “rock n’ roll” of “Black and White” James essays on interracial dating and uses a snippet of long gone Martin Luther King (in rhythm no less) as his unwitting accomplice. It's hilarious.

Those looking for great Rick can indeed find it on Kickin’. The sexy and playful “School You” and “Get with It” are both skilled and insinuating that no doubt would have gotten a lot of play from true James fans. James even gets mileage out of the potential treacle of “Rock N’ Roll Eyes.” On the track Rick does double duty ringing tears out of long lost love and a certain era of heroes. Sure it’s a totally “oh please” moment but does it ever work. In a sense it was perfect to end Kickin’ on that note.

Grade ***1/2
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