Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ashford and Simpson - High-Rise

Following their 1982 album Street Opera (click here for that review), husband and wife team Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson returned to the studio to work on their eleventh studio album. Today (August 21st) marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of 1983’s High-Rise, which charted at number 84 on the US Billboard 200 Album chart and number 14 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with the title track, a danceable groove about a woman with big aspirations for the future. “High-Rise”, the first single, charted at number 41 on the US Billboard Dance chart and number 17 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

The B-side to the third single was “Side Effect”. It opens with a sultry saxophone solo that leads to a funky grind.

The rhythms move down to a slow simmer on “Experience (Love Had No Face)”, a look at those relationships that turn out to be based on only physical and no emotional chemistry.

The next song is something I remember feeling a lot during my single days in college. When spending nights at the club, “It’s a Rush” as the night draws to a close to find that person with whom to make a special connection.

Side two starts with the bouncy, jazzy “My Kinda Pick Me Up”. It sings the praises of those people in our lives that are there to support us when we need it the most.

The third and final single, the sensitive and vulnerable “I’m Not That Tough”, only reached number 78 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“It’s Much Deeper”, as a single, charted at number 45 on the US Billboard R&B charts. I like the primal feeling of this six-and-a-half-minute long dance groove. It was definitely my favorite of the deeper cuts on the album.

The couple's voices soar on the beautiful ballad “Still Such a Thing” which closes off the record.

I had heard about a quarter of the tracks from High-Rise prior to doing this review, thanks to an Ashford & Simpson compilation. The rest of the record proved to be an equal match to those songs as this record is exactly the kind of R&B music I enjoyed during the mid-to-late 80’s. It has just the right mix of dance tracks and soft ballads.

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