Saturday, August 9, 2014
Rick James - Reflections
This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Reflections, the first greatest hits compilation album from Rick James. This 1984 release spent eighteen weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 41. It also went to number 10 on the US Billboard R&B chart.
The ten songs cover a period of James’ music from 1978 through 1984.
Side one starts off with the expanded version of “17”, the first of three previously unreleased tracks. As a single, this one went to number 76 in the UK, number 36 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 6 on the US Billboard R&B charts in 1984. The lyrics tell of an encounter with an underage fan one night after a show and the temptation of this taboo attraction. This one was a big dance jam back during my sophomore year of college; it has a great groove to it as well as a searing guitar solo and an extended percussion breakdown.
Next up was “Oh What a Night (4 Luv)”, which was later released as a B-side for the single “Can’t Stop” from James’ next studio album Glow in 1985. This sensual ballad opens with a sweet saxophone solo.
“You Turn Me On”, the second single released from this compilation, went to number 89 in the UK and number 31 on the US Billboard R&B chart. It fuses a Latin spice into the usual funk grooves James was known for.
An abbreviated version of “Fire and Desire”, from the 1981 album Street Songs (click here for that review) is next.
The side closes with the shorter, single version of “Bustin’ Out (On Funk)” from 1979’s Bustin’ Out of L Seven (click here for that review).
Side two opens with “You and I”, the first single from James’ 1978 debut album Come Get It (click here for that full review). What we get here is the three and a half-minute single edit.
Also from Come Get It is the second single “Mary Jane”. Again, the single edit is presented here.
The sole representative from 1982‘s Throwin‘ Down (click here for that review) is the single edit for “Dance Wit’ Me”.
The album closes with the two smash dance hit singles “Give It to Me Baby” and “Super Freak”, also from Street Songs.
Interesting enough, absent are any tracks from James’ 1983 album Cold Blooded (click here for that review). I suspect the label did this on purpose, to help use this compilation to hook newer fans of the R&B/funk master.
Reflections is a perfect introductory primer for folks who had not previously sampled Rick James’ earlier albums. The fact that three of the tracks were brand new was certainly a way to appease his long-time fans (like myself) as well. While this record is out of print, the 1997 Greatest Hits compilation includes two of the new tracks (you can find that over on Spotify like I did). They are also on YouTube if want to check them out there.