Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ray Parker Jr. - The Other Woman

From 1977 to 1981, Ray Parker Jr. was a part of the Detroit R&B band Raydio where he played both guitar and piano along with handling the lead vocals. The group broke up after putting out four albums, leading Parker to go solo. Seeing that he also could play drums, bass and synthesizers, he was more than well-equipped to be a one-man-band.

Thirty years ago this month, in April of 1982, he released The Other Woman which went all the way to number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 200 charts. The record generated a trio of singles.

Side one opens with the title track. "The Other Woman" was also the first single from the album and reached number 4 on the US Billboard Top 40 and number 2 on the Billboard R&B charts. With a hard-driving funky rhythm, Parker elaborates on the dilemma of falling for the one with whom he has been cheating on his girlfriend. I remember quite well how this one was all over the radio back in the day as it spent fourteen weeks in the Top 40 during the spring of 1982.

"Street Love" keeps up the dancing groove with a tune about getting a little some action with a temporary hook-up you’ve just met. I do like the rhythm of this one, especially the guitar riff in the last few minutes of the song.

Slowing things down, Parker goes for a sensitive and seductive proposal with "Stay the Night".

"It's Our Own Affair was the final single; it only made it to number 44 on the R&B charts. It has a classic disco sound to its backing track. The lyrics advise a couple to keep what happens between them private. There is not point in kissing and telling to friends and family; they need to manage their own relationship by themselves.

Side two starts with the second single from the album "Let Me Go". This smooth ballad about a guy seeking a commitment with a young, restless woman went to number 38 on the Billboard Top 40 and number 3 on the R&B charts.

Parker tries to get down and dirty with "Let's Get Off", but his erotic overtures are strictly PG rated at best. Clearly he was trying to keep a radio-friendly image by sticking to safe phrases.

On the slower "Stop, Look Before You Love", once more Parker returns to the topic of troubled relationships. This time, he is trying to enlighten a woman about her man who is out cheating on her. In doing so, he tries to convince her to leave that guy and hook up with him instead.

The album closes with the strutting style of "Just Havin' Fun". This track really allows him to show his stuff on a variety of instruments, laying down a smooth instrumental groove. After all the relationship gymnastics of the first seven tracks, this is a pleasant and welcome change of pace.

Back in 1982, when I was a junior in high school, I would have found all of this rather intriguing. I barely was into the dating scene myself at that point; however I was just starting to watch the afternoon soaps like Guiding Light. The Other Woman plays like a hip, urban soap opera is varying relationships at different points. Some of them are working out; some of them are being shaken up. For me, Ray Parker Jr. may not have been the greatest of singers, but his style and musical chops delivered very workable tunes in this genre.

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