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Dancing On the Ceiling (Expanded)

Lionel Richie

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Album Review

Lionel Richie wasn't necessarily emboldened by the success of Can't Slow Down — after all, he had experienced huge success since the Commodores — but there is nevertheless a sense of swagger on its 1986 successor, Dancing on the Ceiling. This isn't entirely a good thing, since it means he indulges in silliness (the title track) and sappiness ("Ballerina Girl") in equal measure, seemingly without quite realizing how ridiculous either extreme is. Maybe that's because he still has a strong sense of popcraft, something that makes "Dancing in the Ceiling" stick in the head even if its lyrics are awful, something that makes "Ballerina Girl" work for a slow dance even if it is awfully sugary. This dichotomy is evident throughout the record, as Richie pulls out good music even if he indulges all of his worst impulses a little bit too much. He adds a bit more dance to this album, and while the grooves are funkier than anything since the Commodores, they run on too long — at eight minutes, "Don't Stop" takes its title command far too seriously. This same tendency is apparent on the ballads and slower songs, which all stay around a little longer than they should, something that gives the impression that this record is a little less focused or consistent than the two blockbusters that preceded it. While it is true that there is nothing here nearly as good as the hits on Lionel Richie and Can't Slow Down, it also is true that on a track-by-track level, it's more consistent, never having resorting to the formless filler that peppered those two otherwise excellent records. This is a good thing, but it would have been better if the record had boasted one or two undeniable singles, or, if it didn't, would at least have been a little tighter. That said, Dancing on the Ceiling is a solid, enjoyable affair — a comedown after the peaks of Lionel Richie and Can't Slow Down, and one that suggests that Richie needed the extended break he took after its release, but a good record all the same. [In 2003, Dancing on the Ceiling was reissued in a remastered version with four bonus tracks: 12" remixes of "Dancing on the Ceiling," "Se La," "Don't Stop," and "Love Will Conquer All." All are inconsequential — no new ideas, just longer versions — but collectors may like them, although they may find this reissue's biggest attractions to be its overall remastering and packaging.]

Biography

Born: 20 June 1949 in Tuskegee, AL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After leaving the Commodores, Lionel Richie became one of the most successful male solo artists of the '80s, arguably eclipsed during his 1981-1987 heyday only by Michael Jackson and Prince. Richie dominated the pop charts during that period with an incredible run of 13 consecutive Top Ten hits, five of them number ones. As his popularity skyrocketed, Richie moved further away from his R&B origins and concentrated more on adult contemporary balladry, which had been one of his strengths even as...
Full bio
Dancing On the Ceiling (Expanded), Lionel Richie
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