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Album Review

Louder Than Words was the official comeback, the long-awaited return to recording from Lionel Richie, one of the most successful pop stars of the '80s. Perhaps it was inevitable that returning to recording would be difficult — after all, it had been ten years since he had released an album of original material — but Louder Than Words turned out to be a bigger disappointment than anyone expected, failing to deliver either musically or commercially. Its failure helped clear the decks for Time, Richie's true musical comeback. Time doesn't quite match the heights of Lionel Richie or Can't Slow Down, but it successfully updates his familiar concoction of sweet, seductive ballads and light funk for the late '90s. Whenever he incorporates light hip-hop rhythms here, it sounds less forced, and the dance numbers are often infectious. Similarly, the ballads have strong (albeit sappy) hooks that make them memorable. Don't take Richie's belated version of "Lady," the hit he gave Kenny Rogers, as a bad sign — Time is the most satisfying effort he has released in quite some time.

Customer Reviews

Very tidy album

A decent latter-day effort from Richie. I was attracted to this album by the gorgeous Closest Thing To Heaven on The Definitive Collection, so imagine my surprise when I find out that this song - which sounds like vintage, sensuous, feel-good Richie - is basically the sole song on the album not written by him.

That's no reason to be discouraged, though. Time is one of those albums that you can listen to from start to finish quite easily without skipping a single song, much like his classic '80s efforts, with the likes of the title track, Zoomin', To The Rhythm and I Hear Your Voice all sticking in the head quite easily.

To me, Time certainly feels more confident and coherent than Richie's official late-'90s comeback, 1996's Louder Than Words. Mind you, don't necessarily expect this album to be quite as light and 'poppy' as the likes of Dancing on the Ceiling either, as it instead has a more sombre feel, placing an emphasis on more politically and socially conscious tracks. Still, the best songs here, such as the title track and Closest Thing To Heaven, succeed in combining Richie's great long-standing pop-craft - that sense of knowing how to write a song for the whole world to sing - with an appealing sense of maturity and world-weariness. Best of all, though, is that it actually sounds like a Lionel Richie album, unlike, perhaps, some of his more recent attempts at the charts.

Overall then, certainly recommended - particularly to long-standing Richie fans.


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 part...
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Time, Lionel Richie
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