by: Rick James

By the mid-'80s, Rick James' funk had become a very tired cliché. Hits like 1984's "17" found an artist who had been so exciting only a few years earlier sounding increasingly formulaic and predictable. But he got out of his artistic rut in a major way with the excellent Glow. In interviews, James had expressed a desire to record an all-out rock album, and while Glow doesn't fit that description, he does incorporate rock and pop elements with splendid results on everything from the new wave-ish "Can't Stop" to the sweaty "Rock & Roll Control." But make no mistake: this is an R&B album first and foremost, and seductive numbers like "Moonchild" and the title song would be worthy of Kashif or Luther Vandross. Regrettably, James' risk-taking didn't pay off, and Glow was far from a major hit. Next to Garden of Love, Glow may be the most underrated album of Rick James' career. ~ Alex Henderson

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