Greatest Hits [Purple Pyramid]

by: Rose Royce

When lead singer Gwen Dickey left Rose Royce in 1979, it wasn't the end of the line for the Los Angeles-based funk/soul band. Richee Benson, Dickey's talented female replacement, was nothing to be ashamed of, and post-Dickey releases like 1980's Golden Touch and 1986's Fresh Cut are respectable. Nonetheless, Rose Royce provided its most essential recordings during the Dickey era, which is why it isn't surprising that this best-of collection from 2000 emphasizes material that preceded her departure. Most of the definitive pre-1980 hits are offered, and that includes hard funk gems like "Carwash," "Do Your Dance," and "It Makes You Feel Like Dancin'," as well as essential ballads and slow jams such as "Wishing on a Star," the sweet "Oooh Boy," and the tearful "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" (which Madonna covered on her second album, Like a Virgin, in 1984). Not everything on the CD boasts Dickey on lead vocals -- falsetto Kenny Copeland is the lead singer and the main attraction on "I Wanna Get Next to You," a Norman Whitfield treasure that was a major hit in 1976 -- but most of the tracks feature her. Greatest Hits isn't ideal, and it isn't the last word on Rose Royce -- the collection would have been even stronger if Cleopatra had offered "Golden Touch" or "Still in Love" (two post-Dickey singles that featured Benson) instead of various remixes. Nonetheless, this CD isn't a bad starting point if you're exploring Rose Royce's late-1970s output for the first time. ~ Alex Henderson

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