"Simplicity," Lionel Richie explains, "is the key to what I do."
These are surprising, even shocking, words from an artist whose achievements--creatively and commercially--have been anything but simple.
Richie is, after all, one of the world's most recognized and rewarded performers. He's sold nearly 100 million albums and notched 22 Top 10 hits--13 of them during a jaw-dropping swing between 1981-87. Five Grammy Awards, an Oscar and a Golden Globe--not to mention piles of American Music Awards and People's Choice Awards--grace his shelves. Only Richie and Irving Berlin have scored No. 1 hits in nine consecutive years.
Richie believes that a hit song is one that is rendered with great craft and conveys simple ideas that are heartfelt, and resonate with listeners of any age, race, creed or nationality.
But let's not mistake this simplicity Richie describes for the intricacy of craft. Writing songs that stand the test of time, as he's done since the early days of the Commodores, is no simple task but rather an exercise in taste, experimentation and adventure. It requires a open-mindedness and daring that allows the artist to establish a signature sound and then be willing to take it into different areas.
Richie's perspective comes from nearly four decades of making music, since he co-founded the Commodores in 1967 at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Signed in 1971 to Motown--where Richie wrote the hits "Standing on Shaky Ground" and "Happy People" for the Temptations--the Commodores became one of America's most popular bands by the mid-'70s, shaking dance floors with "Machine Gun" and "Brickhouse" and setting the slow dance mood with "Easy," "Three Times a Lady" and "Sail On."
Richie began stepping outside the Commodores in 1980, after Kenny Rogers' hit version of "Lady" led to him producing the singer's 1981 album "Share Your Love." "Endless Love," his 1981 chart-topping duet with Diana Ross (covered in 1994 by Luther Vandross and Mar
|Richie pursued fresh directions with Just For You, resulting in his broadest-reaching effort to date. He journeyed to England to work again with Paul Barry and Mark Taylor ( the duo behind Cher's smash "Believe") who were also part of Richie's last studio album Renaissance. Released in 2001, Renaissance sold more than two million copies worldwide. Then he went to Miami to get the vibe of 7 Aurelius, who's made hits with Mariah Carey, Ja Rule and Ashanti.|
And while Richie was in Florida, Lenny Kravitz dropped by to check things out. "And Lenny said, 'So we're not gonna do anything together?" Richie recalls with a laugh. "And the next thing I know, we recorded three songs." Richie took "Road To Heaven" (produced by Kravitz and written by 7 Aurelius) and "Time of Our Life" for Just For You, and "Destiny," their other song, will appear on Kravitz's next effort.
Throughout this process, Richie pursued one creative goal and vision for the album. "I wanted to be as organic as possible," he explains, "no gimmicks, nothing flowery. It's kind of an old-fashioned way of doing things, but I wanted a kind of rawness and natural sound to everything."
Just For You then, is full of those organic kind of touches. The stirring rhythmic throb of the title track. The folky Celtic flavor of "Just 2 Be With You." The Middle Eastern whirl of "She's Amazing" and the soulful gospel anthemics of "I Still Believe." The ebb and flow of "Ball & Chain," which starts with just Richie's voice and an acoustic guitar and builds to a sweeping, electrified rock bridge.
The song "One World" was another new avenue for Richie. This time out, the co-writer of "We Are the World," the all-star USA For Africa hit for famine relief, goes even further on a socio-political limb, making observations with an inherent optimism amidst equally probing songs about loves won and lost.
"I've never gone into politics or religion that much," he says, "but on this album it was kind of necessary for me to say the phrases that people are thinking. Because here we are again; the world seems to be in turmoil, but the world has always been in turmoil. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"I want to send a message to the world that says 'People, as critical as it looks, we're OK. We are in control, whether we feel it or not."
Album Notes and Credits
Notes & Personnel Info
|Personnel includes: Lionel Richie (vocals); Daniel Bedingfield (vocals)|
|Personnel: Lionel Richie (vocals); Daniel Bedingfield (vocals); Chieli Minucci (guitar); Lenny Kravitz (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, drums, background vocals); Chuckii Booker (piano, keyboards, programming); Mark Smith (bass instrument); Tawatha Agee (background vocals).|
|Lionel Richie's talent for crafting picture-perfect pop songs cannot be understated. In fact, his remarkable success during the 1970s and '80s, as both the leader of the Commodores and a solo artist, often overshadows his reputation as a remarkably deft songwriter. His singles--"Hello," "Still," and "Sail On," for example--could seem subdued and simple, but they each contained a certain melancholy mood and stories within stories, like successively smaller Russian dolls. After virtually vanishing for over a decade following his multi-platinum record DANCING ON THE CEILING, he resurfaced in the late '90s.|
|JUST FOR YOU is the third album by this reborn Lionel Richie, and it finds him getting comfortable in his new mode, which is refreshingly close to the pop classics he penned years before. The album is stocked full of simple yet multifaceted pop songs swimming in hooks; there's a dash of R&B from his old days, especially on the jazzy, funky "Do Ya," but, for the most part, Richie sticks to his trademark brand of adult-contemporary pop.|
Producer: Lionel Richie; John Dixson; Richie Jones; Ric Wake; Mark Taylor
Engineer: Steve Price; Mark Taylor; Ren Swan
Associated Artists and Works
|Gold ~ Commodores (The)|
|Release Date : 05/04/2004|
|Original Release Date : 2004|
|Catalog ID : 0002239|
|Label : Island (Label)|
|Number of Discs : 1|
|Studio/Live : Studio|
|Mono/Stereo : Stereo|
|SPAR Code : n/a|
|UPC : 00602498623718|