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Vince Aletti


  • Rhythm Nation 1814

    Janet Jackson's last album opened with a declaration of independence: "This is a story about control," she announced. "My control." Three years later, her follow-up casts a wider net, moving from personal freedom to more universal concerns — injustice, illiteracy, crime, drugs — without missing a beat. Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation (a title that puts […]

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  • Whitney

    On one hearing, it's easy to dismiss Whitney Houston's new album as overcalculated, hollowed-out pop product, so suffocated by professionalism that only the faintest pulse of soul remains. But after several listens, it's nearly impossible to dislodge Whitney from your brain. Like Houston's debut, this is a mess of an album that succeeds in spite […]

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  • Give Me The Reason

    For black pop music, this is an exhilarating, unsettling time. Never before have so many black performers been so successful in the world of mainstream pop. Not only have such sure bets as Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston scored big, but there have also been breakthroughs by such wild cards as Run-D.M.C., Sade and Anita […]

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  • Who's Zoomin' Who?

    The hype on the new Aretha Franklin album would have us believe that this is her best work since the Sixties, when a string of now-classic albums with Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin established her as the definitive female soul singer. Even the press bio that accompanied Who's Zoomin' Who? claims the record has been […]

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  • Songs In The Key Of Life

    Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, like some big Hollywood studio blockbuster, comes to us already weighted down with words, stabbed with exclamation points and wrapped — or is it shrouded? — in great expectations. Two years in the making, the album's imminent release was announced several times, and each time it was […]

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  • I Want You

    With Barry White on the wane, Marvin Gaye seems determined to take over as soul's master philosopher in the bedroom, a position that requires little but an affectation of constant, rather jaded horniness. The pose has already been established in Let's Get It On (1973), on which Gaye was hot, tender, aggressive, soothing and casually […]

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  • Can't Get Enough

    We got it together, didn't we? Barry White asks in that husky bedroom voice of his at the beginning of this newest album. "We've definitely got our thing together, don't we baby? Isn't it nice? I mean, really, when you really sit and think about it, isn't it really, really nice?" Well, no, really. White's […]

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  • Stone Gon'

    Even if Barry White is imitation Isaac Hayes (and who would have thought anyone could match Ike pretension for pretension?) in this case, I prefer Brand X. White's productions are too excessive to be called "songs." They are dreamy, shimmering symphonies whipped up to a light chop for the dance crowd. Perhaps because the five […]

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  • Smokey

    I could hardly do anything less than swoon over Smokey Robinson's first solo album. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" may sound trite and sticky here, "Holly" is a melodramatic "Lucy in the Sky," and "Just My Soul Responding," only more Motown current-affairs "relevance," but these are petty complaints. "Holly" glows in spite of its […]

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  • Head To The Sky

    A dream last week: I was walking through a crowded marketplace in a city that seemed to be Paris although I've never been there. I was singing to myself and everyone I passed was singing the same song, softly to themselves. It was "The World's a Masquerade" from the Earth, Wind & Fire album, especially […]

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