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LIONEL RITCHIE - JUST FOR YOU - UNIVERSAL MUSIC
Record Rating: **** 1/2

Lionel Ritchie - Just For You It's been a while since we heard anything new from Lionel Richie. The man exploded into one of the biggest stars of the '80s, and then enigmatically disappeared from the music business for nearly a decade. In an effort to either establish new glories or maybe just make a buck to pay for his much publicised hefty divorce settlement, Lionel’s back in 2004 and looking in pretty good shape for a 53 year old.

Just For You is the tenth studio album from perennial soul man, and it’s looking good. The first single is the title track and one listen to it suggests that the music icon hasn't lost his touch. Already in the top ten the world over, the single is generating more airplay than Richie’s last release in 2000. Treading into Sting’s musical territory with songs covering love, loss and world peace (three tracks have the word ‘world’ in them) – the thirteen tracks on the album seem to have much going for them. After all this is a Lionel Richie release.

After over forty years in the business and over 9 number one hits, it's safe to say that his success is what most musicians’ dream of. His eponymous debut contained the huge hits You Are and Truly, but it was 1983's Can't Slow Down that made him a household name - as he dominated the charts for a year with a mix of 80’s new found soul and some heartbreaking love songs (like the number one Hello, aided by a tear jerking video about a blind girl). After 1986’s Say You, Say Me hit No. 1 in 29 countries across the world - the rest as they say is history. A newly recorded duet with Enrique Iglesias on To Love a Woman for a Greatest Hits compilation put Richie back in the limelight last year, and since then there’s been no slowing him down. For his fans these are well-chartered waters; nicely constructed chords and a safe love theme, with the mellow tones coming across the top with aplomb.

Still Just For You is a pretty tame offering when compared with Richie's previous work. After all, this is the man who penned classics such as Dancing On The Ceiling, Hello and Stuck On You for Christ’s sake! It could have been much better as an album on the whole – but then again he brings his sound bang up to date, adopting a mix of contemporary musical styles - just as Sting did on his last album. And lucky for Richie, it seems to work.

Read our other reviews:

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