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R&B - Released August 16, 2019 | Capitol Records

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R&B - Released January 1, 1992 | Motown

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R&B - Released January 1, 1992 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal Music Group International

It's hard to believe, but prior to the 2003 release of The Definitive Collection, there wasn't a proper hits collection in Lionel Richie's catalog. A decade earlier, Motown dipped their toe in the water with the jumbled Back to Front, which tried desperately to camouflage its nature as a comp with three new songs, which, at 14 tracks, hurt the hit quotient dramatically. This, however, gets it almost all right. Spanning 20 tracks (only two of which are new, tacked onto the end; while not especially memorable, neither is bad), this collection has nearly all the big hits from his solo recordings (the Top Ten "Love Will Conquer All" is notably absent, but that's the only chart-topper not here), along with five Commodores ballads that showcase Richie the balladeer at a peak: "Just to Be Close to You," "Easy," "Three Times a Lady," "Still," "Sail On." Since these were the first tracks to showcase Lionel Richie as a talent separate from the Commodores, their presence is welcome on a collection of his solo hits, and they indeed make this a fuller experience, since this now has all of Richie's soft rock hits in one place. Taken together, it's a formidable body of work, making a clear case for him as one of the preeminent soft rock craftsmen of the early '80s. True, the collection might have benefited slightly from a chronological track listing, but by jumping between albums, and between Commodores and solo material, the consistency of his records becomes evident. Few of his peers created singles as memorable as "Easy," the infectious "All Night Long (All Night)," "Truly," the sweetly melancholic "Hello," the insistent, gently ominous "Running with the Night," "Just to Be Close to You," and the ebullient "You Are," as delightful as 45s came in the early days of the Reagan Administration. Not everything here quite reaches those standards -- admittedly, those are the hits upon which his reputation lay, plus they're the best that soft pop got in the '80s -- but the rest is all well-crafted and easily enjoyable, proving that Lionel Richie is a singular adult contemporary talent. He may be sappy, but he's got skills. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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R&B - Released January 1, 2003 | Motown

On Can't Slow Down, his second solo album, Lionel Richie ran with the sound and success of his eponymous debut, creating an album that was designed to be bigger and better. It's entirely possible that he took a cue from Michael Jackson's Thriller, which set out to win over listeners of every corner of the mainstream pop audience, because Richie does a similar thing with Can't Slow Down -- he plays to the MOR adult contemporary audience, to be sure, but he ups the ante on his dance numbers, creating grooves that are funkier, and he even adds a bit of rock with the sleek nocturnal menace of "Running With the Night," one of the best songs here. He doesn't swing for the fences like Michael did in 1982; he makes safe bets, which is more in his character. But safe bets do pay off, and with Can't Slow Down Richie reaped enormous dividends, earning not just his biggest hit, but his best album. He has less compunction about appearing as a pop singer this time around, which gives the preponderance of smooth ballads -- particularly "Penny Lover," "Hello," and the country-ish "Stuck on You" -- conviction, and the dance songs roll smooth and easy, never pushing the beats too hard and relying more on Richie's melodic hooks than the grooves, which is what helped make "All Night Long (All Night)" a massive hit. Indeed, five of these songs (all the aforementioned tunes) were huge hits, and since the record ran only eight songs, that's an astonishing ration. The short running time does suggest the record's main weakness, one that it shares with many early-'80s LPs -- the songs themselves run on a bit too long, padding out the running length of the entire album. This is only a problem on album tracks like "Love Will Find a Way," which are pleasant but a little tedious at their length, but since there are only three songs that aren't hits, it's a minor problem. All the hits showcase Lionel Richie at his best, as does Can't Slow Down as a whole. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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R&B - Released January 1, 1985 | Motown

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | UNI - MOTOWN

Lionel Richie wasn't necessarily emboldened by the success of Can't Slow Down -- after all, he had experienced huge success since the Commodores -- but there is nevertheless a sense of swagger on its 1986 successor, Dancing on the Ceiling. This isn't entirely a good thing, since it means he indulges in silliness (the title track) and sappiness ("Ballerina Girl") in equal measure, seemingly without quite realizing how ridiculous either extreme is. Maybe that's because he still has a strong sense of popcraft, something that makes "Dancing in the Ceiling" stick in the head even if its lyrics are awful, something that makes "Ballerina Girl" work for a slow dance even if it is awfully sugary. This dichotomy is evident throughout the record, as Richie pulls out good music even if he indulges all of his worst impulses a little bit too much. He adds a bit more dance to this album, and while the grooves are funkier than anything since the Commodores, they run on too long -- at eight minutes, "Don't Stop" takes its title command far too seriously. This same tendency is apparent on the ballads and slower songs, which all stay around a little longer than they should, something that gives the impression that this record is a little less focused or consistent than the two blockbusters that preceded it. While it is true that there is nothing here nearly as good as the hits on Lionel Richie and Can't Slow Down, it also is true that on a track-by-track level, it's more consistent, never having resorting to the formless filler that peppered those two otherwise excellent records. This is a good thing, but it would have been better if the record had boasted one or two undeniable singles, or, if it didn't, would at least have been a little tighter. That said, Dancing on the Ceiling is a solid, enjoyable affair -- a comedown after the peaks of Lionel Richie and Can't Slow Down, and one that suggests that Richie needed the extended break he took after its release, but a good record all the same. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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R&B - Released January 1, 1982 | Motown

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal Music Group International

Lionel Richie's birthplace is Tuskegee, Alabama so for his 2012 country duets album, Tuskegee, he is trumpeted as the country boy returning to his roots. And there's something to that: as a songwriter, Richie has had success on the country charts, scoring big with Kenny Rogers of "Lady," one of many Lionel covers Kenny sang over the years. Rogers' enthusiastic embrace of Richie is an indication that the former Commodore's definition of country isn’t quite down-home, and Tuskegee proves that assumption true, with each of Lionel's partners coming from the pop side of Nashville. A few perennials crop up -- Kenny comes in for a revival of "Lady," Willie Nelson stops by to lay some guitar and vocals on "Easy" -- but the point of the album is as much to have current stars pay tribute to Richie as it is to ease him onto country-pop airwaves. Tuskegee winds up being fairly successful in this regard. No matter how many fiddles and steel guitars are added -- and there are never too many -- the songs are never so altered as to be unrecognizable, the melodies are always proudly prominent, and there isn't a speck of dirt to be found anywhere, so it's suited for any clean crossover occasion. Apart from Pixie Lott -- a singer who has absolutely nothing to do with country -- popping up on the international version of the album and maybe the revival of the recent "Just for You," there are no surprises on Tuskegee; even the partners match up correctly, with Jimmy Buffett adding good times to "All Night Long," Shania Twain playing the Diana Ross role on "Endless Love," Rascal Flatts forcefully pumping out the good cheer on "Dancing on the Ceiling," Blake Shelton smiling along on "You Are." Even if the production has changed -- it’s not as glossy as the '80s, there are fewer keyboards and more guitars-the sensibility remains the same, so Tuskegee generates a bit of déjà vu: the surroundings are new, yet everything feels familiar. Whether that’s a comfortable bit of nostalgia or just a shade too predictable depends entirely on the tastes of the listener. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released April 11, 2017 | Acoustic Legends Records

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R&B - Released January 1, 1996 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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After the greatest-hits collection Back to Front disappeared without a trace in 1992, Lionel Richie spent four years making Louder Than Words, his first album for Mercury Records. Although there are some slight attempts to incorporate new jack and hip-hop influences into Richie's sound, Louder Than Words relies on his trademark balladeering, which remains his forte. All of the weak moments on Louder Than Words are ill-advised forays into rap -- to put it bluntly, he can rap about as well as Snoop Dogg can sing. Although the ballads aren't as strong as his late-'70s and early-'80s standards, they are nevertheless pleasant, which makes the record a worthwhile purchase for fans. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Island Def Jam

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R&B - Released January 1, 1983 | Motown

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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 1992 | Motown

On his own and as part of the Commodores, by 1992 Lionel Richie amassed more than enough singles for a greatest-hits collection. Unfortunately, this is one of those compilations that, good intentions aside, falls so flat there's not much point in buying it. By trying to cover his solo material, while touching base with his Commodores fans, and adding some new cuts, no part of his career is well represented. For the record, Back to Front lacks "Oh No," "Lady You Bring Me Up," "Ballerina Girl," "You Are," "My Love," "Stuck on You," "Love Will Conquer All," "Se La," and "Dancing on the Ceiling," all Top 40 hits. If Motown had concentrated solely on solo Richie, with another collection of Commodores hits, this could have been a solid, career-topping CD. As it is, it's strong, but hearing such gems as "Still," "Truly," "Say You, Say Me," and "Running With the Night" makes you long to hear the cuts that aren't here. Of the three new songs, "Do It to Me" and "My Destiny" are classic, smooth Richie, but "Love, Oh Love" is very schmaltzy. If you're a casual Lionel Richie fan, this might suffice, but for anyone who truly enjoys pop music, this collection is not worth your money. ~ Bryan Buss
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Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Island Mercury

Two years after its release outside the U.S. and five months after the appearance of Lionel Richie's modestly selling seventh studio album, Just for You, Island Records belatedly presents an abridged domestic version of Richie's 2002 live album, Encore, recorded in May 2001 at Wembley Arena in England. The international version of the disc had 16 tracks, among them "Tender Heart" and "Don't Stop the Music," both from Renaissance, Richie's sixth studio album, which he was promoting at the time. They have been excised from the American version of Encore, as have the international version's final two tracks, "Goodbye" and "To Love a Woman," both duets with Enrique Iglesias. Remaining are 12 performances of Richie hits from the 1980s along with two Commodores hits of the '70s, "Brick House" and "Three Times a Lady." Early on, Richie says he will be playing songs old and new, but the listener to the U.S. edition of the album will wonder where the new songs are. Richie is an engaging cheerleader of a frontman, endlessly encouraging his already enthusiastic listeners with such interjections as "C'mon!," "Yeah!," and "Let's go!" The audience is content to sing along on the familiar material, with or without Richie to join them. ("You don't need me," he declares at one point.) No doubt this show was more enjoyable for Richie fans in the arena than it will be for those listening at home who, for example, won't know what Richie is talking about when he says during "All Night Long (All Night)," "Man, you can't dance!" This is a performer who is playing much more to the audience in front of him than to the one that will hear the concert later on disc. Even leaving aside the truncated form of this version of the collection, this is not a memorable live album. ~ William Ruhlmann
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R&B - Released January 1, 1998 | Island Def Jam

Louder Than Words was the official comeback, the long-awaited return to recording from Lionel Richie, one of the most successful pop stars of the '80s. Perhaps it was inevitable that returning to recording would be difficult -- after all, it had been ten years since he had released an album of original material -- but Louder Than Words turned out to be a bigger disappointment than anyone expected, failing to deliver either musically or commercially. Its failure helped clear the decks for Time, Richie's true musical comeback. Time doesn't quite match the heights of Lionel Richie or Can't Slow Down, but it successfully updates his familiar concoction of sweet, seductive ballads and light funk for the late '90s. Whenever he incorporates light hip-hop rhythms here, it sounds less forced, and the dance numbers are often infectious. Similarly, the ballads have strong (albeit sappy) hooks that make them memorable. Don't take Richie's belated version of "Lady," the hit he gave Kenny Rogers, as a bad sign -- Time is the most satisfying effort he has released in quite some time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Universal Music B.V.

The double-disc live album Symphonica in Rosso documents Lionel Richie's triumphant live performance at the Gelredome in Arnhem, Netherlands, on September 6, 2008. The show was a triumph for Richie because he'd scored a Top Five smash hit earlier in the year in the Netherlands with "Face in the Crowd," a duet with Dutch pop singer Trijntje Oosterhuis from his recent album Just Go (2008). It was also an honor, for he was taking the stage at one of the Netherlands' premier concert stadiums and performing in part of a series of Symphonica in Rosso shows that had spawned hit albums by Dutch superstars Marco Borsato and Paul de Leeuw in past years. It's a fine performance by Richie, who is energetic, engaging, and in fairly good voice, and it's nice to hear him focus on his greatest hits from the '70s and '80s rather than his more recent output. In fact, there are only a handful of songs that post-date the mid-'80s -- "My Destiny" from Back to Front (1992); "Don't Stop the Music" and "Angel" from Renaissance (2000); "All Around the World" from Coming Home (2006); and the aforementioned "Face in the Crowd" -- and they're mostly performed in brief as parts of medleys. Moreover, the symphonic aspect of the show is tasteful and surprisingly modest, adding a lot to some songs (e.g., "Ballerina Girl") but never stealing the show from Richie and his band other than with a few overtures. It's a pleasure to hear him sing so many of his greatest hits, beginning with "Hello," "Running with the Night," "Lady," "Easy," and "Say You, Say Me," yet at the same time, it's a delightful surprise to hear him and the band suddenly break into Laid Back's "White Horse" (in the midst of "Running with the Night"), Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces" (as an interlude in the run-up to "Brick House"), and Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" (as the introduction to "All Around the World"). Dutch fans in particular will enjoy the guest appearance by Oosterhuis late in the show. She joins Richie for "Face in the Crowd" and stays for a song of her own, "Touch Me There," her breakout hit from 1996, when she was a member of Total Touch. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Island Def Jam