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Soul - Released February 15, 2019 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

Strange as it seems, Hello Happiness is the first originals-oriented Chaka Khan release since 1998's Come 2 My House. Whereas the aughts LPs ClassiKhan and Funk This were based on standards, covers, and updates, this EP is mostly new, created with a cast led by Sarah Ruba Taylor and partner Switch -- aka David Taylor, producer of M.I.A. and Major Lazer fame, not to be confused with the band who gave us Tommy and Bobby DeBarge. Its germ is in the Taylors' appearance on the soundtrack of The Get Down, for which they fused the Fatback Band's 1975 funk classic "(Are You Ready to Do) The Bus Stop" to a like-spirited number fronted by Sarah Ruba. That track gets new life here as "Like Sugar," a funky and inciting vamp that, as the lead single, sets the tone for a retro-contemporary feel-good set. Synthetically souped-up twists on the slick and euphoric dancefloor funk of the late '70s likewise shape "Hello Happiness" itself and "Like a Lady," with Masterjam cut "Any Love" the closest vintage Khan analogy. The remainder is rooted in other bygone sounds, from mid-'60s New Orleans R&B to early-'80s Compass Point reggae. Best of the lot is "Isn't That Enough," built on a loping riddim in the mold of Sly & Robbie's work on Grace Jones' cover of "Nightclubbing," though Khan is uninhibited and impassioned, as always. Even when a surplus of synthesizers, organs, and flame-throwing guitars threaten to overtake her elsewhere, she cuts straight through with full-tilt, life-affirming power. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released November 8, 1996 | Reprise

Chaka Khan's career through the 1996 release of Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan, Vol. 1 -- involving eight albums with Rufus and eight solo albums, along with assorted collaborations -- produced roughly 40 Top 40 R&B singles, not to mention dozens of undervalued album cuts. So it is clear that any one-disc attempt at wrapping up the highlights is bound to work more like a sampler than a true best-of. And though this release is given the "Vol. 1" tag, it remained without a sequel as late as 2005, when Reprise reissued it without altering the contents. Yet another frustration is that previously unreleased songs take the place of missing classics like "Sweet Thing," "Clouds," "Fate," "Close the Door," and "Stay." (That's just for starters.) Nonetheless, the disc does contain Khan's most popular work, from ballads like "Through the Fire" to anthems like "I'm Every Woman" and "Ain't Nobody," along with other radio staples, such as "I Feel for You" and "Tell Me Something Good." At the absolute least, Khan deserves a solo-only best-of, as well as a disc that sticks strictly to her work with Rufus. (The Very Best of Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, the only anthology dedicated to Rufus, has its own set of issues.) ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released June 14, 2018 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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R&B - Released April 7, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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By the early '80s Chaka Khan and producer Arif Mardin had a great working relationship that was responsible for her hit solo debut, 1979's Chaka. Despite having the hit single "I'm Every Woman," Chaka was often a stilted and unfocused affair. Naughty presents the two in a more centered working relationship. The big hit here, "Papillion (aka Hot Butterfly)," projects an effortlessness that didn't come as easy during Khan's concurrent run with Rufus. The tough, Latinized rock/funk of "Too Much Love" has one of Khan's most visceral performances. For Naughty Khan also does one of the better versions of Aaron Schroeder and Jerry Ragovoy's "Move Me No Mountain" that's made even better by Anthony Jackson's steady bass and Steve Ferrone's tough drumming. Despite the high points, other songs like "What You Did," "Our Love's in Danger," and even Ashford & Simpson's "Clouds" come off underdone. Recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York, most of Naughty represents Khan in a holding pattern, without much material to accommodate her widening range. That being said, Naughty is only a few songs away from being a bona fide classic. ~ Jason Elias
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R&B - Released February 5, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

As a vocalist, Chaka Khan is the one of the very few who often doesn't need great material to prosper. Thankfully, on What Cha' Gonna Do for Me that isn't the case. Teaming again with Arif Mardin, slowly but surely the two began to craft an even more successful and innovative sound. This effort not only bests the work before it, but it is Mardin's most fulfilling production since 1974's Average White Band. The cover of "We Can Work It Out" gets a brash and funky Stevie Wonder-style arrangement, with Gregory Phillanganes doing great synth work. The biggest hit here is the melodic title track and has Khan's patented mix of sexiness and intelligent phrasing. The best song here, "I Know You, I Live You," displays the brilliant bass and drum team of Anthony Jackson and Steve Ferrone, whose innovation all but rendered Rufus obsolete. Their pounding yet refined sound is also on "We've Got Each Other," a hooky and propulsive duet with Khan's brother Mark Stevens. The ambitious and much loved "And the Melody Still Lingers On (Night in Tunisia)" had Mardin and Khan creating pithy lyrics that paid homage to '40s jazz legends as well as all other subsequent musical geniuses. The track features a clavitar solo from Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, and an "excerpted" solo break from Charlie Parker. Throughout What Cha' Gonna Do for Me, Mardin seems to get amazing vocals from Khan and has he certainly had fun playing with her voice. What Cha' Gonna Do for Me is arguably the best effort of their partnership. ~ Jason Elias
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Pop - Released October 13, 1978 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Still very much an integral part of Rufus, Chaka Khan set the charts on fire with her debut solo release. The first single was the R&B chart-topper "I'm Every Woman," an Ashford & Simpson track with Khan lighting up the lyric with her tantalizing vocals. "Life Is a Dance," the second release, doesn't quite compare to its predecessor, but it still made the R&B Top 40. The sentimental ballad "Roll Me Through the Rushes" is poetically engaging, and despite never being released as a single, it became a mainstay of radio. Although Khan had much credibility from her association with Rufus, this album demonstrated that the dynamic vocalist could hold her own ground alone. ~ Craig Lytle
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R&B - Released January 1, 1980 | Burgundy Records

Three years on from Chaka Khan's recording of Classikhan with the London Symphony Orchestra, Funk This is likewise heavy on fresh looks at some of Khan's favorite songs, but its sources involve the likes of Jimi and Joni instead of Leiber & Stoller. Recorded with a core of Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Bobby Ross Avila, with guest contributions from Mary J. Blige, Michael McDonald, and Rufus guitarist Tony Maiden, Funk This sounds like much of it was recorded live, giving it a loose, not-fussed-over sound, though there are some questionable moves -- like the favoring of a smoothed-out synth over a crunching guitar riff during Rufus' "You Got the Love," or the use of a talk box on McDonald's "You Belong to Me." The covers do work more often than not, highlighted by Prince's "Sign 'O' the Times" and Joni Mitchell's "Ladies Man" (an unlikely but very smart choice). There's a handful of new songs, including the nostalgic "Back in the Day," where Chaka looks back to when she was known as Yvette Stevens, and the fast and furious "Disrespectful" -- where Jam and Lewis try to capture some of Rich Harrison's breakbeat-heavy "Crazy in Love"/"1 Thing" magic -- but the one that sticks out most is "Hail to the Wrong," which could be mistaken for a new version of an excellent album cut from 1980's Naughty or 1981's What Cha' Gonna Do for Me. Chaka sounds mostly excellent from track to track, especially during the more relaxed moments. ~ Andy Kellman
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R&B - Released July 17, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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R&B - Released July 3, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Dance - Released April 18, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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R&B - Released March 26, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

An excellent album from Chaka Khan, mixing tingling uptempo tunes with her characteristic soaring, glorious vocals. "Got to Be There" reached number five on the R&B charts, but it actually wasn't the album's high point. That was the marvelous "Be Bop Medley," which later led hardcore jazz purist Betty Carter to proclaim Khan the one female singer working outside the jazz arena with legitimate improvising credentials. ~ Ron Wynn
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Jazz - Released January 28, 2016 | Shami Media Group 3

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Jazz - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino - Elektra

In 1982, soul goddess Chaka Khan did the unexpected when she recorded this excellent, straight-ahead jazz LP. Regrettably, the album was released under the name Echoes of an Era instead of under Khan's own name -- so it wasn't nearly the big seller it probably would have been if Elektra had fully exploited Khan's connection with the project. But while Echoes of an Era was the victim of questionable marketing, it was a creative triumph. Joined by Joe Henderson on tenor sax, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and flugelhorn, Chick Corea on acoustic piano, Stanley Clarke on upright bass, and Lenny White on drums, Khan demonstrates that she is quite capable of handling hard bop and straight-ahead jazz. Corea, Clarke, and White had all been members of the fusion powerhouse of the '70s Return to Forever, but make no mistake -- Echoes of an Era is very much an acoustic bop date. With White producing and Corea handling the arrangements, the singer swings aggressively and really soars on Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You" and Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," as well as on "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," "All of Me," and "I Loves You Porgy." In fact, Khan's jazz singing is so strong that one cannot help but wonder what would have happened if jazz had been her dominant direction instead of R&B. ~ Alex Henderson
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R&B - Released February 5, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Most of the solo albums that Chaka Khan provided in the 1980s are excellent. 1986's Destiny falls short of perfect, although the LP is impressive more often than not. Many people were surprised to hear how rock-minded much of Destiny is, but then, Khan's former band Rufus had major rock leanings in the beginning: 1973's Rufus and 1974's Rags to Rufus underscored Khan and Rufus' appreciation of Ike & Tina Turner's soul/rock and were hardly the work of R&B purists. Nor is Destiny; while some of the material is straight R&B (including "Tight Fit" and the exuberant single "Love of a Lifetime"), Khan successfully combines R&B and rock elements on "My Destiny" and "Who's It Gonna Be" (which Janice Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey fame had recorded on a little-known solo album in 1984). And some of the tunes are really more pop/rock than R&B, including "Watching the World," "The Other Side of the World," and "So Close." As much as Destiny has going for it, the LP isn't without its shortcomings. "Who's It Gonna Be" would have been better off without the fake applause that producers Arif and Joe Mardin pointlessly added, and the post-bop jazz offering "Coltrane Dreams" (which features saxman Sam Rivers) is too brief for its own good. Rivers, a major talent, doesn't get a chance to stretch out, and the piece ends up sounding undeveloped, which is quite frustrating because Khan can be a great jazz singer when she puts her mind to it. But while Destiny isn't perfect, the album has many more pluses than minuses and is easily recommended to both R&B and pop/rock enthusiasts. ~ Alex Henderson
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Dance - Released June 13, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Bouncing between tracks that take great liberties and ones that simply update and stretch the originals, Life Is a Dance (The Remix Project) is a respectful and joyous celebration of Chaka Khan's solo output. The big hits are treated well, with Paul Simpson's softening of the rough edges in "I Feel for You" making it more of a rolling groove, while Marley Marl presents a minimal house take on "This Is My Night." Richard Tee's glistening piano is pumped way up on Dancin' Danny D's mix of "I'm Every Woman," and the lone Rufus track, "Ain't Nobody," gets a slight update by Frankie Knuckles. The album's highlight, "I Know You, I Live You," is extended to nearly eight minutes by Tony Humphries, giving the shimmering disco groove plenty of deserved room. The sleepers are where Life Is a Dance really shines. Hank Shocklee takes the slinky duet with Rick James on "Slow Dancin'" and adds that clunky drum sound that made him famous, while "Clouds" presents one of the final true house mixes from Clivillés & Cole before going pop and pedestrian with C+C Music Factory. Perhaps a sign of the times, none of the remixers get credited on the outside of the disc and a glossary of terms such as "house" and "def" is included. A few of the tracks sounded dated a couple years after the album's release, but overall the collection shows more restraint and good taste than expected. ~ David Jeffries
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Pop - Released January 1, 1980 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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R&B - Released April 18, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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When Chaka Khan recorded her fifth solo album, I Feel for You, in 1984, she knew that R&B had changed a lot since the 1970s. Horn-powered funk bands, strings-laden Philadelphia soul, and orchestral disco were out of vogue, and the urban contemporary audiences of 1984 were into a more high-tech, heavily electronic style of R&B. Many artists who had been huge in the 1970s found that they no longer appealed to black radio programmers, who had abandoned them and turned their attention to electro-funksters and Prince disciples. But Chaka Khan had no problem keeping up with the times; I Feel for You made it clear that she could easily be relevant to the urban contemporary scene of 1984. No one would mistake I Feel for You for a Rufus project from 1975 -- it's way too high-tech -- and yet, everything on the album is unmistakably Chaka Khan. That is true of up-tempo items like "Love Is Alive" (an interesting remake of Gary Wright's 1976 hit) and "La Flamme," as well as the ballad "Through the Fire," which was a big hit on urban radio but crossed over to adult contemporary stations in a major way. "This Is My Night" (which was written and produced by the System) also became an urban radio hit, but the album is best known for Khan's unlikely remake of Prince's "I Feel for You." When Prince first recorded "I Feel for You" in 1979, it wasn't a hit; Khan's version, however, soared to number one on Billboard's R&B singles chart. Khan had a very different take on the song than Prince; while his original version was subtle and restrained, Khan went for exuberance and added a strong hip-hop flavor. Excellent from start to finish, this album went down in history as both a creative and a commercial success. ~ Alex Henderson
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R&B/Soul - Released April 10, 1992 | Warner Bros.

In the early to mid-'90s, many of the great soul singers of the '70s were struggling. Chaka Khan's popularity had decreased, but she was better off than some -- at least she still had a record deal. And from an A&R standpoint, Warner Bros. did right by her with The Woman I Am. Although not quite in a class with What Cha' Gonna Do for Me or I Feel for You, this is a solid and commendable offering that fans of the singer shouldn't overlook. The production -- handled by Marcus Miller, Arif Mardin and the late Wayne Braithwaite, among others -- is high-tech, yet warm instead of mechanical. And on songs ranging from the melancholy "Telephone" to the introspective title song and the appealing single "Love You All My Lifetime," it's clear that Khan was given strong material to work with. ~ Alex Henderson
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Rock - Released June 16, 1989 | Rhino

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R&B - Released February 24, 2015 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Still very much an integral part of Rufus, Chaka Khan set the charts on fire with her debut solo release. The first single was the R&B chart-topper "I'm Every Woman," an Ashford & Simpson track with Khan lighting up the lyric with her tantalizing vocals. "Life Is a Dance," the second release, doesn't quite compare to its predecessor, but it still made the R&B Top 40. The sentimental ballad "Roll Me Through the Rushes" is poetically engaging, and despite never being released as a single, it became a mainstay of radio. Although Khan had much credibility from her association with Rufus, this album demonstrated that the dynamic vocalist could hold her own ground alone. ~ Craig Lytle