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Soul - Released January 1, 2014 | UNI - MOTOWN

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B - Released January 1, 1992 | UNI - MOTOWN

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

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R&B - Released January 1, 1985 | Motown (Capitol)

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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

Rock - Released April 11, 2017 | Acoustic Legends Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Motown (Capitol)

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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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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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, 2003 | Motown (Capitol)

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R&B - Released January 1, 1985 | Motown (Capitol)

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

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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Island Def Jam

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Soul - Released October 11, 1983 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Motown

As the title indicates, Truly: The Love Songs whittles down Lionel Richie's hits -- both solo and with the Commodores -- to just the romantic tunes. As many of his best-known songs are indeed love songs, it's easy to listen to this 1997 compilation and think there's nothing missing, but there are some big hits MIA: "All Night Long (All Night)," "Dancing on the Ceiling," "Running with the Night," and "You Are," to name a few. What this does offer are his biggest ballads and slow jams -- "Hello," "Penny Lover," "Three Times a Lady," "Sail On," "Easy," "Endless Love," "Truly," "Stuck on You," "Say You, Say Me" -- and that makes for nice romantic mood music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Island Def Jam

Lionel Richie, barring his success in the '80s with such hits as "Hello," "Running With the Night," and "All Night Long," has struggled to find his place in music after life with the Commodores. Renaissance, Richie's 2001 release, is another post-Commodores album that misses the mark. Most of the songs don't particularly fit any radio format, with the exception of adult contemporary, but that's not the problem. Lacking a radio home doesn't make for a bad recording. It's the material on Renaissance, which is uninteresting, and Richie's voice is often out of place with the music, as illustrated on "Angel." This song features a mild dance beat but Richie's voice is sorely incompatible with it. Elsewhere, there are nice Latin-flavored arrangements, such as on "Cinderella" and "Dance the Night Away." But, again, Richie's vocal delivery doesn't work with such musical styling. This clash between music and voice is a running theme on Renaissance. Lyrically, the album fails as well, and is rife with juvenile wordplay: "I held you close to me/Girl, you are my ecstasy/Your lips, and your hair/The way you touch me, girl I swear/Only you could take me there" -- from "Dance the Night Away." There are, however, some redeeming performances on Renaissance. "It May Be the Water" is the album's first of two winning moments where music, lyrics, and vocal delivery all meet to create successful synergy. The song is similar to a Boyz II Men track and should work on the radio. Richie should have applied whatever techniques he used on this track to the rest of this album, because all the pieces fit perfectly here. "Don't Stop the Music" is the other exception on Renaissance, and recalls the "All Night Long" party vibe. This song, similar to a Luther Vandross R&B jam, successfully captures a modern R&B/dance groove, unlike other tracks on this album that attempt to do the same. It really is sad because Lionel Richie has exhibited such talent in the past. It's painful to hear such floundering work by a performer who listeners know can do better. ~ Liana Jonas
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R&B - Released January 1, 1992 | Motown

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R&B - Released January 1, 2012 | UTV - Motown

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, 2004 | Island Mercury

Lionel Richie spent much of the '90s relatively quiet, and when he attempted a comeback toward the end of the decade, it didn't make many waves. It wasn't until the early part of the 2000s that his profile increased considerably as his greatest-hits disc The Definitive Collection cracked the Top 20, he guest-judged on American Idol, and his daughter Nicole tramped around on the Fox reality show The Simple Life. All of this set the stage for Just for You, his 2004 return to adult contemporary soft rock. There are still gentle quiet storm overtones and subdued R&B beats on a few tracks, such as his duet with Daniel Bedingfield, "Do Ya," but the overall approach on this record is firmly within the polished, melodic soft rock that brought Richie to a massive crossover audience in the early '80s, only updated for contemporary radio. Just for You is a well-crafted record; if anything, it's a little too well crafted, sailing by on its sleek surfaces and carefully constructed songs, leaving it as nothing much more than a collection of romantic, mature mood music. It's effective romantic mood music, though, and after a few plays, a handful of the hooks begin to sink in, even if the songs themselves are never quite as memorable as his hits from the '80s. Nevertheless, this is one of the more appealing records Richie had made in quite some time, as it's both assured and unassuming, relaxed and tuneful. Unlike his '90s records, it's consistent, both in its quality of songs and its cohesive sound, and even if it's not a full-fledged comeback, it's a solid latter-day record that lives up to his legacy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1983 | Motown