Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ray Parker, Jr.-After Dark (1987)


It can be after dark, before dark, right at sunrise, the middle of the afternoon or any time of the day, and it's always a pleasure to hear the silky smooth voice of Ray Parker, Jr.! I was determined to catch up on all of his music that I missed out on during my grade school days a few months back.....and that same determination is still alive and well, treating my ears to this delicious ten-track effort of his. "I Don't Think That Man Should Sleep Alone": a true statement made loud and clear on the souliciously soulful, mid-tempo opening track and one that sets the tone for his signature romantic moves offered up on every cut thereafter. Had almost thought that the follow-up duet, "Over You", would be your usual breakup song, about a relationship that is done and over with. Instead, the mood is a happy one as both he and his singing partner—the late Natalie Cole—promise that one will never get over loving the other in this beautiful, quiet storm radio-perfect ballad. The mood sure is happy alright on "Lovin' You", where the man who sung the theme song to the original "Ghostbusters" movie confesses that he'd like to pour himself all over the woman like chocolate ice cream (tasty!). Even more happy thoughts on "The Past", a delightful and tenderly sweet ballad about two ex-lovers starting over, moving forward and leaving bygones to bygones (his voice is so perfect for these kinds of songs). Well I've gotta rave about one that makes me happy: "You Shoulda Kept A Spare". Seeing the title jogged something in my musical memory bank; I was sure I'd heard this song years ago. Or maybe it was the fact that the smooth jazz flow of the accompanying music reminded me so much of a Ray Parker, Jr. hit that I recall hearing in my grade school days—"A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)", which was actually performed while with the group called RAYDIO. I really like the idea behind this song, him being that spare tire and the backup love affair just in case things don't work out with the other man. It's always a fun 80's joyride whenever I hear funky jams like "After Dark" ( 'I do my best work after hours' and 'let you play with my tool' are two of my favorite lines delivered on this one) and "You Make My Nature Dance" (I think we all know what that 'nature' is referring to here, and for the third time in as many months, I get to hear the metaphor of a man's being hot like an oven and being in need of some loving in an old-school song). "Perfect Lovers" is one in particular that gradually blossomed into a delightful listen, the fluid groove of the music keeping me attached while the lyrics teach that there is no such thing as a couple who doesn't struggle with keeping problems out of the relationship. Got a pleasant surprise with what I had initially declared would be my next 'Slow Jam Of The Night': "After Midnite". Turns out, though, that this is a nicely slowed-down, instrumental smooth jazz piece, and I can't think of a better way to top off my own night:

1. I Don't Think That Man Should Sleep Alone
2. Over You
3. Lovin' You
4. You Shoulda Kept A Spare
5. The Past
6. You Make My Nature Dance
7. Perfect Lovers
8. After Midnite
9. I Love Your Daughter
10. After Dark

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