Lionel Richie gives his songs a country feel with the help of some friends
Surpassing his creative and personal boundaries, Richie comes full circle with the innovative and personal Tuskegee, performing 13 of his most revered "anthems of our day" with some of the biggest names in country music, including Sugarland's … see full wiki
For more than a decade Lionel Richie was one of America's most consistent hit makers. First as lead singer of The Commodores and then as a popular solo act Richie racked up nearly two dozen Top Ten hits between 1975 and 1987. But after departing Motown in the early 1990's the hits simply stopped coming. Richie continued to record with some intermittent success but for all intents and purposes it appeared that Lionel Richie's days as a major recording artist were over. A few months back I read that Richie had gone back into the studio to record a new album called "Tuskegee". Oddly enough the album bears the name of the Alabaman city where Lionel Richie was born but "Tuskegee" may also come to represent the name of the record that turned his recording career around. We'll see. I sampled this recording for the first time today and I must tell you that I was extremely excited about what I heard. It is a great disc!
"Tuskegee" offers up fresh and innovative arrangements of 13 of Lionel Richie's most popular recordings of all-time. Adding to the excitement is the fact that Richie is paired on each and every tune with one of the biggest names in country music. I am here to tell you that there is not a weak track in the lot. Fans of The Commodores will be pleased to discover that a pair of hits from this period have been included including a terrific version of the 1979 hit "Sail On" (with Tim McGraw) and "Easy" where Lionel is joined by the legendary 78 year old singer/songwriter Willie Nelson. Great stuff! The remaining 11 tunes on the album were culled from Lionel Richie's days as a solo artist. While I enjoyed just about every song on this disc I would have to count among my favorites "Stuck On You" where Lionel is joined by Darius Rucker who some might remember as the lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish. I would also recommend to you the the rip-roaring new version of "Dancing On The Ceiling" with Rascal Flatts and the sensational "All Night Long" where our star is joined by Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band. Folks, this one is definitely better than the original! Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles proves to be more than up to the task on "Hello" while septuagenarian Kenny Rogers just dropped in to see what condition his condition was in and does an admirable job teaming up with Lionel on "Lady". And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the outstanding remake of "Endless Love" which features Shania Twain. That one has been released as the lead single from the album and appears to be making some noise on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.
Now it is quite clear to me that "Tuskegee" was a labor of love for just about everyone who was involved. This is a well-conceived and exquisitely executed project that should shoot to the top of the charts and propel Lionel Richie back into the spotlight. Kudos to the producers, musicians and all of the recording artists for making this such an enjoyable album. Since I find there is so little music to get excited about these days I had absolutely no problem in rating "Tuskegee" the maximum five stars. This is one disc I am going to play again and again. Very highly recommended!