Nearly 31 years ago Motown encountered one of its other legendary departures. Lionel Richie released his first album as a single artist in October of 1982. To this day, this self titled album is still only 1 of 9 that Richie has released. This album was released in the 80s, yet it shows a Lionel’s timeless signature style that is his alone.
This album contains two of Richie’s signature songs that are penned by Richie, “Truly” and “You Are.” These are soul and Motown classics. These two songs would easily fit into any wedding service and also serve great on local karaoke nights.
Although, this album contains other great numbers that were not recognized or released as singles. The opening track “Serves You Right” is a reminder of Disco days gone, yet it serves as a prelude to what 1980s music would become. The song details a relationship in which Richie’s significant other left for another man whose love turned out to not be so true.
Another great song follows, entitled “Wandering Stranger.” I have always considered Richie a ballad king and this song does not disappoint. It would easily fit in between “Truly” and “Hello” on any compilation collection. This song talks about feeling lost while in love.
Side 2 continues with some upbeat tracks (“Round and Round,” and “You Are”). The last two songs highlight Richie’s writing, vocal, and instrumental ability and are the gems of this release. Richie’s voice is perfectly suited between him and a piano. “You Mean More to Me” and “Just Put Some Love in Your Heart” prove this. These songs show the foundation where Richie’s later duet with Diana Ross, “Endless Love,” was born.
Given the status of Richie’s love life in the next 4 or so years shows where the sentiments and emotions of these songs come from. In 1975 he had married his high school sweetheart, Brenda. In the mid 1980’s Richie began a relationship with a lady named Diane and Brenda discovered this relationship by pretending to be room service to their Beverly Hills hotel room. A physical fight pursued leading to Brenda’s arrest and later her and Richie’s divorce.
This album is nonchalantly mixed with both romantic and breakup songs. Were these the beginning of Lionel’s mixed feelings?
In the end, this album is “Truly” an introduction to Richie’s brilliant career that was and that he is currently pursuing. This isn’t Richie at his best, but he was a vulnerable solo artist coming in off the success of the Commodores. Richie may seem a little shy on this album, but it is worth a listen in every soul lover’s collection. It would be a Motown sin not to give this album a few spins.