Major news for the funkateers – two Rick James albums that have been out of print for years are getting reissued by Hip-O Select. Some people think of James as a punchline thanks to that (admittedly very funny) Chappelle Show sketch but he was actually a very talented performer, songwriter and producer who unleashed a string of mindblowing funk albums during his heyday. Most of his albums have either gone un-reissued or have been allowed to drift out of print so this a great chance for music buffs to reevaluate James’ talents. These new discs will feature new liner notes plus worthwhile bonus tracks and they’ll be available on March 26th. Keep reading for all the punk-funk details…
RICK JAMES – FIRE IT UP
Featuring the singles “Love Gun” and “Come Into My Life,” Fire It Up is an underrated classic – Garden Of Love, also available on CD for the first time, is another; both were begging for the Motown/Hip-oSelect.com treatment. Digitally mastered for the first time, this reissue also includes for the first time the bonus 10-minute version of “Love Gun,” a promotional-only 12-inch mix. Featured in the unique, foldout booklet is the full lyric reprint as seen in the original LP inner sleeve.
Fire It Up followed the smash hit albums Come Get It and Bustin’ Out in October 1979, as Rick was honing on the disco punk-funk sound that would ultimately prove enormously popular. It was defined, as Michael Veal writes in the reissue’s liner notes, “by the funk-icon cover shot and the rowdy chants on the first two tracks, which James used to get the crowds worked up in concert. But as a whole, it was a more diverse affair… showing off James’s superb ballad singing skills.”
Fire It Up, a Top 5 R&B/Soul and a Top 40 Pop album, was Rick’s first that he produced his own – the template for his worldwide breakthrough to come, one of the “missing” RJ CDs that’s finally getting its due.
1. Fire It Up
2. Love Gun
3. Lovin’ You Is A Pleasure
4. Love In The Night
5. Come Into My Life
6. Stormy Love
7. When Love Is Gone
8. Love Gun – promotional 12-inch version (bonus track)
RICK JAMES – GARDEN OF LOVE
Now available at www.hip-oselect.com, it’s digitally mastered for the first time and, also for the first time, includes two bonus tracks: an 11-plus-minute extended version of “Big Time,” an unreleased “M+M” mix John Morales had planned to deliver back in the day, and “Gypsy Girl,” a demo version of the song “Teardrops,” recorded during the Garden sessions, that was ultimately revamped for the Rick’s album Throwin’ Down. An additional bonus for fans is a newly discovered extra minute of the album’s brief, original closing track.
Garden Of Love was one of those different Rick James albums. Despite its up-tempo opening track, it was a mellow affair, released in the summer of 1980, after a successful tour with Prince as his opening act, on the heels of Fire It Up (also on CD for the first time here) and two albums with his backing band, the Stone City band. “James had made his name with rowdy disco-funk tracks like ‘You And I,’ but he was actually a much more versatile songwriter than most people realized,” writes Michael Veal in the reissue’s brand new liner notes. “On Garden Of Love, he attempted to move away from his ‘King of Punk-Funk’ image and create an album of relaxed, laid-back songs inspired by the Caribbean islands on which the songs were written.” Both the album and its single “Big Time” hit the R&B Top 20 but their chart performances were considered a disappointment to Rick and to Motown, resulting in Rick regrouping in Buffalo for the Street Songs album.
Since then, disappointment has given way to a deeper appreciation of Garden Of Love. “It is one of the great Motown concept albums,” writes Veal, “a quintessential summertime jam, James’s hidden masterpiece, and a solid testament to his vision and versatility.”
1. Big Time
2. Don’t Give Up On Love
3. Island Lady
4. Gettin’ It On (In The Sunshine)
5. Summer Love
7. Gettin’ It On (In The Sunshine) Reprise
8. Big Time Extended M+M Mix (previously unreleased bonus track)
9. Gypsy Girl Rick’s demo (previously unreleased bonus track)