Lou Rawls

Close Company

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On Close Company, his third album for Epic Records, Lou Rawls continues to try to keep up with current trends in R&B, opening the LP with "All Time Lover" (an R&B singles chart entry), which, with its synthesized drum programming and driving beat, is intended for dancefloors. The album has a sort of "one for me, one for them" quality about it, as if Rawls had agreed to put his voice over synth pop dance tracks like that and the side two leadoff song, "Ready or Not?," as long as he could devote half of the selections to string-filled ballads more in his familiar style, like "When We Were Young" (which acknowledges that he isn't) and "The Lady in My Life." "Forever I Do" has a chance to become a wedding favorite, while "Sunshine (When Are You Coming My Way)" returns to dance club aspirations at the end, sounding like a rejected track from a Luther Vandross or Lionel Richie session. Of course, Rawls' rich baritone exudes assurance whether he's leading the string section or keeping pace with the electronic percussion explosions, but the quieter stuff remains more his forte.