Phyllis Hyman

Goddess of Love

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This 1983 set was Hyman's last effort for Arista. During the early '80s she easily maneuvered between R&B and jazz with a skill few artists possessed. Regrettably, this takes Hyman away from jazz and often puts her knee-deep in pablum. The album splits the production duties between Narada Michael Walden and Thom Bell; the tracks with Walden may be a little too mainstream for Hyman acolytes. Glossy '80s dance exercises "Riding the Tiger and "Goddess of Love" have Hyman singing goofy lyrics like "You'll feel the fear of my name" and "My skin never lies." Even Grace Jones couldn't do anything with that. Walden acquits himself nicely with the good, hooky ballad "Why Did You Turn Me On," a song he put on one of his own albums a few yeas before. The work with Bell is below his customary excellence. He and his writers must have used all of their best tracks for Deniece Williams' classic My Melody, because Hyman is left with mostly re-treads. After a few so-so tracks, Goddess of Love does go out with a bang. The sparsely arranged "Just Twenty Miles to Anywhere" has Hyman finally getting lyrics of a substantive nature so she could soar, and displays all of the greatness Hyman had to offer; it's too bad that most of this album didn't follow suit.

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