Greatest Hits

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The most needed component in a 2004/2005 rejuvenation of the Tabu label, following anthologies from the S.O.S. Band and Alexander O'Neal, Greatest Hits improves upon 1995's The Best of Cherrelle with better sound and a more generous track listing. All seven -- only seven? -- of her charting singles are joined by six of the stronger album cuts, all of which come from her first three albums. Naturally, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis' fingerprints are all over the disc; some of their most inventive production work can be heard here. In fact, a few observant followers of '80s R&B will tell you that a more popular Jam and Lewis creation, Janet Jackson's "Control," is a knock-off (albeit a brilliant knock-off) of "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" -- both featuring empowered women over breathless electro-funk. Jackson did wind up stealing some of Cherrelle's thunder, becoming even more synonymous with Jam and Lewis and eventually reaching icon status, but Cherrelle was just as capable at delivering the dripping sexed-up grooves, the melancholy ballads, and the club tracks. Though this compilation covers all the basics, 1984's Fragile, 1986's High Priority, and even 1988's conceptual Affair are deeper than you might think and deserve more attention. (At bare minimum, the first two are essential for any devout fan of Jam and Lewis.) But if you just want the memory-triggering hits, this is perfectly adequate.

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