Maze

Greatest Slow Jams

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The group racked up nine gold and platinum albums during their 1976-1989 run on Capitol Records. While their classic efforts like We Are One and Can't Stop the Love remained in print, like many artists, as soon as they left the label an onslaught of compilations followed. Most notably 1996's two-CD Anthology that had all of the hits yet lacked the heart of Maze as well as fair amount of seminal tracks. Luckily, Greatest Slow Jams offers them and more. Unlike many artists, for Maze, concentrating on the more romantic and slow-paced songs isn't a monotonous idea. Lead singer Frankie Beverly's natural rhythm seems to be in the slow lane, so Greatest Slow Jams is where he and the group really thrive. With the inclusion of essentials like "We Are One," "I Wish You Well," and "I Love You Too Much," this set handily bests Anthology and proves Maze's singular sound and staying power. The constant sound of ballads is all but hypnotizing and songs that might have been droning on their own -- like "Reachin' Down Inside" and the CD's last track, "When You Love Someone" -- garner strength from their company. Although Greatest Slow Jams is great, it's not perfect. The biggest exclusions are "The Look in Your Eyes" and "Right on Time," and they should have been included in place of "Lovely Inspiration" and "Never Let You Down." Still, Greatest Slow Jams accurately captures Maze's essence with few concessions.

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