Allen Toussaint

Motion

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Allen Toussaint's two albums for Reprise, 1972's Life, Love and Faith and 1975's Southern Nights, were both idiosyncratic, rather brilliant albums that fell just short of materpiece status, but no matter how good they were, they didn't sell. So, the label stepped in, moved Toussaint from Reprise to Warner, and had him record his third album (Motion) in Hollywood with producer Jerry Wexler. Toussaint was backed by a bunch of L.A. studio pros, including guitarist Larry Carlton and drummer Jeff Porcaro, and the difference from his previous records is palpable. This is a very smooth, very slick album, heavy on ballads and mid-tempo grooves and even when it gets a little funky, it's glossy. Since Toussaint is also an accomplished pro, he goes along with the game, turning out good performances throughout, even though his compositions are a little uneven. As a result, Motion plays like a good late-night seduction record, sustaining a nice, low-key romantic mood and occasionally spinning off a standout song, like the nicely funky "Night People," the slyly cynical "Viva la Money," the offhand charm of "The Optimism Blues," and the silky pleasures of "Motion," "To Be With You," and "With You in Mind." Ultimately, Motion doesn't feel as fully realized as either Life, Love and Faith or Southern Nights, and it's considerably less individualistic than either, but it's still a solid record, particularly as a soundtrack for a lazy, romantic evening.

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