Rick James

Reflections

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In 1984, six years after Rick James made his relatively audacious recording debut for the relatively cautious Motown, the label compiled Reflections, the punk-funk legend's first of several greatest-hits collections. Reflections includes many of James' best-known hits to date, namely "You and I," "Mary Jane," "Bustin' Out (On Funk)," "Give It to Me Baby," "Super Freak," and "Dance Wit' Me." More notably, however, it includes a trio of previously unreleased songs: "17," "Oh What a Night (4 Luv)," and "You Turn Me On," the first of which became a sizable hit. Reflections thus served its purpose as a stopgap release for 1984, the first year yet that James hadn't released a full-length: it served as a concise jumping-on point for any new fans drawn in by the previous year's chart-topping "Cold Blooded" and the pop crossover Smokey Robinson duet "Ebony Eyes," and it also served as an unnecessary but tempting teaser for diehards curious to hear a few new songs. Even so, Reflections became an obsolete collection years later, once it was supplanted by such better-compiled ones as Bustin' Out: The Very Best of Rick James (1994), Ultimate Collection (1997), and Anthology (2002). And that's perfectly fine because Reflections is an uneven sampler, picking just the cream of the crop and leaving out a lot of great songs, and it's also a skimpy one, displacing potential picks like "Love Gun" and "Big Time" with the so-so new songs and clocking in overall at a brisk ten-song running length. Nowadays, Reflections should have a very limited appeal to anyone except completists, as the aforementioned latter-day CD-length collections offer much better value and a more balanced look at James' early-career highlights.

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