Stanley Clarke / George Duke

The Clarke/Duke Project, Vol. 1

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These two buddies seemed to set off sparks with each other whenever they got together on isolated earlier tracks, and a lot of folks had high expectations for their first joint project. Yet The Clarke/Duke Project, Vol. 1 was and remains a disappointment, awash in generic urban contemporary material, a few routine instrumentals, and jive (topped by a truly bizarre rendition of "Louie Louie"). Neither Stanley Clarke nor George Duke play much to their strengths -- Clarke's bass and writing, Duke's funky way with keyboards -- concentrating more upon their hardly distinguished voices. What we didn't know, it is now obvious, was that Clarke and Duke collectively would often abandon whatever restraints of taste they had individually in search of a chartbusting R&B sound largely free of jazz or even a good funk groove (the same thing would occur in their concerts). And bust the charts they did with Duke's cloying "Sweet Baby," which went to number 19 on the pop listings (number six R&B) and made the two more famous as a duo than as solo artists. Naturally, then, there would be more to come. Alas.

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