The Crusaders

The Good and the Bad Times

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The departure of Stix Hooper from the Crusaders basically knocked the main prop out from underneath their interlocked groove, and no combination of drummers and percussionists could put the structure together again. 24-year-old Sonny Emory clearly wasn't the answer to the drumming conundrum; he's competent but stiff when compared to the loosey-goosey Stix. There are only two full-fledged Crusaders left on this session -- Joe Sample and Wilton Felder (Larry Carlton makes a token appearance on "Sweet Dreams") -- and while Sample composed all of the material, hardly any of it strikes fire. Nancy Wilson does a cameo turn on "The Way It Goes," but the tune is a collection of soft-rock clich├ęs, not one of Sample's better inspirations. And most telling of all, this does not sound like a Crusaders record; the rhythm aside, Sample's reliance on harsh-sounding synths deconstructs and desiccates their sound. Pass it by.

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