Ramsey Lewis

Don't It Feel Good [LP]

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Lewis' influential 1974 effort Sun Goddess set the standard for the soulful and commercial music that was to define his subsequent CBS work. This 1975 effort is the follow-up and features a charismatic, strong band featuring drummer Morris Jennings, bassist Tiaz Palmer, and album co-producer Charles Stephney on ARP and Moog. Unlike other pianists who switched to electric and synthesizer keyboards, Lewis sounds like he had fun, quickly attained another signature sound, and was so adept that he was often beyond censure. This starts off promising enough. The polished R&B title track has Lewis' now trademark Fender Rhodes playing and female backing vocalists who end up singing "Don't it feel good, Ramsey?" Is it pure jazz? Of course not, but it works. The album's best track, the ballad "Juaacklyn," is suitably moody with a barely there, echoed vocal, Lewis' emotional Fender Rhodes, and it boasts a dreamlike production that is Stephney's skill. Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World," a song that Stephney co-wrote, gets a strong if not scintillating version here. At this time, many players had to do their share of up-tempo tracks, whether it suited them or not. Thankfully disposable dance entries, "Spiderman" and "Fishbite" didn't start dance crazes and are too imitative of Herbie Hancock's fusion/funk of the time to be considered seriously. Like many efforts of the time, Don't It Feel Good's potential is marred by its commercial overtures, but the best tracks do rank with Lewis' best work of the period.

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