Natalie Cole

Don't Look Back

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Natalie Cole entered the '80s with Don't Look Back, which Marvin Yancy produced with Gene Barge. This LP marked the first time that Chuck Jackson didn't co-produce one of Cole's studio albums, and it was also the first time that one of her albums was uneven and disappointing. Don't Look Back does contain a few enjoyable tracks, including two adult contemporary ballads ("Beautiful Dreamer" and the major hit "Someone That I Used to Love") and an interpretation of the standard "Stairway to the Stars." Arranged by Nelson Riddle, the latter has nothing to do with R&B or adult contemporary -- it's vocal jazz, and Cole's scat singing is right out of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. In the early '80s, Cole was still unwilling to take the plunge and record an album that emphasized jazz or jazz-based pre-rock pop; she was still fearful of people thinking that she was trying to ride on her late father's coattails. Nonetheless, she did record the occasional standard in the late '70s and early '80s -- and when she did, it was clear that she was making a big mistake by not recording more of them. Don't Look Back has its moments, although most of the time, Cole is saddled with mediocre, pedestrian material and sounds uninspired. Definitely not one of the singer's more consistent efforts, Don't Look Back is strictly for completists.

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