Roy Ayers

Double Trouble

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Originally released in the United States in 1992 and reissued by Australia's AIM label in 2005, Double Trouble finds Roy Ayers doing some collaborating with the late funk/soul icon Rick James (who died in 2004 at the age of 56). By 1992, James was long past his prime, both commercially and creatively -- and sadly, he was receiving more attention for his infamous drug and legal problems than for his musical contributions. But James, for all his demons, was seriously talented -- and this CD offers a rare glimpse of Mr. Punk Funk at a time when he didn't have a record deal and wasn't doing much recording. (After 1988's Wonderful, James didn't record another full-fledged album until 1997's Urban Rapsody, his final album.) Ayers and James, it should be noted, had two very different approaches to funk; Ayers favored a smooth, polished cool that reflected his jazz background, while James was famous for a harder, louder, more in-your-face funk style that had a rock & roll attitude. (James once played with Neil Young in an obscure '60s band called the Mynah Birds.) But James was also a master of romantic soul ballads and slow jams -- and he has no problem finding some common ground with Ayers on parts of this album. While James isn't featured as extensively as some of his hardcore fans would have liked, he has some inspired moments on the ballad "More Than You Know," the Teddy Riley-ish "Say You Will," and a remake of Ayers' "Everybody Loves the Sunshine." Make no mistake: this is a Roy Ayers album first and foremost, but James' presence is a definite plus -- and while Double Trouble is slightly inconsistent, getting a rare chance to hear Ayers and James working together makes this 73-minute CD worth the price of admission.

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