When George Duke made the transition from jazz instrumentalist to R&B star in 1977, he received both negative and positive reviews. R&B-oriented publications tended to provide favorable reviews-even glowing ones-whereas much of the jazz media routinely trashed soul/funk efforts like 1979's Follow the Rainbow. To many jazz critics, Duke was a sellout-a virtuoso who had forsaken creativity and was pandering to the lowest common denominator in order to enjoy financial security. But truth be told, jazz musicians don't have the market cornered on creativity. Follow the Rainbow is, in fact, a creative album, and it's an album that has very little to do with jazz. The LP includes a few fusion instrumentals, including the Brazilian-flavored "Festival." But 90% of Follow the Rainbow is devoted to R&B, and anyone who judges it by those standards instead of jazz standards will have to agree that Duke is triumphant on sweaty funk tunes ("Party Down," "I Am for Real") as well as mellow soul ballads and slow jams like "Say That You Will," "Straight From the Heart," and the Earth, Wind & Fire-influenced "Sunrise." This album is consistently excellent, but it isn't recommended to jazz snobs -- only those with a healthy appreciation of 1970s soul and funk will enjoy this album.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson