Without a doubt, Garden of Love was Rick James' most underrated release. The album went gold and was far from a flop, but Motown wanted double or triple platinum, and anything less was disappointing. And when funk fans reminisce, Garden isn't one of the albums they mention. A departure from the type of hard and rowdy funk that defined Come Get It!, Bustin' Out of L Seven, and Fire It Up, Garden boasted only one major hit ("Big Time") and was surprisingly laid-back by James' standards. The album contains more ballads than usual, and Rick uses subtlety to his artistic advantage on songs ranging from the clever "Mary Go Round" to the haunting "Summer Love." Unfortunately, some mistook subtlety for wimpiness. But make no mistake: the songs are first-rate, though they lack the type of immediacy he was known for. Those who overlooked Garden need to give it a closer listen.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson