In 1980 and 1981, many people in the music world suspected that Lionel Richie would soon be leaving the Commodores to pursue a solo career -- and sure enough, he officially became a full-time solo artist in 1982. In the Pocket, released in 1981, turned out to be his final album with the group. Not surprisingly, Richie dominates the album, singing lead on everything from adult contemporary ballads like "Lucy" and "Oh No" (a number four pop/number five R&B smash) to the sophisticated funk of "Why You Wanna Try Me" and the Top Five R&B favorite "Lady (You Bring Me Up)." Walter Orange and Thomas McClary also contribute some lead vocals, but the album's best-known songs are the ones that feature Richie. While In the Pocket doesn't contain a lot of hardcore funk à la "Brickhouse" or "Slippery When Wet," the sleeker, smoother sophisti-funk style is well represented by "Why You Wanna Try Me" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)," as well as "Saturday Night" and "Keep on Taking Me Higher." Overall, In the Pocket isn't great -- "Lady (You Bring Me Up)" is certainly a gem, although the rest of the material is merely decent. But while In the Pocket isn't among the Commodores' essential releases, it was still a pleasant way for Richie to end his association with the Southern band.
In the Pocket Review
by Alex Henderson