After a long, rewarding career on the soul sidelines, Doc Powell's emergence into solo territory finds him in an Alphonse Mouzon-like bandleader mode, albeit slightly more inspiring mood and melody-wise. A skilled multi-instrumentalist, Powell on Inner City Blues comes across on his snappy core guitar strains like a chilled version of Norman Brown, complete with those fun and breezy vocal scats. Too often, however, Powell as producer relegates his punchy prowess to the background, settling for radio friendly simplicity in lieu of sustained funk whallop. Each truly potent revelation (such as Ronnie Foster's simmering B-3 solo) is balanced by a calculated commercial turn like the fluffy DeBarge cover "All This Love." Too many all-star guest vocals simply get in the way of the sterling instrumental passages which dominate. Like any well-connected cat, Powell keeps the namedropping at a fever pitch, drawing picture perfect performances out of Bob James, Stanley Clarke and George Duke, Kirk Whalum, Ronnie Laws, Byron Miller and Patrice Rushen. So the real question is, with all that thunder and lightning in the studio, just why is the storm so quiet?
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran