Eddie Kendricks

Love Keys

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Love Keys Review

by Jason Elias

After leaving the Temptations in 1971, Kendricks had nearly a decade of success as a solo act. But by the late '70s he began to experience a commercial decline. A promising stint with Arista resulted in two fair albums, although "I Never Used to Dance" from Something More surely had hit potential. He signed to Atlantic for this effort and the label didn't exactly roll out the red carpet for him. Unfortunately by the time this was recorded, Kendricks was well on the way to losing his voice. Although he still had his warm phrasing and tone, the vocals often became shaky -- a fact made even more clear on his less than stellar efforts. "(Oh I) Need Your Loving," written by Eddie and Brian Holland has a percolating groove but threadbare lyrics. "Old Home Town" is an unassuming country styled ballad where Kendricks sings, "I'm a child again in a pile of leaves/running through the snow on Christmas Eve." That will put a smile on anyone's face, but despite some nice melodic changes, the track eventually bogs down as well. Love Keys is like the rest of his later solo albums: Kendricks' voice seems to be out of sync with the backing track, either mixed down or way too high. "Never Alone," in contrast, is disconcerting because his voice sounds so good, most of the pieces are in place, except for the lyrics, which eventually doom the song. Kendricks closes the effort out with the best song; the ballad "In Love We're One" has melody that seemed to be custom made for his voice -- he seems animated, offers unbelievable melisma, and doesn't hit one false note. The album was recorded in his hometown, Birmingham, Alabama, and some key members from the Muscle Shoals sound are in the backing band. Even for a Kendricks fan, there is little here to recommend here.

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