Lesley Gore

Love Me by Name

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AllMusic Review by

Lesley Gore and Quincy Jones reunite 11 years after their last of ten hit records with a who's who of industry names and faces, many included in the group photo on the inner sleeve. The music is all grade-A, but given the collective star power here, this could (and should) have been a monster comeback album. Including the Brothers Johnson on "Sometimes" was smart, but the disco beat doesn't have the charm of "I'll Be Good to You" or "Strawberry Letter 23," the Brothers' own hits. Imagine if Gore had covered one of those two songs here, or perhaps did a '70s version of "It's My Party," "Judy's Turn to Cry," or, better still, updated with a sequel to the sequel. The title track, "Love Me By Name," like "Other Lady" on side two, is good, slick adult contemporary pop, but the songs remain decent album tracks with none of the appeal that Linda Ronstadt, Helen Reddy, and Rita Coolidge were having success with -- solid pop songs that helped establish Gore's legacy years before the new divas came to town. "Immortality," with its strong hook and Motown foundation, doesn't have the authority "You Don't Own Me" displayed. "Paranoia" is fun, but the album just doesn't resonate with the Gore that fans know and love. On some tracks she sounds like Lulu backed up by the Captain & Tennille -- certainly not a bad thing for pop fans, but it isn't the Gore who, when performing live, still packs a punch. That she and brother Michael Gore have had success as songwriters is another question mark here. The talent, the connections, and the fan base are all in order, but the album -- despite the "class reunion" feel to it all, tries too hard. A disc jockey on an open-minded, middle-of-the-road station could play "Along the Way" or the dramatic "Give It to Me Sweet Thing" and listeners would probably stay tuned. Tom Scott's intuitive saxophone on "Give It to Me Sweet Thing" is some of his best work on someone else's disc. The song is very artsy adult contemporary; intelligent music that's superbly produced. It's the most commercial moment on a good record that could have been so much more. Trading in "Don't Stop Me Now" for a slow cabaret version of "Maybe I Know" or "California Nights" (her 11th hit, which Jones did not produce), the way Neil Sedaka paid tribute to his past with the sublime update of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," would have helped the audience grasp this impressive outing. The reprise of "Love Me By Name" also works. Selling this at her shows would be a boon for those who follow Gore, but the intent of the album was to bring her back to the limelight, and Jones missed out here. A Jackson Five cover, say "Maybe Tomorrow," "ABC," or "I'll Be There" the way Isaac Hayes beautifully tortured "Never Can Say Goodbye" -- now that would have been something on an album too original for its own good.

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