Mind's Eye

Jon Lucien

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Mind's Eye Review

by Thom Jurek

Jon Lucien's third album, Mind's Eye, issued in 1974 after his commercial breakthrough, Rashida, was a daunting project to issue. How to follow up an album that broke through without a plan? Thankfully, Lucien's confidence in himself as a singer and as a songwriter grew exponentially in a year. He was far more willing to press the Caribbean edge in his music and to experiment with new textures and instrumentation. With Bob Marley making his mark in England and in Europe, Lucien knew the time was right to bring his own compositions to the fore. With fiery bossa guitars, electric fretless bass, a chorus of backing singers, a few well-placed synthesizers, insistent yet muted percussion, and the uncanny arrangements of Dave Grusin (who also orchestrated Rashida), the album was a sure hit. Arguably, in terms of its performance if not its material (which is damn fine), it may be a better record than Rashida. The brazen sensuality Lucien infuses into his material and the sheer emotional conviction in his singing are almost enough. When combined with the heady, lush mix of instruments and voices employed by Grusin, it's a swoon-fest. Lucien's rich, sultry baritone carries songs like "The Pleasure of Your Garden" and "Adoration" with convincing ardor. His socially conscious lyrics in songs such as "Soul Chant," "World of Joy," and "Ghetto Song" are infused with a spiritual vibe that is positively inspiring. This is contemporary soul/jazz that holds within it all that is fine and precious in popular music: lyrics that hold our attention and musical arrangements and playing that move us out of ourselves, if only for the three minutes the song is on the radio. Many have blamed Lucien for his overly sweet singing style, but that's only because they can't hear that music as rare, exotic, and wonderfully inspired as this demands sweetness if it is to be sung at all. Lucien's Mind's Eye is a true classic of the pop-soul genre.

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