Lionel Richie

The Definitive Collection

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It's hard to believe, but prior to the 2003 release of The Definitive Collection, there wasn't a proper hits collection in Lionel Richie's catalog. A decade earlier, Motown dipped their toe in the water with the jumbled Back to Front, which tried desperately to camouflage its nature as a comp with three new songs, which, at 14 tracks, hurt the hit quotient dramatically. This, however, gets it almost all right. Spanning 20 tracks (only two of which are new, tacked onto the end; while not especially memorable, neither is bad), this collection has nearly all the big hits from his solo recordings (the Top Ten "Love Will Conquer All" is notably absent, but that's the only chart-topper not here), along with five Commodores ballads that showcase Richie the balladeer at a peak: "Just to Be Close to You," "Easy," "Three Times a Lady," "Still," "Sail On." Since these were the first tracks to showcase Lionel Richie as a talent separate from the Commodores, their presence is welcome on a collection of his solo hits, and they indeed make this a fuller experience, since this now has all of Richie's soft rock hits in one place. Taken together, it's a formidable body of work, making a clear case for him as one of the preeminent soft rock craftsmen of the early '80s. True, the collection might have benefited slightly from a chronological track listing, but by jumping between albums, and between Commodores and solo material, the consistency of his records becomes evident. Few of his peers created singles as memorable as "Easy," the infectious "All Night Long (All Night)," "Truly," the sweetly melancholic "Hello," the insistent, gently ominous "Running with the Night," "Just to Be Close to You," and the ebullient "You Are," as delightful as 45s came in the early days of the Reagan Administration. Not everything here quite reaches those standards -- admittedly, those are the hits upon which his reputation lay, plus they're the best that soft pop got in the '80s -- but the rest is all well-crafted and easily enjoyable, proving that Lionel Richie is a singular adult contemporary talent. He may be sappy, but he's got skills.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 4:08 SpotifyAmazon
2
feat: Commodores
3:35 Spotify
3
feat: Commodores
4:14 Spotify
4 4:09 SpotifyAmazon
5
feat: Commodores
3:39 Spotify
6
feat: Commodores
3:43 Spotify
7 4:20 SpotifyAmazon
8
feat: Diana Ross
4:26 Spotify
9 3:20 SpotifyAmazon
10 3:46 SpotifyAmazon
11 4:06 Spotify
12
feat: Commodores
4:02 Spotify
13 3:11 SpotifyAmazon
14 4:02 SpotifyAmazon
15 4:35 SpotifyAmazon
16 4:30 Spotify
17 3:38 SpotifyAmazon
18 3:43 Spotify
19 3:53 Spotify
20 3:36 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick