Personnel: Ricky James (vocals, guitar); Teena Marie, Smokey Robinson (vocals); Roxanne Shant‚ (rap vocals).
Liner Note Author: David Ritz.
Of the many Rick James hits compilations available, GOLD is one of the best. James was the flagship artist at Motown throughout the late 1970s and '80s, keeping the sound of the label vital and contemporary long after the heyday of the Temptations and Smokey Robinson. Over the course of two discs and 22 tracks, GOLD surveys the length of James's Motown tenure, extending all the way up to 1988's "Loosey's Rap" (featuring Roxanne Shante), and representing the performer's mix of classic R&B, disco-inflected dance-floor anthems, '80s electro-groove, and hard party funk.
Like the best Motown artists, James had an outstanding ear as an arranger and producer. His songs feature roiling beds of rhythm, burbling synthesizers, sharp horn charts, swirling strings, and unfolding choruses of male and female backup singers. The biggest hits--"You and I" (James's first single), the exuberant "Give It to Me Baby," and the irrepressible "Super Freak (Part 1)," his signature song--are here. However, the set is also packed with other gems, including collaborations with Smokey Robinson ("Ebony Eyes"), the Temptations ("Standing on the Top [Part 1]"), and Teena Marie ("Fire and Desire"). GOLD works perfectly as a retrospective, and as a top-notch sampler of this funk icon's work. (Note: Motown's 28-track ANTHOLOGY collection features most of GOLD's selections.)