Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eddie Kendricks: “Love Keys” (1981/2014) CD Review

Recently several records from David Ruffin’s solo career were issued on CD by Real Gone Music. And now for good measure we get the release of fellow Temptation Eddie Kendricks’ Love Keys, his 1981 record. Eddie Kendricks is known for his voice, the way he’d hit that falsetto. He sang lead, for example, on “The Way You Do The Things You Do” (one of my favorite songs).

This marks the official CD debut of Love Keys. Sure, there are some cheesy elements to some of the tunes on this album. This isn’t his best work, but there are still some really good tunes here. I’m particularly fond of “Bernadette” and “Looking For Love.” And yeah, some of these songs make me want to go rollerskating, especially “You Can’t Stop My Loving.” This was one of his final albums. Eddie Kendricks died of lung cancer in 1992.

Love Keys opens with “(Oh I) Need Your Lovin’,” a song with a nice funky dance groove, and featuring Eddie’s smooth vocals. “I just can’t wait to rush into your arms/Oh I need your lovin’/Oh I, I just can’t wait to be near you.” The horns give the song a more interesting feel. I particularly like the saxophone solo.  “(Oh I) Need Your Lovin’” was released as a single, and reached #41 on the R&B chart. It was written by Brian Holland and Eddie Holland.

Some disco elements are prominent in “I’m In Need Of Love,” giving this one a fun feel right from the start. Eddie Kendricks begins this one by singing, “I don’t need a new automobile/I’d rather have a home-cooked meal/I don’t need a new pair of shoes/I need someone to talk to when I’ve got the blues.” (Oh man, I do need a new pair of shoes. Being broke sucks.) I love the sexy spoken-word moment: “Come on, baby/Come on, sugar.” “I’m In Need Of Love” was written by Lou Courtney.

Lou Courtney also wrote “I Don’t Need Nobody Else,” which was released as a single. It has a mid-tempo groove and kind of a cheesy vibe, but with a sweet promise of fidelity.

“Old Home Town” is a love song that begins with the lines, “Oh, you’re so damn sweet to come home to/You’re just like an old home town.” Interestingly, this one has a bit of a country vibe to it which sets it apart and keeps it from feeling too sugary sweet. “Old Home Town” was written by David Pomeranz.

“Bernadette” is a lot of fun, with a good rhythm and nice backing vocals, including some deep bass vocals which come as a surprise partway through the song (“Come on and thrill me, Momma”). There is some nice stuff from the horns, though they never really lead this song. The vocals have that honor. This is my personal favorite track. It was written by Stuart Mitchell.

“Hot” is just pure fun, with a quick pace and a simple beat. I love the way the horns work with the vocals on this one. It's a playful tune. But, yeah, the spelling of “H-O-T” (in the line "H-O-T, hot as can be") is definitely cheesy, no question.

"Looking For Love" is one of the album's strongest tracks. I dig those little funky touches on bass. Plus, there are some nice touches on keys, particularly in the instrumental section. “We’re looking for love, I know/Looking everywhere we go/Taking it fast, taking it slow.”

CD Track List
  1. (Oh I) Need Your Lovin’
  2. I’m In Need Of Love
  3. I Don’t Need Nobody Else
  4. Old Home Town
  5. Bernadette
  6. You Can’t Stop My Loving
  7. Never Alone
  8. Hot
  9. Looking For Love
  10. In Love We’re One
Love Keys was released on CD on April 1, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

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