Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rufus - 1977 - Ask Rufus

Ask Rufus

01. At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)
02. Close The Door
03. Slow Screw Against The Wall / A Flat Fry
04. Earth Song
05. Everlasting Love
06. Hollywood
07. Magic In Your Eyes
08. Better Days
09. Egyptian Song

Chaka Khan – lead vocals, background vocals
Tony Maiden – guitar, background vocals
Kevin Murphy – keyboards, background vocals
Bobby Watson – bass, background vocals
André Fischer – drums, background vocals
David "Hawk" Wolinski – keyboards, background vocals
Milt Holland – percussion
Ron Wood – guitar on "A Flat Fry"

Rufus was one of the most respected groups in the '70s and '80s. Although lead singer Chaka Khan's charismatic vocals were their drawing card, few outfits boasted the skill as Rufus as a band. Songs like "Please Pardon Me," "Sweet Thing," and "Fool's Paradise" are a few of the tracks that displayed the perfect marriage. This 1977 effort is the follow-up to 1975's Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan. Ask Rufus has the group doing more sophisticated and constantly challenging work with an accent on evocative ballads. The effort's lone dance track "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up) has the band going for more subtlety. The jazzy "Close the Door" has a confident and gentle vocal from Khan and a beautiful string arrangement from Clare Fischer who offered them throughout this effort. The well-arranged "Earth Song" could be called botched poesy with lyrics like, "Stars what a mystical woman that you've made me," but Khan's charm keeps it from being an overstatement. The best track, the evocative and sensual "Everlasting Love" has great bass and guitar interplay from Bobby Watson and Tony Maiden, respectively, and an appealing earthy and ethereal vocal from Khan. The much loved "Hollywood" has just gotten stronger, with lines like, "Fixed expressions/Smiles worn thin" exhibiting a surprising and apropos world-weary view. The most ambitious song, the evocative "Egyptian Song," has Middle Eastern motifs and a compelling vocal from Khan that pulls it all together. With great keyboard signatures from Kevin Murphy and David "Hawk" Wolinski and Andre Fischer's steady and judicious drumming, Ask Rufus is one of their best albums.

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