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March 28, 2012 / jhsaeger

Lionel Richie Misses By Country Mile On Tuskegee

   Lionel Richie. Country album. What would be four words that are typically not associated with one another, Alex? The prospects for such a record are typically hit or miss. The musician either strikes gold with a new direction for his music or takes a big swing and miss at a new genre. For Richie’s latest record, Tuskegee, the pop singer’s star-studded country foray was a bit of a misadventure as the LP seemed to be more “Lionel Richie sings country” than a pure country record.
   His first record since 2009’s Just Go, Richie enlisted a series of well-known country acts for Tuskegee: Willie Nelson, Kenny Rodgers, Kenny Chesney, and Tim McGraw. The career spanning track list contained some of his biggest commercial numbers, “Easy” and “All Night Long,” including a fresh take on “Lady,” which Richie originally penned for Rodgers in 1980. 
   The record, comprised of 13 countrified slants on songs from Richie’s catalog, is a tad disappointing from what could have been an intriguing concept. The idea of taking on a new genre was certainly interesting. Richie singing his former chart toppers with Nashville’s Top 40, however, turned out to be a bit shallow. Instead, more original tracks might have better served the idea. Of the thirteen tracks, not too much stands out as a terrific reformation, although the original concepts behind the songwriting remain strong enough that it might be a keener purchase for more devout aficionados than casual fans.  
   Richie’s brief Tuskegee Tour 2012 will start on September 24 in Dublin, Ireland as part of a European run of shows. Tuskegee is available as a digital download and deluxe cd/dvd edition.
   Other Stuff That Hits This Week: Madonna: MDNA, Overkill: The Electric Age, Frankie Avalon: Muscle Beach Party, Joan Osborne, Bring It On Home, Mel Torme: Quintet & Beyond

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