Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ray Parker Jr.

  • The Other Woman [Arista, 1982] A-
  • Greatest Hits [Arista, 1982] A-
  • Woman Out of Control [Arista, 1983] B
  • Chartbusters [Arista, 1984] B-
  • Sex and the Single Man [Arista, 1985] B-
  • After Dark [Geffen, 1987] C+
  • I Love You Like You Are [MCA, 1991] Neither
  • I'm Free! [RP, 2006] Dud

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Other Woman [Arista, 1982]
Blessed with a one-track mind in a twenty-four-track world, he provides all the basic vocal and instrumental parts on an unannounced concept album about "romance," i.e., sex with all the fixings. Sometimes he's merely raunchy--"The Other Woman" and "Streetlove" are male and female versions of sex-for-its-own-sweet-obsessive-sake, and in "Let's Get Off" they come together. But at other times he gets serious, which is to say raunchy and romantic, upping the ante with leave-him-for-me speeches and patient propositions ("anyplace you like" refers to body parts, not apartments). Even when he proposes marriage it's only because the lady's stuff is so good he wants his name on it. Couldn't say how many positions he knows--in "It's Our Own Affair," he swears his partner to secrecy. But I'm sure he's got them all written down for the follow-up. A-

Greatest Hits [Arista, 1982]
Parker is that ever rarer prize, an inspired journeyman. His music is eloquently unobtrusive, and while he doesn't talk his songs, he has no need for vocal pyrotechnics he couldn't muster--his stylishly textured conversational timbre, halfway between a murmur and a purr when he's turning it on, is a cunning interpretive device. In a subgenre whose practitioners hone their sexual personas as sharp as Cole Porter rhyme schemes, he can't be said to have come up with something new--the secure, sincere superstud is a role Teddy Pendergrass exploited less cleverly for years. So this collection is just the thing for those benighted who can't believe they need more than one piece of long-playing ass-man jive. Well, actually they don't--necessity has nothing to do with it. A-

Woman Out of Control [Arista, 1983]
"I Still Can't Get Over Loving You," his sweetest, sexiest hit ballad ever, rips Brit synth-pop as shamelessly as "The Other Woman" ripped the Stones, but his grip becomes less definitive on the very next tune, which barely loosens the hem of Prince's garment. And side two holds on strictly to Ray's tried and true. B

Chartbusters [Arista, 1984]
Greatest Hits is definitive, "Ghostbusters" a contemporary classic available in seven- and twelve-inch formats, and this a redundancy from an artist whose contract is coming up. B-

Sex and the Single Man [Arista, 1985]
Maybe Ray is getting jaded--pussy comes so easy now that he no longer bothers to hone his come-on. Whether he's scoring on sensitivity (oh really, "Men Have Feelings Too"?) or studsmanship (though I do enjoy the bone and puddy-tat lines in "I'm a Dog"), he's putting out just enough to get her into the car. The sole exception is "I'm in Love," in which a workaholic falls for "an interesting girl" who doesn't have a job. Workaholic--now that sounds like the real Ray to me. B-

After Dark [Geffen, 1987]
No no no, Ray--"Let you play with my tool after dark" isn't really a double entendre. It's a little, you know, obvious. And forget Alexander O'Neal--he can sing. That's why he doesn't need double entendres. C+

I Love You Like You Are [MCA, 1991] Neither

I'm Free! [RP, 2006] Dud