Saturday, 30 November 2019

Chaka Khan - Naughty (1980)

All night's all right....

  

Released in 1980

Running time 40.03

This was Chaka Khan's second solo album and it continues with the same large group of quality musicians that had made her debut solo work so successful. It is another helping of sublime soul, some of it disco-oriented, some of it jazzy, some of it funky and some sweet. The one constant, of course, is Chaka's soaring voice. It doesn't pull up any trees but it is what it is - quality soul from a consummate artist.

TRACK LISTING

1. Clouds
2. Get Ready, Get Set
3. Move Me No Mountain
4. Nothing's Gonna Take You Away
5. So Naughty
6. Too Much Love
7. All Night's All Right
8. What You Did
9. Papillon (Hot Butterfly)
10. Our Love's Danger                                 
Clouds is a steady, upbeat pop/funk opener with a disco-ish groove and solid backing and Chaka's voice doing the now expected vocal gymnastics. Less harshly brassy and more laid-back and bassy is the late night soul of Get Ready Get Set. From its title you might imagine it to be a fast number but it is a slow smoocher. Move Me No Mountain has a nice, warm soft funk backing and a sensual, jazzy vocal.

Nothing's Gonna Take You Away is mid-pace soul with a slight funky feel and a nice slap-bass bit near the end plus some saxophone which fades out too soon, merging into the jazz funk of So Naughty. Songs like this wrote the blueprint for 1980s laid-back, sensual funky soul. So many groups and artists followed suit for a good ten years. The song also features some impressive saxophone. Too Much Love is pretty standard upbeat jazz-funk fare while All Night's All Right features some killer funky bass lines. There is some excellent drum/bass interplay half way through. For me this is the album's best track.

As with the first album, albums like this do not give a huge bunch of opportunities for writing about them, a bit like dub reggae albums. You know what you are going to get and for its forty minutes it does its job. There are not obvious differences between the tracks to inspire comments on each one. The album functions more as one complete whole of pleasant relaxing soul, nothing more, nothing less. It is not a soul album in the style of, say, Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, or an earthy funker like The Eliminators' Loving Explosion, it is an exercise in soulful funk rhythms, both fast and slow, but mainly upbeat. It reminds me a bit of when Curtis Mayfield "went disco", what he put out then was certainly no Roots or There's No Place Like America Today. The album also lacks the vibrant female consciousness of I'm Every Woman and for me it is slightly the lesser album of the first two. The title of "Naughty" is something of a misnomer, too, as there is no Millie Jackson-style raunch to be found. As I said, though, take it for what is and have an enjoyable, but unchallenging forty minutes.

C+