|"I'm Free": Ray Parker jr
By Mike Heyliger
Ray Parker Jr. was one of the most consistent
hitmakers of the Eighties, scoring hits with his
band Raydio and as a solo artist. He was
Oscar nominated for the theme to
“Ghostbusters”, and wrote, produced , and/or
played guitar for artists ranging from Stevie
Wonder to Rufus and Cheryl Lynn. After a hip-
hop spiced effort, “I Love You Like You Are”
in 1991, Parker retreated behind the scenes, not releasing a new
album for a decade and a half.
“I’m Free” finds Parker in a mellow mood. Having moved his base of
operations south of the border, “Free” is Parker’s mellow-out album.
The songs are odes to a simpler, more relaxed way of like, very
similar to pop/rock favorite Jimmy Buffett or country superstar Kenny
Chesney. For those of us who don’t have the time or the capital to
live the life of a beach bum, this album is the next best thing to sitting
in a beach chair by the ocean with a tropical drink in hand.
The album reunites Ray with his old Raydio running buddy Ollie Brown
(remember “There’s No Stoppin’ Us”, the theme from “Breakin’”?) as
well as studio vets Wah Wah Watson, Kevin Toney and Nathan
Watts, and runs the gamut from funk to jazz-specked pieces to a
couple tracks with a slight rock edge. The sly sense of humor Ray
exhibited on songs like “A Woman Needs Love” and “Girls Are More
Fun” is still evident on songs like “Middle Age Crisis” and “Glass of
Wine”. His guitar skills are in full view on songs like the smooth
“Mismalaya Beach” and the cover of Bread’s “The Guitar Man”.
“I’m Free!” turns out to be the perfect album for the summer, and it’s
even better because it comes from a long-missed soul/funk icon. Ray
Parker Jr.’s comeback effort is an engaging, fun effort that needs to
be played at the beach/pool/tropical destination of your choice.
More information and music samples available at: