Ray Parker Jr. ‘Woman Out of Control’/’Sex and the Single Man’ (SoulMusic) 2/5

ray-parker-jrIn the early 1980s singer-songwriter and guitarist Ray Parker Jr. was one of the most in-demand musicians around on the soul circuit and still in his late twenties. As a session guitarist, Parker had performed on some of the most esteemed recordings of the 1970s and these included ‘Inner Visions’ and ‘Talking Book’ for Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Labelle and Barry White among a host of others. Furthermore, Parker scored a major US hit with ‘When a woman needs love’ in 1981, his last album with Raydio and thereafter his career took off in increasingly poppier directions . By the time of his contribution to the film soundtrack, ‘Ghostbusters’, in 1984 his music was uniquely aimed at commercial pop chart success and sadly this re-issue is a tame representation of what the singer was truly capable of in comparison to his illustrious past and with some utterly dispensable 1980s synth drum backing making for a forgettable pair of albums that sunk without trace at the time. It is somewhat surprising that this was considered worthy of a re-issue when there is infinitely superior earlier material available that could have been usefully exploited.
What would have made for a better re-issue would be a comprehensive anthology of Ray Parker Jr. from his Raydio days since those late 1970s recordings (Parker formed Raydio with Jerry Knight in 1977) are not that easy to find in their original format on this side of the Atlantic. By the mid-1980s Ray Parker Jr. was just over the age of thirty and yet his career was in effective free fall and he changed labels a couple of times before his career came to a halt in the early 1990s. Soul Music have a wonderful track record of worthy classic re-issues, but unfortunately this is not one of them.

Tim Stenhouse