"I personally have stopped liking most modern R&B because of how cookie-cutter that it has become. Acts like Destiny's Child, post-2000 Janet Jackson, and Olivia have severely degraded a formerly great style of music. However this CD does not fall into that category and in fact is miles and miles above the garbage that makes it to the radio and the charts. This album is intelligent, deep, and soulful even if a bit sappy at times but I don't mind a little sappiness. :) My favorites are "Ordinary Girl", "Paradise", and "Lovers At First Sight". The rest of the album is absolutely amazing as well but the songs I mentioned are the highlights. It's sad that this album was overlooked and will never get the recognition that it deserves. :((This CD is a definate must-have."
"Masterpiece" is the loudest word I can say about this CD!
Distant Voyageur | Io | 02/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After a turbulent decade long hiatus Lionel Richie returned in 1996 with one of the best R&B albums of all time entitled "Louder Than Words". R&B music still was good during this time and this marvelous and provocative masterpiece is a shining star in the genres last days of being a great genre. This is intelligent, classy, and absolutely emotional music, something that has been completely absent from R&B in the past five years. A great variety of songs and a sense of cloudy day dreaminess propel this album to what I consider masterpiece status. The booklet though, like a previous review said, is ... and somewhat cumbersome with its 'open up into a poster' design but at least the lyrics are present and all is forgiven. Mature, intelligent, dark, yet bright at the same time is how I describe this album. "Piece Of Love" is a beautiful opener. It's a sentimental song with a mid-tempo mood. "Still In Love" is a soulful song with a beautiful blend of R&B, jazz, pop, and some 12 string guitars. Richie sounds incredible on this track, just like the rest of the album. "Wanna Take You Down" is an upbeat song with an old-school hip-hop vibe with production from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis while they still had the ability to produce good music. This is a fantastic song. "Can't Get Over You" is similar to "Still In Love" but I like this one more. It starts off with gorgeous guitars and builds into a mid-tempo Quiet Storm mood song with a very late 80s or early 90s sound to it. "Change" is the most upbeat song on the entire album. It's a marvelous blend of jazz, R&B, old-school hip-hop and soul. "Change" is a fun, upbeat, and absolutely fantastic upbeat song. This could as well be my favorite song off this album. "Nothing Else Matters" is another gorgeous Quiet Storm-oriented ballad similar to "Still In Love". "Ordinary Girl" is one of my favorite R&B mid-tempo songs of all-time with it's odd chord structure, haunting mood, mixed with a semi-danceable beat, this is one of my favorite R&B songs off all-time and this is coming from someone who has long since turned his back on this formerly wonderful genre of music. "Say I Do" is definitive R&B with the perfect blend between the old-school R&B balladry and modern R&B production and comes off as a wonderful aural pleasure and a haunting mood to it. Fans of classic R&B will likely enjoy this one. I love the eerie somewhat spacey fadeout at the ending. "Paradise" is an astonishing mid-tempo song with a lovely and cloudy evening or misty morning mood and a tapestry of beauty, depth, and melodic punch. The lyrics and the beats are wonderful as well. "Don't Want To Lose You" is a wonderful and upbeat song with a blend of R&B, Jazz, and even a bit of Big Band in some places. This was the only hit off this album as it was the only song that made it to the radio from my knowledge but I have great memories of this song during its heyday. "Lovers At First Sight" was an instant classic the first few seconds after listening to it for the first time. It's a fun, upbeat, yet mature, sophisticated song with a dreamy mix of R&B, jazz, and as the song plays along, it builds up into a Big Band song with a classic jazz mood before it fades down into a dark dreamy song during the last 20 seconds of the song. "Lover's At First Sight" is a work of art and one of the best R&B songs that I've ever heard. My hats off to Richie for this song. :) "Climbing" wraps up this masterpiece. It starts with a haunting mix of echoing voices in the distance and a loud blast of melody comes in and becomes a marvelous tapestry of textural beauty and soul. It's actually hard for me to explain this song in words but it does tend to morph into different moods throughout its 6 minutes and 26 second playing time. I would almost call this progressive R&B. "Climbing" closes out this masterpiece on top. I would say that the music on this album surpasses a lot of pop music from the ten to fifteen years preceding this albums release. The slow songs are gorgeous, lovely, deep, and powerful while the upbeat songs are danceable, upbeat without sounding like computer-generated, DJ oriented dreack and are just plain out fun to dance to even if they aren't like `party music' songs. Not too long after this album was released, R&B would simply go down the toilet. R&B's descent into gender-bashing, sex-drenched, cookie-cutter and mentally insulting garbage is probably the greatest musical tragedy in the history of music. It's so sad that this has happened to such a formerly great genre but Lionel Richies "Louder Than Words" though was one of the best albums in the genre and I would consider it R&B last laugh before it would go down the drain. I haven't heard "Time" or "Renaissance" at the time of writing this review so maybe they're worthy albums too. Buy this because its probably the best modern R&B album ever made and truly holds up after all these years. For me, give me the beauty and sensuality of "Paradise", "Say I Do", and "Ordinary Girl" anyday over "Thong Song" and "Survivor"! I give my hats off to Lionel for creating an R&B masterpiece."
A Mature Comeback Effort
anthony nasti | Brooklyn, NY United States | 05/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After 1992's "Back To Front", Lionel Richie went on a four - year hiatus. In 1996, he reemerged with his old sound (and a new haircut)with the album "Louder Than Words", his best album since 1983's "Can't Slow Down"."Louder Than Words" begins with the haunting "Piece Of Love". This tack and the following "Still In Love" show that Lionel still has it. In fct, these two songs are worth the price of the cd alone. "I Wanna Take You Down" changes the mood greatly. A hip - hop kind of number, Lionel tries to catch up with the modern soun but gets lost in the beauty of his classic ballad talents, and that's a good thing. The tearjerking "Can't Get Over You" is probably my favorite song on the album. It's not so much the song itself but the emotion Lionel conveys in his voice. "Change" is a bit of a weaker song, but the album gets back on track with "Nothing Else Matters". "Ordinary Girl" a great love ong, co - written with Babyface. "Say I Do" is a beautiful a wedding number as "Endless Love". "Paradise" is nice, but is a little long (or maybe it just seems long. "Don't Wanna Lose You" was the album's single; it only reached 39 on the charts. It's the song most in vein with his older material, especially the arrangement. "Lovers At First Sight" is MOR soft rock at its best, and the eerie closer "Paradise" is 6 minutes of pure Lionel."Louder Than Words" is a classic album. Lione's music still sounds as fresh as it didin the 1979s' and 1980s'. If you love Lionel or are a serious music fan, buy "Louder Than Wrds" when you get the chance."
An overlooked gem
The Fancy One | Westchester County, NY | 05/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I like to call this CD "The Return of Richie" because Lionel had not released anything new for quite some time. After being one of the most popular entertainers in the business throughout the 1980s, he was noticeably absent from the music scene from 1987 to 1992 due to personal issues. In 1992, he re-emerged with BACK TO FRONT, but that was mostly a greatest hits compilation with a couple of new songs thrown in. Four more years went by, and finally LOUDER THAN WORDS materialized in 1996.
For those people who complain that Lionel never did anything "soulful" after his departure from the Commodores, obviously they missed this CD, which is contemporary jazz and R&B but no one paid any attention to it. Urban radio largely ignored it, merely BECAUSE it was a Lionel Richie CD, except for a couple of songs that showed up on the Quiet Storm radio format. Pop radio thought it was "too urban" or not commercial enough for them. Either way, it is a shame, because this was probably the best CD that Lionel ever released after he split from the band and it was an obvious move to recapture his old R&B audience. Of course, Lionel covers his pop bases with tunes such as the country-pop feel of "Still In Love", "Can't Get Over You" and the grandiose ballad (and almost over the top) "Climbing", but this is overwhelmingly an R&B CD - and a good one, at that.
The CD starts off with the jazzy R&B ballad, "Piece of Love" and it's smooth sailing from then on. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who have produced Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, New Edition and others, do some good work here, along with the famous Richie lyrics (he wrote or co-wrote all of the songs except one). The sexy "I Wanna Take You Down" is Lionel's attempt at a hip-hop groove, and surprisingly, it works for him. It's reminiscent of Marvin Gaye's classic "I Want You" with an Ohio Players sample as the base. No, he's not spitting out rhymes like a rapper - he's not trying to go there - but merely using his speaking voice as a seductive instrument...and you want to LISTEN! Another track, "Don't Want to Lose You" is straight old-school soul - the old Commodores' hit "Just To Be Close To You" comes to mind right away. This is an extremely strong cut and although it was the single from this CD, it should have done better on the charts. "Say I Do" is a gorgeous, warm and beautiful contemporary R&B ballad that should have also gotten major airplay.
Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds contributes his trademark sound to the mellow but upbeat ballad, "Ordinary Girl", and it is one of the best songs on the CD...why, oh WHY didn't radio give this song a spin? Another missed opportunity for a hit! Lionel's co-producer from his Commodores' days and early solo career, James Carmichael, collaborates with Lionel on the jazzy R&B jam, "Change", a tune about a cheating spouse. It is yet another slamming song that would have been a major hit if it was promoted.
The remaining tracks are just as strong: "Paradise", "Nothing Else Matters" and "Lovers At First Sight" (Lionel does a great job here with this outstanding jazz arrangement). On LOUDER THAN WORDS, he proves beyond a doubt he is STILL the soulful guy that led so many of the Commodores' biggest hits and if you REALLY want to check out some excellent R&B, then look no further than this CD. R&B artists of today -- LISTEN AND LEARN!!"