Luther's most dated album, but some great moments still
Robert Johnson | Richmond, KY USA | 08/02/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Not only did Luther continue his incredible streak of Platinum records with the Top Ten, Grammy Award-winning THE POWER OF LOVE, but he also followed through on the crossover success of "Here And Now" by scoring two more major pop hits. He had been a mainstay of the Billboard's Hot 200 albums chart for 10 years, and now Luther was finally a force to be reckoned with on the Hot 100 singles chart as well.
Luther also adapted to the changing times by incorporating the then-popular sound of house/techno music into his compositions. Unfortunately, this type of dance music hasn't aged particularly well, so approximately half of THE POWER OF LOVE actually sounds more dated than anything he had released prior. However, this is still a pretty good album, with more than enough reasons to recommend it. Luther has much more personality as a writer and performer than most artists of this genre, and he knows how to craft a killer track. The best dance song is easily the majestic medley "Power Of Love/Love Power" (#4 Pop, #1 R&B, #3 Adult Contemporary), which was a monster hit upon release and still holds up as a classic.
However, there are a few more techno cuts on this disc that also stand the test of time. Even if the emphasis is more on style than substance, tracks like "She Doesn't Mind" and "I Can Tell You That" prove to be irresistible due to their strong hooks and inventive arrangements. Unfortunately, the by-the-numbers "Emotional Fire" is an exception to this rule, and today sounds like relic of the era. And although the urban radio hit "The Rush" (#73 Pop, #6 R&B) packs a undeniably strong sensual punch, the condensed single edit is actually superior to the overlong album version.
With the exception of "I'm Gonna Start Today" (which has clever lyrics, but is done in by a rambling melody), all of the ballads on THE POWER OF LOVE are top-notch. As the earnest "I Want To Stay The Night" and the lovely radio hit "Sometimes It's Only Love" (#9 R&B, #9 Adult Contemporary) can attest, Luther has that special gift for writing and performing songs that not only do justice to his amazing vocal abilities, but also manage to be universal without being typical. Nowhere is this more evident than on the heartfelt smash hit "Don't Want To Be A Fool" (#9 Pop, #4 R&B, #14 Adult Contemporary), which stands as one of his heartbreaking best.
Even if some moments of THE POWER OF LOVE don't hold up as well as others, there are so many highlights, most listeners won't care. Also, though the album doesn't gel into the unified listening experience of his previous recordings, it is so well-made and professional-sounding that it always sounds good while it's on. And it also has an absolutely terrific finale in the epic reworking of "I Who Have Nothing," on which Martha Wash lends a sizzling duet vocal.
Luther delivers another classic
Derrick Dunn | Woodbridge,VA | 12/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Power of Love finds Luther Vandross at his peak, crafting immaculate urban R&B hits that are seductive and soulful. The singles "Power of Love/Love Power," "Don't Want to Be a Fool," "The Rush," and "Sometimes It's Only Love" are the high points, but the album is filled with songs that are nearly as powerful, including a wonderful cover of Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)."