Wipe Off The Dust: Chaka's Lost 1982 Opus

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chaka Khan is a treasure in the music world. With a voice that just booms on arrival, Miss Khan has earned her place as a musical legend since her days as the front woman of funk outfit, Rufus and Chaka Khan. While still on that roll, Chaka released in 1982 her fourth solo effort, and somehow, even with a Grammy win (for the cornucopia jazz track, "Be Bop Medley"), the album evaporated into thin air. It also didn't help that Chaka would release her swan song with Rufus, the mega-hit, "Ain't Nobody" a year later, distancing any sort of association with the project. Thus, Chaka Khan, collected dust and seemed to get lost in the shuffle of bigger albums. At the moment, Chaka Khan is horrifically out of print, and ridiculously costs a whopping $115 on Amazon. Shame, since it is the one of the best, if not THE best, of Chaka's solo career. In truth, I tend to favor Chaka's underdog albums (see 1980's Naughty) for reasons that the packages were better as a whole. This is the case for Chaka Khan, as it features some of the best 80's synth your ears will ever hear. Plus she does jazz, new-wave, funk...and a better than Michael version of "Got To Be There". To restrain from making this a review, a few songs of note:

Tearin' It Up: Probably THE most underrated dance classic of ALL time. Serious. Felony charges are dropped on whoever stupidly passed up a chance to promote this beast of a dance track properly. Heavy as a brick synths mixed with a chugging groove...and all this and more go on for six blissful minutes.

Slow Dancin': The late Rick James duets with Miss Khan on this slinky song. Teena Marie had to have been somewhere eating shards of glass after hearing this, because sad to say, Rick sounded mucho better with Chaka. I know, I will get massive heat for this, but I always found Teena and Rick together to sound like that drunk aunt and uncle who impromptu sing at family functions. It's fun but second hand embarrassment abounds. No embarrassment here, this song should've been a single.

Best In The West: Talk about country-fried funk! It begins with a gun-shooting off and it rides like a speeding horse throughout the rest of the song. Just perfect.

Be Bop Medley: Chaka has a love for Jazz (hear "And The Melody Still Lingers On (Nights In Tunisia)") and this track showcased her going above and beyond anything she's ever done Jazz wise. Incredible track, as it's a collage of great jazz songs from the likes of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie.

Twisted: Chaka and new-wave rock?! Sounds like an odd combo, but it works. Has a very sinister backdrop to it and it's one of the darkest sounding songs I've ever heard Chaka lend her vocals too.

6 comments:

  1. yes yes, you know that Chaka has to be in the top 5 female vocalists to grace this planet!!

    Haven't got this album but I do have a few tracks from it, first heard her version of Got To Be There a few years back and wow... Big mama sure can spit out those big notes O.O

    Side note: word verification - spliffer - LOL

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  2. Chaka re-defines FIERCE! I love the woman but I've never been able to track this album down. Honestly, listening to these tunes has made my night. Thank you so much!!!

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  3. "Teena and Rick together sound like that drunk aunt and uncle who impromptu sing at family functions." LOL! Dead. On.

    I love Chaka Knah but $115...

    thanks for posting

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  4. Glad to see everyone enjoy this post! It is a grand album, I just wish more people could hear it. And Anon, you are right about "Got To Be There", it's way better than Michael Jackson's version. She SINGS the damn thing out of the universe.

    Mike, FIERCE is the word! I can honestly say the woman hasn't put out that I didn't like. Even with Rufus.

    Bree, you must remember the 2004 BET Awards when they sang, "Fire and Desire" together? Oh, how my ears bled.

    Oh, guys, I know there is a free download of the album floating around on the net...

    http://willforall.blogspot.com/2007/05/chaka-khan-chaka-khan-1982.html

    Yes, I'm breaking rules, but just this one time!

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  5. LOL, comment fail

    "I can honestly say the woman hasn't put out *AN ALBUM that I didn't like. Even with Rufus."

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  6. Jen, you're super duper! Thanks for this link, chikadee!!!!!!!

    Word Verification: betty

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