Rick James Albums Ranked

James Ambrose Johnson Jr. (February 1, 1948 – August 6, 2004), better known by his stage name Rick James, was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, James began his musical career in his teen years. He was in various bands before entering the U.S. Navy to avoid being drafted into the army. In 1964, James deserted to Toronto, Canada, where he formed the rock band the Mynah Birds, who eventually signed a recording deal with Motown Records in 1966. James’ career with the group halted after military authorities discovered his whereabouts and eventually convicted and sentenced James to a one-year prison term related to the desertion charges. After being released, James moved to California, where he started a variety of rock and funk groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 2004, James’s career returned to mainstream pop culture after he appeared in an episode of Chappelle’s Show. The segment involved a Charlie Murphy True Hollywood Stories–style skit that satirized James’ wild lifestyle in the 1980s. This resulted in a renewed interest in his music and that year he returned to perform on the road. James died later that year from heart failure at age 56. Here are all of Rick James’s albums ranked.

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10. Urban Rapsody (1997)

“his album is truly a gem for those of us who really love Rick’s bold, sensual, lyrics and musical content. His guitar playing is awesome, his lyrics are true Rick…. which informs me that he has stayed true to himself and that he didn’t put out a “joint”, no pun intended, in an effort to be someone else.”

9. Wonderful (1988)

“Wonderfully Wonderful. Rick James is funky and sexy on this one. A true joy to listen and to dance to. Wonderful just like the title-as always full of funk and good ole soul music from a man who candeliver, play and sing.”

8. Glow (1985)

“”Can’t Stop” begins the album with a stripped down,straight up bass/high synth and lead guitar oriented new wave dance style number. “Spend The Night With You” has a thumping dance-pop vibe about it-with it’s simple rhythm guitar and dinging keyboards. “Melody makes Me Dance” has a funky hand clap powered rhythm,again built around the bass synth and an almost folksy blues guitar riff. “Somebody (The Girls Got)” is a powerful naked funk number filled with Vocoder refrains. The title song is basically a mid 80’s update of Rick’s 70’s era Stone City Band sound-with period electronics while “Moonchild” is a shuffling,somewhat jazzy funky soul number.”

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7. Fire It Up (1979)

“his particular album was important for Rick for a number of reasons. For one it was his third album and really found him more firmly establishing the production flavors of his “punk funk” as it would be during his peak period in the ’80s. At the same time, the album cover established his image of that era in much the same way. In terms of Rick James, this album was pretty futurist in a lot of ways but at the time he was a busy man. He was not only producing a new pet project in with Teena Marie with her  Wild and Peaceful album but would also embark on a tour for this album, doubling up with a then somewhat unknown Prince as the opening act. In the meantime, Rick’s music was taking on a different perspective.”

6. Bustin’ Out Of L Seven (1979)

“Second time around and Rick James truly gives up the funk 100%-even the two slow tunes “Space Love” and “Jefferson Ball” have enough sassy sax solo and backup vocals for a superb late-night groove! Now to the real meat-the title song is pure George Clinton-inspired P-punk-funk, if you will-all rhythm and chant.”

5. Cold Blooded (1983)

“As for Cold Blooded i love the entire album. Every song is popping,from the funky title song Cold Blooded to the classic slow jam Ebony Eyes. I am a big fan of Rick James and his Funky music, this album is not as high energy as other albums of his but still showcases Ricks appeal as the “King of Funk”

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4. Garden Of Love (1980)

“This album isn’t much like Rick’s previous three albums, even the previous  Fire It Up (Reis)  which did find changes on the horizon and the one big difference is this album is built around slow grooves such as “Don’t Give Up On Love”,”Island Lady” and “Gettin’ It On (In The Sunline)” which not only follow something of a romantic lyrical concept but actually embrace something of a jazzy pop production if not so much in sound. Vocally these songs aren’t exactly Rick’s domain because of his tendency to belt rather than concentrate on nuance but that’s sort of what a Rick James slow jam is all about-sweaty, testosterone-fueled drama rather than a “pretty” voice.”

3. Come Get It! (1978)

“This is one of the top debut albums of all time from an artist who unfortunately had more going on in his personal life at the end of his career. When I first heard “You and I,” I knew I had to have this album and when I finally got it, I wasn’t disappointed. From “You and I” to “Sexy Lady” to “Mary Jane,” this was my summer of ’78 soundtrack album, one that got me to get up and move.”

2. Throwin’ Down (1982)

“Dance Wit Me is awesome, I love Throwdown is just incredible, and standing on the Top with the Temptations is the last time the original Temptations ever reunited for a track and it is right here on THROWIN’ DOWN, and an awesome track it is! The perfect fusion of 80’s and classic Temptations sounds. But without being awkward or forced. Simple excellent.”

1. Street Songs (1981)

“This album stayed on top of the R&B charts for over 5 months, and was fueled by the the #1 mega hits “Give It To Me”, and “Superfreak”, which dominated the pop charts all summer long in 1981. This album had no trouble crossing over to the playlists of middle America Radio airwaves. This is some of the best dance music ever waxed and although his career did not have the longevity everyone expected due to a multitude of personal problems, Rick James for one year, ruled the pop world. He took a little from George Clinton’s style, and passed on his own influence to such pop stars as Prince.”