Album review: Chaka Khan, I Feel For You (1985)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 13, 1985

By Steve Newton

Like Tina Turner and Patti Austin, Chaka Khan is one of those commanding vocalists who–no matter how great a song is–always make their singing the best thing about it.

Chaka Khan has been making beautiful music for many years now, both on her own and with the group Rufus, but only recently–with her latest album and its title track–has she achieved widespread popularity.

A total of eight producers put their talents to work on I Feel For You, and the result is a tour de force of synthesized and R&B-flavoured tunes. The title song–which was written by Prince and features Stevie Wonder on harmonica and a rap by Grandmaster Melle Mel–has been the centre of attention of late, but it’s far from the most impressive.

“Stranger Than Before” and “Through the Fire” are handsomely arranged songs of dedicated love, the former cowritten by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager and the latter by producer David Foster. Chaka’s former Rufus-mate John Robinson provides the sharp drumming and ace sessionman Nathan East the tasty bass on both tracks.

The only tune I don’t care for here is Khan’s version of Gary (“Dream Weaver”) Wright’s “My Love is Alive”. All keyboards, synth and programming, it’s so machine-sounding that not even CK’s dynamism can save it. Aside from that, I Feel For You is hot stuff.

 

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