Rags to Rufus
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In many respects the group seems to be feeling their way through this. Luckily, Rags to Rufus does feature some can't-miss propositions. The great rock and funk mix of "You've Got the Love" all but sums up what Chaka Khan was going to be doing for the long haul. The biggest hit here, "Tell Me Something Good," is a rare instance of an artist like Stevie Wonder giving away a tune that he could have had a big hit with himself. That being said, it was Khan's playful and sensual vocal that put it over the top. The songs that veer from the formula suffer the most on Rags to Rufus. The cutesy "I Got the Wrong Street" and the saccharine "Walkin' the Sun" are duds. Even early on, Khan needed songs that were complicated either lyrically or musically. On Ashford & Simpson's "Ain't Nothin' but a Maybe," Khan displays the maturity and knowing that it took to make the song have that much more emotional weight. Rags to Rufus ends on a relaxing note with the tracks, "Look Through My Eyes," "In Love We Grow," and the sultry "Smoking Room." This album is far from perfect, but it's certainly representative of the band's gifts and Khan's vocal power. ~ Jason Elias