Album review: NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN – Looking At You…, The Nature Of Things, Divine Emotion (reissue)

NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN - Looking At You, Looking At Me (reissues)

BGO [Release date 18.05.18]

Back in the late 1970s/early 1980s it wasn’t unusual for fusion funk bands to be drummer-led.  We might recall Maurice White in Earth, Wind & Fire but then of course, there was Lenny White and Harvey Mason.

Narada Michael Walden is perhaps best known to rock audiences for his work with Mahavishnu Orchestra, replacing Billy Cobham in 1974.  Inevitably he would pursue a solo career, starting in 1976 with  Garden Of Love which featured Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck with whom he had worked on ‘Wired’ .

Dance Of Life in 1979 was the strongest of his early solo albums and featured the infectious toe-tapper ‘Tonight I’m Alright’.  Your intrepid reviewer used this as a staple in his disco-DJ days and it was always guaranteed to be a floor-filler.

Like many of his peers, such as Stanley Clarke, the rock fusion-oriented Walden had to flirt with disco just to keep afloat during this period and of course there would be record company pressures for more commerciality.  This approach yielded two minor hits from the 1982 album Confidence.

This two disc compilation brings together the albums he made from 1983-1988.  Looking At You, Looking At Me is really mainstream soul/funk with the addition of special guest Angela Bofill on ‘Never Wanna Be Without Your Love’.  The standout  ballad ‘Black Boy’ is in stark contrast to the rest of the album but a good enough showcase for Walden’s vocals which are featured throughout his work.

During the eighties, Walden was building his reputation as a producer, working with artists such as Stacy Lattisaw, Aretha Franklin (with whom he had the major hit ‘Freeway Of Love’) and Patti Austin who collaborated on Walden’s next solo album, 1985′s The Nature Of Things.

The disco funk vibe continued and he embraced the new technology with heavy use of drum machines and synthesisers.  The more rock-inclined track – ‘Live It Up’ – features Ray Gomez on guitar although Walden’s regular guitarist from the late 1970s was the redoubtable Italian Corrado Rustici.  He gets to shine on ‘Dancing On Main St.’ (As an aside Rustici formed the band Nova in the late 1970s and on their second album – Vimana – Walden is featured on drums).

Walden was given his “Narada” name by the spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy in the early-1970s and a spirituality permeates his material including the slinky and infectious title track.

The demand for Walden’s production  fairy dust (he would work with Whitney Houston and George Benson at this time) helps explain the gap between this and his next solo work – Divine Emotion – released in 1988.

As ever with BGO this is a good value package and there are extensive liner notes including an informative essay by Charles Waring.

Following this release, Walden’s solo work has been spasmodic.  He released his most recent album in 2015.  However, it’s a back catalogue that can be dipped into on hot summer nights and enjoyed even if redolent of a certain moment in time when disco/fusion held sway in the charts and airwaves.  And to help with this exploration, Walden’s earlier albums are also available via BGO.  ***

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.


The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 20 December., imbued with a festive flavour to raise the spirits

More about Josh:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 December 2020 and announces the results of the Popular Poll for Best of 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 20 December 2020 and includes Pete’s best of the year selections

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 11 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Our Glass House (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 SERGEANT STEEL Truck Tales (Boyz Tyme Records)
14:00-16:00 DAN REED Liftoff (Zero Entertainment)

Power Plays w/c 11 January 2021 (Mon-Fri)

BLACK SPIDERS – Good Times (Dark Riders Records/Cargo Records)
GRAVITY MACHINE Standing Stones (Zyse Records)
EMPIIRES Love Or Hate (TLG Entertainment/INgrooves)
RAY FENWICK Tam Tam (Singsong Music)
DEAD REYNOLDS Voices (The Fort)
LAYLA ZOE Don’t Wanna Help Anyone (indie)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), All Posts, Reissues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply