Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Running with the Night" by Lionel Richie

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  1709
Date:  11/26/1983
Debut:  57
Peak:  7
Weeks:  19
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Richie's second album, Can't Slow Down, got off to a terrific start when its first single, "All Night Long (All Night)," topped out at #1 for four weeks. It would end up being the biggest solo hit of his career. To follow up that joyous, party-flavored song, this darker, rock-leaning track was issued. The song was another hit, but it wasn't as massive as "All Night Long." It reached #7 at Pop while hitting #6 at both R&B and AC.

ReduxReview:  I'm just guessing, but I think Richie was going for that same cross-genre appeal that made Michael Jackson's Thriller such a success. The album had elements of R&B, pop, AC, dance, country, and even rock, which this song demonstrates. It all meshed together well and it would be the biggest selling album of his career. This song was a particular highlight. Although he doesn't rock out as much as Jackson did on "Beat It," Richie still created a nice mood piece that jams out pretty well (thanks in part to Steve Lukather - see below). Even though this song did well, I thought it underperformed, especially at Pop. I don't know why. I thought for sure this was going to be another #1, or even Top 3. I think this song is still underrated today. I rarely hear it anymore. It gets ignored in favor of his hit ballads, which is too bad. This is one of the best songs in his catalog.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Toto's Steve Lukather played guitar on this track including the solo. Richie specifically asked him to come in and provide the guitar part. According to an interview with Lukather for Guitar Player, after he got set up in the studio and was ready to play, he said "okay, lemme hear the tune." Richie rolled the tape and Lukather began to noodle around to get a feel for the track. When the track ended, Lukather told Richie he had a handle on it and was ready to record something. But unbeknownst to Lukather, Richie had already been recording and loved what the guitarist did. Richie told Lukather that was it. No further recording was necessary. Lukather couldn't believe it and told Richie to at least let him do a real take because he was playing all over the track and even over the vocals, but Richie declined. Lukather even asked to just at least make fixes, but Richie said no. It was exactly what he wanted. So in a span of about 10 minutes, Lukather did his job and left. He thought Richie might edit the guitar part for the final mix, but he said what he played in the studio remained on the song.


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