After a successful run with The Commodores, Lionel Richie decided to go out on his own as a solo artist. His 1982 self-titled debut was very successful as he had hits with the ballads “Truly”, “You Are” and “My Love.” But, it was his 1983 follow-up album, Can’t Slow Down, that launched Lionel Richie into the stratosphere.
The album was released on October 11, 1983, and reached #1 on the Billboard album chart on December 3, 1983, where it stayed for three weeks. It also spent 59 consecutive weeks inside the Top 10 (including the entire year of 1984) and a total of 160 weeks (over three years) on the Billboard 200. After being the third best-selling album of 1984, it went on to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1985 and by 1986 the album had sold 15 million copies, eventually selling over 20 million.
One reason for this album’s success may be that not only did he include sure-fire hit ballads, but he also included uptempo songs, and dance hits. While Lionel Richie did have a successful run after Can’t Slow Down, he could not match the success of this classic album.
Can’t Slow Down only had 8 songs on the entire album. Out of the 8 songs, 5 were released as singles. And each of those 5 songs hit the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Two songs, “Hello” and “All Night Long (All Night)”, both went to #1. So let’s Return to 1983, and listen to Lionel Richie’s classic Can’t Slow Down album:
1. “Can’t Slow Down”
Unless you owned this album, the chances are pretty good that you never heard this title track. It’s not bad, but it would not have been a hit if it was released as a single. Let’s see if watching the beginning of this video brings back memories. And I’m not talking about the song itself. You’ll see what I mean…
2. “All Night Long (All Night)”
Perhaps this is Lionel Richie’s signature song. It combines the soul that he brought to the Commodores along with a little Carribean style. The result – a #1 smash hit. I owned the 45 of this song. Unlike my AC/DC Back in Black cassette that I supplied for our class dances in Junior High, my “All Night Long (All Night)” record actually got some airplay.
Here is the music video, which was produced by former Monkee Michael Nesmith:
3. “Penny Lover”
This ballad was the fifth and final single released from the album. As with all the other singles released from this album, “Penny Lover” was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, spending two weeks at #8 in December 1984.
4. “Stuck on You”
This nice ballad was the fourth single released from the album, and peaked at #3. This song has kind of a Country Music feel to it. Richie is no stranger to the format, as he wrote the Kenny Rogers Smash hit, “Lady”.
5. “Love Will Find a Way”
I love the lyrics to this song. No matter how difficult life gets, and how challenging the changes you are going through are, love will find a way for you to make it through. However, the song itself is kind of boring for me. It’s not a ballad, and it’s definitely not an uptempo song. This is probably my least favorite song on the album.
6. “The Only One”
This is a nice song too. It has an early-80s Easy Listening sound to it.
7. “Running with the Night”
This is my personal favorite song from the album. It has more of a Rock feel to it than the other songs. And it doesn’t hurt that the guitar solo was played by Steve Lukather of Toto.
This #1 smash hit was the third single released from the album. It is best known for the video in which Lionel Richie is in love with a blind art student. Is she in love with him? She must be! She made a creepy-ass sculpture of his head! This was not one of my favorite songs. It was way overplayed at the time it was released. And as far as ballads go, I much preferred “Truly” from his last album.
However over time, I have grown to like it.