Listeners expecting a sequel to to her best-selling 1982 album Straight From the Heart
were in for quite a shock. In the two years between the efforts, Rushen
became a proponent of the technology-or-bust ethos of many jazz artists in the early to mid-'80s. Given that thinking, Now
is both minimal and innovative -- with all of its sonic virtues probably not fully appreciated at the time of its release. The album's biggest dance tracks, "Feels So Real (Won't Let Go)" and "Get Off (You Fascinate Me)," are relentlessly polyrhythmic and fulfilling. Rushen
, unlike countless other acts, knew how to give synthesizers a sense of panache without the sound seeming artificial. Despite its dancefloor skills, Now
also takes time out for affairs of the heart. On "Gotta Find It," the buoyant rhythms belie the desperate lyrics and Rushen
's meditative vocals. The astute "Heartache Heartbreak" will put a damper on any party as she sings, "Does love mean that I will not be lonely" (a chilling sentiment that's probably too prickly for even Bobby Womack
). The infectious "Perfect Love" features both an effortless vocal from Rushen
as well as an understated Fender Rhodes solo. During her stint at Elektra, Rushen
never made bad albums, but they often had their fair amount of filler. On this effort there isn't any, and the closer you listen the tracks, the more likeable they become. Produced by Charles Mims Jr.
is filled with assiduous grooves and -- despite its "trendy" sounds -- it has more than stood the test of time.