What Cha' Gonna Do for Me
Chaka Khan’s third solo album is one of her best. The singer’s patented brand of pop-funk is elevated here by the presence of several high-caliber jazz and fusion players, hand-picked by legendary producer Arif Mardin. Michael and Randy Brecker are all over the album, as is Herbie Hancock, but the biggest surprise is Dizzy Gillespie, who guests on a brilliant modern funk reinterpretation of “Night In Tunisia,” entitled “And the Melody Still Lingers On.” The album reinforces Khan’s reputation as a pop diva with serious musical intent. “What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me,” “I Know You, I Live You,” and “Any Old Sunday” are catchy and danceable, but they have a complexity not often seen in mainstream funk songs. Chaka can play the sassy, commanding dame on “We Got Each Other” and “We Can Work It Out” (a brilliant, audacious reworking of the Beatles classic) then turn around for the subtle, atmospheric tones of “Father He Said” and “Night Moods.” Her vocal range is a rare gift, to be sure, but even more impressive is her emotional range. She can inhabit any mood, any tempo, any rhythm, and here she is given a band and producer to match her musical flexibility.