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    R. Kelly:

    Happy People/U Saved Me

    Mon, 23 Aug 2004 16:54:36

    Album Reviews: Happy People/U Saved Me by R. Kelly

    2 stars out of 5

    R. Kelly's new double-CD album is such an epic it took not one, but two, ARTISTdirect writers to review the whole thing. Here's what they had to say about Happy People and U Saved Me, respectively:

    R. Kelly writes, produces and arranges his own songs - a fact that appears in the liner notes almost as often as photos of himself. He wears his Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye influences on his silk sleeves, but unfortunately never quite musters the originality or passion of either them. “If I Could Make the World Dance” lets the listener in on the not-too-subtle theme of Happy People: Kelly wants people to dance to this record. It’s chockfull of slickly produced, smooth grooves, but I challenge anyone to tell them apart from each other. But through quick transitions and spoken word interludes between tracks, Kelly doesn’t give his fans time to realize that he’s stretched one mediocre song over eleven tracks. - Doug Kamin

    Okay, everyone who thinks sex-scandal-magnet R. Kelly's decision to release an entire album of religious songs is an act of crass hypocrisy, raise your hands. Now put them down, 'cause you were never going to buy U Saved Me anyway. Regardless of whether you think Kelly's professed spiritual redemption is a calculated act of PR or the real thing, it's hard to ignore how self-conscious he sounds about it on movie-of-the-week tracks like "Prayer Changes" and the leaden "3-Way Phone Call," a bad radio drama set to worse R&B. Elsewhere, he commits that most unforgivable of musical sins, the shameless rip-off. Stevie Wonder should get royalties for "How Did You Manage," and the lyrical motifs of "I Surrender" are straight out of Al Green's mid-'80s gospel period. Only "Spirit" and "Faith" sound inspired or inspirational, and their charms aren't enough to save U Saved Me from its own preachy pretensions. - Andy Hermann

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