About the Album:
“On Can’t Slow Down, his second solo album, Lionel Richie ran with the sound and success of his eponymous debut, creating an album that was designed to be bigger and better.” AMG He follows the template of Michael Jackson’s Thriller by playing “to the MOR adult contemporary audience.” AMG “He doesn’t swing for the fences like Michael…he makes safe bets, which is more in his character.” AMG As Rolling Stone’s Don Shewey said, “If you can’t innovate, imitate. And the more honest they are about their sources, the better.” WK
“But safe bets do pay off, and with Can’t Slow Down Richie reaped enormous dividends, earning not just his biggest hit, but his best album. He has less compunction about appearing as a pop singer this time around, which gives the preponderance of smooth ballads – particularly Penny Lover, Hello, and the country-ish Stuck on You – conviction,.” AMG The Village Voice’s Robert Christgau concurred, saying it was “a surprisingly solid” improvement, especially the ballads. WK
Christgau also though the “jumpy international dance pop” WK was more suited to Richie than had been the funk music he created with the Commodores. WK Richie “ups the ante on his dance numbers, creating grooves that are funkier.” AMG “The dance songs roll smooth and easy, never pushing the beats too hard and relying more on Richie’s melodic hooks than the grooves, which is what helped make All Night Long (All Night) a massive hit.” AMG A Q magazine review called it “an anthem to good times that makes the heart sing and feel twitch.” WK Richie “even adds a bit of rock with the sleek nocturnal menace of Running with the Night, one of the best songs here.” AMG
With only eight songs, “the short running time does suggest the record’s main weakness, one that it shares with many early-‘80s LPs — the songs themselves run on a bit too long, padding out the running length of the entire album. This is only a problem on album tracks like Love Will Find a Way, which are pleasant but a little tedious at their length, but since there are only three songs that aren’t hits, it’s a minor problem. All the hits showcase Lionel Richie at his best, as does Can’t Slow Down as a whole.” AMG
The album was Richie’s most successful commercially and critically, winning him a Grammy for Album of the Year. It spent 59 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard album chart.
Notes: The 20th anniversary of the album, released in 2003, added remixes originally released on the singles and instrumental versions of “All Night Long” and “Running with the Night” as well as demos and alternate versions of all the songs on the album. A couple of unfinished songs, “Ain’t No Sayin’ No” and “Tell Me,” are also included.