The Crusaders: Rural Renewal (2003)
A reunion can often be a poignant event, filled with old friends, happy introductions to new faces, and revisions to relational habits; it can also lead to ossification. Rural Renewal exhibits most of these features. Expect nothing new from this album, but if you're a fan of The Crusaders' 1980s music, you'll find more of that sound with this offering.
Every track features the smooth funk grooves that made this group a crossover hit. Everything is exactly in its place, expertly played, and completely cannedready for mass consumption. Eric Clapton appears on two tracks, but even his contributions lack bite or substancefine, not every album made has to be a revelation, and it does seem to be happy reunion. The music rings with familiarity, pleasantry and style, but isn't terribly inspired. These players follow the same formula in both production and content that they created in the '80s, leaving little room for exploration of new ideas. These guys seem to be perfectly content to plow the same field over and over again.
In this reunion there is no revision to relational habits. It has more of the same (with the exception of two 'gospel' pieces featuring singer Donnie McClurkin) smooth freeze-dried funk that made this group famous. I've been listening to this effort for the last month and it still lies there like an inflatable doll. This music was created to perfectly match your sofa...enjoy.
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Track Listing: Rural Renewal; Creepin'; Heartland; A Healing Coming On; Sing The Song; Shotgun House Groove; The Territory; Greasy Spoon; Viva De Funk; Lazy Sundays; Goin' Home
Personnel: Joe Sample-acoustic pianos, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer organ; Wilton Felder-tenor saxophone; Stix Hooper- drums; Ray Parker, Jr.-guitar; Dean Parks-guitar; Freddie Washington-bass; Steve Baxter-trombone; Lenny Castro-percussion; Arthur Adams-guitar; Eric Clapton-acoustic and electric guitar; Donnie McClurkin-vocals; Sounds of Blackness-vocals