Deep Album Cuts Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio

This week, the long awaited and oft debated Ghostbusters is finally out, along with a soundtrack album that features a new theme song by Fall Out Boy and Missy Elliott that interpolates the theme song from the original 1984 film. And that original song by Ray Parker Jr. is kind of an odd pop culture phenomenon that stands almost completely apart from the rest of the artist's catalog, and ultimately did little to benefit his career, if it didn't undo it entirely.

Throughout the '70s, Ray Parker Jr. was a session guitarist and sideman for stars like Stevie Wonder and Barry White, and a hitmaking songwriter for Rufus, before launching his own band Raydio. Raydio released 4 albums full of R&B radio hits, with the latter 2 credited to 'Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio,' though Parker often delegated lead vocal duties to Jerry Knight or Arnell Carmichael. Then Parker disbanded Raydio and went fully solo, releasing two albums with increasing crossover pop visibility when the opportunity came to write "Ghostbusters." Suddenly, he had a #1 record, but the uncharacteristic novelty hit more or less existed in a vacuum.

Every Parker/Raydio album before "Ghostbusters" charted in the top 50 on Billboard, and every album he made after that charted outside the top 50. He doesn't seem bitter about the experience -- in fact I saw Parker on the new ABC series "Greatest Hits" just a couple weeks ago, singing "Ghostbusters" as happily as ever -- but I wouldn't fault him if he was. As goofy pop relics go it's a pretty fun, well assembled song, but it's glaringly different from the rest of his music -- and the fact that a settlement was reportedly paid to Huey Lewis over similarities to "I Want A New Drug" kind of casts a shadow over the song. It's a bit like what happened to Robin Thicke recently, finally breaking out of his R&B niche with an uptempo song that he ultimately had to go to court and pay royalties to the Marvin Gaye estate over.

Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. You Need This (To Satisfy That)
2. Me
3. Get Down
4. When You're In Need Of Love
5. Rock On
6. Goin' Thru School And Love
7. It's Time To Party Now
8. Until The Morning Comes
9. Everybody Makes Mistakes
10. All In The Way You Get Down
11. Old Pro
12. Street Love
13. Let's Get Off
14. Stop, Look Before You Love
15. Electronic Lover
16. I Won't Want To Know
17. N2U2

Tracks 1, 2 and 3 from Raydio's Raydio (1978)
Tracks 4, 5 and 6 from Raydio's Rock On (1979)
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 from Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio's Two Places At The Same Time (1980)
Tracks 10 and 11 from Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio's A Woman Needs Love (1981)
Tracks 12, 13 and 14 from Ray Parker Jr.'s The Other Woman (1982)
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 from Ray Parker Jr.'s Woman Out Of Control (1983)

"Jack And Jill" and "A Woman Needs Love" stand out as Parker's enduring pre-"Ghostbusters" singles, but a lot of these deep cuts are as strong as any of the singles. "You Need This (To Satisfy That)" and "All In The Way You Get Down" are killer disco-era funk jams, and even in the smoother Parker solo era, he still made room on his albums for stuff like "Electronic Lover."

Now, if "Ghostbusters" had never happened, I don't know if Ray Parker Jr. would be a whole lot better off, but he might. He had a nice slow rising career, gradually coming into the spotlight as he discovered a suave sweet spot in his voice and a romantic side of his songwriting. He was never going to suddenly blossom into a Prince-level genius, but he might've found his way to a Lionel Richie-like pinnacle. Instead, the air came out of his career very quickly. And it's a shame, because the six albums he'd made at that point were fully of playful funk jams and the occasional immaculately written song.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
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