Light, airy and exceptionally special.
Daryl Easlea 2009
At a time when all Brit-boys seemed to be doing their utmost to be funky, out came this record by 28-year-old Los Angles-based multi-instrumentalist Patrice Rushen. Something of a prodigy, Rushen had a degree in music from the University Of Southern California; this was actually her seventh album at the age of 28. She'd enjoyed some minor success in the UK with club favourites Haven't You Heard and Never Gonna Give You Up; but Straight From The Heart was the one that gave her moment in the sun.
With her own band working in tandem with some LA session favourites, this is a confident work with a very sweet centre. The album is dominated by its opening track and lead single; the ever-mighty Forget Me Nots. Rushen's electric piano block chords underpin Freddie Washington's elastic bass and its finger snaps make it forever irresistible.
It was the sound of the early summer of 1982, as it reached the UK Top 10. One of those Brit boys took it very much to heart; George Michael's Fast Love was a rewrite of it, as was, of course, the rather more global Men In Black by Will Smith.
The rest of Straight To The Heart basks somewhat in the glory of Forget Me Nots; In the main, it is light, airy and exceptionally special and, although there are a couple of fairly perfunctory ballads, (If Only sounds as if it has been put together with a composite ballad-making machine) this is assured soul. Remind Me, with its ''starlight, starbright'' chorus is the epitome of radio-friendly west-coast early 80s jazz-funk. Rushen's jazz roots are never far away; (She Will) Take You Down To Love is a bravura vocal over a bossa nova-style guitar.
The sound of Straight To The Heart influenced soul for a considerable period afterwards. Listening today, it can be seen as something of a template for many of the later divas and especially Anita Baker's triumphant Rapture from 1986.