Vibe (12/99, p.157) - Included in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century - "Proving soul could come out of the Church, Khan's instrument slams with the fury of Gillespie's big-band horn section and radiates a sultry intelligence akin to Sarah Vaughn..."
Rufus includes: Chaka Khan (vocals).
Additional personnel: Claire Fischer (arranger, conductor); Ron Wood (guitar); Milt Holland (percussion).
Recorded at Kendun Recorders, Burbank, California.
Personnel: Milt Holland (percussion).
Recording information: Kendun Recorders, Burbank, California.
Photographer: Bret Lopez.
Rufus was one of the most respected groups in the '70s and '80s. Although lead singer Chaka Khan's charismatic vocals were their drawing card, few outfits boasted the skill as Rufus as a band. Songs like "Please Pardon Me," "Sweet Thing," and "Fool's Paradise" are a few of the tracks that displayed the perfect marriage. This 1977 effort is the follow-up to 1975's Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan. Ask Rufus has the group doing more sophisticated and constantly challenging work with an accent on evocative ballads. The effort's lone dance track "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up) has the band going for more subtlety. The jazzy "Close the Door" has a confident and gentle vocal from Khan and a beautiful string arrangement from Clare Fischer who offered them throughout this effort. The well-arranged "Earth Song" could be called botched poesy with lyrics like, "Stars what a mystical woman that you've made me," but Khan's charm keeps it from being an overstatement. The best track, the evocative and sensual "Everlasting Love" has great bass and guitar interplay from Bobby Watson and Tony Maiden, respectively, and an appealing earthy and ethereal vocal from Khan. The much loved "Hollywood" has just gotten stronger, with lines like, "Fixed expressions/Smiles worn thin" exhibiting a surprising and apropos world-weary view. The most ambitious song, the evocative "Egyptian Song," has Middle Eastern motifs and a compelling vocal from Khan that pulls it all together. With great keyboard signatures from Kevin Murphy and David "Hawk" Wolinski and Andre Fischer's steady and judicious drumming, Ask Rufus is one of their best albums. ~ Jason Elias