[30 August 2011]
R&B singer Teena Marie died of natural causes last December, and predictably the record company that put out some of her biggest hits has since put out a compilation of her material. That’s not a bad thing. Capitalizing on the death of an artist has a long and honored tradition in rock music. What’s disappointing is the choices included. While there’s her sole number one R&B hit “Ooh La La La” and her biggest crossover track, “Lovergirl” that reached number 4 on the top U.S. singles chart, the album inexplicably omits her top ten dance tracks, “Behind the Groove” and “I Need Your Lovin’” and other noteworthy cuts (“Fix It”, “Jammin’”). As this disc contains songs from non-Epic releases, including Motown and Stax, the choices for inclusion do not make sense. What is here certainly offers a nice smorgasbord of Marie’s repertoire, but calling this The Very Best of Teena Marie is misleading. But whether she’s singing a sultry tribute to Marvin Gaye, sultrily duetting with her sometime lover Rick James, or offering tender emotions on the laidback “Sunny Skies”, Marie’s impressive pipes never let her down.