James Newton Howard makes a rare but welcome foray into the horror genre with The Devil's Advocate, a chilling but majestic work highlighted by its stunning choral passages. While Howard's signature fusion of symphonics and electronics is the score's backbone, his use of the human voice most effectively communicates the evil lurking within lead Al Pacino, and his decision to avoid thematic consistency is another clever tool for keeping the listener off balance, with strange, ominous noises lurking in the background to further underscore the dark forces at work. Spooky, compelling stuff.
There's very little to distinguish Lucky Seven from Heads, Sign of the Times, Touchdown and other forgettable studio albums that Bob James recorded in the late 1970s. The keyboardist had carved out a niche for himself playing uncreative background music, and he obviously felt that the easiest way to maintain his commercial success was to make sure one studio project was as contrived and formulaic as the next. Despite employing such talented musicians as Michael & Randy Brecker, Eric Gale and Steve Khan, Lucky Seven is remarkably boring. "Rush Hour" and "Big Stone City" sound like 1970s movie music at its corniest, and the adult contemporary number "Friends" is unbearably insipid. Whether you're looking for jazz, R&B, disco or pop, Lucky Seven is among the many James albums that should be avoided.