Although the group had been around since the late '70s, Shalamar didn't really gel until vocalist Howard Hewett joined original members Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley. While Friends' predecessor, Three for Love, offered more hits, Friends is a sometimes-cautious though fulfilling continuation of the style. The biggest hit and leadoff track, "A Night to Remember," successfully mixes a subtle flash and a bittersweet melody that made the track an instant classic. As disco was long gone at this point, Friends represents the production style inherent in Solar and a fair amount of R&B of the time. "I Don't Wanna Be the Last to Know" coasts on the same smooth sound of their 1981 hit, "The Lover in You." At this point, the separate skills of the trio were beginning to supersede the act. Hewett ably handles the hooky and insinuating ballad "I Just Stopped by Because I Had To." The textbook Solar style and Leon F. Sylvers III's production on "There It Is" get back to the trio harmonies and aesthetic. Friends is not only an assured Shalamar, a fact that was a given with this version of the group, it's also a great representation of the Solar sound and early-'80s R&B. ~ Jason Elias, Rovi

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