Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Dazz Band - Under The Streetlights - 1995 - Lucky records

So, with a surge in activity from members of the Dazz Band (one of my favourite groups) with the Franchise and TBD projects, I thought it more than relevant to highlight a 1995 effort from the Dazz Band themselves, a superior set that is still available to buy today. A set that was also criminally overlooked at time of release here in the UK. Time, I feel to put that right. The profile of the boys was raised by Motown's 'Funkology' compilation and contained therein were a few new songs, songs which appear here in a slightly different yet equally essential format! Totally at home in a harder, urban 1990s R&B setting the guys really did slam the grooves hard in a very fine contemporary-yet-classic manner. Terry Stanton, aka Pretty Terry was more than equal to Skip Martin's brilliant vocals and it's a crying shame that Terry was so horrifically murdered a number of years ago, robbing the R&B world of a genuine talent. Still, his vocal exercises remain forever on tracks of such high quality that we can still enjoy him now and forever more.

"Under The Streetlights" is a salute to fellow Motown stalwarts, The Temptations. This musical dedication kicks off my six selections and each member of the Temps is exulted by name and attribute to a very mid 90s urban / Dazz band arrangement. Total class. Funkier than this is the Gap Band flavoured "Give Me Just A Little Bit" - the flavours of the 80s and the 90s beautifully colliding and STILL sounding fresh today in 2010. Mellower than this is "Fly Away", opening with a thunder storm and great harmonies. This was a head-nodder despite the restrained beat and although very 90s still what we expect from the Dazz band after 17 years in the business. The track that still gets played at least once a week (no kidding) is "Love Is A Bitch" my humble opinion one of the best tracks the guys have ever laid down. Period. This standout track would even have stood head and shoulders on early 80s Motown efforts, and certainly wipes the floor with anything on "Here We Go Again" or 2001's "Time Traveler". This track is a KILLER cut and make no mistake. Real instruments, freaky keys, haunting synths and killer vocals that has Terry standing directly in Skip Martin's shoes. Amazing.

"Nasty Boogie" is a brilliant street jam and complimented other jams in the 95/96 period - if tracks such as Mikki Bleu's "Honeyland", Zapp's "Living For The City" and Rodney Mannsfield's "Call Me" are to your taste then this will equally be a bass-trembling monster. The then contemporary fascination with G Funk (vaguely remember that do we?) was also satisfied with some 'phat' gritty keys and even a Das-Efx styled rap that actually fits in very well indeed! "Ten Toes" is a cheeky, suggestive effort and slightly remixed from the Motown release. This is not dissimilar from any of the best tracks from later Motown albums - this could easily have been on "Jukebox". This is a blindingly good album and everything that we want and expect from the Dazz Band and more. Although I have bought every single album of this from the 1990s onwards, this album wipes the floor with the more recent sets. If you don't know it - take a listen and order a copy. Sheer quality, and available from CD Baby.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe