Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Freakshow on the Dance Floor" by The Bar-Kays

Song#:  1914
Date:  05/26/1984
Debut:  88
Peak:  73
Weeks:  8
Genre:  R&B, Funk

Pop Bits:  Since their R&B #3 debut single in 1967, "Soul Finger" (#17 Pop), this band had amassed twenty R&B chart entries by the time 1984 rolled around. A key factor to keeping them on the chart was their ability to adapt to the new sounds of the day. This was particularly noticeable with their fifteenth LP Dangerous. The band took cues from contemporaries like Midnight Star and Prince and fashioned their songs to be viable in the 80s commercial market. The strategy was validated when this first single reached #2 at R&B. Its performance was strong enough that Pop caught on and it crossed over to that chart for a couple of months. Although they would remain active on the R&B chart for the remainder of the decade, this song would be their last to reach the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This is certainly a long way off from "Soul Finger," but it works. Taking cues from artists like The Gap Band, the updated Earth, Wind & Fire, and Midnight Star, they threw in about every 80s effect there was and churned it all into a solid funk groove. It should have done a lot better on the Pop chart, but once again it was another R&B gem that got left behind on Pop radio. Sadly, even after Michael Jackson and others were scoring major crossover hits, many R&B acts were still ignored by Pop stations, who seemed to want to keep the lines between genres fairly solid. But luckily, songs like this found bigger audiences as time went on and remain staples of the decade.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The son of original Bar-Kays member James Alexander would go on to a very successful career in music. Phalon Alexander would become a much sought after producer, songwriter and singer starting in the late 90s. Professionally, he became known by the name Jazze Pha and over the years he would work with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, rap, and R&B including Mariah Carey, the Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, and Ciara, whom he discovered and signed to his label Sho'nuff. Phalon Alexander was named after original Bar-Kays member, saxophonist Phalon Jones. Jones and three other of the original Bar-Kays died in the plane crash that took the life of legendary soul artist Otis Redding. One member, trumpeter Ben Cauley, survived the crash.


No comments:

Post a Comment