Friday, October 4, 2013

Musical Youth - Different Style!

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Different Style!, the second album from the British group Musical Youth. Following their smash 1982 release The Youth of Today (click here for that review), there was high expectation for this 1983 album. However, the album stalled at number 144 on the US Billboard Album Chart and number 90 in Canada.

The US version of the record featured a different cover, as shown above, and a re-arranged track listing. For this review, I will follow the US release order.

Side one starts with "007 (Shanty Town)", the second single from the record. It reached number 27 in Ireland and number 26 in the UK. This reggae tune is a cover of the 1967 song by the Jamaican group Desmond Dekker and the Aces, with lyrics that reference rude boys acting like the guys in Ocean’s 11 or James Bond films.

The next song was originally submitted as a track for Michael Jackson's Thriller album but was passed upon. Instead, "She's Trouble" was recorded by Musical Youth and was released as their fourth single. With its R&B groove, it charted at number 87 in the UK, number 65 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 43 in Canada. In the music video (which includes choreographed dancing in the mall and roller skaters), the boys from the band come across like the guys from New Edition.

"Whatcha Talking 'Bout", written by Stevie Wonder, has a bouncy reggae beat. The song is fun and light, the perfect vehicle for this young group of singers.

"Incommunicado" harkens back to the days when people were not always in touch via cell phones and such.

"No Strings", a song protesting emotional manipulation in a relationship, was written by Boy George and Phil Picket. After hearing this one, I would like to have heard Culture Club perform it.

Side two opens with the up-tempo love song "Tell Me Why", the first single. It hit number 35 in Belgium, number 33 in the UK, number 31 in the Netherlands and number 20 in Ireland.

"Sixteen" was released as the third single; it climbed to number 27 in Ireland and number 23 in the UK. Shalamar’s Jody Watley makes a guest appearance on the track.

The last three tracks on the record were written by the band themselves. The rub-a-dub rhythms of "Yard Stylee" were featured on the B-side to the fourth single. A reggae song about air travel is next with "Air Taxi". The closing track was "Mash It the Youth Man, Mash It", an account of the group’s rise to fame with the earlier album.

Different Style! was a whole new experience for me; while I had the first Musical Youth album, this one completely passed me by. I can see how the producers were trying to go for a different sound with the band by sprinkling in some more R&B like songs. Some of them worked while others not so much. If you pick up the 1994 Anthology CD, you can get both this album and the group's debut.

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