Friday, November 15, 2013

Dazz Band - Joystick

Today (November 15th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Joystick, the fifth studio album from the Dazz Band. This one peaked at number 73 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 12 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one kicks off with “To the Roof”. This funky dance track is all about kicking the night into gear, taking it to its highest point possible (thus "the Roof").

The title track is next; as the first single it reached number 61 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the US Billboard R&B chart. "Joystick" merges the very popular video game craze with a rather obvious sexual innuendo. The song even features arcade sound effects (I could not pick out any identifiable game ones per se so they may have been just synthesized sound-alikes). This one reminds me of an R-rated teen comedy from 1983 called Joysticks that I once caught on late night Showtime or Cinemax in the mid-80's. The movie came out in March of that year - so a number of months prior to this album release; whether there is any connection between the two is highly speculative on my part.

I definitely remember "Swoop (I'm Yours)" from back in the day, likely from going out to dance at clubs. As the second single, it went to number 12 on the US Billboard R&B chart. For some reason, I always thought when they sang "...swoop on it, baby..." that they were saying "...bubonic, baby...". Hey, what can I say? It was the 80's - why not a dance song about a plague? You know, in that love hit you all of a sudden like you just come down with a sudden illness. LOL Okay, I'll leave the songwriting to the professionals.

Things slow down a bit with "Until You", a ballad made for getting close to your partner after working up a sweat with the earlier grooves from the first half.

Side two begins with “Rock with Me”. I like this one's infectious double-time beat.

"Straight Out of School" tells of a young man who is still attracted to a former love; now that he has finished his education he is ready to pursue her again.

"Now That I Have You" slows the pace down once more. It features a very seductive saxophone solo.

"Laughin' At You" is next with a carefree, gentle rhythm.

The closing track "T-Mata" is a short, under two minutes, instrumental. It has a cool, modern jazz feel to it.

Again, I have to give props to my buddy Herc for reminding me about Joystick so it could make the list of albums for this month. The Dazz Band was one of those R&B groups who I knew mostly from their popular singles. As such, this was my first listening to this album. As Herc figured, I definitely liked this one. The first side, with all those dance tracks, is great. The second side starts to chill out a bit towards the end but that's okay too. There are plenty of tunes here that would spice up a party playlist with songs that aren't as overplayed as many big 80's hits.

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