Friday, December 20, 2013

S.O.S. Band - On the Rise

Released in July of 1983, On the Rise was the fourth studio album from the Atlanta based S.O.S. Band. The record charted at number 47 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 36 in New Zealand, number 30 in the Netherlands and number 7 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

The band for this album consisted of Jason Bryant (keyboards and vocals), Mary Davis (lead vocals), Billy Ellis (saxophone), Willie Killebrew (saxophone and flute), Abdul Ra’oof (trumpet, horn, percussion and lead vocals), John A. Simpson III (bass), Bruno Speight (guitar) and Jerome “J.T.” Thomas (drums). Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were involved in the production of the record.

Side one starts with smooth seven-minute version of the ballad “Tell Me If You Still Care”. As the second single, an edited version peaked at number 81 in the UK, number 65 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 39 in the Netherlands and number 5 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

The first single was “Just Be Good to Me”, a plea to a playboy to finally settle down. It went to number 55 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 22 in the Netherlands, number 21 in Ireland, number 17 in Australia, number 13 in the UK, number 10 in New Zealand, number 3 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 2 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This one was a big jam in the clubs and at parties for a couple years after its release - a definite crowd pleaser. The album cut, an amazing nine minutes in length, was the version I remember most; even hearing it again three decades later instantly puts me in a great mood.

“For Your Love”, the third single, charted at number 34 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 26 on the US Billboard Dance chart. Again, for the album cut, we are treated to a much longer version. It gives the band plenty of time to get down and get funky.

Side two opens with up-tempo “I’m Not Runnin’”, an assertive anthem about going after the love you want.

“If You Want My Love” opens with a brief riff on a big-top circus theme played on the keyboards before moving into a deep dance groove.

The title track “On the Rise”, with its thundering percussion, is next.

The band then gives listeners a cool cover of “Who’s Making Love”, a song first charted in 1968 by soul singer Johnnie Taylor. Having Davis sing this one gives it an added element of a woman‘s “if you can do it, she can too”.

The saxophone soaked “Steppin’ the Stones” closes out the original vinyl release.

A digitally remastered import CD released this summer to mark the thirtieth anniversary included four additional tracks. This included an extended version of “For Your Love” and “If You Want My Love” and two variant versions of “Just Be Good to Me”.

While I never owned On the Rise back in the day, I am sure I was very familiar with a number of the tracks thanks to the many nights I spent out dancing. It is a solid R&B record from start to finish and right in line with the mid-80’s party records I was into during my college years. If you’re looking to jam, go give this one a spin on Spotify before buying it from your favorite digital music source.

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