Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ebn-Ozn - Feeling Cavalier

Coming out of the New York City music scene in the early 80’s was the duo Ebn-Ozn (Ned Liben on synthesizer and Robert Rosen on organ and vocals). The two spent a lot of time in the city’s club scene, listening to a lot of dance music. Rosen was a Broadway actor/singer while Liben was the owner and founder of Sundragon Recording Studios. Their sole album was Feeling Cavalier which peaked at number 185 on the US Billboard Album chart in 1984. Today we’ll give this one a spin in honor of its thirtieth anniversary.

Side one begins with “Bag Lady (I Wonder)” which spent eight weeks on the Billboard Dance chart and peaked at number 36. The music video for it starred Award-winning actress Imogene Coca. The song about a homeless woman in the Big Apple has an exotic kind of opening that quickly swells in to a thundering dance floor explosion.

“Stop Stop Give It Up” switches things up by going down a light, pop route with a catchy rhythm.

“I Want Cash” firmly falls into a new-wave category in a song that seems to pay homage to the Flying Lizards’ “Money (That’s What I Want)” with a hint of Devo in the mix.

“Kuchenga Pamoja” shakes things up to a Latin beat.

“TV Guide” opens with a church organ, followed by a chanting. The minute and a half long song seems like an ode a periodical that was once indispensable when it came to figuring out what to watch. This was long before the days of interactive guides on our cable boxes.

Side two opens with “Video D.J.”, a swinging number about an attractive woman who serves up videos at a salsa club. The legendary Tito Puente guests on the track, playing timbales, cowbell and cymbal. Bobby Blain plays the grand piano on this one while Jack Waldman provides the techno trumpets via a Farlight CMI. If you listen carefully, there is a slight nod to Kajagoogoo in the lyrics of this one.

“Pop Art Bop” is a quirky, quick-paced piece that pays commentary of the popular-art phase made popular by guys like Andy Warhol.

The guys do their version of “Rockin’ Robin”, the 1958 Bobby Day song which was a huge hit in 1972 for Michael Jackson.

The song most people remember Ebn-Ozn for is “AEIOU/Sometimes Y”. This single from the summer of 1983 preceded the album and spent ten weeks on the Billboard Dance chart, reaching number 20. I loved this song during my college days; it was one of those tracks that played on the campus radio station and at floor parties. My alma mater the Rochester Institute of Technology shared the campus with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, so we often found ourselves finger-spelling the chorus while we danced.

The record closes with two minute instrumental track “The Dawn”. I see it as an epilogue to a wild night in the city as our intrepid partiers head home with the sun just breaking over the Manhattan skyline.

Feeling Cavalier is a mixed-bag of tunes in a variety of styles. Clearly Ebn-Ozn did not want to get themselves nailed down to just one, so they just went for it and made a fun album. I downloaded it a few years ago and it continues to grow on me with each subsequent listen. If you’re interested in experimenting, you can give it a listen for yourself on Spotify. At the very least, if you’re an old school 80’s lover like me, the two singles will jar some memories from back in the day.


HERC said...

This one was a Loco Records find. Walked intot he store one night and this crazy synth sounds were just ricocheting around the store. Instantly liked it. Went up to counter to ask what it was because the album cover wasn't sitting in the Now Playing block of wood that normally communicated such info.

The guy held up the album cover. I said "Where?" He pointed, I fetched and within 30 minutes I was enjoying the album in my room.

Later picked up the extended version of "AEIOU Sometimes Y". Very fun, high energy dance music. Put it in the same class as Dee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart" and Kon Kan's "I Beg Your Pardon".

Thnaks for the reminder - probably gonna have to have an impromptu afternoon dance party now.

HERC said...

It's so on