Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ron Banks - Truly Bad

Ron Banks was a member of the Detroit R&B group the Dramatics from its formation in 1962 until his death in 2010. After a dozen albums with the group, he decided to put out his first and only solo album entitled Truly Bad which spent eight weeks on the US Billboard R&B chart in 1984, peaking at number 62. Today we will give this one a listen to mark its thirtieth anniversary.

Side one begins with the title track. "Truly Bad" opens with a distorted voice asking "are you ready?". Based on the synthesized percussion, I can answer that with a resounding "yes!". The rest of the track, which was the album's sole twelve-inch single, gives me a feeling of Michael Jackson's 1979 "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and 1982's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", two of my favorite jams from him.

"Let Love Flow" then takes things down to a more intimate level with a quiet-storm ballad about two people about to make love. The layered vocal harmonies and the cascading keyboards remind me quite a bit of late 70's R&B.

"She's So Good To Me" brings the tempo back up a bit, while Banks raises things up with his solid falsetto vocals.

Side two opens with “Zap”. As the title suggests, this dance track is charged with a lot of electrifying energy. The guitar solo on this one really stands out too.

“Make It Easy on Yourself” is a duet with Belita Woods. Their two voices blend very well on the harmonies, and they each deliver strongly on the verses as well.

"This Love Is For Real" had my feet bouncing along to the mid-tempo beat of this declarative number.

Rounding out the record is the romantic ballad "You and Me"

I can honestly admit that prior to doing this review I could not place Ron Banks or any of the tracks from Truly Bad. When the album came up on my list of those that entered the charts in January of 1984, I was scratching my head. One listen to these seven tracks though and I was an instant fan. This record is exactly the kind of R&B I enjoyed during the 80's - solid dance tracks and smooth ballads. The record is pretty rare; besides the vinyl release in 1983 it was only reissued on CD in a limited capacity in 2011 (and now commands a high price). Thanks to those who posted these on YouTube so I could give them a listen.

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