Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Bar-Kays - Dangerous

By 1984, the American R&B group the Bar-Kays had been making music for eighteen years, adapting to the current sounds as they went along. Dangerous, their fourteenth studio album, was released thirty years ago this month. It spent twenty-two weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 52; it also went to number 7 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

The line-up for the group included James Alexander (bass), Harvey Henderson (saxophone), Lloyd Smith (guitar), Frank Thompson (trombone), Winston Stewart (keyboards), Mike Beard (drums), and Larry Dodson (vocals)

Side one begins with the title track. "Dangerous" tells the tale of encountering a fatally attractive stranger; it is backed by a mid-tempo dance groove.

As the third single, "Dirty Dancer" made its way to number 17 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This track has a great beat and a funky bass line that is perfect for that party mix.

Things slow down a bit for the smooth and sultry "Make Believe Lover".

"Dance, Party, Etc." reminds me a lot of Prince's "D.M.S.R" from his 1999 album. I actually think the two would mix quite well together.

Side two starts with "Freakshow on the Dance Floor", a track that was also featured on the soundtrack of the 1984 film Breakin'. As the first single, it went to number 73 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the US Billboard Dance chart. The song is very similar to Midnight Star's "No Parking on the Dance Floor", so it is an instant winner in my book. I am pretty certain I heard the Bar-Kays' song out in the clubs back in the day.

After that workout, it is time again to slow things down. The ballad "Lovers Should Never Fall in Love" was the B-side to the first single.

The mid-tempo "Loose Talk" has a good beat with strong synthesizers. The deeper bass vocals on the chorus are a nice contrast.

"Sexomatic", the second single, climaxed at number 12 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The album cut runs six and a half minutes long. The track brings to mind, for me, the Art of Noise and Rick James too.

Dangerous is one of those forgotten gems from the 80's (CD versions run for a pretty penny if you can find one). Luckily, there are a few Bar-Kays fans that have made it easy to hear these tracks over on YouTube. I had not heard much of this album back in the 80's, though it was exactly the kind of R&B dance music that I was into during my nightclub days of college. After just one listen, I certainly would purchase it if it popped up on one of my favorite digital download stores.

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