Thursday, May 5, 2016
Nu Shooz - Poolside
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the synthpop group was primarily Valerie Day on vocals and John Smith on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals. On this record they also got musical assists for keyboardists Jeff Lorber and Steve Reid, saxophonists Ron Regan and Danny Schauffler, bassists Gary Fountaine and Nate Phillips, drummer Marty Higgins, trumpeter Lewis Livermoore, and backing vocalists Shannon Day and Lori Lamphear.
Side one begins with "Lost Your Number", a bouncy mid-tempo tune about failing to reconnect to someone after misplacing a pivotal piece of paper. I remember how crucial it was back then as we did not have the luxury of carrying around phones with us that we could so easily enter numbers into.
The original version of "I Can't Wait" appeared on the band's 1985 EP Tha's Right (click here for that review). A revised remixed version appeared on this album. As a single, it struck gold and reached number 24 in France, number 16 in Austria, number 11 in Australia, number 10 in Ireland, number 9 in Italy and the Netherlands, number 4 in Switzerland, number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 2 in Germany, the UK and on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 in Canada and on the US Billboard Dance chart. The synth hooks on this one are ingrained into my brain after dancing to it at parties and in the clubs so much back in the mid-80's. It is upbeat and fun and totally irresistible.
"Don't Let Me Be the One" hit number 39 on the US Billboard Dance chart. It opens with a strong percussion line before the many keyboard layers are draped over it. The bass riff and the horn accents stand out for me as well.
The dance party does not stop here as "Goin' Thru the Motions" keeps the bodies moving with a very Latin-infused beat. The lyrics tell of a relationship that has moved into auto-pilot.
Side two opens with "You Put Me In a Trance", a mid-tempo groove about a woman who is totally enchanted by a guy that most everyone else does not understand.
"Point of No Return", the second single, peaked at number 48 in the UK, number 36 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 24 in Germany, number 23 in Canada and Switzerland, number 18 in New Zealand, and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart. I have always loved how the sounds bounced from speaker to speaker on this one; as such it is a great song to listen to with headphones. If you were around in the 80's you might have remembered the video for this one, featuring stop-motion animated shoes.
"Secret Message" has a quick-step beat to it.
The album ends with "Don't You Be Afraid", a promise of never-ending support. You can definitely hear the late 70's R&B influences on this track with a very Chic-like bass line.
Back in the summer of 1986, I was taking classes and picked up my copy of Poolside on cassette either at the campus book store or the nearby mall. I can tell you that I wore that tape out over the next couple years. It was a go-to for getting ready to go out dancing on the weekend, a perfect warm-up from start to finish. In the 90's, this was one of the records I replaced on CD within the first year or so of having disk players. It remains a favorite of mine to this day.
For more from Nu Shooz, click here.