Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mary Jane Girls - Only Four You

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Only Four You, the second and final studio album from the Mary Jane Girls. It was released just ten months after their self-titled debut (click here for that review) and was even stronger on the chart. It hit number 67 in Canada, number 28 in New Zealand, number 18 on the US Billboard Album chart (with a total run of thirty-eight weeks) and number 5 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

There was a change in the line-up with Yvette “Corvette” Marine replacing Cheryl Bailey in the group. As before, Rick James wrote and produced all the tracks.

Side one opens with "In My House". As the lead single, it went to number 77 in the UK, number 19 in Australia, number 8 in Belgium, number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 6 in Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, number 3 on the US Billboard R&B chart, and number 1 on the US Billboard Dance chart (for two weeks). The song had two distinct claims for fame: it made the PMRC’s (Parents Music Resource Center) list of “Filthy Fifteen” for alleged sexual innuendo and VH-1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80’s (at number 52). I have very fond memories of dancing to this one at parties and clubs; it was a huge favorite at many of my night-life haunts during my sophomore and junior years of college. It has a beat that is perfect for a one-one-two alternating hip-shake dance step.

"Break It Up" was the third single; it stalled at number 79 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 33 on the US Billboard Dance chart. This was another western New York club favorite, particularly since the girls were originally from Buffalo. You can easily pick up Rick James’ signature bass riff in the musical mix.

The brief thirty second long "Shadow Lover Interlude" with its piano and saxophone proceeds "Shadow Lover". This intimate ballad of longing love features Joanne “JoJo” McDuffie on lead vocals.

"Lonely For You" had a very familiar rhythm line that sounds nearly identical to the track “Party All The Time” that Rick James wrote and produced for Eddie Murphy later in 1985. This album’s title comes as play on words from this song’s title.

Side two begins with "Wild and Crazy Love", another fantastic party tune. As the second single, it hit number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 26 in Belgium, number 10 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 3 on the US Billboard Dance chart. The album cut runs nearly six minutes in length, with a very funky, extended bass groove. I am really surprised this one did not do as well on the charts.

The bouncy "I Betcha" features Candice “Candi” Grant on vocal leads. Looking at the overall album, this one is my least favorite of the lot.

The closing track “Leather Queen” has seductive lead vocals by Kimberly “Maxi” Wuletich. It plays up to the group's strong sexual fantasy image.

I am not sure why I did not pick up Only Four You back in 1985 as I was very much a fan of the Mary Jane Girls’ sound (which was really just an extension of Rick James’ sound). This was right in line with the mid-80’s dance music I was into during my college years. Given that this solid R&B groove is so difficult to find, even on the used market, I’ll just have to settle for the few tracks I do have in my library thanks to a greatest hits collection.


Kris Shaw said...

Not difficult at all if one knows where to look...

Martin Maenza said...

Kris, thanks for that. Sadly I no longer have a turntable.

John said...

Fortunately, that's why Discogs also sells CD's. Cheapest one on eBay is $8.99 so if you win that, consider that a bargain, considering how pricey other discs are. I prefer the 99 cent thrift store bargains myself but if it's worthy, go for it.