Oct 22, 2016

RhoDeo 1642 Grooves


Today's artists are an American soul-influenced funk group that formed in the early 1970s. They were initially a 14-member group known as the New York City Players; this name was later changed as it was too confusing to the average American fan as Ohio is so close to New York City (apparently-no it isn't, but then idiots are us-infact it was their label that told them to change their name) anyway a lawsuit from Ohio Players forced them to play under a different name, god knows who came up with the silly one they came up with (Larry Blackmon). I guess this name change cost them serious money in global appeal, as for those Ohio players most didn't make it into this century and the last one died this year. Karma is a bitch as they say .. ..... N'joy

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An outlandish, in-your-face stage presence, a strange sense of humor, and a hard-driving funk sound that criss-crossed a few musical boundaries earned Cameo countless comparisons to Parliament/Funkadelic in their early days. However, Cameo eventually wore off accusations of being derivative by transcending their influences and outlasting almost every single one of them. Throughout the '70s and '80s, the group remained up with the times and occasionally crept ahead of them, such that they became influences themselves upon younger generations of R&B and hip-hop acts. By the time the group's popularity started to fizzle in the late '80s, a series of R&B chart hits -- ranging from greasy funk workouts to synthesized funk swingers to dripping ballads -- was left in their wake. Further separating Cameo from their forebears, they didn't have a diaper-clad guitarist. Instead, they had a codpiece-wearing lead vocalist.

Cardiac Arrest That vocalist was Larry Blackmon. In 1974, the ex-Juilliard student and New York City club-goer instigated a funk band with a membership of 13 called the New York City Players. Blackmon, Tomi Jenkins, and Nathan Leftenant formed the group's nucleus. The Casablanca label signed the group to their Chocolate City offshoot, and shortly after that, the group changed its name to Cameo. Their excellent debut album, 1977's Cardiac Arrest, was highlighted by four singles. Three of those hit the Billboard R&B chart: "Rigor Mortis" (number 33), "Funk Funk" (number 20), and "Post Mortem" (number 70). Although the group was clearly inspired by elder funk groups like Parliament, Funkadelic, and the Ohio Players, Cardiac Arrest made Cameo's case for belonging in the same division an open-and-shut one.

In an attempt to keep the ball rolling, 1978 saw the release of Cameo's second and third albums. Neither We All Know Who We Are nor Ugly Ego were as solid as the debut, but the group's singular characteristics were becoming increasingly evident. The winding, horn-punctuated "It's Serious" (from We All Know Who We Are) narrowly missed the Top 20 of the R&B chart, while "Insane" (from Ugly Ego) dipped just inside it, peaking at number 17. The best halves of these two albums would've made a fine sophomore LP.

1979's Secret Omen, featuring a disco-fied re-visiting of Cardiac Arrest's "Find My Way" and the magnificently funky and slightly loony "I Just Want to Be" (a number-three R&B chart hit), was stacked with fine album cuts and brought Cameo back as a group that excelled in the LP format. "Sparkle" was one of their best ballads, a sinewy number that hit the Top Ten. Five albums released between 1980 and 1983 (Cameosis, Feel Me, Knights of the Sound Table, Alligator Woman, Style) brought about a slight dip in quality on the album front. Despite an abundance of filler on each record, none of those albums were strict disappointments, delivering hot Top 20 R&B singles like "Shake Your Pants," "We're Goin' Out Tonight," "Keep It Hot," "Freaky Dancin'" "Just Be Yourself," "Flirt," and "Style."

She's Strange One of the most significant ripples in Cameo's time line came during that period, in 1982, when they packed up and set up shop in Atlanta. Pared down to a quintet and located in a less hectic city, the group became bigger fish in a smaller pond. Blackmon even started his own label, Atlanta Artist. The label's first LP, Style, also marked a significant shift in sound, with synthesizers taking on a pronounced role. Paydirt was struck with 1984's She's Strange; the title cut, a late-night slithery smolder, topped the R&B chart and eclipsed the Top 50 of the pop chart, kicking off a remarkable three-album run that made Cameo one of the most popular groups of the '80s. Single Life and Word Up!, released respectively in 1985 and 1986, continued the hot streak. The singles from those two albums -- "Attack Me With Your Love," "Single Life," "Word Up," "Candy," and "Back and Forth" -- held down the Top Five plateau of the R&B chart. "Word Up" even went to number six on the pop chart, giving them their biggest bite of the mainstream. The song was everywhere.

What goes up must come down, and that's exactly what happened to Cameo. Despite the fact that two more singles -- "Skin I'm In" and "I Want It Now" -- scaled up to number five on the R&B chart, neither Machismo nor Real Men Wear Black performed well as albums. After 1991's Emotional Violence, the group's profile was lowered significantly, but they did tour sporadically to the delight of hardcore fans as well as plenty of misguided people who thought Cameo was all about "Word Up" and nothing more. Notably, Blackmon spent a few years of the '90s at Warner Bros., as the vice president of A&R.

Cameo's presence continued to be felt throughout the early 2000s, not only through extensive sample use and less tangible influences upon younger artists and producers. Several retrospectives have kept the group's music alive: Casablanca's 1993 compilation The Best of Cameo is an excellent point of entry. Mercury's 12" Collection & More, released in 1999, covers the group's best dancefloor moments. 2002's spectacular Anthology, a double-disc set also released by Mercury, covers a lot of ground and does the group justice as a total package.

Tomi Jenkins, who released his self-produced album The Way in 2005, is writing and recording his follow-up EP. He is also the music supervisor/producer on the film Icemosis, the story of a 1970s fictional funk band. The film is in music production and they hope to have the film released in 2013. He is also the author of a murder mystery entitled "Crime, Love and Honor" which he is autographing and selling at concerts.
Aaron Mills continues to tour with Cameo as well as other artists. He has worked with Andre 3000 and Big Boi to record a bassline for "Ms. Jackson".

Ex-Cameo vocalist John Kellogg became an entertainment lawyer representing such hit artists as the O'Jays, the late Gerald Levert and LSG. He also pursued a career in music industry higher education, becoming Assistant Chair of the Music Business/Management department at one of the world's leading institutions of contemporary music, Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Larry Blackmon & Tomi Jenkins recorded the next Cameo album with a tentative release scheduled for late fall 2012 or early 2013. Still no news about that one.

Gregory B. Johnson has released 2 album's on his own label, Allspice Record Co. "A New Hip" (smooth Jazz) in 2007. "Funk Funk (Just For A Little Time)" in 2012 (urban funk). In 2015, Cameo announced a new residency show at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, opening March 2016.

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The big single on Cameosis, the stimulating "Shake Your Pants," provokes body moves from the animated group vocals to the rump-shakin' groove. The vivacious number "We're Going out Tonight" is a man's salute to his lady. Larry Blackmon and Tomi Jenkins sing in unison throughout the body of the song, with first tenor Wayne Cooper soaring in the vamp. The group puts a different twist on a remake of their own "Why Have I Lost You." Tomi Jenkins imparts a compassionate rap in the intro before crooning his way through the imaginative lyric, where Wayne Cooper reaches one climax after another. Like the original version, it, too, never graced the charts but found a home on radio. The sleeper on this album is "I Care for You." Anthony Lockett took the vocal lead on this tear-jerking ballad, in which a man tolerates his woman's questionable behavior. From Lockett's execution to the song's overall arrangement, this is a must-listen.

Cameo - Cameosis    (flac  216mb)

01 Cameosis 4:09
02 Shake Your Pants 6:21
03 Please You 4:15
04 We're Goin' Out Tonight 4:40
05 I Care For You 4:34
06 On The One 4:59
07 Why Have I Lost You 5:14

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Cameo has been known for so many funk grooves -- like this album's featured single, "Keep It Hot" -- that their plush ballads are seldom recognized. The title track, "Feel Me," was one of those classic gems. Guitarist Anthony Lockett assumes lead vocal duties on this charming number. As Lockett patiently and gently caresses the lyric, his wholesome, amplifying tenor exudes a plea for that elusive intimacy. (Anthony Lockett would soon exit the group for gospel music.) "Better Days," also a ballad, has less musical attire; it's trimmed with primarily a rhythm section and Cameo's trademark horn arrangement and cooing background vocals. Preceded by an improvising piano solo, "Is This the Way" finds its stride with a rapid, percussive groove and a socially conscious message.

Cameo - Feel Me   (flac  229mb)

01 Throw It Down 5:44
02 Your Love Takes Me Out 6:39
03 Keep It Hot 4:42
04 Feel Me 5:56
05 Is This The Way 5:58
06 Roller Skates 4:40
07 Better Days 4:12

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As Cameo continued to hone their sound, they found themselves in the position not only of having to bridge a musical gap, but also needing to follow up a smash album. Following on the heels of 1980's massive Cameosis, which created a signature vibe and set the band up for truly massive early success, it's surprising that Knights of the Sound Table would lose strength. But it did. The band was exhausted, only coming off the road long enough to record the album before heading straight back out again. Knights of the Sound Table plays through like a transitional album -- and it falters at times because of it. Even though the band remained bound to their funk roots, they were tweaking them within a very different framework -- a 1980s pre-wave wave. The set is divided into two very distinct camps, then, booty shaking funk and saccharine ballads. When it's good, it's tremendous. "Knights by Night" is strong and very typically Cameo, while "Don't Be So Cool" leans more into an '80s frame of mind. The marvelous "Freaky Dancin'" pulled out ahead of the pack and was rewarded with a number three spot on the R&B charts for its efforts, while two other tracks, the funky "I Like It" and "Feel Me," would also chart. Where the band weakened was across their ballads. "I'll Always Stay" and "I Never Knew" feel more like filler than anything else, while "The Sound Table" is a poke at disco -- too long after the genre left the dancefloor. Despite such serious wobbles, though, the set is cohesive enough to forgive its failings, the sound of a band keeping their past alive while stretching their wings toward the future.

Cameo - Knights Of The Sound Table   (flac 191mb)

01 Knights By Knights 3:31
02 Freaky Dancin' 5:23
03 I Never Knew 4:40
04 Use It Or Lose It 4:11
05 The Sound Table 3:41
06 Don't Be So Cool 4:14
07 I'll Always Stay 3:54
08 I Like It 4:12

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Dropping the Parliament-esque, Mothership-era theatrics, and the multitude of bandmembers that comprised 1981's Knights of the Sound Table tour, Cameo's Larry Blackmon scaled the band back to a less financially prohibitive number and returned to the studio to record what would be the band's last effort for longtime label Chocolate City. The mighty Alligator Woman, released in spring 1982, marked the quintet's final foray into the annals of the deep funk that had signposted much of their material so far. A continuation, but extension of the otherworldly synthesis which blended old-school sounds with new technology, the LP emerged a peerless hybrid, giving Cameo another Top Ten hit for their collection. Both "Be Yourself" and "Soul Army" are deep slabs of funk, heavily steeped in the band's own past, with the former driven by harmonized vocals and groovy guitar, and the latter dominated by Blackmon's distinctive vocals. Elsewhere, the lively "Flirt," a Top Ten hit, is a sassy exercise in tricky pop, while the title track proves a heady mix of all of the above. Included, too, are the less interesting ballads "Secrets of Time" and "For You" but, despite such occasional stumbles, Alligator Woman was a remarkably cohesive and energetic outing for the new-look band. It also proved a perfect bridge for the gap between the antics of Knights and Cameo's forthcoming exploits, later in the decade.

Cameo - Alligator Woman   (flac 182mb)

01 Be Yourself 4:09
02 Soul Army 4:14
03 Flirt 4:17
04 Enjoy Your Life 4:36
05 Alligator Woman/Secrets Of Time 6:37
06 I Owe It All To You 2:54
07 For You 3:41

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cameo re-ups would be greatly appreciated please.