I don't know about you, but my middle school had its own particular period of breakdancing mania circa 1983, during which time many white kids attempted to participate - even if the only thing they had any business "popping" was their knuckles. Of course, I'm not speaking from personal experience there. Not in the least. Anyway, I mention this phenomenon actually just so I can sidestep any further embarrassing admissions about sixth-grade attempts to perform The Centipede. I do want to focus this week, however, on one of the electronically inclined R&B groups of the period that sometimes fueled impromptu breakin' sessions in my neck of the North Carolina woods: Midnight Star.
This sprawling, nine-piece American ensemble actually produced a number of big-time R&B hits throughout the '80s, probably most famously "Freak-A-Zoid" and "Operator." Nevertheless, I'm going to spotlight another facet of the group's sound, which had far more in common with Quiet Storm and old-school soul than the effects-laden funk most people remember. 1984's "Curious" may have thudded inconsequentially as a single in the U.S., but it's actually a rather fine example of a latter-day classic R&B ballad. Despite a somewhat listless electronic stamp of percussion, the song benefits highly from a confident, sultry lead vocal performance. There's enough genuine soul here to counteract the band's occasional tendency to favor synthetic, electronic soundscapes. Even better, listening to this tune is unlikely to lead to shoulder injuries from ill-fated attempts to do The Spider Hop.
- Sample or download "Curious" here.
- Compare prices on Midnight Star CDs here.
- Top R&B Artists of the '80s
- Top Kool & the Gang Songs of the '80s
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Solar/Unidisc