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Dazz Band: Hot Spot

Album Notes

Funk changed considerably in the '80s, when keyboard-driven funk became popular and urban radio lost interest in the horn-powered funk that had reigned supreme in the '70s. And one of the groups that successfully made the transition from horn funk to synth funk was the Dazz Band, whose 1982 smash, "Let It Whip," helped usher in the synth funk era. Other hits followed, including "Swoop (I'm Yours)" and "Joystick." But by 1985, the Dazz Band's popularity was fading -- and 1985's Hot Spot, their last album for Motown, was considered a commercial disappointment. However, Hot Spot (which Funky Town Grooves reissued as a 74-minute CD in 2011) isn't a bad album. With this release, the Dazz Band unveiled a new lineup: keyboardist Kevin Frederick and guitarist Eric Fearman had left, and newcomers Keith Harrison (keyboards) and Marlon McClain (guitar) came on board. The new Dazz Band lineup maintained a synth funk orientation, although the influence of new wave and synth pop became even more prominent. "S.C.L. and P (Style, Class, Looks and Personality)," "If Only You Were in My Shoes," "Paranoid" (not to be confused with the Black Sabbath favorite), and the title song are catchy funk grooves, but they are catchy funk grooves with an obvious awareness of new wave and synth pop. Even on the romantic slow jam "She Used to Be My Girl" (which isn't the O'Jays' 1978 hit), the Dazz Band make some new wave-ish moves. The closest Hot Spot comes to a '70s-like soul sound is the sweetly melancholy ballad "When You Needed Roses"; that song, however, is atypical of the album on the whole. It should be noted that Funky Town Grooves' generous expanded version of Hot Spot contains no less than five bonus tracks, including a club mix of Hot Spot's title track and extended versions of the pre-Hot Spot songs "Swoop (I'm Yours)," "Joystick," "Let It All Blow," and "Heartbeat." Although not among the Dazz Band's essential albums, Hot Spot is an enjoyable listen from the Cleveland funksters. ~ Alex Henderson



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