Bringing funk and electro soul into the 1980’s in a very big way.
“Inside was this red cup. I said, ‘I’m not wearing this!’ But they talked me into it, and it has become famous around the world. I am asked about it all the time.” – Larry Blackmon talks about the famous red codpiece he wore during the “Word Up!” video.
Cameo originally started out as 14 piece band called the New York City Players in the early 1970’s, with founder Larry Blackmon being the group’s mainstay throughout its long career. Signing to the Casablanca imprint Chocolate City, also home to Parliament, the band started out as a funk and R&B-based act with heavy dance floor leanings.
As Disco was becoming a spent commercial force by the end of the decade, Blackmon pared down the band quite a bit, eventually resulting in a five piece band by 1980, and a new type of electronic soul sound pushing the band forward to a more minimalist type of funk sound, with a heavy emphasis on Rock and New Wave. The band was never seemingly out of Pop hooks, and they found a new audience. Cameo would further thin their ranks, and by 1986 would become a three-piece.
Cameo, 1986: (l-r) Tomi Jenkins, Larry Blackmon and Nathan Leftenant. Photo courtesy of UMG.
By that year, the floodgates opened and their incredibly hard touring and recording schedule paid off in spades. “Word Up!”, the lead single and title track to their mid-decade release, saw the band rewarded with their only Billboard Pop 10 single, and it was a monster, becoming one of the biggest and most memorable songs of the decade. The band’s commercial fortunes would wane since then, but are currently in the middle of a long-term residency in Las Vegas, playing the hits that made them a bright spot at a time when, by the mid-1980’s, Pop music had gone through one of it’s dull phases again.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, LP Source
1. Alligator Woman/Secrets Of Time, 1982, Alligator Woman
2. She's Strange, 1984, She's Strange
3. Attack Me With Your Love, 1985, Single Life
4. Funk Funk, 1977, Cardiac Arrest
5. Candy, 1986, Word Up!
6. I Just Want To Be, 1979, Secret Omen
7. Style, 1983, Style
8. It’s Serious, 1978, We All Know Who We Are
9. Keep It Hot, 1980, Feel Me
10. Word Up!, 1986, Word Up!
Love to you all.
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