On The Vocal Group Tip: Juce, M.O., Jody

After a decade where R&B vocal groups were largely absent from pop, I wrote a piece for Salon about their possible resurgence, using songs from Juce, M.O., and Jody. Juce and M.O. are from England, which has always been more hospitable to vocal groups, in and out of R&B, while Jody hail from Chicago. Read the piece and check out Juce’s “Call U Out” below.

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Slick

Eddie Kendricks, who sang lead vocal on a number of Temptations hits, like “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),” left the group in 1971 to record on his own.  He didn’t have any trouble working without his former comrades — he put out at least an album almost every year of the ensuing decade (more than his former partner in the Temptations, David Ruffin, who was also no slouch in the studio post-Temptations).  People. . . Hold On from 1972 is probably the most consistent of Kendricks’ 70s efforts, containing the effortless “Eddie’s Love” and the relentless “Girl You Need A Change Of Mind,” a song that holds its own against numerous other 7-minute plus funk jams from the decade (Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove,” Al Green’s “Beware,” Marvin Gaye’s “Funky Space Reincarnation,” etc.).  The album Slick, from 1977, doesn’t have anything quite at that level, but it does have “Intimate Friends.” Although this sounds like the title of a crappy romantic comedy, possibly involving Ashton Kutcher, it is in fact a luscious late 70s soul ballad.  Driven by slinky horns, it builds slowly, almost imperceptibly, into a strong, simple groove.  Although Kendricks chooses to leave the intro and tries to pump up the energy, he really shouldn’t have bothered. There is no need for that sort of agitation, something about the relaxed opening provides all the electricity you need.

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