Monday, October 13, 2014

Michael Cooper-Love Is Such A Funny Game (1987)


.....Yeah, ain't it though? Just like that old CAMEO song: love goes back and forth and back and forth. And like that other old-school tune by CON FUNK SHUN: 'sometimes heart strings can be broken, but you've just have to keep on goin' ', because that's the way it goes on love's train (and now I feel like listening to "Love's Train" for real!). CAMEO and CON FUNK SHUN—two of my favorite funk/r&b groups from the 80's, and two I often get confused with each other. And not only do I get those two groups themselves confused, but I also often mistake CAMEO's Larry Blackmon as being CON FUNK SHUN's lead vocalist when, in fact, Michael Cooper would be CON FUNK SHUN's primary lead man. Yet I can't help but to think that Cooper sounds a lot like Blackmon.....unless Cooper himself was once a member of CAMEO? I didn't quite follow the revolving door of personnel of the two groups that closely to be certain. So it's like every time I listen to the songs here on Cooper's solo debut, CAMEO's biggest hits immediately start playing inside my head: "Word Up!", "Candy"..... How do describe Cooper's distinctive voice? Kinda like 'funk-talk singing' through his nose—that's the best way I can put it. But it's a style all of its own—almost sounds humorous even—and it certainly grabs the listener's attention. Not sure how many hits Cooper generated from this album, but the tender slow number "Just Thinkin' 'Bout Cha" was definitely a hit with me (I'd recognize that soulful 'whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo' during the opening intro any way of the week). And when Cooper breaks it down during the main chorus, that's when those thoughts about CAMEO come running back; I'm just gonna call it ;funk-talking' for the remainder of this post. The very first cut, "To Prove My Love", had to have been a hit, too. Cooper funk-talking 'what can I do?' echoing against the lofty, soulful vocals gets me hooked every time; it's jams like these is why I can't stop loving the awesome 80's! I'm also quick to get attached to another cool jam: "Quickness". And it's with the quickness that's how fast CAMEO's—er—CON FUNK SHUN's frontman states he's gotta get the lady's love. There's a pleasant surprise for me here that I must've missed out on completely the first time I checked out this album: Cooper's upbeat r&b remake of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend". And now that list of covers of that 70's classic that I thought I had exhausted? Well, it keeps on getting longer, because I keep discovering (or re-discovering, in this case) more and more versions of it. The big plus here is that Cooper spices it up with some slick alternate lyrics while 6+ minutes of urban groove extends the music well beyond the original. Then a gem here that absolutely must not be missed is the romantic evening table-setter, "Dinner For Two". It's a simple song of sexy seduction that the 80's old-school lovers will eat up and be the first in line for when there's a call for second and third helpings:

1. To Prove My Love
2. You've Got A Friend
3. Dinner For Two
4. Just Thinkin' 'Bout Cha
5. No Other Lover
6. Oceans Wide
7. Love Is Such A Funny Game
8. Quickness
9. Look Before You Leave

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