Thursday, February 9, 2017

BAHA MEN-Doong Spank (1998)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: February 9, 2017

Writing a second mini-novel of a BAHA MEN review in as many days? We shall soon see..... Immediately following my early Tuesday-morning Bahamian music escapade, I'd embarked on a third BAHA MEN adventure, as I was still in the mood for something fun, festive and soulful; I expected nothing less when I jumped backwards into the 90's again with the group's fifth album curiously entitled "Doong Spank". Curious, I say, because I'd wondered about the actual significance of 'Doong Spank' as it relates to them and/or Bahamian culture in general. Meanings and significance aside, that 'move it like this' theme I clicked with on that Tuesday-morning escapade applies here on "Doong Spank" as well, as I found myself movin' and groovin' right along with another exhilarating batch of jams! This particular adventure, however, kicks off with what is an exotic music adventure all in itself: "Exuma's Reincarnation". In just the opening minute or so, I had this whole "Indiana Jones"/"Tomb Raider"/ancient Mayans of Central America vision wrapped up in my head, as it sounds like the BAHA boys are exploring the ancient ruins of some deceased spirit who is resurrected to assume his status as the all-powerful ruler of the land. Then the ethnic, tribal dance rhythm and the accompanying island melody take over, with the backup crew chanting something I couldn't quite translate in the chorus while the lead guy offers up the rather haunting words of 'has someone been here before?' and ' knocking on the witch's door ', plus something about sucking your blood. At that point, I suddenly conjured up images of creepy voodoo rituals and other similar ceremonies involving bodily human sacrifice; it turned into quite the cultural exposition indeed. Felt like I'd escaped from the lowermost depths of Exuma's temple and walked back into the sunlight with the follow-up track, " Double Lovin' ". At first, I'd assumed this one would be about a no-good player trying to love two different women, but all is good and well when the words of promise reveal he's gonna love the lady twice as good as he did before; the song becomes a catch with the backup crew and its unified voices delivering the 'na-na-na-na-na-na-na' in the chorus. After their warming invitation to join in on their Bahamian island paradise on the simple drum n' bass track, "Come Down Baby", they crank up the energy for their merry sing-along/dance-along 90's house-style thriller that is "Mash De Roach". I was struck by a bit of humor when glancing at that title; what in the world would make them wanna create a song about mashing on a roach? Turns out that 'mashing on zee roach' is the actual dance that they're instructing the listener to do step by step on the whole song! 'Put your hands on your pants and kill de roach.....slide de roach, kick de roach, dance de roach.....' It's funny picturing them doing a whole dance centered around them stomping on a roach crawling on the floor, proving once again that artists can make a fun song out of just about anything that sparks the imagination. "Sunflower": I somehow knew this would be a bright and sunny tune that would instantly make me happy; besides, the gardening lover in me likes sunflowers anyways. It's the special lady who is the sunflower that makes the songwriter shine here while the breezy, island sound coupled with more of the house-style dance rhythms are what make me shine! Even more sunny feel-goodness shines on "Salvation", where the cheerful horns, delicate calypso and the thumping bass of the high-energy dance beat serve as the main attraction while their tribal-like chanting of 'ye-oh-oh-oh' brought back those images of the ritualistic ceremonies. "Forever By Your Side": I'm starting to see that these BAHA boys can sure rain down the charm with these beautiful ballads. This jewel of romantic dedication is absolutely soft rock radio or r&b quiet storm radio perfect with its easy-listening, smooth jazz flow. It even retains a touch of that island sound; plus, the guy on lead here is amazing when showing off his high soaring voice in the second movement of the chorus. "Playing Hard To Get": a very ear-appealing dance jam that I'd describe as a kind of like high-speed drum n' bass reggae with a dazzling array of instruments and synthesized effects pouring into this one. Was so lost in the music production that I almost forgot the song is about the lady who is making it difficult for him to love her, but the infectious repeated delivery of ' I ain't givin' up ' in the chorus would eventually get stuck inside my head and make this song impossible to forget! "I'll Be There" seems to combine the groovy drum n' bass feel of "Playing Hard To Get", the sunny vibes of "Sunflower" and the same eternal romantic dedication as "Forever By Your Side". Turns out not to be a cover of THE JACKSON 5 classic, yet the same theme exists in their alternate lyrics. However, I would get to enjoy that cover-song surprise upon taking in the BAHA crew's high-energy dance remake of the BEACH BOYS classic, "Kokomo". Wow—had I known that they'd recorded a dance version of this memorable oldie, I would've turned myself on to BAHA MEN's music a long time ago! This song is a perfect fit for them—what with the whole island theme and all—and those same nostalgic lyrics are still there in all of their glory: 'Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego...' Oh, the nostalgia indeed! Of course, there has to be a modern twist thrown in there, and on this BAHA MEN remake, it takes the form of one of the guys acting as a MC on the fresh rap break midway through. The Japanese edition of "Doong Spank" included a the bonus track that quite fittingly serves as this album's bookend : "Baha Chant". You hear the boys simply going 'eh!' every second and fourth beats against a tribal drum rhythm and a slight whistle melody in the background. Considering the creepy, ceremonial vibes of the opening track, maybe this chant is really them worshiping the resurrected Exuma himself?

1. Exuma's Reincarnation
2. Double Lovin'
3. Come Down Baby
4. Mash De Roach
5. Sunflower
6. Salvation
7. Forever By Your Side
8. Playing Hard To Get
9. I'll Be There
10. Kokomo

*****BONUS TRACK*****

11. Baha Chant

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