Sunday, May 21, 2017

UP BEAT BOYS-Breakin' Barriers (1992)


Well I am certainly one who is always up for breaking new ground on an old album I've never heard before! This next throwback treat is made possible because of an unexpected recommendation from not too long ago that piqued my interest. The boyband lover in me is always on the hunt for something else to add to my CD collection, and this five-piece bunch that called itself THE UP BEAT BOYS is only the latest to be rescued from the depths of pop obscurity. An extensive investigation will have to be conducted on my part in order to track down the group's origins—in case it yields other accomplishments in their abbreviated career as well as possible leads into their current whereabouts—but for now, I'll just keep on marveling about the ten solid tunes that have already left a permanent mark in my life-long jukebox! The music is definitely upbeat, if the opening jam "Just My Way" is any clear indication; it is here where I'd get introduced to their hip-hop/new jack swing-influenced style, plus the dynamite vocals of one of the group's lead men and the smooth collective soul of the backup crew. Once "Just My Way" sparked my attention, I was absolutely all ears for the follow-up jam, "You Got It Going On", which too features some excellent bounce and bump to the swing beat and a fun rap beak (I personally like the part about the 'honey dip and strip'), plus a terrifically jazzed-up saxophone accompaniment that's heard most prominently when the song evolves into a wild party with the guys howling like wolves and barking like dogs towards the end. "Love U Forever Times 2": If my math is correct, that's a really huge number! It's just the boys' stylistic way of delivering their own romantic words on what is this album's first slower jam. Highlights on this one include the lead guy's passionate declaration of 'eternally yours, eternally yours' with his majestic soaring voice and the charming bells playing during the long instrumental break midway. Stunning songs of this caliber always bring me to ask , 'what happened to this group?'. It sounds so great! One could be prompted to ask that very same question about a few other stunning slow jam moments here. "I'll Give You Everything": It's so beautiful, with the words of 'love will find a way' at the end of the chorus leaving a lasting touch. "Where Do We Go From Here?": Such a nice throwback jam to groove to; these songs about two lovers at a crossroads in their relationship always make for excellent song material. Yet my #1 favorite that trumps all of the other slow ones before it is the concluding track, "My Dear". After the introductory wind chimes, the wonderfully-chilled groove and the boys' lush, mellow voices were the next to captivate, followed by their charming words, then coming all together with the blaring saxophone giving the music a brilliant touch! Now THIS is one that wins the 'Slow Jam Of The Night'! award hands down! It wowed me so much that had to play it twice, and I know that I'm not done even after the two listens! But going back to rest of this album's upbeat breaks that entertained just as well..... "She Loves Me" is a pure r&b/wing delight, highlighted by its catchy chorus of 'she loves me, she loves me not, so back and forth, it never stops', as the classic game of love goes. Then speaking of things being classic, I got my latest 'Music Surprise Of The Day' (so many for me lately!) on the "I Call Your Name", the album's lone full-out house jam that evolves into quite the thrill! It was during the rap break, when they explicitly mention THE BEATLES, that it occurred to me that they were actually doing a dance cover of the original by Paul McCartney and company. Of course, these UP BEAT BOYS give it a fresh twist with the rap and the shout-outs to themselves by individual name all throughout. "Pretty Girl" sounds like it too wanted to be a full-out house jam as well (a remix of it on a standalone single, perhaps?), but I'll take it for the great mid-tempo piece that it is. That leaves Track #4's "World Of Illusion", where we once again revisit those old-school hip-hop days where the guys are rapped about real-life issues that we can all relate to: better education, drugs, prejudice and racism, senseless crime, a state of worldwide confusion..... The statement 'the brother is your brother, no matter what the color' really says it all, and it's songs with these important messages that always make me miss the sights and sounds of the early 90's:

1. Just My Way
2. You Got It Going On
3. Love U Forever Times 2
4. World Of Illusion
5. Pretty Girl
6. I'll Give You Everything
7. I Call Your Name
8. Where Do We Go From Here
9. She Loves Me
10. My Dear

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