Musical Youth

Different Style!

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How could one resist? With those fresh faces staring out from the sleeve, you could almost hear their "whoos" as they zoom down the roller coaster and straight off the album cover. Besides, the youthman are obviously having so much fun, how could you not join in? And really, you don't need to feel guilty for doing so -- the Youth are a talented bunch; their enthusiasm is real, not contrived; and an astute choice of songs skillfully avoids the grimace factor. One of the best is "Whatcha Talking 'Bout," a jubilant celebration of reggae that Stevie Wonder wrote specifically for the band, while the Youth help themselves to John Holt's "Tell Me Why" and Desmond Dekker's "Shanty Town (007)." The latter two numbers were released as singles, and would take the group back into the U.K. charts. The Waite brothers' father, Frederick Sr., joined forces with Motown tunesmith Lamont Dozier to compose the superb "Sixteen," with young Kelvin audaciously insisting to a guesting Donna Summer that not only is he 16, but he's going to sweep her off her feet. Playing along with puppy love is one thing, but releasing this song as a single was another -- a pity, because it's so sassy yet so sweetly charming that it would have been a huge hit. Shalamar's Jody Watley also makes a guest appearance, adding vocal support to the bouncy "Incommunicado." The quintet members' musical skills are impressive, although the arrangements wisely don't push them beyond their limits. The Youth show off their own songwriting across three tracks, with "Air Taxi" a sizzling little reggae number, while they showcase their roots sensibilities on "Mash It the Youth Man, Mash It." The Roots Radics may not have been quaking in their boots, but the group acquits itself with honor. Although Different Style! failed to charm its way into the Top 100 of the pop charts, it did enter the Top 50 of the R&B chart, while half the set charted on one or the other side of the Atlantic. The public would soon turn its back on this talented quintet, too often the fate of child stars. Here, however, their hopes remain undashed.

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