When Pleasure's debut album, Dust Yourself Off, came out in 1975, the Portland, OR, combo often found itself being compared to the Blackbyrds. It was a valid comparison, to be sure -- like the Blackbyrds, Pleasure offered funk and soul with jazz overtones. Both bands recorded for Fantasy, and just as the Blackbyrds' mentor/producer was trumpeter Donald Byrd, Pleasure's was Crusaders trombonist Wayne Henderson (who, like Byrd, started out in hard bop but became very funk-minded in the '70s). But despite all those parallels, Pleasure had a distinctive energy of its own. And while the Blackbyrds had their share of major radio smashes, Pleasure's only major radio hit was 1979's "Glide." Produced by Henderson, Dust Yourself Off wasn't a favorite at soul radio but did earn Pleasure a small (and enthusiastic) cult following. Those who, back in 1975, were hip to this LP heard a lot of jazz-tinged potential on invigorating funk items like "Reality," "Music Is My Life," and "Bouncy Lady," as well as the quiet storm ballad "My Love" (which hints at War without being derivative). They also heard it on an unlikely cover of Maria Muldaur's "Midnight at the Oasis," which the band manages to transform into hard funk. Pleasure's funk was tough and gritty -- the Oregon residents were as gutsy as Tower of Power and the pre-J.T. Taylor Kool & the Gang, both of which are influences on this LP. In fact, "What Is Slick" is Pleasure's clever response to Tower of Power's "What Is Hip." But as gutsy as Pleasure could be, the band's willingness to incorporate jazz elements gave its funk a certain sophistication. Dust Yourself Off didn't go down in history as a multi-platinum blockbuster, but among Pleasure fans, it did go down in history as a promising debut.
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