B.T. Express' third album, Energy to Burn, marked two firsts for the Brooklyn residents: It was their first album for Columbia, and it marked the arrival of keyboardist Michael Jones, aka Kashif. Not that Kashif's arrival was a major event for R&B fans of 1976, the year in which this album came out. It wasn't until 1981, when Kashif wrote "I'm in Love" for Evelyn "Champagne" King, that he became famous as a producer/songwriter -- and his first solo album didn't come out until 1983. Besides, Energy to Burn (which was lead singer Barbara Joyce's last album with B.T. Express) doesn't sound anything like the smooth, sophisticated urban contemporary that Kashif wrote or produced for King, George Benson, Howard Johnson, Melba Moore, and others in the early 1980s; this LP is state-of-the-art B.T. Express. Although the band's work was uneven in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Energy to Burn is generally excellent. Those who had grooved to B.T. Express' two previous albums weren't disappointed by hypnotic funk-disco smokers like "Can't Stop Groovin' Now," "Wanna Do It Some More" (which reached number six on Billboard's R&B singles charts), "Depend on Yourself," and the title song (which was only a number 37 R&B hit but was a favorite in clubs). One of the album's most unorthodox tracks is "Herbs," an instrumental that successfully fuses B.T. Express' trademark funk-disco sound with the sort of sweet reggae that prevailed in Jamaica during the rocksteady era. And not surprisingly, the album's least inspired track is a cover of Gamble and Huff's "Now That We've Found Love" -- romantic ballads and slow jams were never B.T. Express' strong point. But other than that, Energy to Burn is one of the band's strongest albums.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson