Secret Omen

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Cameo never recorded a bad album, but it did record some uneven ones. One such LP was 1978's Ugly Ego, which was generally decent but fell short of the excellence of Cameo's superb debut album, Cardiac Arrest. But if Ugly Ego led some people to believe that Cameo might be slipping, the band's fourth album, Secret Omen, put that idea to rest. Released in 1979, Secret Omen is among Cameo's most essential releases. Everything on this album is a winner; anyone who appreciates sweaty, gutsy, horn-powered funk would have a hard time not loving "I Just Want to Be" (a major hit) and equally gritty gems like "New York," "Macho," and "The Rock." Meanwhile, a remake of "Find My Way" (previously heard on 1977's Cardiac Arrest) is even more disco-minded than the original version. Disco was never Cameo's specialty, but because disco was so huge in 1979, it made sense to revisit "Find My Way." And although "Find My Way" is atypical of Cameo on the whole, it's still a great song. Equally impressive is the hit soul ballad "Sparkle"; even though Larry Blackmon and friends are best known for up-tempo songs, they recorded their share of memorable ballads in the 1970s and 1980s. Secret Omen is recommended to anyone with even a casual interest in late-'70s funk.

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