Sexy Sweet Thing

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Like fellow '70s funk alums Kool and the Gang, Cameo survived and thrived during the '80s, thanks to the pop smarts needed for crossover success. That ability stayed miraculously intact on Sexy Sweet Thing, which, despite its truly awful cover -- Larry Blackmon and co. as little Cupids - actually turned out more consistent than any of the band's previous few offerings. The band is in top form on the lovely, Stevie Wonder-ish ballad "Time for Love" and the densely-arranged "She Wants Some More," which uses rock guitar and horns to piledrive home a killer riff. Of course, the thing that waylaid many of Cameo's R&B peers during their '90s comebacks was the misguided desire to show they could hang with the young guns, resulting in lots of cameos by big-name rappers, to little effect. But "I Wake Up," a sexy, skittering slow jam, matched anything the kids could offer, while the simplistic hip-hop-style title track proved the group could throw the funk down as well as ever in new musical duds. Only a few dated-sounding clunkers that had the feel of leftovers from the New Jack Swing era of a decade earlier kept this disc from being on par with Cameo's catalog of certified classics.

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