Donald Byrd

Thank You...For F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life)

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This album was Byrd's debut for Elektra/Asylum and a return to the charts after the demise of Blue Note Records. After taking a brief hiatus from recording, Byrd got right back in the business of commercial jazz/R&B while the purists again recoiled in horror. During the '70s, he was one of the leaders at making intelligent, R&B-based jazz with high selling albums, Black Byrd and Places And Spaces, both produced by Larry Mizell and Fonce Mizell. Thank You...For F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life) has Byrd producing himself, taking disco much too seriously and straying too far from his jazz roots. Although this does feature his 125th Street Orchestra, which included Wah Wah Watson, Ed Watkins, and Gregory Phillinganes, they paled in comparison to his 1972-1975 bands. The disco-fied "In Love With Love" isn't even suited for Byrd's trumpet blaring in the background. The other dance tracks, "Have You Heard the News?" and the title track, almost take a scientific approach to disco, and to that end there's little spontaneity. Byrd did much better with the melodically challenging songs on the album. Tracks like the assured "Your Love Is My Ecstasy" and the sharp, mid-tempo "Loving You" has him animated and playing recondite and rewarding notes. By the album's last song, "Close Your Eyes and Look Within," it's clear that the relative lightweight nature of Thank You...For F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life) wasn't going to bring out the best in him or the listener.

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