Cameo

20th Century Masters - The DVD Collection: The Best of Cameo

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Cameo scored R&B hits consistently from 1977 to 1995, but its biggest success came in the period 1984-1988 when it had eight singles in the R&B Top Five, five of which crossed over to the pop charts. Of course, that period also marked the ascendance of MTV and BET, and Cameo, a visually arresting group led by the flamboyant Larry Blackmon, with his exaggerated shaped Afro and red codpiece, was ready to take advantage of the promotional possibilities by making music videos of its dance hits. This DVD contains only five of those videos, but they are the group's five biggest R&B hits of the mid-'80s. "Word Up," "Candy," and "She's Strange" all topped the chart; "Single Life" (the only song here that didn't make the pop charts) hit number two; and "Back and Forth" went to number three. The videos emphasize the bandmembers themselves, who are seen cavorting with attractive young women in eye-catching outfits. There are rudimentary attempts at storylines -- the "Word Up" video has a crime motif, with the group pursued by a trench-coated detective, for example -- but what really matters are bright colors and choreography. New York City is the backdrop for much of the action, and that is particularly true of "Candy," which seems to have been put together with footage of Times Square, in front of which the bandmembers and the models perform in a blue-screen composite. Blackmon usually stands out (such as when he appears at the start of "Single Life" in a wedding dress!), and his codpiece is a virtual leitmotif, but the other bandmembers get plenty of screen time, too. (Surprisingly, Miles Davis makes a -- there is no other word -- cameo in "Back and Forth.") The music bounces along consistently, making this a video collection you can dance along to as well as watch.

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