Bar-Kays

Contagious

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Although the Bar-Kays' membership had once topped ten members, by 1987 only Larry Dodson, Harvey Henderson, and Winston Stewart remained. The band's sound had completely transfigured, too, leaving behind most of their early funk trappings for the synth pop sounds of the day, a style which actually was well-suited to Dodson's unique vocal style and the band's high-energy pop. The album starts off with a bang on the marvelous "Certified True," which ironically sounds so much like a Cameo song that one wonders just how many people realized the enormous compliment that bands' vocalist, Larry Blackmon, paid Dodson with his own vocal development. Following quickly on its heels is the catchy "Don't Hang Up," and both songs gave the Bar-Kays more chart hits to add to their already impressive collection. "Certified True" coasted in at number nine and gave the band their first Top Ten single since 1984. The Bar-Kays had certainly found their niche by the time they recorded Contagious, but despite the smooth production they'd lost much of their original spark. In spite of the fact that the band had pioneered some of the sounds that made the 1980s what they were, this album really fell flat without being an all-out disaster. But given the three decades they were on the charts and in the public eye, a slow close wasn't the worst thing that could happen.

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