Although he was not only heavily involved in producing funkers Kool & the Gang but was elsewhere employed far from his own jazz roots, fusionist Eumir Deodato was still taking the time to perfect his own smooth pop. Happy Hour, released in 1982, is a prime example of the sounds and styles he'd now fully adapted. Sweet and slick, Happy Hour hinges on the upbeat sounds of early-'80s pop, leaving his prior success with disco present but lurking in the background. With vocalist Kelly Barretto taking a turn across the lion's share of the songs, she set the tone with her clear R&B style and, although it was "Happy Hour" that hit the pop charts, the opening "Keep on Movin'" was a far better example of her prowess. Nearly eight minutes long and built around a smoothly repetitious, delicious, classic Deodato groove, her octave-leaping vocals bound in and out of the mix with ease amid the synth and brass. Elsewhere, Deodato brought in the star power of guest Candi Staton on a barely lukewarm version of the Smokey Robinson classic "The Tears of a Clown," which focused almost exclusively on an unending alto sax solo. On a happier note, both "Keep It in the Family" and "I Never Get Enough" wrapped up the set with a Motown vibe. But while Happy Hour is easy on the ears, with nice turns spattered throughout, there's nothing overly remarkable about the set, nor is there anything to recommend it. Deodato was capable of much better, and it would have been nice to hear it.
AllMusic Review by Amy Hanson