Knights of the Sound Table

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As Cameo continued to hone their sound, they found themselves in the position not only of having to bridge a musical gap, but also needing to follow up a smash album. Following on the heels of 1980's massive Cameosis, which created a signature vibe and set the band up for truly massive early success, it's surprising that Knights of the Sound Table would lose strength. But it did. The band was exhausted, only coming off the road long enough to record the album before heading straight back out again. Knights of the Sound Table plays through like a transitional album -- and it falters at times because of it. Even though the band remained bound to their funk roots, they were tweaking them within a very different framework -- a 1980s pre-wave wave. The set is divided into two very distinct camps, then, booty shaking funk and saccharine ballads. When it's good, it's tremendous. "Knights by Night" is strong and very typically Cameo, while "Don't Be So Cool" leans more into an '80s frame of mind. The marvelous "Freaky Dancin'" pulled out ahead of the pack and was rewarded with a number three spot on the R&B charts for its efforts, while two other tracks, the funky "I Like It" and "Feel Me," would also chart. Where the band weakened was across their ballads. "I'll Always Stay" and "I Never Knew" feel more like filler than anything else, while "The Sound Table" is a poke at disco -- too long after the genre left the dancefloor. Despite such serious wobbles, though, the set is cohesive enough to forgive its failings, the sound of a band keeping their past alive while stretching their wings toward the future.

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