New Worlds

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Their second album for Arista, 1978's New Worlds was Mandrill's self-produced and updated plunge into more mainstream waters. Hoping, perhaps, to capitalize on some of the disco gold that propelled much lesser musicians to the top of the charts, many of the songs on New Worlds have an infectious groove and panache more suited to the dancefloor than to the fusion lounge inhabited by the band's longtime fans. And, even though the set is still smooth, slick, and fastidious, ultimately the album foundered because of the change. Both "Having a Love Attack" and "Don't Stop" became club staples, although any presence on the R&B charts totally eluded both singles. That honor was given to the jazzy and smoothly R&B flavored "Don't Stop." Just a little over three-and-a-half minutes long, the song was radio-friendly in both size and scope. Opening with a taste of the era's ubiquitous strings, and playing out like some soft soul hit, it may have scored the band a Top 40 R&B hit, but it soured with fans, who had come to expect so much more. However, that's not to say there aren't a few fine nuggets to be found as both "Mean Streets" and "Third World Girl" pick up the slack. By this late in the game, Mandrill had certainly lost some of their initial sizzle, while various members had come and gone, furthering the disintegration of the style that drove their early heyday. And, sadly, all this is reflected across New Worlds. It may have been part of a new era for the band, but sadly, for many, New Worlds was just tired.

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