Cameo

Single Life

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AllMusic Review by

In the late '70s and very early '80s, Cameo was the epitome of a horn-driven funk band. Like Parliament/Funkadelic (a major influence), the Ohio Players, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Commodores, Tower of Power, and so many other bands that defined funk in the '70s, Cameo was famous for its horn section. But when horn bands went out of style and urban contemporary audiences started craving synth-funk and electro-funk, Cameo leader Larry Blackmon was determined to change with the times and remain on the charts. Thus, the Cameo of 1985's Single Life is a lot more high tech than the Cameo of 1978's We All Know Who We Are or 1980's Cameosis. Blackmon felt that the market called for a downsized Cameo, which is why the Cameo he leads on this LP is a trio consisting of Tomi Jenkins, Nathan Leftenant, and himself. Single Life isn't devoid of horns, but the horn players are strictly guests -- not actual Cameo members -- and the group's sound is built around synthesizers and electric bass. Some funk fans missed the old horn-powered Cameo, but Single Life had no problem appealing to urban contemporary audiences. Although not quite as essential as 1986's Word Up!, this album is generally excellent. The infectious title song was a major hit, and Cameo is equally impressive on other synth-funk offerings like "I've Got Your Image" and "Attack Me With Your Love." Much to Blackmon's credit, the album is fairly diverse and unpredictable. "A Good-Bye" is more of a rock ballad than an R&B ballad, while "Little Boys, Dangerous Toys" is a political reggae gem inspired by the Cold War and the nuclear arms race. And one of the album's best songs is "Urban Warrior," a fun yet idealistic rap tune about a hip-hopper who travels the world partying and promoting world peace. Single Life was a welcome addition to Cameo's catalog.

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