Dazz Band

Wild & Free

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With five successful years behind them, the Dazz Band were suddenly in a space fraught with shifts and balances. Both Eric Fearman and Kevin Frederick departed in early 1985, replaced by Marlon McClain and Keith Harrison, in time for the band's last Motown LP, the mediocre Hot Spot. 1986 saw the band part company with their longtime label and sign to Geffen for their next outing, Wild & Free. And that they may have been, but this shift would prove unwise as their chart-stomping run ground to a shuddering halt. Shrugging off almost any residual funk ethic they'd managed to retain, the band instead completely mired themselves in smarmy electronics and tinky-tinky dance beats. And, although both "L.O.V.E. M.I.A." and the title track made brief chart appearances, they, too, sounded tired. "Body and Mind, meanwhile, was so sonically indebted to the likes of Prince and the Time that it's almost embarrassing. And even the mysterious involvement of Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White didn't add any spark. Whether the Dazz Band were past their prime or just saddled with poor production is a moot point. The band was obviously in flux by the middle of the decade and no amount of label hopping could have quelled this disintegration of sound.

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