Picks and Pans Review: Theater of the Mind

updated 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT


The funky music played by this Jersey-based quartet has until now had a dignified, patient gait. Attribute that style—effective enough in its way—to the jazz background of leader James Mtume (pronounced Em-TOO-may). With Theater of the Mind however the stately mansions of the past give way to a fun house. If it weren't so far out of date, this would be a great time to yell, "Get down!" The happily surprising album is studded with spoken vignettes, strange asides and comic skits. For instance, New Face Deli begins with a bizarre take on cosmetic surgery narrated by "Ted Copout." The music is more immediate, striking and entertaining than any yet produced by the group. There are no lyrics to I Don't Believe You Heard Me beyond a repetition of the title, but there is plenty of soul. On this tribute to James Brown, guitarist Ed "Tree" Moore, a regular Mtume collaborator, strums a wicked picket-fence rhythm. Deep Freeze has a funk riff as inexorable as a wrecking ball. In fact, Theater of the Mind is the kind of production that merits rave reviews from R&B fans in general and dancers in particular. (Epic)

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