Picks and Pans Review: Real Men Wear Black

updated 07/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/16/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Cameo

Happy hour is now in session. Larry Blackmon and his crew are back in form on Real Men Wear Black, a blast of razzle-dazzle funk. The mincing musical theme of "Close Quarters" sends a high-voltage jolt right to your lower extremities. Sweaty and sophisticated, it's a song you could imagine Paula Abdul and Fred Astaire dancing to together. Pushed by a killer bass riff, "I Want It Now" bubbles like a craterful of lava.

Clutch-and-grab melodies, smartly varied arrangements, good harmonies—we expect these from Cameo. But there are some new tricks evident too. Some songs, such as "Am I Bad Enough," have the precision-tooled, turn-on-a-dime bottoms of the New Jack Swing school. And, for the first time, Cameo also proffers numerous tips of the trademark codpiece to their hip-hop cousins, rapping frequently and even scratching a little. This approach works best on "Get Paid," with its James Brown-influenced horn chart, and on the salsafied "Nan-Yea."

The band covers all the bases, even turning out a cozy ballad, "Time, Fire & Space." But then almost every song has grand-slam potential, making this one of the strongest collections in Cameo's 13-album history. (Atlanta Artists)

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