Hooked on You
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by Jason Thompson
Firstly, one can tell that this album is going to be a solid groove just by looking at its cover. It is a semi-‘70s motif featuring an artistic representation of a black woman with green hair and pink/green top in front of an orange and pink circular background. The woman is looking straight into the listener’s soul and is putting the mojo on deeply. “You will groove…you will bob your head…you will dance…you will remember what great dance music is all about when you play this CD.” These and other messages are sent telepathically to your brain stem from the artwork.
Upon putting the CD in a player designed for such a thing and pressing the “play” button, the listener’s ears are set on Maximum Groove with the opening ditty “Drive Me Crazy,” a ‘70s funk/soul nugget that sounds straight out of Me Decade Philadelphia brought back to life with fresh minds and clear ears. Try not to groove to it. It cannot be done. Fashionable corporations like The Gap would love to get their hands on this one and sell some pants with it playing in the background. They know the kids will groove.
The Hypnotic Ultra-Groove Train arrives suddenly and takes the ticket holder on a journey to the “High Riser.” The trip starts out slowly, with three chords alternating on the phased electric piano as strings drop in, pinpointing the progress. Horns take their positions for the big buildup. A tambourine shakes and suddenly the backbeat drops out for a few measures. Then the main theme explodes. It sounds like a cool ‘70s cop show TV theme that never was. The horns and strings work in unison and the booties shake. This is retro paradise.
“Something to Live For” continues the slick retro paint job stacked with cool vocoders, the ever-present strings, and some of the best modulated bass line breaks you’ve never heard. Daft Punk wishes they had this on their last album. Robots bounce and sway together in the background as the disco soul takes control. The control breaks briefly from some funky African motif slipping through “Gwaan’ In.” Perhaps this portion doesn’t work as well. But then again, maybe it does. One wonders.
“Wacky Backy” sets the groove upward again, recalling the Propellerheads with the funk-a-rama keyboards at the fore. There are more tasty electric keys and even some harmonica thrown in. The Beastie Boys wish they could make instrumental grooves as tight as this. But the retro-fun sort of comes to a standstill with the generic “Hooked on You,” which is decent, but not enough to remember as well as all the other tunes so far.
“Just Say Yes” brings to mind Pat O’Brien all coked up and leaving tons of voice messages. It percolates in a future world of syncopation and trance-funk gathered from the web weaved by the unconscious groover. Dream sleep described in music and pleasure pudding. All for the better as the vocal “Dream of You” works in all the way where “Hooked on You” failed. It sounds new and old all at once, is lush and languid, and complements the surrounding tracks.
“Going Back to Denver” sounds like a lost instrumental bit from a long-forgotten film. “Here to Stay (version de USA)” has a good Sheila E. sort of locked-in groove running through its mix. “Mange Tout” is more of the good space-funk vibe, and the closing “Free” sounds like a solid leftover from the likes of the Brand New Heavies, only this is Secret Stealth instead. And that brings us to well over the 600 word count. Your duty is to merely pick up this fantastic album and enjoy it. If not, you’ll have missed out on one of the best of the year. You don’t want to do that.