Social Dance

Love Jones

Format: Cassette

By Bob Bahr

For centuries, wags have said that there's nothing new under the Sun. And true, the Latin rhythms and dream-like vocal harmonizing on Love Jones' cassette Social Dance are nothing new. But to hear these sounds come from a contemporary group, like the one vocalist-percussionist Ben Daughtrey has put together, IS new. Definitely new.

The music Love Jones is making harkens back to the Latin-crazed late 1950s, but if people their age made this kind of music back then (their parents' music), they would be, like, Squaresville, man. But now, through the wonders of cyclical taste and imaginative reinvention, the samba beat, bongos and the tightstrumming rhythm guitar live again. And the hip crowd that knows that black clothes are passe is dancing to Love Jones.

The vocal work isn't always perfect. The lyrics, are lazy and revel in the mundane. Love Jones doesn't dazzle with hot licks. However, their sense of humor and infectious conviction to party make Social Dance a winner. With an ear bent to the two South American Gilbertos (Gil and Astrud), Love Jones makes engrossing pop. They keep you guessing, like fledgling B-52s, rarely telegraphing their tongue-in-cheekiness.

Love Jones' roots in funk show through on "Pineapple" and "Monday Girl," but, above all, Latin rules. "Whiskey, the Moon and Me" marries Roger Miller-like lyrics to a Brazilian lament. The Star Trek Theme is paraphrased in "Whiskey," recalling Daughtrey's Fanci Pantz days and that funk band's playfulness.

"Whiskey" and "Dune Buggy" show fine songcrafting at one end of the scale, balancing the stilted political wandering on "Pineapple" and the East End snoozer "Ohio River." Treating Manuel Noriega and a boozy boat trip on the Ohio with the same flippancy offends the sensibilities somewhat. The lyrics on Social Dance are evenly lighthearted, making the overall effect fluffy and light. Coupled with the low-key music, Social Dance is easy-listening music. This is not said derogatorily. The rhythms inject liveliness, making perfect music to dance your housework away without annoying the neighbors.