Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Sly Fox Goes All the Way--Into Oblivion
One of the great things about the 80's (and any other decade, for that matter), is the proliferation of "one-hit wonders" that became some of pop music's most memorable songs. Some of these tunes many know by heart: they can name the song/artist at the drop of a hat (Toni Basil's "Mickey"). Others, however, are songs that ignite an internal memory conflict in your brain rivalling "Total Recall": The all-too-familiar battle in which one part of you says, "dammit I kow this song--I used to love it!" and the other says "who the hell is this?"Of course, if you loved it so much, common sense would dictate you should know the artist--but such is not the case with one-hit wonders... and this is their devlish charm.
In 1985, British producer Ted Currier assembled a pop/funk duo called "Sly Fox." The duo was made up of Gary 'Muddbone' Cooper, a former member of the iconic funk group Parliament, and a vocalist by the name of Michael Camacho. Cooper and the team magically combined elements of funk, soul, alt-rock and hip-hop, added a dash of obligatory 80's synth, and the result was the song "Let's Go All The Way." The pastiche of all these styles was a success, as the song became a huge dance track hit--but it didn't stop there: The song charted with almost every demographic you could imagine: pop, r&b, new-wave, rock, etc. It fit as easily into a playlist of the Smiths and the Cure as it did amongst Prince and Rick Springfield. Needless to say, this was a pretty tall order, even in the 80s.
"Let's Go All The Way" reached #7 on Billboard's hot 100 in 1985. This seemed to bode well for this newly formed group, but, as is the case with the fickle 80s, the future for Sly Fox was not bright. Their debut LP was not received as well as the single, partly because the rest of the album was low-end synth filler that rarely rivaled a Casio's "demo" button. And while MTV played the video for "Let's Go All The Way" quite often (probably too often), there's only so much milage you can get out of one hit--even in 1986. In no time, Sly Fox had vanished from the musical landscape.
Today, you'll likely only hear the pulsating strains of "Let's Go All The Way" at 80's clubs, or as part of your average retro TV program. Cooper went on to work on several more projects (including Adina Howard's 1995 hit "Freak Like Me" and some solo work), and Mr. Camacho continued working as a vocalist, mainly in the jazz arena. While the two may not have gone on to super stardom, their song has since been re-mixed and remade several times. Funny: 80's music often ends up as a punchline nowadays-- but it's oddly good enough to earn money for some band willing to remake it. Go figure, right?
· Sly Fox has an entry in Wikipedia.
· You can find out more about Parliament here
· Michael Camacho has a profile on The Jazz Network