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RECORD RACK

Cerebral Boogie

November 16, 1986|CONNIE JOHNSON

"WORD UP!" Cameo. Atlanta Artists. Where fearsome funk is concerned, "Word Up!" ranks alongside George Clinton's "R&B Skeletons in the Closet" as one of the year's best albums. It's bursting at the seams with ideas--particularly the title cut, a textbook example of git down, how-low-can-you-go funk.

Fronted by Larry Blackmon, the thinking man--and woman's--funkateer, this Atlanta-based trio continues its trademark method, wrapping clever wordplay around some of the nastiest rhythms ever to hit a hot dance floor. The brainy Blackmon's brand of cerebral boogie makes him the creative cousin of Clinton. Both are always inventing new ways to keep black music untainted by pop compromise.

Blackmon, who writes and produces the group's material, is surprisingly tender on "Don't Be Lonely," brazenly wanton on "Back and Forth" and just brazen, period, on "She's Mine," a purely groove-oriented track that recalls the group's profoundly funky 1984 hit "She's Strange." Cameo is a band that doesn't need to plagiarize anyone but itself as it stays on the look-out for ever-fresher grooves and ideas.

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