Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here: the holiest month on the Dystopian Dance Party calendar, Jheri Curl June. We’ve done this song and dance a few times before, so I’ll keep it brief this time; suffice to say, if you need a primer on what Jheri Curl Music is, you can check out our somewhat crudely-produced Imaginary Genres video from last year:
We’ll be back later today to officially kick off the festivities…remember to check back every weekday in June for more of the wettest, silkiest ’80s R&B!
Formed by Miami D.J. Lewis Martinée, Exposé originally released their first single, “Point of No Return,” in 1984. However, during the recording of their debut album, Exposure, the group’s lineup completely changed. Thus, “Point of No Return” was re-recorded and re-released in 1987.
Although Exposé exemplified Miami freestyle, “Point of No Return” stands out as particularly Jheri Curl–most likely because it was initially recorded at the pinnacle of Jheri Curl Music. It’s a fascinating example of the connections between two important strains of mid-’80s dance music.
And with that, this year’s Jheri Curl June Ladies’ Week is over–but there’s still one more week of festivities to go! In the meantime, playlists are below.
Continue reading “Jheri Curl June: Exposé’s “Point of No Return””
This Jheri Curl June, we’ve unsurprisingly talked a fair amount about artists from Minneapolis; but most of those artists–again, unsurprisingly–had a direct connection to the artist from Minneapolis, Prince. The Jets are a rare example of a Twin Cities R&B group from the mid-’80s that didn’t have the Purple One pulling the strings from behind the scenes. A Mormon, Polynesian American family band, comprised of the eight oldest children of Maikeli “Mike” and Vaké Wolfgramm–no, seriously, I had to crop half of the kids out of the featured image just to make it a manageable size–the Jets actually got started in the late 1970s, performing as “Quasar.” But it wasn’t until 1986, and their Number 3 single “Crush on You,” when the Jets really…took off (BOOOOOM).
I probably hear “Crush on You” at least once a day on the Sirius XM station the Groove, and it never gets old: it’s a frothy, energetic blend of freestyle and classic Minneapolis Jheri Curl, with lyrics (sung by the two youngest Wolfgramms, Elizabeth and Moana) that are exactly as wholesome as you’d expect from a bunch of teenagers in the LDS Church. If you can listen to this and not smile, I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably a sociopath.
We’ve got one more day of Ladies’ Week, followed by one more week of Jheri Curl June. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts. Playlists below!
Continue reading “Jheri Curl June: The Jets’ “Crush on You””
Similar to Monday’s Jheri Curl June inductee, Pennye Ford, Vesta Williams also began her career as a backup and session singer for various artists, including Chaka Khan. Her 1986 solo debut, Vesta, included her first Top 10 R&B hit: “Once Bitten Twice Shy”–which, regrettably, is not an R&B version of the Ian Hunter song, later covered by Great White. But, that would be amazing.
Anyway, we’ll be back tomorrow with more from the ladies of Jheri Curl Music–playlists below!
Continue reading “Jheri Curl June: Vesta Williams’ “Once Bitten Twice Shy””
We’ve talked a fair amount on this blog about the, ahem, interesting similarities between Rick James’ Mary Jane Girls and Prince’s Vanity 6: a concept James always maintained he came up with first, only for the Paisley Bandit to swoop in and summarily bite it. But if other stories are to be believed, Prince was actually biting from someone much closer to home: his first bass player and one-time surrogate brother, André Cymone.
The rocky relationship between Prince and Cymone is another thing we’ve discussed in Jheri Curl Junes past, and it should be noted that Prince had a history of “borrowing” from his friend and collaborator: “Do Me, Baby,” among other early songs, was by all accounts an André Cymone joint. So it wasn’t exactly a shock to hear that Prince got the idea for a girl group after catching wind of Cymone’s own side project, creatively named “the Girls.” At some point, according to the excellent (and sadly out of print) biography Dance Music Sex Romance, André and Prince even combined their ideas for the group, then known as “the Hookers”; André, however, walked away after realizing that Prince wanted him to do the work without taking any of the credit. And the rest was history: the Hookers became Vanity 6, who became Apollonia 6, and Cymone’s “Girls” released their debut album in 1984, to commercial and critical indifference.
Continue reading “Jheri Curl June: The Girls’ “Girl Talk””
Penny Ford (a.k.a. Pennye Ford, for reasons unknown) began her musical career as a backup singer for Zapp in 1979 and went on to become a session singer at Motown in Los Angeles before signing to Total Experience Records, home of Gap Band and Yarbrough & Peoples. So, needless to say, her Jheri Curl credentials were set when she embarked on her solo career in 1984. But, holy shit people… not even a résumé like that could prepare us for this video:
If anyone ever asks me what Jheri Curl June is all about, this is the video I will show them. The mirrors, the outfits, Penny’s unfaithful boyfriend is a blatant ripoff of the Kid in Purple Rain... But, most importantly, look at this fucking curl.
Just like we do every year, we’re dedicating one week this month to the women of Jheri Curl Music–see you tomorrow for more JCJ Ladies’ Week! Playlists below.
Continue reading “Jheri Curl June: Pennye Ford’s “Change Your Wicked Ways””