Jheri Curl June: R.J.’s Latest Arrival’s “Off the Hook (With Your Love)”

The first time I encountered a record by R.J.’s Latest Arrival, it was in a bargain bin at 2nd & Charles in Woodbridge, Virginia. The moment I saw their 1986 album Hold On, with its mid-’80s barbershop’s assortment of jheri curls on the back cover, I knew I had to have it (it helped that it cost less than three dollars).

The second time I encountered a record by R.J.’s Latest Arrival, it was in another bargain bin at another Northern Virginia record store, CD Cellar in Falls Church. This time it was their self-titled 1985 album–their third self-titled album, just for maximum confusion–and I didn’t buy it, because does anyone really need two albums by R.J.’s Latest Arrival?

Despite my sudden financial prudence, however, I’m still sort of fascinated by R.J.’s Latest Arrival. Maybe it’s their clumsy moniker, the meaning of which I still can’t quite parse despite way too much mental energy dedicated to the subject. Or maybe it’s the fact that they’re from Detroit, which always gives me a little swell of home-state pride–even if, like their fellow Michiganders Ready for the World, they seemed hell-bent on sounding like they were from Minneapolis. Whatever the case, they’ll always have a special place in my heart. And while “Off the Hook (With Your Love),” their biggest hit single from 1988, is unlikely to blow any minds–it’s bog-standard Late Jheri Curl, complete with its proto-New Jack beat–it’s a pleasant enough way to wind down our last week of Jheri Curl June. Check it out on the playlists below.

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Best of Dystopian Dance Party, Year 3

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been doing Dystopian Dance Party for three years now; I’ve had actual relationships that didn’t last as long as my relationship with this stupid blog. Even harder to believe is the fact that we’re still not running out of steam. Basically, at this point the blog is an act of aggression; we’re going to keep inflicting it on the world, whether the world likes it or not. If you do like what we’re doing (for some reason), check the list below for my completely subjective choices for the 12 best posts in our third year of operation.

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Jheri Curl June: Imaginary Genres – Jheri Curl Music

It’s finally here! In case you weren’t aware, Jheri Curl June is our most sacred holiday season here at Dystopian Dance Party, and we wanted to do something special for its third annual observance (“Jh3ri Curl Jun3”). So, instead of resurrecting the same hoary old introductory post from 2014, we thought we’d offer a concise introduction to the genre we call Jheri Curl Music in the form of a short video. Please enjoy; transcript and video/audio credits are past the jump. And come back tomorrow for some more traditional Jheri Curl June fare!

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Jheri Curl June: Ready for the World’s “Love You Down”

Today we give a shout-out to Flint, Michigan‘s own sultry jheri-ballad kings, Ready for the World. They were discovered by the WJLB Detroit radio personality The Electrifying Mojo in 1982, and gained underground notoriety in both Flint and Detroit for “Tonight,” the song that would eventually become the lead single for their 1985 self-titled debut. “Love You Down,” like “Tonight,” is another sexy opening track, this time for their 1986 sophomore album, the confusingly-titled Long Time Coming.

The video for “Love You Down” is shot entirely in sepia, which as everyone knows was the universally recognized shade of sexiness for music videos in the ’80s and early ’90s. Singer Melvin Riley’s jheri curl emerges from the ominous darkness, his curls highlighted by the dark, as he lisps his way through a slow, sensual jam in which he seduces an older woman.

After their second album, Ready for the World had lost the magic and disbanded after two more releases, only to be reunited in the early 2000s with some seriously unmemorable, poor man’s R. Kelly-sounding R&B. But as a Michigan original and true proponents of the Minneapolis sound (no, that wasn’t a typo), Ready for the World will forever hold a place in jheri curl history.

Remember to read past the jump for the updated Spotify playlist!

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Dystopian Road Mix Vol. 1: Kansas City to Eastern Michigan

Editor’s Note: If you’ve read anything at all on this blog, it should already be abundantly clear that I am a big ol’ geek. As such, one of my favorite things to do whenever I take a road trip is listen to music by artists from the cities I’m passing through. Now, as it happens, today I will be driving from my current home in Kansas City, Missouri to my parents’ house in Port Huron, Michigan; and next month, I’ll be taking a second trip from Port Huron to my future home in the Washington, D.C. area. So I figured, since I like making mixes, and since this blog is just a giant vanity project anyway, why not turn my music-geek road trip game into a recurring feature?


I’m calling the feature Dystopian Road Mix. Similar to the previously-introduced Dystopian Dance Mix, it will be a Spotify playlist accompanied by my trademark reams of text. There will be two differences, though (other than the obvious travelogue conceit): first, no 80-minute time limit; and second, instead of track-by-track commentary, I’ll be grouping the music selections together based on geography (don’t worry, though, I’ll still write a shit-ton–in fact, I’m pretty sure this may be my most verbose post yet). I’m honestly not sure how frequently this feature will recur. As mentioned above, there will definitely be another installment next month; after that, though, it’s up in the air. Maybe I’ll only make future installments when I’m actually traveling somewhere; maybe I’ll revisit trips I’ve taken in the past; maybe I’ll invent imaginary road trips. It all depends on how much time I have on my hands, basically. But in the meantime, please enjoy my guided musical tour through the Midwest; and, as I’m sure I left more than a few notable artists out, feel free to share whatever I’ve missed in the comments! – Z.H.

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