Sunday, November 02, 2014

Brighter Side of Darkness, "Love Jones" (1973)

Jan. 16, 1973, #16 

There are a lot of reasons "Love Jones" might seem to have been lost down the memory hole. The most obvious is that it was quickly obscured in the celebrity glare of the Cheech & Chong parody that followed within the year, "Basketball Jones," which featured George Harrison, Carole King, Darlene Love, and Michelle Phillips (among others) and was actually a slightly bigger hit, peaking at #15 in September 1973. Brighter Side of Darkness (what a name) are pure generic one-hit wonder, '70s version, never to be heard of again after a self-titled album that accompanied their sole chart appearance. The lead singer, Darryl Lamont, was 12 years old. Based out of Chicago, the group came up with a song that is a dense stew of the proto-disco black pop music of the time. It is powered by a majestic bottom and propped up by staccato horns over which strings swirl and glide like frosting. It takes its time. When the singing / speaking starts, it is so sincere and innocent in its ways as to be almost embarrassing, but ultimately irresistibly endearing. Lamont's voice has broken but not the callowness, attempting to get over, softly murmuring: " ... you see, darling / It's about time for me to / Get real serious about you / Because / If someone was / To rip me off of you / I couldn't account for / My actions." The theme, the mood, the song is all love, love, love, the sweetly painful kind from the years of hard teenage crushes, couched in tuff terms: "I need you / And the need is so strong / It's almost like that of a junkie." Different times, different times, that such a sentiment could coexist so neatly inside this beautiful sweet confection.

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