Review Summary: A mixed bag, but overall a solid jazz-fusion album.
I found this album at a local sale for 50 cents. I had no idea what to expect from the album, I just bought the LP because the cover was cool. I later found the 50 cents was well spent. From start to finish this album was a great listen. If you like a good example of early 1980s funk/jazz fusion music, this is the album.
Spunky: This track was worth the price alone. It opens with a crescendo of drums, then Bob James on the synthesizers starts playing a quiet melody while the bass fires up to play along with the disco dance tempo. Throughout the track, Bob dives into various melodies played exceptionally funkily.
Macumba: This is definitely a strange track, this one opens with a synthesized flute, then crescendos with more, louder synthesized textures which subsequently starts a slow jungle rhythm. Throughout the track there is a female singing "Macumba", possibly a traditional African song" Very interesting. Near the end Bob slams in a few funky improvisations with his synthesizers creating a really powerful sound.
Shamboozie: This track feels like a Chuck Mangione composition. It has a good tropical tempo and melody. Nothing to write home about compared to the last track but is a well played piece. Bob plays an electric clavichord throughout, which was a very popular instrument in the 1970s.
Janus: This starts side B and is completely different from the A-side opener. This track focuses on Bob's slow and smooth piano playing. It is more like elevator music here, still enjoyable but definitely one of the weakest tracks on the album.
Roberta: This is quite similar to Janus in terms of pacing, but adds an orchestra and trumpet with occasional hits from the bass. Really smooth and relaxing, but keeps one's attention.
It's Only Me: The final track and what a finish! This one starts with a similar sound to the previous two tracks with a quiet soft synthesizer, which follows with a drum/bass heavy funky melody. The arrangement of this is quite similar to Spunky.
Overall, this album is great if you like jazz fusion from the early 1980s. This album has a lot of different sounds and styles for the particular fan of this genre and period. From the funkiness of Spunky and It's Only Me, the tropical sounds of Macumba and Shamboozie, to the smoothness of Janus and Roberta.