BAR-KAYS: ‘Injoy’ (Label: Hip-O Select)

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BAR-KAYS: 'Injoy'

Beginning life as The River Arrows, this Memphis R&B group was reborn after a fateful plane crash claimed four of its members along with soul singer Otis Redding in 1967. Survivors, James Alexander (bass) and Ben Cauley (trumpet), brought in new personnel and the group established itself at Stax/Volt in the late-’60s and early’70s as a funky instrumental combo with hits like ‘Son Of Shaft.’ By 1979 when this Mercury album was released, The Bar-Kays had gained a lead vocalist in Larry Dodson and morphed into a ten-member funk-disco outfit. The album (on CD for the first time) spawned a big US hit in the shape of ‘Move Your Boogie Body,’ which boasts a dirty synth bass line and sounds like a sonic synthesis of early Gap Band and Parliament. Its follow-up, ‘Today Is The Day’ – a grandiose Commodores-style pop/soul ballad – wasn’t as successful chart-wise, but illustrates the group’s versatility. What the group did best, though, was churn out chunks of seismic, horn-saturated funk and there are plenty of tunes here that fall into that category. Mighty funky and finally available in the UK via Universal’s Import Music Services.
(CW) 3/5