INVISIBLE MAN’S BAND: ‘Really Wanna See You’ (Label: Funkytowngrooves)

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INVISIBLE MAN'S BAND: 'Really Wanna See You'

This was the second and final album by the quintet comprising guitarist/vocalist Clarence Burke and his brothers James (vibes), Keni (bass) and Dennis (guitar) together with keyboard player, Dean Gant. Of course, dedicated soul fans will know that the quintet was a later offshoot of The Five Stairsteps, a juvenile group that the Chicago-raised Burke family had begun in the mid-’60s (they were discovered by Curtis Mayfield). After a late-’70s incarnation of the group – then known as The Stairsteps – had seen out their contract with ex-Beatle George Harrison’s Dark Horse label, the band split up. In 1980, however, Clarence Burke decided to found The Invisible Man’s Band and recruited three of his siblings. The group’s debut album – which apparently is due for reissue imminently by funkytowngrooves – yielded the US Top 10 R&B smash, ‘All Night Thing,’ and was issued by Chris Blackwell’s Island label but a year later, the Burkes left to join former Casablanca boss, Neil Bogart, at his Boardwalk set up. What resulted was ‘Really Wanna See You,’ now reissued – and digitally remastered – for the first time ever by Northampton’s funkytowngrooves. Fans of early ’80s post-disco boogie-style grooves will discover much to enjoy here – from the crisp, breezy dance floor rhythms of the title song (a minor US hit in early ’82) to the carefree hedonism expounded in the club floor filler, ‘Party Time.’ Ballad-wise, ‘Along The Way’ impresses with its blend of undulating bossa nova-style rhythms, smooth strings, mellifluous flutes and warmly harmonised vocals. Also noteworthy is’ Circles,’ a quirky funk workout and ‘Rated X,’ which boasts more of a rump-shaking disco vibe and is propelled by Keni Burke’s sinewy bass line. This reissue also boasts a bonus track in the shape of an edited version – presumably a 45 edit – of ‘Rated X.’ Ironically, the band’s anonymity might have seemed like an astute record company marketing ploy – in keeping with their name, no images of them appeared on their records – but ultimately, their ill-conceived conceit backfired as sales indicated that no one really cared who or what they were. By 1983, the Invisible Man’s Band had disappeared into the ether forever. Now, after a 26-year absence, their records are visible again – and they’re well worth a gander.
(CW) 4/5