THE SYSTEM: ‘Sweat’ (Label: Funky Town Groooves)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • THE SYSTEM: ‘Sweat’ (Label: Funky Town Groooves)

‘Sweat,’ the debut album by The System – a Big Apple-based duo comprising singer Mic (pronounced Mike) Murphy and keyboard maven David Frank – heralded a new age of minimalist techno-funk back in 1983 when synthesisers, sequencers and drum machines began to infiltrate the R&B world. Legend has it that Murphy, a one-time road manager for Kleer, hooked up with session keyboardist Frank in 1982 when the latter had accumulated some spare studio time and was looking for a like-minded person to work with him. What resulted from a nocturnal studio stint was the infectious club anthem, ‘You Are In My System,’ which laid the blueprint for The System’s futuristic marriage of robotic dance grooves and soul-infused vocals. A day later, the group was signed to Mirage Records, then distributed by the mighty Atlantic corporation. Once released, the single rapidly ascended the US R&B charts in early 1983 and made the Top 10. ‘Sweat’ was the parent album and although none of the other tracks on the set quite lived up to the promise of ‘You Are In My System,’ it was perceived as a promising debut. The album has now been digitally remastered and reissued on CD by a small UK-based label (it’s not the first time the album has been on CD though – it was available briefly in that format during the late ’80s). ‘You Are In My System’ with its twitchy bass line and addictive chorus has lost none of its sly charm – despite the ’80s production values, the music has definitely stood the test of time. Other highlights include ‘Stand Up & Cheer,’ the upbeat title cut and the throbbing groove, ‘I Won’t Let Go,’ whose moody and faintly sinister synth introduction sounds reminiscent of Roxy Music’s ‘In Every Home A Heartache.’ ‘Go For What You Know’ has a rock-funk feel while the album’s closer, ‘Now I Am Electric’ is a propulsive, synth-dominated number with a sci-fi style vocoderised voiceover from Murphy. The album achieved big commercial business in the States, peaking at number 14 in the R&B charts (it also spent 27 weeks on the charts). More importantly, the duo’s new style of mutant and futuristic R&B quickly became in demand and they found themselves in the role of songwriters and producers for other artists such as Chaka Khan. As well as including the extended vocal mix of ‘You Are In My System,’ the reissue of ‘Sweat’ also includes examples of the duo’s later releases by including five bonus mixes of post-‘Sweat’ recordings – namely ‘Promises Can Break,’ ‘I Wanna Make You Feel Good,’ the stunning ‘This Is For You’ (surely The System’s greatest moment), their biggest hit ‘Don’t Disturb This Groove’ and ‘Midnight Special.’ Anyone who’s interested in ’80s soul and funk can’t afford to miss this splendid limited edition reissue. For more info go to
(CW) 4/5