Music and Lights – Imagination
Flashback: The Very Best of Imagination
78:41 min • Sony • October 7, 2013
David Robson reviews
This month sees the release of a new ‘best of’ album from the masters of early ’80s British soul, Imagination. You may think you haven’t heard their discography in full but you’ll be sure to have heard a sample or two from the future generations that this group went on to inspire, not just in the UK but around the world.
Flashback, which takes its name from one of the band’s early Top 20 UK Hits, is appropriate for this latest hits collection retrospective. It’s a look back at a brief yet impressive contribution to black British music by one it’s most flamboyant groups.
Debut single ‘Body Talk’ was the band’s breakthrough hit and to this day still holds its sex appeal without giving too much away, proving that less is more. It’s a breath of fresh air when compared to today’s dull blanket of all too similar R’n’B sounds.
Further on in the album and we are well into the string of UK Top 20 hits. ‘Changes’, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, ‘Flashback ‘In and Out of Love’ and (my favourite) ‘Music and Lights’ all get the foot tapping and have you racing for your best pair of spandex to go out dancing to the nearest discotheque.
But it’s not just the oldies you’ll find on here. Towards the end of the CD are 2 new tracks from the band’s charismatic and flamboyant front man Leee John. (Polari recently interviewed Leee John, and he did not disappoint.) The tracks are a lovely addition – despite the fact they, as you’d expect, don’t flow so well with the rest of the album.
Then there’s the anthem ‘Just an Illusion’. A Number 2 hit back in March 1982, it went on to become the band’s most well known track selling copies all over the globe. Not only did the song achieve success in its own right, ‘Illusion’ has gone on to influence many of today’s R’n’B powerhouses, helping them to achieve further chart success. The kids of today may recognise it most notably from Mariah Carey’s 2005 Top 10 US Billboard hit ‘Get Your Number’.
If you’re a fan of the group already then this is already a must for your collection. It’s worth it for the unedited version of ‘Body Talk’ alone, but if you’re a fan of a bass driven seductive funk with heavenly falsetto vocals then this is worth the listen. A fine slice of early ’80s Brit Funk at its most fabulous.