Deep Cuts: Cameo "Love You Anyway" (1984)

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by S. Victor Aaron

There was a time during my carefree youth when I was listening to little else outside of jazz and fusion but funk. We’re talking Prince, Gap Band, The Time and several other lesser known acts on the scene at that time. Right up there with the Purple One in my book was Cameo.

Now, you’re probably thinking “Word Up” and the mid-eighties breakthrough album of the same name and yeah, I dug that record, too. But I started paying attention to them around the time “Alligator Woman” became a party anthem around 1982 and when She’s Strange came out a couple of years later, I was hooked.

Led by primary vocalist Larry Blackmon, Cameo navigated through the changes going on in R&B when the Funkadelic/Parliament and Earth Wind & Fire horn-driven slabs of organic funk gave way to leaner, more synth-heavy hip-hop of the eighties. That doesn’t sound all that necessarily attractive, but Blackmon made it work with catchy hooks, a dash of rock and a continuing commitment to Philly soul harmonies.

That signature sound of theirs became crystallized with 1984’s She’s Strange. It’s a delightful frolic through early hip-hop, reggae, soul ballads and rock. All underpinned by a solid foundation of rhythm and blues.

The second track, “Love You Anyway,” is a mid-tempo jazzy funk number that’s tightly written and catchy. The song begins with those old-school soul three part harmonies sung to perfection and backed with just a slap bass guitar and percussion. When the rest of the instrumentation comes in, there’s a horn chart and minimal synths, just like the old days of the band. By looking back, it oddly made the song age better than most of their music which sounded very much of their time. I’m not going to bother quoting any lyrics here, it’s just your basic unrequited love spiel that’s not important to what makes this song go.

Eventually, the vocals make way for instrumental solos, starting with a brief sax part and followed by guitarist Charlie Singleton’s vocal scat over single note lines á la George Benson. Since this music is harder-edged R&B than what Benson has been associated with, hearing the vocal scat in this way sounds a little unusual but added to the fun. And it probably made sense to give Singleton a rare spotlight; he did co-write the song, after all.

Nowadays though, I don’t really party anymore, so party music doesn’t get on the rotation nearly as much as it used to. But sometimes middle-aged guys like to relive their reckless youth. Some of them do so by buying a Harley. Myself, I still might queue up some Cameo every so often. Most of the time when I do it’s going to be “Love You Anyway.”

Listen: Cameo “Love You Anyway”

Purchase: Cameo – She’s Strange

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