Change ‘Turn on Your Radio’ (BBR) 3/5

changeFollowing on from their greatest commercial success with the crack 1980s production pairing of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis that resulted in the hit album ‘Change of Heart’, Change parted company with the duo and, in hindsight, this was to be the beginning of the end for the group. Soul and funk music in the mid-1980s was going through its own digital era of sorts with mechanised instruments replacing the human sound of studio musicians and ‘Turn on your radio’ is very much a reflection of that influence. Produced by French West Indian Jacques Fred Petrus who had pioneered the post-Chic sound of Change (with intriguingly instrumentation laid down in Italy and vocals at a later point in New York), BB&Q Band and his very own Peter Jacques Band, the music was in a state of flux and somewhere along the line Change’s identity got lost in the mix. A first single, the title track, fared poorly and barely struggled to reach the top one hundred of the R & B charts and was even outside the Billboard main top two hundred. A second single, ‘Let’s go together’, only fared slightly better, but was at least a return of form and is in fact a prime candidate for the strongest song on the whole album. It was a sound that recalled Change in their heyday and the bonus 12″ version here is well worth the admission price. Of course the Jam-Lewis connection could not be entirely forgotten and ‘Oh what a feeling’ is a burning mid-tempo number that is a carbon copy of the ‘Change of Heart’ formula that worked so well, with Deborah Cooper outstanding on lead vocals. Returning to the dance floor groove, ‘Mutual Attraction’ after a somewhat corny synth intro, settles into a strong dance groove and is fairly typical of its time. Change were in existence for a relatively short space of time, five years to be precise, and yet they achieved a good deal within this limited time frame. Moreover, the group served as a stopping off point for some truly memorable careers, not least the one and only Luther Vandross. Petrus himself became bogged down with unresolved tax issues and consequently left the US in 1986 never to return. Indeed he quit the music industry altogether to settle permanently in his native Guadeloupe. Change never formally finished, but this last album effectively put an end to the formation and the individual members parted company to focus on individual projects. At least with this final recording, the circle has finally been completed. Fans of the group in the UK will retain many happy memories of the mid-1980s tour including a memorable concert in Manchester at the then in its infancy Hacienda.

Tim Stenhouse