Yarbrough and Peoples ‘The Two of us’ (BBR/Cherry Red) 3/5

 yarbrough-peoplesThe early 1980s was a time of change on the dancefloor and the introduction of synthesizers in the 1970s would become a predominant trait in dance music with Giorgio Moroder the leader in the field alongside the more experimental musings of Kraftwerk. One early example that worked at all levels was the smash hit ‘Don’t stop the music’ for soulful vocal duo Cavin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples which is contained here in its full length version, and it certainly stands the test of time remarkably well. It scored a number one position on both the R & B and pop charts and with its heavy bass synth was a precursor to what would follow with the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production stable. The instantly recognisable chorus riff was interesting also for the use of a reggae-influence keyboard bridge. What is surprising, however, is that given the production team had pioneered this new sound, they then reverted back to a more conventional soul pairing, clearly influenced by the likes of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Thus ‘Don’t stop the music’ stands out head and shoulders above the rest with an attempt at a follow up, the acoustic meets electronic sounding ‘Third Degree’ a fair stab at the dancefloor and here there is the bonus of the 12″ version. Elsewhere the sound is a tad pedestrian in spite of the excellence of the musicians that include on keyboards Patrick Moten (Chapter Eight and Anita Baker) and Michael Wycoff plus the percussive genius of Paulinho da Costa. It is a pity that Yarbrough and Peoples never recorded a whole album in the dancefloor vein, but nonetheless their long-term status in dance music history is confirmed with this timely re-issue. As ever excellent bio details and illustrative graphics.

Tim Stenhouse