Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feel Her Funk - La Toya Part 1

This is a very personal post for me because La Toya Jackson is one of my very favourite people on this planet. La Toya (or Toy as she is known to her tens of fans around the globe!) represents everything I love in a celebrity - fame, shame and a good comeback. I could probably write a novel about La Toya's contribution to trash culture but there is more to La Toya than her riveting Playboy spreads, fabulous plastic surgery and attention grabbing behaviour - her brilliant and almost entirely overlooked musical career.

It would take me several days to reflect on Toy's musical legacy, so I'll do it one album at a time. It seems fitting to start with Toy's debut album, 1980's "La Toya Jackson" because it has recently been re-issued by Cherry Pop largely due to the loving effort and dedication of La Toya's astonishing fansite - The Church Of La Toya. The Church is worth visiting even if you have extremely poor taste and do not admire this living treasure. Very few fansites show such creativity and originality. Toy's church is indeed holy ground and she is blessed to have dedicated fans like Max and Jamie.

Back to the album! "La Toya Jackson" is an inspired debut that has stood the test of time. Here is a copy of the (slightly overexcited) review I submitted to!

La Toya Jackson is one of the most criminally underappreciated artists in the history of music. The reason for this is an eternal mystery to Toy Soldiers around the globe: La Toya has the looks, attitude and stunning vocal ability to match it with anyone in the business. However, through some sad twist of fate La Toya's albums have mostly faded into obscurity - until now!

"La Toya Jackson" is the timely re-release of La Toya's magnificent debut album, which was greeted with much enthusiasm by critics and fans upon its original 1980 release. The album includes contributions from a long list of RnB luminaries and represents a compelling mix of RnB funk, disco beats and luscious ballads. This album is a triumph for La Toya and holds up wonderfully 26 years later.

The album begins with La Toya's much loved "If You Feel The Funk". This was a minor hit on the RnB chart and remains a fan favourite. I guarantee that you won't be the same after feeling La Toya's funk! The next track, "Save Your Love" is a personal favourite. This is disco Toy at her funkiest, pleading with her man to save his love while she's on the road. "Are You Ready" is another great example of an RnB groove, 80s style. Next comes "Night Time Lover", La Toya's infamous duet with her brother, Michael. If you can overcome the slightly disturbing imagery of siblings singing about touching each other in the dark, then this is a winner! Toy proves herself to be more than Michael's equal with her erotically charged performance.

"A Taste Of You (Is A Taste Of Love)" is the album's first ballad and showcases La Toya's tremendous vocal range. This is followed by "Lovely Is She", one of Toy's most appealing mid-tempo ballads. The lyrics could not describe La Toya more perfectly - "lovely is she, beautiful and charming". The album closes with the deep groove of "If I Ain't Got It". This song is full of attitude and contains an unforgettable baseline that will have you hooked from the first listen.

"La Toya Jackson" is a great album, from beginning to end. It is a great starting point for people who have yet to fall under La Toya's irresistible spell, while for Toy's millions of devoted fans, this re-release will more than help to fill the void until the release of "Startin' Over", La Toya's much anticipated new album.

As a footnote, I should add that "Startin' Over" is still unreleased. However, I'll get to that later. The "Startin' Over" saga is more entertaining than "The Bold & The Beautiful" and "Days Of Our Lives" combined! In the meantime, here are some divine Toy tracks to cherish. If you like what you hear, please buy the album at Amazon or Play.

Remember to visit Toy's Church and say hello at Toy's forum!

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