The epitome of a slow jam to me is still “Love Jones” by The Brighter Side of Darkness.
Back when I thought that a career in radio as a DJ would lead me to my promised land, I developed a show concept called “The Pajama Bar”. I was encouraged to pursue novelty in Top 40 radio as opposed to becoming just one of the bunch in Urban or “Black Radio at the time by my mentor. In retrospect, I realize that was partly because my expert Mentor analyzed my speaking voice and style, which was not typical (what we now call “Ebonics”) of most Black American guys on the air. Sure, I could and can break-off the slang with the best of my boyz from the Hood, but he heard that what came natural to me, due to my upbringing, was that I “sounded like a white boy” sometimes to the untrained, naked ear.
I specialized in evening and overnight shift radio. Part of my rap on the air was that I brought you music from the “brighter side of the darkness we call ‘night’”.
The Brighter Side of Darkness were four kids out of the “Windy City”, Chicago and were the precursor to the black American kid groups like New Edition, twenty years later. One of the first times a very young boy voice, in the person of 12 year-old Darryl Lamont was a featured R&B lead, reminiscent of The Five Stairsteps and little “Cubie”.
Just those first French horny notes of “Love Jones”, Da-da-daa, Da, da, da,daaa”, would cause men to go rushing across the room to find that special lady that they had their eyes on during the party, in order to catch that up-close slow dance.
I lost this album to the WBLS, New York City music library and then Music Director, Mae James, during my brief days there from 1984 – 1986 because my personal music library was even more deep than theirs and I brought my own records in sometime, to help enhance their sound. I liked Mae, but I shoulda just lent the 45rpm, but they didn’t have the album version, which featured a longer ending with additional monologue, more “ooh-ahhs”” and signature of this song, brassy French Horns and full orchestra in-tow all along to the extended vamp fade to the ending!
Back when groups had strict choreography, this was the same 20th Century recording sound studio and some of the same full orchestra that produced the late Barry White’s legendary hits like “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe”. The lyrics were almost comical, “What baby? What is a Love Jones?/like last Friday in class, when Mr. Russell was giving us the test. I was sitting up staring at you. I know I failed. Huh, a test paper, with nothing but my name on it?” but the term “love jones” quickly made its way in the lexicon of romantic dating linguistics. If you’ve comprehended anything I’ve written then all I want to hear from you in the comments, Doll, is that you too, have a “Love Jones”.
Remember, check out my mothership blog for more serious topics at https://achilliad.wordpress.com/