Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Expose' On Expose'

High Exposure - Expose (l-r) Jeanette Jurado, Gioia Bruno and Ann Curless

I was going to post about the mid-80's prog classic Emerson Lake and Powell, but that will have to wait until another day after a fateful trip to an insanely overpriced Japanese restaurant led to today's subject. While shelling out dough for food that was of decent quality that cost twice the normal amount (presumably because we were in affluent Napa), the restaurant provided "authentic" Japanese atmosphere by playing dance jams from the Reagan presidency. One, "Diamond Girl", we recognized but couldn't place so we looked it up online that evening. This put me into an 80's Freestyle fervor which takes me to a place nobody wants me to go I'm going there anyway.

In the late 80's I tried to live the life of a normal single guy, which included going to dance clubs with friends to try to meet girls. This was in spite of a serious handicap - I can't dance worth a lick. Taser victims getting shot with several volts of electricity dance with more rhythm than me. Fortunately, I figured out that the dance floor was so crowded that all I had to do was plant my feet and shift weight from side to side while moving my arms to try to fit in. Well, not really, I don't think I impressed a single person with my dancing.

Anyway, while in these sweaty clubs getting my groove on and trying to drink enough to screw up the courage to ask a girl to dance some of the music actually stuck in my head. Stuff like The Communards "Don't Leave Me This Way" or The Cover Girls "Because Of You" became known to me and my favorite was this song from Expose. Sorry, Expose'. I liked the synth pattern, the way it goes from this suspended rhythm to a Latin style jumpiness then a descending fall. "Come Go With Me" became the unit's first Top 10 hit.

2. Let Me Be The One

At one point I recall seeing or reading an interview in which it was said Gioia (I think it's pronounced Joy) Bruno was to be the main singer of this vocal trio. Which was odd because it was Jeanette Jurado who sang the majority of the hits. Bruno had a strong raspy sort of voice while Jurado had a smooth, youthful yearning. "Let Me Be The One" and the next album's "Tell Me Why" were Bruno's time in the spotlight and both were hits. It has a slower sultrier groove than most of their material. In that same interview it was revealed that Bruno later had vocal problems that led to her leaving Expose'. She was replaced by the cynically monikered Kelly Moneymaker (since she's still named that it may actually be her real name) by the third album. True to her name, Moneymaker later married a soap opera star. That sounds harsh, she's probably a really nice person. Nothing gets in the way of my jokes! Nothing!!!

Expose' was a group that came up through the club scene and like a lot of all girl dance bands of the time they were masterminded by a producer. In this case, that was Lewis A. Martinee'. Known to some but not widely publicized was that this was the second version of Expose', the original trio consisting of Sandee', Ale' and Laurie Miller. This was the trio that sang on the early club hits, the original versions of "Point Of No Return" and this track. "Exposed To Love" features the first set of girls in action. According to Wikipedia, this lineup dissolved shortly before the recording of Exposure for personal and professional reasons. Is it me or does the singing on this track seem a little more Latin accented? Probably me. One of those great "what if" scenarios, like "what if the original Expose recorded Exposure? Would it have been as big a hit? Would they have dropped the Apollonia 6 get ups by then?". Important questions pondered one. No one but me. Hey, did Martinee' steal that synth bit from Madonna's "Lucky Star" or what? (the version in the link above is a live take that doesn't seem to have the synth riff).

4. Seasons Change

Seasons change. People change. The $1.00 machine makes change. I change my underwear daily. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes. Exposure's fourth single was this gem of 80's pop balladry, Jurado again takes the lead on a beautiful wistful ballad about longing. Maybe Expose's best known song, "Seasons Change" has all the melodrama of a teenage girl on 90210, Dawson's Creek or whatever infernal show kids watch these days. In any case, it totally works. Totally.

5. Extra Extra

Martinee' continues to beat that Expose' metaphor to death with winning results, here the hook "Extra Extra / Read all about it / Read all about my love" kills. Ann Curless gets a shot at the front microphone and proves herself an able performer. Billy Bush hears the song and says to himself "Yes! I've found my calling."

6. Point Of No Return

Not to be confused with Nu Shooz "Point Of No Return". Or Kansas "Point Of Know Return". Or Bridget Fonda's movie Point Of No Return. Or the original Expose's own "Point Of No Return" that was a significant club hit leading to the agreement with Arista to make a full record. The biggest and baddest of Expose's dance cuts, "Point Of No Return" kicks off with that urgent synth bit and doesn't look back. The hamfisted sexual innuendo and insistent beat shoot the track into overdrive ("You're taking the point of no return. Uh-uhhhh uhh"). I went to the second annual Summerjam concert in Concord with the express interest in seeing Expose'. Unfortunately we got there a little late, arriving for the final song which was this one. Before starting the song, Jurado exclaimed "We're taking you to the point of no return!". To which a guy in the audience yelled "Noooooo! You b*tch!". Too funny.

7. Love Is Our Destiny

Curless returns to lead vocals for "Destiny", too bad we're in the second half of the tape where things get a lot more generic. I barely remember this one.

8. I Know You Know

...And I know you know, because if you knew that I knew what I know then we both would know that what you don't know can hurt you if you had known. More filler, the riddle me this Batman approach to the chorus is the only memorable thing about it.

9. You're The One I Need

The huge fall off in quality continues, it's like after track 6 the record nosedives into an oblivion of cabbage patch glory. The third rent-a-beat pop dance track in a row, I remember Jurado's voice sounding a little thin on the chorus of this one and that's about it. Though in terms of nostalgia, this and "Extra Extra" brings back memories of driving on the sun splashed California highways and freeways in the heat of Summer while staying with my aunt. A sort of Baywatch vibe she lived across the street from a cliff overlooking a beach.

10. December

Finally a decent song! Whew, thought the second side of the tape was going to be all misery. Well, this is misery of an intentional sort as Giona Bruno takes on this moody ballad. Effectively haunted and tortured, Exposure ends unexpectedly with it's only downer song. Great stuff.

Expose' Exposure takes me back to a time of sunny days, disco nights and acid washed jeans. They also kicked off an avalanche of similar sounding groups like Sweet Sensation, Seduction, Company B and any other group of girls in biker shorts harmonizing while doing the running man. While they would later be known mainly for Dianne Warren ballads with Riddler titles like "Your Baby Never Looked Good In Blue" or "I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)" for a brief shining moment in 1987 they had their finger on the dance pulse of America. Gimmie a beat!


Arsenette said...

Wow... thanks for the flashback.. LOL

First of a... Diamond Girl does NOT belong in a Japanese restaurant.. or .. any place actually. Growing up in my ethnic neighborhood.. I heard that song like every 10 minutes.. I.. hate that song.. LOL

I grew up with Expose.. LOL I actually liked them. Never took them seriously.. just fun :) LOL Dance clubs.. I briefly did that scene with my cousins when I lived back on the Island. I had my favorite songs and whatnot and favorite versions depending on the composition of Expose. I'd hear the first few bars of Point of new return I knew which girls were in the group (hated the remake.. LOL). Anyway.. ehem..

Thanks :) Hubby still calls it "jungle music" since he hates all of 1980's pop.. I don't care :) I loved my 80's pop :D

Jeannie said...

This is a side of you that I have never really understood. I guess I should chalk it up to your love of anything 80's.

"Taser victims getting shot with several volts of electricity dance with more rhythm than me."

I love to dance with you. "Only Fools Rush In". Remember? That was one of the happiest days of my life.

I can't say that I was ever an Exposé fan, though I did enjoy "Seasons Change".

Mr. Mike said...

Hi Arsenette! 80's Pop is awesome, I gotta have my pops. Were east coast danceclubs all big and flashy like in the movies?

Hey Bun Bun, I love dancing with you too. You make me look good because you can dance and look purty.

Arsenette said...

Actually I've only gone to one underage danceclub back in the 1980's in the East coast. VERY different.. very loud.. and noisy and boisterous.. LOL I barely heard the music since the atmosphere was so overwhelming that you felt as if the sheer noise was up on your chest...

What I grew up with mostly though when I lived on the island (Puerto Rico) was community halls that added DJ's for the kids during the weekends. It was filled with goofy kids and a lot of family. Very different..

Then again.. Jeff Foxworthy said it right.. "when you go looking for a date in your family reunion.. You might be a redneck".. had no idea he was channeling the Rican culture.. LOL!!

I was too "American" though so I just hung out with my female cousins and goofed around all night and played shrink to the stupid girls who tried looking for dates among the hoodlums of the community...

Mr. Mike said...

Thanks for the insight on those clubs and Puerto Rico, very interesting. Having grown up in an area with hoodlums, I can relate to seeing girls date hoodlums crying to others about their problems. Always fun to see girls look for sensitivity from guys who beat down others for entertainment or sport.