Puerto Rican beauty Lisa Velez began singing under the name Lisa Lisa, and joined with guitarist/bassist Alex “Spanador” Moseley, and drummer and keyboardist Mike Hughes who were a duo/band called Cult Jam. They were discovered by the R&B band Full Force who, interestingly, hadn’t had much success as a band themselves until they started producing other acts, most notably the rap group UTFO. Full Force produced this debut album, released in 1985 on Columbia Records, and wrote most of the songs, which is what lead the somewhat awkward-sounding title. The album contain 8 songs, in a mix of R&B and Pop, with some Latin flavor.
The album opens with their debut single, and probably signature song, I WONDER IF I TAKE YOU HOME, an uptempo track where Lisa sings about wanting to be with a man but wondering if it’s too early in their relationship to get physical. And when you see the video, you’ll know why millions of men (and boys) at the time immediately become infatuated with Lisa Lisa.
Although uptempo tracks on the album include YOU’LL NEVER CHANGE, where Lisa sings to a deceitful lover about how she is fed up with him, BEHIND MY EYES about crying over a lost love, and then PRIVATE PROPERTY. The latter of which is notable because it was co-written by The Kangol Kid from UTFO, along with Full Force. I remember being surprised at the time because the idea of a rapper writing a singing song just seemed so unusual to me. And it’s a good song, although the lyrics in which Lisa rebuffs a man’s advances by declaring that she already “belongs” to another man (hence, she’s his “private property), are a tad bit sexist…
Another dance track was the second single released from this album, CAN YOU FEEL THE BEAT? It’s not as hypnotic as the first single, but still good enough to keep you moving.
The album’s one and only ballad is a three-way song, which has Paul Anthony and Boy Legged Lou from Full Force sharing lead vocals with Lisa. The already-long credits for this album are even longer on the single, which was officially credited as being by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force featuring Paul Anthony & Bow Legged Lou.
It is a great song, though. And shows that Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam are capable of more than just dance tracks. The rest of the album contains THIS IS A CULT JAM, which is mostly just an instrumental song, with some production by Howie Tee, the DJ for Full Force’s other female act THE REAL ROXANNE
and then there’s TAKE ME HOME (RAP), a short remix of the debut single. For some reason, the man rapping on this track in uncredited.
Some critics have complains about Lisa Lisa’s voice, calling it weak or light-weight. And I will concede she doesn’t have the strongest or most powerful voice, she’s no Whitney Houston. However, much credit goes to Full Force for providing her with just the right material for her, songs that she can easily handle, and which play to her strengths. That makes this a very pleasing collection of songs and shows that Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam were off to a good start.
Chacebook rating: 4 STARS