AVERAGE WHITE BAND: WARMER COMMUNICATIONS (1978)
1) Your Love Is A Miracle; 2) Same Feeling, Different Song; 3) Daddy's All Gone; 4) Big City Lights; 5) She's A Dream; 6) Warmer Communications; 7) The Price Of The Dream; 8) Sweet & Sour; 9) One Look Over My Shoulder (Is This Really Goodbye?).
The jolt, transmitted by «Benny», was electrified enough to inspire the band for another fine effort, arguably their best in four years. No changes in style whatsoever — not only disco, which the guys continue to solemnly ignore, but New Wave influences as well begin to pass them by. But the compositions go up one or two notches. The slower grooves gain in the «sexy / sleazy» respects, and the faster ones are pinned to generally more delicious, juicy melody lines.
The former category is best illustrated by ʽYour Love Is A Miracleʼ, which is probably the closest they ever came to capturing the musky smell of Funkadelic — «lite», yes, but all of the instruments, rhythms, and harmonies work cohesively towards a nasty, dirty big-boy sound that no morally trained housewife would ever tolerate. The title track is equally fine, with their most memorable chorus in years — there may be nothing revolutionary about choosing the line "we gotta have warmer... we gotta have warmer... warmer communications" as a hook basis, but its unintentional sex mantra seems to work against all odds.
On the faster side, ʽSame Feeling Different Songʼ kicks in with the finest brass riff we have heard from the AWB since ʽPick Up The Piecesʼ, and they keep it strung up and tense for five minutes, regularly switching the focus from brass to the blubbering, «telegraphic» guitar and back again. And the instrumental ʽSweet & Sourʼ, straying slightly away into jazz-fusion territory, is built upon a dep-reaching, nagging, ascending guitar line that goes straight to the subconscious and does strange things with it, especially if you are listening in headphones.
If it weren't for the ballads, which, unfortunately, cannot be moved from the usual levels of boredom (the cover of James Taylor's ʽDaddy's All Goneʼ is particularly trite, although, technically, it «got soul» all right), Warmer Communications could easily rival their best efforts in terms of consistency; and the band's conservatism, at this point, becomes almost respectable — at a time when traditional R&B was starting to get restructured into its disco and post-disco forms, minimalizing, if not nullifying, the role of particular instrument players, they continue to tighten up their act and rely on complex time signatures and tricky chord changes, instead of watering it all down. It may have been recorded in 1978 all right, but it sounds positively 1973-ish, and for this type of music, it is an enormous plus, well worth the usual tepid, but friendly thumbs up. And if four or five «warmer» funky grooves ain't enough to thrill you, how about that album cover? Those were the days...