Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking Back Through the Southern Exposure: Exposé Greatest Hits

Before there was En Vogue, TLC or a host of other 80s and 90s girl groups there was Exposé. Coming from the sound machine of Miami, these Southern-honed chanteuses taught girls of the Decade of Reagan how to groove on the dance floor and cry on their pillows in the middle of the night. Not that Exposé invented the infectious girl-group sound. They pay proper homage to their predecessors such as the legendary Andrew Sisters, The Shangri-Las and the queens of the girl-group heap, The Supremes, in the liner notes of “Expose Greatest Hits.”

Who hasn’t jumped up from their cocktail at the latest ultra lounge and rushed out to the dance floor when the opening notes of “Come Go with Me” come spinning out of the DJ booth? That seminal dance track sizzles with programmed synthesizers and thumping drum machine beats emblematic of the freestyle dance music sub-genre. But Exposé kept it real with an understated rock guitar solo in the middle. Even nearly 30 years on, the group’s sound seems as contemporary as anything coming from the likes of Katy Perry or Lady Gaga. Every guy and girl who works hard all day only to come home late deserves a night out featuring these three gals.

Nearly as equally as good a dance number as “Come Go with Me” is “Point of No Return.” The formula retains its power with the girls sending up the siren’s call coaxing out the shy to lose themselves under the spinning ball and flashing lights. With big hair and big attitude, these divas can pump up a club crowd with the best of them.

But these princesses of the spotlight were no one-trick mares. They were able to put away the sequined gowns, crop tops and Spandex skirts and leggings, drop down and pull out all emotional stops on odes to unrequited and lost love. On “I’ll Say Good Bye for the Two of Us,” a girlfriend cannot stand to see the look in her lover’s crying eyes when she breaks it off. So she has to leave in the middle of the night while he’s sleeping to avoid the heartache. It literally makes me misty-eyed to listen to this powerful song of mourning.

And on their No. 1 hit single “Seasons of Change” the three women of Expose, Ann Curless, Jeanette Jurado and Gioia Bruno, rummage through an empty beach house packing it up for the low season. Each in turn laments that things cannot remain the same as yesterday. The sacrifice to have their loved ones by their sides today forces them to sacrifice tomorrow. Some may think this type of music shallow and saccharine but these sad stories do tug at the heartstrings.

After going on hiatus in 1996, the world of pop music seems to have mostly forgotten the history-making trio of Exposé. With their debut album “Exposure,” the girls surpassed the record of The Beatles and The Supremes by charting four Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 off their freshman effort. Exposé has since returned to active status in recent years. They can be caught on occasion at special events. So if you feel the urge to go back to the 80s, keep an eye out for dance club flyers on telephone poles. One of them could be about Exposé coming to a venue near you!

-Derek Handova
Appreciative Listener

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