Reviewed on this page:
Exposure - What You Don't Know - Exposé - Expose This
Like Company B, a late 80s Miami response to the sudden popularity of
Latin freestyle, but the group ended up becoming more popular than any of the native New York outfits. Largely this was due to producer/songwriter Lewis Martineé, who served up a series of frothy dance tracks which managed to be uncomplicated and accessible without being clichéd or intelligence-insulting. Freestyle was more a producer's than a performer's medium, but vocalists Jeannette Jurado, Ann Curless and Gioia Bruno were more than competent, and their group harmonies added a presence that was lacking from the work of most of their contemporaries.
Latin freestyle went nearly as abruptly as it had come, absorbed into the inchoate mass of early 90s dance music, and Martineé and Exposé lost focus and fell by the wayside. Bruno is still active, releasing a solo album in 2004, but I'm not sure about the rest of them.
Jeanette Jurado, Ann Curless and Gioia Bruno, vocals. Bruno left after 1989, replaced by Kelly Moneymaker. Group disbanded after 1992.
"Point Of No Return" is probably the best known and maybe the best example of the genre, with a strident keyboard hook, a helium-inspired vocal chorus, and a simple but sincerely delivered lyrical concept.
"Let Me Be The One," also a hit single, is more clever, slowing the tempo a bit to create a swaying backdrop for the singer's hypnotic suggestion.
They don't overlook ballads either, serving up the bittersweet #1 single "Seasons Change" and "December."
Produced and arranged by Lewis Martineé, and while he sometimes overdoes the kitsch factor ("Extra Extra"; the theme song "Exposed To Love") he also shows an admirable ability to avoid the obvious (the undersold "Come Go With Me," the group's first single).
The vocalists have good chops, delivering solid harmony vocals that make even the lesser tunes enjoyable ("You're The One I Need").
Atypically for the genre, musicians are credited: Nestor Gomez and George Finess (guitar), Steve Grove (sax), Fro Sosa and Martineé (keyboards and drum programming).
What You Don't Know (1989)
A step down, but not a dramatic one: no obvious hits, but a generally pleasing collection of frantic dance (title track) and sorrowful ballads ("When I Looked At Him").
Martineé's still in control of the production and arranging, but there's some outside songwriting: Steinberg & Kelly wrote the girl group homage "Still Hung Up On You," while Diane Warren contributed her typically superficial "Your Baby Never Looked Good In Blue."
Gioia sings half the leads, and shows admirable diva style on "Love Don't Hurt (Until You Fall)" and the dramatic fade to the otherwise bubblegum "Let Me Down Easy." Jeanette gets three leads ("When I Looked At Him"), with two left for Ann ("Stop, Listen, Look & Think").
Apart from some guitar heroics from Gomez, there's basically no instrumental variety - how else could hackneyed slap-and-pop bass ("Now That I Found You") be such a breath of fresh air? - but Exposé had the best voices in the genre, and they're shown to best effect here.
Three years can be an eternity in dance music terms - between albums, the merenrap mini-genre had already come and gone - and the group sounds uncomfortable and lost. Trendy elements (a rap by Kenny The Man on "I Wish The Phone Would Ring") sound forced, and the dance tunes are overly
homogenized ("I Think I'm In Trouble").
Gioia was gone, replaced by Kelly Moneymaker, while Martineé was cut back to four tracks, none of which demonstrate his past flair. The plurality of production came from Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero, and the songwriting comes from all over the place: Warren wrote three tunes ("The Same Love"), and unfamiliar-to-me names like Irmgard Klarmann and Robbie Seidman abound.
There's one fine moment, a high-energy, high-tech cover of
Sharon Brown's transcendent 1982 semi-hit "I Specialize In Love" (incidentally, my favorite track from an artist who never released an LP), produced by
Gioia, Expose This (2004)
An album that exemplifies what I don't like about current dance music: hyper, mechanical percussion and pulsing synth dominate every tune, so that the vocals seem like an afterthought, and every song sounds pretty much the same.
Covering the KISS rock-disco hit "I Was Made For Loving You" sounds like a great idea, but in practice it's a mess: the riffs get buried, and Bruno gets badly outsung by Paul Stanley (particularly on the bridge).
The bulk of the production is from Charlie Pennachio and Drew Sessa, including the single "Be Mine"; other tracks were contributed by Pete Lorimer ("Addicted"), Giuseppe D ("Again And Again") and Even Nelson ("I Need You"). Bruno wrote five of the thirteen songs; they're no better or worse than the rest. Well, okay, "Incredible" is worse than the rest, with a remarkably irritating chorus rhyming "incredible" with "unforgettable."
Come go with me.