Top 10 Dazz Band Songs

Dazz Band Songs

Feature Photo: Sgt. Mark Matthews, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Our top 10 Dazz Band songs list looks at the body of work of a prodigious American outfit renowned for its impactful funk and jazz fusion in the early to mid-’80s. Bobby Harris, who happens to be the only founding member left on its lineup, is deemed the brainchild of vocalist/saxophonist Bobby Harris. Initially, the band went under the moniker Kinsmann Dazz starting its musical pursuits in 1977 after signing a recording contract with 20th Century Records.

The band’s name ‘Dazz’ was inspired by Bobby Harris and Mike Calhoun’s concept of the band’s music as danceable jazz. As Kinsmann Dazz, the band barely achieved critical acclaim in the late ‘70s. Kinsmann Dazz’s first single “I Might as Well Forget About Loving You” and the 1979 hit “Catchin’ Up on Love” were the only songs by the band from the ‘70s to ever make it to the charts. The success of the two singles is credited to the momentous contributions made by Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist Philip Bailey to the band’s first two albums.

Everything changed (including the band’s moniker) when the band signed to Motown Records in 1980. Now playing as Dazz Band, the band started appreciating groove-oriented funk sounds. The move catapulted the band to stardom, with the band achieving mainstream and commercial success within two years of releasing music through Motown Records. Dazz Band would eventually win a Grammy Award in 1982 in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category.

Dazz Band’s Album Releases over the Years

Over the years, Dazz Band has released fifteen studio albums, issued through seven different record labels. 20th Century Records was the first record label that the band worked with, while still going under the moniker Kinsmann Dazz. The band hoped to work with the seasoned singer/record producer Marvin Gaye. However, Marvin Gaye failed to complete the band’s first project.

Bobby Harris would eventually invite Earth, Wind & Fire’s vocalist Philip Bailey to work on the band’s eponymous debut album, home to the band’s first charting single “I Might as Well Forget About Loving You.” Philip was also tagged in the production of the band’s sophomore album, DazzDazz featured notable hits including “Catchin’ Up on Love,” the band’s second charting hit.

The band redefined itself in 1980 by taking up a new moniker and signing a recording contract with the famous Motown Records. Dazz Band issued seven studio albums through the label. Invitation to Love marked the first album issued through Motown Records. The album is also the only album not to make it to the charts of all the releases issued through Motown Records. Dazz Band’s 1981 LP, Let the Music Play, is home to “Knock! Knock!” one of the best Dazz Band songs. The song marked the first hit by the band to reach the top fifty on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.

In 1982, the band issued two studio albums including Keep It Live and On the OneKeep It Live was a commercial success and remains the only RIAA Gold-certified album by Dazz Band. The album also topped Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart, featuring musical gems including “Keep It Live (On the K.I.L.)” and the band’s signature hit “Let It Whip.” “On the One for Fun,” “Party Right Here,” and “Cheek to Cheek” are some of the best Dazz Band songs from the band’s album On the OneJoystick, Jukebox, and Hot Spot are the rest of the three studio albums issued by the band through Motown Records.

Wild & Free, issued in 1986, marked the band’s only album released through Geffen Records. The album is home to some of the best Dazz Band songs including “L.O.V.E. M.I.A.” and “Wild and Free.” Unfortunately, Wild & Free is the last album to make it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and seventy-eight. After signing a recording contract with RCA Records, Dazz Band issued the 1988 album, Rock the Room. The album made it to number ninety-one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. “Anticipation,” “Single Girls,” and “Open Sesame” are the most popular songs by Dazz Band from the album.

In 1996, Dazz Band issued the album Under the Streetlights through Lucky Records. The album peaked at number forty-two on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. Double Exposure, the band’s first album issued through Intersound Records was barely successful, missing out on the charts. However, Dazz Band’s second album through Intersound Records, Here We Go Again made it to number ninety-nine on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. Dazz Band’s last album, Time Traveler, was issued through Major Hits Records in 2001. Unfortunately, the album failed to make it to the charts.

Dazz Band’s Accolades and Legacy

Dazz Band played a significant role in keeping funk afloat in the music scene, especially in the ‘80s. Despite the average success and poor commercial gains, Dazz Band was among the outfits that helped invigorate funk music in the US through the ‘90s. The band’s biggest win was the 1982 Grammy Award for the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, thanks to the successful single “Let It Whip.” Here we present the top 10 Dazz Band songs of all time sampled from the band’s fifteen studio albums.

# 10 – Hot Spot

Ushering us to the top 10 Dazz Band songs list is the radiant hit “Hot Spot.” The song serves as the album title track to the band’s 1985 album. “Hot Spot” is among the last eight songs released by the band through Motown Records. Unlike some of the songs on the album like “When You Needed Roses” that bring the ‘70s-influenced soul sounds, “Hot Spot” feels brings us back to Dazz Band’s usual funk sounds.

“Hot Spot” is the only song from the album to make it to the charts. The song managed to rise to number twenty-one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. “Hot Spot” also made it to the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, peaking at number thirty-three, thanks to its dance-funk sonic influences.

# 9 – Invitation to Love

After signing a recording contract with Motown Records, Dazz Band released the album, Invitation to Love. Thanks to songs like “Invitation to Love” the band managed to enjoy the spotlight on the R&B scene almost instantly. This down-tempo hit became a fan favorite by the band as a result of its alluring smooth grooves. Bobby Harris makes a great vocal performance on this hit supplemented by Sennie Martin III’s soulful vocals.

Despite being more soul than funk, “Invitation to Love” still holds a great place in the hearts of the band’s fans. The song peaked at number fifty-one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. “Invitation to Love” barely missed entering the Billboard Hot 100 by only nine spots.

# 8 – Keep It Live (On the K.I.L.)

Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Dazz Band songs list is the driving hit “Keep It Live (On the K.I.L).” The song introduces us yet to the band’s brilliance in the composition of album title tracks. “Keep It Live (On the K.I.L.)” serves as the album title track to the band’s 1982 fifth studio album. By the time the band was releasing this hit, its sound had already got funkier!

This is best evidenced by the song’s spirited vocals and throbbing basslines. An additional dance melody to the song makes it even funkier. “Keep It Live (On the K.I.L.)” managed to rise to number twenty on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. The song only comes second to the band’s signature hit “Let It Whip” on this album. “Keep It Live (On the K.I.L.)” had its hook/riff sampled by the 1989 hit “Keep Dancin’” by Tony M.F. Rock.

# 7 – On the One for Fun

After the release of its Gold-certified studio album, Keep It Live, Dazz Band had quite a task to do for funk/dance fans. While the band’s next album might have failed to outdo Keep It Live on the mainstream and commercially, it gave the band’s fans more funk-influenced music. “On the One for Fun,” the album title track, is the most radiant release on the 1983 album.

The song is the closest release from the album evocative of the band’s deep funk sonic influences seen on the hit “Let It Whip.” “On the One for Fun” managed to rise to the ninth spot on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. The song also made it to the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, peaking at number fifty-two.

# 6 – Knock! Knock!

Number six on our top 10 Dazz Band songs list is the wonderful hit “Knock! Knock!” The song is among the top hits featured on the band’s fourth studio album, Let the Music Play. “Knock! Knock!” brings back the band’s soul-influenced sounds to the mainstream. Thanks to the soft and charming delivery of this hit that the band saw the song receive heavy rotation through the charts. “Knock! Knock!” went on to become Dazz Band’s first hit to make it to the top fifty on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, peaking at number forty-four.

# 5 – Swoop (I’m Yours)

Amongst hits that encapsulated the future of funk is the band’s luscious hit “Swoop (I’m Yours).” The song is featured on the band’s 1983 studio album, Joystick. “Swoop (I’m Yours)” finds the band going electro-funk. Thanks to the electro-funk music influences in the song that “Swoop (I’m Yours)” sounded appealing to fans of Midnight Star, Prince, and The System. The song was a success on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, peaking at number twelve.

#4- Heartbeat

“Heartbeat” is among the best Dazz Band songs from the band’s 1984 studio album, Jukebox. This was amongst the last massively successful songs on the charts by the band before it went out of style as the musical tides blew towards mainstream rock music. Unlike most of the songs from the album that features some techno-funk sonic influences, “Heartbeat” finds the band paying homage to its soulful sonic spaces.

“Heartbeat” is the second highest charting hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number seventy-nine. The song also made it to the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, peaking at number twelve. “Heartbeat” missed entering the Billboard Hot 100 by ten spots only. The song was sampled in the hits “Bring That Money Back” by J Stalin, “How I’m Livin’” by Deda, and “Love and Sex, Pt.2” by Joe featuring Kelly Rowland.

# 3 – Let It All Blow

The third pick on our top 10 Dazz Band songs list is the jaunty hit “Let It All Blow.” “Let It All Blow” is featured on the band’s 1984 album Jukebox. This mid-tempo hit managed to feature Dazz Band’s new techno funk sonic influences. “Let It All Blow” is the band’s most successful hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number twelve. The song also made it to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number eighty-four. “Let It All Blow” peaked at number three and nine on the Billboard Dance Club Songs and Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, respectively.

#2 – Joystick

“Joystick” is Dazz Band’s biggest release from the 1983 album of the same title. The song was penned by Bobby Harris and Eric Fearman. “Joystick” features the band’s usual funk sound with R&B, lector, and disco sonic influences. The song went ahead to become among Dazz Band’s most sought-after dancefloor favorites.

“Joystick” was a success on the charts, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. The song also made it to number sixty-one on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the second highest-charting single by Dazz Band. “Joystick” was sampled in the 1984 hit “Sound of the Street” by Scratchmatic.

#1 – Let It Whip

Number one on our top 10 Dazz Band songs list is the grooving hit “Let It Whip.” The song is featured on the band’s highest-charting and commercially successful LP, Keep It Live. “Let It Whip” is Dazz Band’s best amalgam of funk and post-disco sonic influences. The song rose to the band’s signature hit after it topped the Billboard Hot Soul/Black Singles Chart (Now Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart).

“Let It Whip” also made it to the Australian Singles Chart, peaking at number ninety-seven. The song remains Dazz Band’s highest-charting release on the Billboard Hot 100, after rising to the fifth spot on the chart. “Let It Whip” was covered by Boyz II Men, SR-71, The Treblemakers, and Derrick Harriott among others. The song guided Dazz Band to its first and only Grammy Award in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category in 1982.

Surprisingly, the award was a tie between “Let It Whip” and “Wanna Be With You” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Other songs that had been nominated for the award include “A Penny for Your Thoughts” by Tavares, “What’s That You’re Doing?” a duet by Paul McCartney’s duet with Stevie Wonder, and “Street Life” by The Crusaders.

Top 10 Dazz Band Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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