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L'essentiel

Boney M.

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Album Review

This straightforward best-of Boney M.'s particular brand of pop/soul/funk/disco/ reggae features 11 tracks, all of them truly essential for any understanding of this enigma. Enigma? Yes, how else can one account for the longevity and chart success of a band who is little more than a slightly more sophisticated version of a cruise ship's dance band? While it may be unfair in virtually every respect to compare Boney M. to ABBA, I cannot resist when listening to this collection. Its sum total offers us two handfuls of delightful, mindless singles from German dance kingpin Frank Farian sung by four Caribbean singers that are pleasant and tuneful diversions from reality, like the Swedish powerhouse, and are also ultimately forgettable until you hear them again. Yes, ultimately they didn't write their own material, but the songs themselves are the hook, not their authors. But here they are: "Rivers of Babylon," "Daddy Cool," "Brown Girl in the Ring," "I'm Born Again," "Bahama Mama," "Ribbons of Blue," and "Sunny." "Belfast" and "Ma Baker" are inexcusably absent given their high chart positions in the U.K. and in Europe, but that's the breaks. It's a neat little record that documents a phenomenon fairly well if not perfectly; but then, since when are phenomena perfect?

Biography

Formed: 1976 in Germany

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although they never had much success in America, the Euro-disco group Boney M. were a European phenomenon during the '70s. After German record producer Frank Farian (born in 1942) recorded the single "Baby Do You Wanna Bump?" (which was successful in Holland and Belgium), he created Boney M. to support the song, bringing in four West Indian vocalists who had been working as session singers in Germany — Marcia Barrett (b. October 14, 1948, St. Catherines, Jamaica), Liz Mitchell (b. July 12,...
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L'essentiel, Boney M.
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