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Joy Unlimited

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Album Review

This 1970 album by the German group Joy Unlimited was, to the eternal confusion of discographers, issued under three separate titles. In Germany, it was called Overground; in the U.K., Turbulence; and, in the U.S., simply Joy Unlimited. Although the band would later go in a more progressive direction, this LP was not all that progressive in nature, and not at all like the avant art rock of the 1970s Krautrock movement. Instead, it was a competent amalgam of trends in American and British mainstream rock, pop, and soul, rather like the kind flashed by numerous bands emerging in neighboring Holland at the same time, like Shocking Blue. And, like Shocking Blue, Joy Unlimited sang entirely in English and were fronted by a woman singer (Joy Fleming); you wouldn't especially either identify them as a band from a non-English-speaking country, or be able to identify them as coming from any place in particular. There's nothing here as outstanding as, say, the best of Shocking Blue's stuff, but it's a fairly enjoyable set of very 1970-sounding material straddling the line of what was played on AM and FM radio in those days. Fleming has a good and gutsy (though not brilliant) voice, and the group's certainly versatile, whether it's the soul-pop of "Groove with What You've Got"; the powerful ballad "I Hold No Grudge" (which you could easily imagine fitting onto a record by Dusty Springfield or Lulu); the more Janis Joplin-like "Feelin'"; the fairly catchy pop of "Have You Met Anyone Lately?" and "I Just Made Up My Mind"; the organ-guitar prog rock-tinged "Mr. Pseudonym" and "Helpless Child"; and the breezy "Mr. Slater," which takes its cues from late-'60s British observational storytelling pop/rock. And if you're looking for an oddball obscure Beatles cover, the heavy funk-rock take on "All Together Now" fills that bill and then some.

Joy Unlimited, Joy Unlimited
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