For the first time since starting this series, I’m not sure if “cutout” is sufficient to describe the level of commercial failure achieved by the title we’re discussing. Honest show of hands: how many of you have never heard of Oran “Juice” Jones? How many of you think I might actually be making him up?
I thought so.
Well, here’s the good news: Oran “Juice” Jones is real, and he actually had a hit. It was released in 1986, it was called “The Rain,” and here’s the video:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/pQVUtcytaw8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
What, you don’t remember it? Ah, me neither. Whatever. The charts don’t lie. Anyway, ol’ Oran kept going after “The Rain” touched down in ’86, even if the record-buying public showed a complete unwillingness to follow. Since there was apparently a shortage of high-voiced R&B singers in the late ’80s, Def Jam (actually, the Def Jam subsidiary OBR, but eh, close enough for Popdose) stood by the “Juice” for two more albums. The ironically titled To Be Immortal is the second.
On the one hand, I love this album, because it came out in 1989, the same year that LL Cool J’s Walking with a Panther was taken seriously. Listen to your average CHR station today, then consider that, in ’89, there were suburban white people who thought guys like Oran “Juice” Jones were kind of dangerous and/or threatening.
So that’s the one hand. The other hand is that To Be Immortal is what you’d call a “severely indistinguished” album. Jones is a fine singer, but as a lyricist he’s…a fine singer. And the songs don’t have many hooks. It’s nice to hear live drums and horns, but these aren’t terribly memorable, with a few exceptions. The first is the end-of-song rant on “Money, Honey” (download), which I’m totally not transcribing here, but is hilarious in an ’80s ghetto sitcom way.
The second is a song called “Shaniqua” (download), which contains the following passage:
“I thought she was mine / But I was wrong / Gave her all my money / Both my cars / And the lease to my home / And then she threw me out / Now I’m standing on the corner / Nose big as a bus / Fussin’ ’bout Shaniqua”
The third is a song called “Time” (download), which includes this sparkling gem:
“When I say I’m coming home at nine / You better be ready at eight / You oughta be cookin’ and / You’re half-ass done / And you know I hate to wait”
To Be Immortal, as you no doubt figured out many lines ago, was not purchased by the majority of the record-buying public, and “Juice” laid low for the majority of the ensuing decade, only popping up in the late ’90s, as a Tommy Boy artist, for the UK-only Player’s Call. Since then, he’s apparently worked as a background vocalist for Chris Rock, which I would assume is sort of like being Dane Cook’s flute player, but hey, what do I know. (The answer to that question, incidentally, is “not much of anything about Oran ‘Juice’ Jones.”)