“Dazz” is a combination of the words “dance” (or “disco”) and “jazz,” and while you might be hard-pressed to come up with any jazz-related influence in The Dazz Band’s 1982 smash “Let It Whip,” you can certainly dance your ass off to it. Tons of people did-in fact-dance to it. It was the dance jam of summer ’82, spending five weeks at the top of Billboard’s R&B chart stretching from the end of May into July. It also peaked in the top Five on the pop charts and won the Cleveland-based band the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. The song also reminds us that there’s a ton of musical merit to the city that’s also given us LeBron James, Arsenio Hall, and our own Matt Wardlaw (who, surprisingly, has not yet been driven out of the Cleveland Metro Area by an angry mob.)

The Dazz Band initially gained notoriety as an outfit by the name of Kinsman Dazz. Signed to 20th Century/Fox Records in the late Seventies, their first two albums were produced by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey. Upon moving over to Motown Records at the dawn of the following decade, they scored another handful of minor hits before hitting paydirt with “Let It Whip.” The song itself was the perfect combination of the big-band funk that had ruled R&B airwaves in the late Seventies and the synth-funk that came to rule the Eighties. The blending of acoustic and electronic instruments, smooth harmonies and a mildly suggestive lyric (along with a slightly more literal video) proved irresistible to music listeners and may have been more influential than one would think at first glance. Grab a look at this video and pay special attention to the song’s intro. Then, put on your copy of “Thriller” (which came out just a few months after “Let It Whip” became a hit) and listen to the intro to “Beat It.” I’m just sayin’ …

Despite the drippy curls, crazy sunglasses, smart choreography and even a token white dude, Unfortunately, the Dazz Band wasn’t able to maintain the level of success they attained with “Let It Whip.” Despite a handful of R&B hits (including “Joystick” and “Let It All Blow”), “Whip” remained their one and only Top 40 pop hit. An incarnation of the band tours to this day, however, and they were releasing albums as recently as 2001. Even now, there aren’t many songs from the era that can get a party started as quickly as this one.

About the Author

Mike Heyliger

Mike Heyliger spends most of his time staring longingly at the Michael Jackson circa '83 glossy photo he has right above his desk. On the rare occasion that he's not doing that, he's written for various blogs/sites over the years, including Popmatters.com, rhythmflow.net and soundslam.com. He currently serves as the bleditor-in-chief of popblerd.com and the co-host of the Blerd Radio Podcast.

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