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Wild Cherry
Epic/Sweet City PE 34195
Released: July 1976
Chart Peak: #5
Weeks Charted: 29
Certified Platinum: 12/17/76

Wild Cherry, a four-man band from Steubenville, Ohio, who have a big hit with "Play That Funky Music," specialize in crude electric funk derived from early Sly and the Family Stone. Though black groups like Parliament work the same turf in a manner at once more sophisticated and more ominous, Wild Cherry's dance music is at least raucously catchy in its parody of lewdness.
Wild Cherry - Wild Cherry
Original album advertising art.
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But other kinds of material, including an inept version of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Nowhere to Run," show how locked into a single gimmick they are. What is perplexing about Wild Cherry is the extent to which they treat their "funkiness" as a gimmick and a joke. Often, Robert Parissi's soul singing lapses into broad stylistic caricature.



Further reading on
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One might easily assume the whole Wild Cherry concept to be a racial joke in especially poor taste. The notion that any average white band can play soul is as condescendingly silly as the popular myth that anyone can sing country (see Nashville). For all their lazy recycling, AWB is at least secure in their aural sophistication and slick musicianship.

- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 9/9/76.

Bonus Review!

This is regarded by the pure of heart as racist vulgarization, but although I'll go along with the argument that the hook on "Play That Funky Music" isn't the rhythm track but the words "white boy," I insist that it's real hard to vulgarize Graham Central Station. Sure the performance is a it on the crude side, but the relationship is more that of Grand Funk to Cream than of, say, Jim Dandy Mangrum to Sly Stone. C

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

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