Jonzun Crew – Cosmic Love – album of the day

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]The Jonzun Crew’s long-awaited fourth album, Cosmic Love, was released on the BMG-distributed Critique label in 1990. Michael Jonzun had — and still has — vast archives of songs recorded during this period. Like so many, the very excellent “Baby I Surrender” is not on this collection, but that doesn’t stop Cosmic Love from still being an important and highly listenable part of the Jonzun Brothers’ history. A band that should have released at least a dozen discs by this point in time, Mission Control Studios owner Michael Jonzun crafted his album over many years, and the precision and care he put into Cosmic Love is obvious from start to finish. The controlled insanity of the band’s earlier success is absent, replaced by smooth soul, studied R&B, and no-nonsense funk-rock. The title track shimmers with the vibrations found on the best records by the Commodores, while “Write Me Off” sounds like a direction Stevie Wonder could have chosen. Why the New Kids on the Block weren’t brought in to promote this music in TV ads is perplexing — NKOTB were huge at the time and core fans of Jonzun Crew couldn’t wait for their next release. There are ten songs here bookended by a prologue and epilogue, perfectly produced epics culminating in the superb “Wall of Fame.” The general public had no idea that this was the co-producer of two hugely popular groups, along with hit recordings by Peter Wolf, and this album drifted into obscurity as one of the best kept secrets in Boston rock & roll. La Vern Baker producer Barry Marshall shows up on guitar, as does Phil Greene from the ’70s band Swallow — there are lots of Boston “underground” names on the disc, yet the band was never embraced by the Boston “critics” and few understood the depth of Jonzun’s artistry. “Living in This World” is a nice ballad, while “Playhouse” is powerful dance-funk. The telling moment on the disc, though, the potential hit that never got the attention that it deserved is, as mentioned, the final song, “Wall of Fame.” This one tune contains all the finest elements of the Jonzun Crew’s best work, and that it didn’t take the charts by storm is a sin. “Ordinary Man,” “I Do Love You,” “Spotlight,” “This Time (Let’s Talk It Over”) could all hit for artists smart enough to seek this material out, but it is at its best when performed by Michael Jonzun. Though Cosmic Love may have a few too many love songs and ballads for fans of the group’s earlier hits, “Space Cowboy” and “Pac Jam,” it still is an impressive artistic statement, and a beautiful work which deserves a better place in music history.

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