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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Champaign, "How 'Bout Us"

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 4:45 PM

The Singers: Named after their hometown of Champaign, Illinois, the members of Champaign released their debut album How ‘Bout Us in 1981, and the title track would prove to be the band’s biggest and most enduring hit. Pauli Carmen and Rena Day shared vocal duties, and the band released a number of albums until Carmen left the band in 1985.

The Song: “How ’Bout Us” is a fine reminder of a slow jam’s key elements. a muscular, slapped bass line; spare but unretiring drums; and a feather-bed of keyboard layers. Champaign ups the ante, however, with a wet-dream saxophone solo and a sharp, articulated horn section.

The Video: As you may have noticed from week to week, production values on early-’80s slow jam videos were not especially remarkable, and the clip for “How ’Bout Us” is no different. The band feigns laying down the track in the studio as Carmen and Day play out the back-and-forth vocals with the skill and conviction of summer-stock actors. Dig the various shades of facial hair on the band mates, though.

Hipster Cachet: None to speak of, but who needs cachet with a groove so smooth? I couldn’t track down any hip-hop songs that sampled “How ’Bout Us,” which is a shame. Producers, step up!

-- Christian Schaeffer

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