Tony Cook: Back to Reality

Tony Cook: Back to Reality
Tony Cook got his first big gig as a teenager as James Brown‘s drummer. He made his money drumming for Brown and for Etta James while recording his own music. He released a myriad of 7″ singles throughout the 80s. Many of the singles were released through Cook’s own label and have never been on a full album until now. Stone Throw Records releases, Back to Reality, an anthology of Cook’s best work.
While working with such soul/funk legends, you would think it would be easy to pigeonhole Tony Cook’s solo work but the man clearly had influences away from his money making gigs. Back to Reality represents Tony Cook’s output between 1982 and 1986 while working for Brooklyn-based Halfmoon Productions so the music on the album has a definite disco-influence while incorporating styles like 80s-dance, R&B, and hip hop.
It is hard not to listen to songs like “Get To The Point” and not think about groups like Earth, Wind & Fire especially with the addition of Vernon Cheely’s falsetto vocals. Tracks like “Later For Dancing” are reminiscent of 80s hit makers like Jermaine Stewart or Morris Day and the Time with their strong lead synth line and hand-clap drums. The songs from later in the 80s start exhibiting more of a hip hop influence. The album’s closing track “On the Floor (Rock-It)” features The Party People has a Sugarhill Gang feel to it.
The album clearly has a retro feel to it and I’m not sure that the music will move the younger generation; But for those that grew up in the 80s, loving 80s music, listening to Back to Reality is like discovering hit songs from that era that you have never heard before. Cook clearly knew what he was doing and why he was not a bigger star is beyond comprehension.
Rating: 8.3/10
MP3: Tony Cook “Later For Dancing”
Buy: iTunes or Amazon