At the age of 18, the lead singer of this 80s group had a #1 dance hit, a top 10 R&B hit, a top 40 pop hit and a worldwide smash with “I Wonder If I Take You Home.” Two singles later, the group’s first album would be platinum, with a top ten single to boot—the ballad “All Cried Out.” Not bad for a group created by production team Full Force to record a single song for an overseas breakdancing compilation.
The group was Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Lisa Lisa (real name: Lisa Velez) was a teenager from Brooklyn’s Hell’s Kitchen who auditioned for Full Force at the age of 14. By 1985, the album Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force had been released with the two aforementioned singles as well as another dance hit, “Can You Feel The Beat.” The platinum sales and chart success demanded a follow-up song and album, so group and production team got to work on crafting new music.
The first single from that second album, Spanish Fly, would become a #1 smash on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts. It was called “Head To Toe,” and it’s today’s 80’s Mania Monday song.
Written by Full Force, an R&B band as well as a production team, the song’s irresistible pop hook and danceable track was made just for the 80s freestyle audience, but with enough pop sheen to crack the mainstream market. “Head To Toe” also became the group’s second #1 dance hit, following “I Wonder If I Take You Home.” The following single, “Lost In Emotion” did just as well on the pop chart, also going to #1. The group as one of the most popular acts in music during 1987.
Sadly, those first two albums and the songs released from them became something of a high water mark for the group. The releases from their last two albums never got close to the pop top ten, and though “Let The Beat Hit ‘Em” from 1991’s Straight From Hell’s Kitchen would become a dance and R&B hit, it was the last great hurrah for the group, which broke up shortly after the album’s release. Lisa Lisa tried a solo career, but no hits came from her two solo releases. She even acted for a while on Nickelodeon’s Taina while the show was in production from 2001-2002. She can be seen performing some of her famous hits on 80’s Freestyle nostalgia tours.
Anyone remember this #1 dance, pop and R&B hit? How about “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” “All Cried Out” or “Lost In Emotion”? If you do, and are willing to share, drop a few lines in the comments. As always, thanks for reading and listening.