Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1996 debut album Don’t Stop Movin’ from Italian dance group Livin’ Joy.
One of the biggest songs to come out of the 90s, is unmistakably Dreamer, and just as great (in my opinion) was single Don’t Stop Movin’. Both are here on this album, but were Livin’ Joy a bit of a one-trick pony?
The 11 track album opens with big hit second single, and album title track, Don’t Stop Movin’. The reversed cymbal giving way to the beautiful bassy synth line, handclaps, and dance beat. These introduce the ‘oh yeahs’ of American vocalist Tameka Star before she reminds ‘you’ve got to get it right’. This song is the motivational poster of 90s dance music. Tameka makes light work of the lyrics with her powerful vocals. This track (although not the Radio Edit) reached #5 in the UK singles chart, undoubtedly aided by a plethora of club remixes.
Next up is third single Follow The Rules, which has some delicious Italia House piano over a great dance beat. Again, this is a positive uplifting track, but lyrically, it’s not as sparse as Don’t Stop Movin’ and therefore it feels less catchy. I could imagine this track being released by their contemporary Ultra Naté. I remember this single being released, and it reached #9 in the UK singles chart.
Third track is the fifth and final single from the album, Deep In You, which musically and vocally reminds me of something from an early 90s Lisa Stansfield album. It’s a far more mellow track, and this gives Tameka a chance to show off her more delicate vocal skills. This reached #17 in the UK, and this is probably partly because it feels the least like their two big hits.
Debut single, and huge UK #1 single, Dreamer is up next. The lyrics to this track were written by former vocalist Janice Robinson. This album version is a 5m 48s version, and it feels a bit too long. I’m pretty sure that the single version had received a healthy edit, and was far more pumped up. The outro for the song is really quite lame.
Next up, and starting with an odd sounding mobile dial tone sound is Pick Up The Phone. This is a pretty poor track, musically and lyrically – with great lines like ‘Haven’t you heard the latest news, pick up the phone. I gotta talk to you. It’s juicy, so juicy, gonna shock your shoes’ and ‘Get on the three way line, I got the inside scoop for your behind’.
Things get a bit better with Be Original, which vocally feels like it should be a-kin to Don’t Stop Movin’ but the track feels somewhat muted. I’m pretty sure that this track could have really worked had it have received the same pumping beat and synth treatment of the first two hits.
Fourth single, Where Can I Find Love is up next, and the pace picks up here. That loveable synth style and the dance vocals are back, with a great bassline, and some finger-clicks. This track is quite pumping, and it’s sad to see that this didn’t reach the same success as its predecessors – but it did peak at #12 in the UK singles chart, although didn’t chart anywhere else.
A pumping beat continues in next song Don’t Cha Wanna. This track has some pretty damn funky house piano in the chorus, set alongside some great dance vocals and a somewhat chilled synth line within the chorus. There are times in this track (and also in Pick Up The Phone) where musically and vocally, it reminds me of some Deee-Lite album tracks. This isn’t bad, but when sitting here alongside their big hits, it feels disjointed.
Ninth track, Whenever You’re Lonely opens with some pretty sad, downbeat vocals, before ushering in what feels like the same synth sound used in Don’t Stop Movin’. Set against a dance beat, this track is pretty good – Tameka’s vocals and lyrics are strong here. I think that this should perhaps been a single rather than Deep In You.
Penultimate track Let Me Love You, gives Tameka the chance to really show off her vocals – opening with some drawn out, soaring, ‘oohs’. She’s joined by a low bass line, and click track. After about a minute, she’s joined by a simple beat, simple chords, and backing vocals, giving the track a more RnB feel to it. The focus throughout is her vocals, and rightly so – they are perfect. Sadly, the track fades out, rather than giving Tameka the chance to finish the track with a soaring ending.
Final track is Don’t Stop Movin’ (A. Manetta Mix), acting as a reminder that you ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ after that previous track, although this mix isn’t that inspiring – it has some extra percussion, but at a about 5m 40s, it feels somewhat too long….
…but then you realise that this final track is noted as 13m 30s long. The sleeve mentions nothing as to what’s about to follow. At 9m 46 all is revealed..
Hidden track is Janice Robinson singing the original pumping version of Dreamer from 1994. This version is far stronger than the version that appears earlier in the album. It seems that after releasing this in 1994, the Visnadi brothers decided to focus their music making elsewhere. They returned to Livin’ Joy for 1996, and with a new vocalist. This version though, feels like the definitive pumping version of Dreamer. Don’t Stop Movin’ indeed.
Overall, this album as a couple of low points where it feels a bit lacklustre and off-style. When the album pumps, it pumps properly and gives you some great hits, and great could’ve-beens.
A special thanks goes to ‘David Miller’. For he wrote his name in the sleeve of this Pop Rescued CD, and presumably donated it to the charity store in Cambridge, England, that I rescued it from. Thanks buddy!
Where are Livin’ Joy now?
Livin’ Joy failed to chart in the UK after their fifth single Deep In You. Oddly, the album only reached number 41 in the UK album charts despite the hits, but this was not uncommon for dance single acts.
The musical duo behind Livin’ Joy, brothers Paolo and Gianni Visnadi, were also behind dance act Alex Party (who had a huge hit with Don’t Give Me Your Life), but their success in the UK was all but over in 1996.
They released one final single – Just For The Sex Of It in 1999, which failed to chart anywhere apart from Australia, where it reached #76. Tracks from their unreleased follow-up album were leaked online in 2008.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING 4 / 5
- 1996 UK CHART POSITION: #41
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Save The Children store.