Review: “It Takes Two” by Juicy (Vinyl, 1985)

Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 1985 second album It Takes Two by the American sibling duo, Juicy. Will this album be twice as good as you expect, or has it simply lost its flavour? Read on…

Juicy - It Takes Two (1985) album
Juicy – It Takes Two (1985) album

This 8 track LP bursts opens with lead single Bad Boy and a flurry of synths and pop beats, as Katreese Barnes swiftly takes the mic. Katreese sounds magnificent here and delivers her vocals with powerful ease. Her brother Jerry Barnes can also be heard here in the backing vocals and harmonies, where he offers the perfect companion tone to his sister. The track bounces long perfectly, and this really shows off Katreese’s vocals. Despite getting a UK release, it failed to chart.

Titular track It Takes Two follows this, and no, it’s not a cover of the 60’s hit, but another original song (like all the tracks here). This time, the tempo is down and the funk is up, and then it’s Jerry’s turn to take the lead, with Katreese taking backing and a wonderful saxophone solo. It’s a nice simple song that works pretty well. The track stood as the album’s second single, seeing release only in the USA.

That leads on to Love Is Good Enough which sets off with a reliably plodding bass. At times, Katreese’s vocal performance here fleetingly reminds me of some of Michael Jackson’s tracks, and the whole song echoes the hit the 1983 Rufus and Chaka Khan hit Ain’t Nobody. Still, that’s no bad thing and once again Katreese sounds wonderful on this track.

This side closes with Slow Dancing and this does as the title suggest – the tempo turns down and a slow love song is delivered perfectly by Jerry with ample heartfelt lyrics to schmooze a wedding dance with. At times, Jerry’s vocals tread close to Luther Vandross territory, and that sounds great, and he’s lifted just a little higher when Katreese joins him in backing and harmonies. It’s a really nice ending… although perhaps it should have been the final track on side two?

Side Two opens with Nobody But You, and we’re back to another burst of energy, sounding a little reminiscent in its delivery to some Pointer Sisters tracks from the same era. The layers of guitars and synths and soft snares compliment each other perfectly, with occasional dramatic drum fills thrown in. Katreese’s vocals are rich and warm and she gets a few moments to really show off her broad vocal range. The track stood as a single, but saw a release in the USA and Canada only.

Third single Sugar Free is next, and it’s a mid-tempo song with a soft beat and a thick bass. The gentle vocals of Katreese make light work of this song, and sound wonderful in the harmonies. At times, I’m made to think of the sound of En Vogue that would emerge at least 10 years after this song. The track did hit the UK charts, giving the duo their first and highest ever UK position – #45. The track is noted as a ‘response song’ to R&B group Mtume’s 1983 track Juicy Fruit, and it works well alongside it.

That leads on to Stay With Me, which lifts the tempo once again with a ton of synths, bass, and strong beats. Jerry takes the microphone here and it’s a catchy track, seeing him lift the pitch perfectly for the chorus. The track is layered with increasingly more instruments as it progresses, resulting in a really nice little up-beat track.

The album closes with Forever And Ever, and there’s a great bass lurking here throughout alongside a simple pop beat. These act as the perfect undercurrent to Katreese’s vocals – with her taking lead and backing vocals with great ease. The track flows with great ease towards the end.

Juicy’s lead single ‘Bad Boy’ (1985).

Verdict

Over all, this album is nice. Simply nice, and that’s ultimately its problem.

The slick production and songwriting of siblings Katreese and Jerry Barnes is beyond denial, and the result is a collection of well produced and performed songs, but there’s only a couple of stand-out brighter moments. These highlights are namely the brilliant Bad Boy, Nobody But You, and the perfect slow dance… er… Slow Dancing.

The rest of the album is just nice. Nice songs that could easily play in the background and you’d enjoy them but perhaps not check the sleeve to see where you were up to. With such a ‘nice’ album, the singles struggled to compete with the great songs that were being released in the USA and elsewhere in quick succession, resulting in Juicy getting vastly overlooked and massively underrated.

You won’t dislike this album, but you won’t be rushing back to it to play ‘that’ song either.

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE REVIEW RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1985 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
  • POP RESCUE COST: £5.49 from an eBay seller.

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