The Real McCoy

Sharps & Flats is a daily music review in Salon Magazine

Published June 14, 1997 7:00PM (EDT)

Real McCoy shouldn't work at all. They're a white guy and two black women, from Berlin, and the kingpin white guy, O-Jay (Olaf Jeglitza) used to be a photographer -- and you suspect it wasn't Alfred Stieglitz-type stuff. Plus, he writes most of the songs and raps in this fairly funkless manner, like a low-baritone version of Mike Myers' Dieter with a Mack Daddy accent. And while Vanessa Mason remains from Real McCoy's triple-platinum 1995 debut, "Another Night," the other female voice, Lisa Cork, is new, abetting the impression of interchangeable parts.

Pop cynics would predict an update of the utter corn pone of Abba or Boney M. -- in other words, the anguish, tragedy and fury of Barbie and Ken dolls with a pop-house beat. And let it not be imagined that O-Jay (is he sure that nickname is a good idea?) is unaware of the charms of wind-up camp or that said charms do not appeal to pop cynics in measured doses. Because despite all the hesitations, Real McCoy works almost nonstop on both "Another Night" and the new "One More Time." The tunes do suggest hipper forerunners, too. The lean sound and dry delivery recall the sadly forgotten '80s trio InDeep, which had the same makeup. And the breakthrough Real McCoy hits, "Another Night" and "Run Away," as well as the new potential follow-ups, "Love Save Me" and the twinkling "Tomorrow," incorporate swank Philly-soul melodies in the manner of M People.

O-Jay, Mason and Cork know that just a little extra depth of
feeling works wonders on pretty, romantic platitudes like "Give a
Little Love" and "Look at Me," though all the passion in the
world wouldn't redeem the trite social activism of "Take a Look
at Your Life" or turn "One More Time" into more than "Another
Night" another time around. For the second album in a row,
O-Jay delivers a smooth, electrofunk meditation on free-floating
paranoia, "Love Is a Stranger" (ominoso opening line: "Even
though you don't know me, I'm not a stranger to you"). The
inspired choice of cover tune on the debut was "Come and Get
Your Love"; here, it's Shania Twain's "(If You're Not In It for
Love) I'm Outta Here." And there's no denying that Cork was an
astute switch, fitting tighter, richer harmonies in with Mason.
Even O-Jay sounds looser -- check his swinging chorus syllables
on "Tonight." The Real McCoy best-of may be the indispensable
disc in the end, but while the licks and beats are slightly thinner
on "One More Time," the mood is happier -- funny how
million-selling singles can do that.

By Milo Miles

Milo Miles' music commentary can be heard on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air." He is a regular contributor to Salon

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