Greatest Hits, by Exposé
There is a common trajectory among many musical acts, and that is beginning with peppy and upbeat and even sassy songs and then moving to a more mature ballad-driven approach. Among the bands that followed this trajectory with considerable skill if contemporary obscurity is the Miami-based act Exposé. The two sides of their career as they are remembered, where they are remembered at all, is at the beginning with the upbeat tones of “Point Of No Return” and “Let Me Be The One” with their sassy harmonies, and towards the end of their popularity with the ballads “Seasons Change” and especially “I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me,” which is my favorite song from the band, predictably enough. The group had some lineup changes because one of its members had to leave because of permanent vocal damage, but despite the fact that the group had some excellent songs they are not exactly well known today. Here is a track-by-track review:
Come Go With Me: An early single of theirs, this song shows the clear influence of the Miami sound that was being performed at the same time by acts like the Miami Sound Machine. This song reflects the singers’ desire to take their lover far away from the pressures of work, and it’s certainly an enjoyable song.
Point Of No Return: An upbeat early hit of the group, this song finds the ladies of the band rapturous about the love they have from their partner. This song, with its harmonies and its blissful tone, was probably a signature song of theirs, and it was definitely a well-deserved big hit as well.
Let Me Be The One: This song is another early hit from the group and has sultry vocals to go along with the spare and brass-heavy music. The harmonies and the clear sexuality of the singers is definitely a standout here, and it is unsurprising that this song became a popular hit as well, with its message of trust and intimacy.
I’ll Say Good-Bye For The Two Of Us: This early ballad from the band was not a particularly big hit, but it finds the group in a melancholy mood facing the end of a relationship, with the singer/narrator leaving while her partner is asleep, which is definitely not the most courageous way to end a relationship.
What You Don’t Know: This song has surprisingly upbeat music for its rather downbeat message that what the person the singer is singing to doesn’t know might hurt him or her. The lyrics are a bit basic and the music is classic 80’s, but the song is certainly not a bad one for album filler, which ended up here because the first album of the group was included nearly in its entirety on this collection.
Tell Me Why: This song is an album track that exposes the reality of a dysfunctional relationship full of fighting and justification and arguments and the singer, understandably, wants to know why things are the way they are, with the chance that this unhappiness will be passed on to the next generation, a thoughtful and serious concern in light of the negative results of dysfunctionality.
Seasons Change: This melancholy ballad expresses the singers’ concern that the love that they are involved in will not be lasting. One can hear the tension between the hope for lasting love and the cynicism of a heart that has perhaps been broken too many times to believe in forever. The song was a massive hit, proof of the popularity of melancholy when it is framed in a beautiful fashion like this one.
I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me: It probably says something less than pleasant about me that this is by far my favorite song from the group. This is a spare song mostly driven by the melancholy of the singer commenting that her former partner has moved on and she is clearly unable to do so. The last big hit of the group, it was a testament to their “mature” sound on their third studio album, and it is one that still hits heavily for me.
Exposed To Love: An early non-charting single by the band, this song has a strange title and one that talks about being exposed to love. It is unsure (even doubtful) that this is a good thing, nor is it obvious that the group was being deliberate about making a pun on their name in the song’s title.
I Specialize In Love (Remix): The second single from the Greatest Hits collection (the first was the minor charting song “I’ll Say Goodbye For The Two Of Us”), this song charted on the dance tracks but not on the pop charts, and it is a remixed version of a song on the group’s third album, which was a cover of a little-known dance song from the early 1980’s, which is a good time to find obscure dance songs in the aftermath of disco.
End Of The World: This cover continues the trend of the previous song being a cover, and the arrangement of this popular song about love lost and mourned is beautiful and suitably sad. It certainly is a cover worth being performing, even if it appears never to have been released as a single.
When I Looked At Him: A somewhat obscure song from the group, this song reflects the chemistry that happens between people and it shows the R&B girl group leanings of the group as a whole. It’s a lovely and touching song and definitely a minor gem in the group’s discography with some intriguing instrumentation as well as beautiful harmonies.
Your Baby Never Looked Good In Blue: One of several hits the group recorded from Diane Warren songs, this song reflects on the passing nature of love and the concerns that the singer is going to have her heart broken by a disloyal lover. It may seem like claiming that someone never looked good in blue would be a weak defense to the end of a relationship, but it is at least a creative way to deal with the problem.
Come Go With Me (Remix): This lengthy remix of the group’s first hit is definitely inessential, but it’s hopeful that it was liked by at least some of the group’s fans of their dance-oriented music.
Point Of No Return (Remix): A rather inessential remix of the group’s second hit, this song is likely included as a sop to the band’s dance pop fans who want to hear this peppy song in a similar form to the way it would sound in a club.
This is not a perfect greatest hits compilation, not least because it is missing one of the band’s top 40 hits (“I Wish The Phone Would Ring”) and seriously under-represents the group’s third album. Likewise, the songs here demonstrate some repetitive patterns, to the extent that one can predict the very frequent one semitone raised key change at the end of many of these songs. That said, the real takeaway from this album is that the group should be far better remembered than it is, and that Exposé had a deep undercurrent of melancholy and longing and dissatisfaction in even their upbeat songs that demonstrated surprising emotional depth. This is a rare Greatest Hits album that really shows how a group maintained a consistently melancholy approach to their music despite wide diversity in genres and styles.