Published Jan 24, 2014One look at the archival pictures that accompany the liner notes for this reissue of Breakaway's two self-financed, self-pressed and long lost late '70s releases and you'd be forgiven for mistaking the quartet for a cheesy Las Vegas show band. Breakaway did indeed spend time in Vegas, yet by the release of their self-titled debut the band had settled in St. Louis and had formulated an upscale disco/funk sound. "Understudy D.J." (perhaps the first and only paean to aspiring DJs) and "Who Was It This Time" are polished, jazzy dance jams that could comfortably share a spot on a dance floor play list with the likes of the Crown Heights Affair and Chic.
If Breakaway's bogged down by one too many kitschy ballads, the enthusiastic, modernist boogie of Straight On To The Top makes it the best of the pair. The driving Giorgio Moroder-esque title track and the galloping "Back N Forth" have a refined Euro-disco sheen tempered with inspired and funky bass work, while the airy "You Are Love" is a fine showcase for vocalist Kathy Newbry-Taylor.
Breakaway would disband after Straight On To The Top failed to land them a major record deal, a familiar story made fresh in the informative liners. Although re-issues of obscure soul and funk are a cottage industry nowadays, Breakaway/Straight On To The Top is a major find and attests that there are more than a few buried treasures still waiting in the crates. (BBE)