Before the unprecedented success of Michael Jackson's Thriller the 80s was a strange time for R&B, still struggling to escape the post-disco back lash and not yet sure how to update the old school soul formula.
One solution - albeit a temporary one - came in the form of urban club trio Imagination, who catapulted up the international charts with their dance floor flavoured synth-pop spin on the classic 70s soul recipe.
Focussing largely on material from their first three albums Very Best Of gathers together all 16 of their biggest hits and near misses, profiling a band in an easygoing commercial club crossover groove. The mid-tempo funky bass bounce of "Music and Lights" kicks off with a laid back roller-disco retro-soul sheen before the lilting smooth slow jam of "Body Talk" tailors a seductive late night bedroom moods that probably inspired George Michael.
While smooth jazzy street pop shuffles ("In the Heat of the Night") ease into airy and infectious Kool and the Gang style hip shakers ("Just an Illusion"). Actually, with traces of everyone from Erasure ("Heart 'n Soul") to Shakatak ("Changes") it's difficult to overstate just how influential Imagination's synthesiser soaked soul pop proved back in the 80s.
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