An outlandish, in-your-face stage presence, a strange sense of humor, and a hard-working funk sound that criss-crossed more than a few musical boundaried earned Cameo countless comparisons to Parliament/Funkadelic in their early days. They have since gone on to transcend said influences – and outlast almost every single one of them. Their career has been a fine tapestry of numerous R&B chart hits, ranging from greasy funk workouts to synthesized funk swingers and dripping ballads.
The group first came into the public eye with their excellent debut album, Cardiac Arrest (1977). Secret Omen (1979) was punctuated by the magnificent funky (and slightly loony) “I Just Want to Be,” a number-three R&B chart hit. Five albums followed between 1980 and 1983 — Cameosis, Feel Me, Knights of the Sound Table, Alligator Woman, Style — and delivered numberous Top 20 R&B singles, including”Shake Your Pants,” “We’re Goin’ Out Tonight,” “Keep It Hot,” “Freaky Dancin’,” “Just Be Yourself,” “Flirt,” and “Style.”
She’s Stranger (1984) was a commercial success, with the title cut topping the R&B chart and entering the Top 50 of the pop chart. The album kicked off a remarkable three-album run that made Cameo one of the most popular groups of the ’80s. Single Life (1985) and Word Up! (1986) continued their hot streak. The singles from those two albums – “Attack Me With Your Love,” “Single Life,” “Word Up,” “Candy” and “Back and Forth” – held down the Top Five plateau of the R&B chart. “Word Up” even went to number six on the pop chart, giving them their biggest bite of the mainstream.
Cameo’s presence continues to be visible up through the 2000s, not only through extensive sample use but from their less tangible influence upon younger artists and producers.