Ready for the World: The Best of Ready for the World (20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collect

Wayne Franklin

Ready for the World

The Best of Ready for the World (20th Century Masters - the Millennium Collection)

Label: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection
US Release Date: 2002-01-15

When the phrase "hair band" is used, images of heavy metal groups of the '80s like Twisted Sister, Kiss or Poison immediately come to mind. However, the R&B community had its own share of hair bands during the "me" decade. Do you remember the Prince protégé band Mazarati? If you ever get the chance, watch their video for "100 MPH". Frightening is the only word that describes the hairdos in that one. Then there was The Deele, the band that first introduced us to "L. A." Reid and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. Mr. Edmonds' perm had to sit at least a foot high. Then there was Full Force, or what happens when music, weightlifting and jheri curls collide. But perhaps the most successful R&B group of the '80s known for their hair (second only to Prince and the Revolution) was Ready for the World, six schoolmates from Flint, Michigan who shared a love for funky music, trendy clothes and curl activator.

20th Century Masters � The Millennium Collection: The Best of Ready for the World chronicles the band's meteoric rise and chart run, featuring 13 of their most popular single releases (as well as one from lead vocalist Melvin Riley's solo debut). Even though the group pictures displayed on the disc's liner card are cause for laughter or embarrassment (depending upon which end of the fashion spectrum you dwelled during the '80s), the music is guaranteed to cause head nodding, smiles, and/or spontaneous bursts of "Aww, I remember this one" to fans of this sextet.

The band, which consisted of Riley, John Eaton on bass, Greg Potts on keyboards, Gordon Strozier on lead guitar, Willie Triplett, Jr. on percussion and Gerald Valentine on drums, personified 1980s R&B. Drawing on their rock influences as well as their obvious Prince influence, they captivated the female portion of R&B's audience with their guitar-laden ballads (there are 7 on this collection), starting a black "New-Romantic movement" of sorts, inspiring a future generation of talented bands such as Mint Condition and pre-criminal activity Jodeci.

Songs like their breakthrough smash "Tonight" (from their 1985 debut Ready for the World), about a girl's first sexual experience, with Riley's moaning/whining "Oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh-oh-oh / Girl, Tonight" hook caused many an adolescent female to swoon and many outraged parents to complain. The follow-up single, "Deep Inside Your Love", just secured their spot in the hearts of those same adolescent girls. "Oh Sheila", also from the debut album, was the tune that put the group over the top and into platinum status. This was their first #1 single, and remains their most popular song to this day.

Their follow-up LP, 1986's Long Time Coming, contained the chart-topper "Love You Down" -- another ballad, this time about a May/December romance. The title track from this album and the uptempo "Mary Goes 'Round" single also appear on this collection. Ready for the World's last two albums, Ruff 'N Ready (1988) and Straight Down To Business (1991), are also represented here with singles from each. These albums didn't make as much of a splash as the first two, probably due to the fact that the band chose to try to sound like everyone else instead of sticking with what they started with (Ruff 'N Ready had a Teddy Riley-esque New Jack Swing vibe, and Straight Down to Business sounded eerily like a Bell Biv DeVoe record, especially the title cut). After the group disbanded, Melvin Riley attempted to re-capture the feel of the first RFTW record on his solo release, 1994's Ghetto Love. The single from that LP, "Whose Is It?" only reached #43 on the Billboard R&B chart, but is included in this collection nonetheless.

Ready for the World was a great band, and they made great music. Unfortunately, they fell victim to the fickle tastes of the public. So reminisce a little. Pick up 20th Century Masters � The Millennium Collection: The Best of Ready for the World and remember what a really good band sounds like.





Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.