Music Review 6: Incognito (The Best Band You’ve Never Heard Of)


I’ve heard said or written that good or very good is the enemy of the best.  That may be true in some cases.  But, my question to the saying is…why don’t we appreciate the good or very good?  It’s not bad or horrible….so if something is good doesn’t it deserve recognition or acknowledgement as well.

I’m thinking about the things that are good but get overlooked or unnoticed like Graham Cracker Cookies (chocolate chip cookies get all the attention) or the Nissan Maxima (a lot people have them but they are never on the most desired car list) or San Antonio Spurs in NBA Basketball (Only the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls have won more championships than the Spurs) and the novelist Athol Dickson ( he writes Christian Fiction but his novels are dynamic and interesting and I would put him up against a Richard Ford or Russell Banks or Martin Amis or Michael Chabon and he would hold his own.)

That brings me to my favorite band, Incognito.  I first heard them back in 1992 when I was living in Atlanta.  I had a friend who told me about this group from England that were not quite jazz or not quite R&B, but their music was great.  He played the Inside Life CD for me and I was hooked instantly.

I went to Sound Warehouse (that was the record store popular in Atlanta back in the early 1990s) the next day and bought my own copy of Inside Life and I wore out that cassette.  Journey Into Sunlight was my favorite song on that cassette and I drove my roommates crazy with it.

Several months later in 1992, Incognito came to Atlanta for a concert.  They played at a small club in the Little Five Points area of the city. I saw Bluey and the band and they played songs from Inside Life and Tribes, Vibes, and Scribes CDs and rocked the house. It was my first concert and I left that night knowing I would be a fan for a long time.

Fast forward to 2012, I’m married with two kids and living in San Antonio, Texas.  Life has changed quite a bit for me. However, one of the things that has remained constant is listening to Incognito.  Their songs over the years have picked me up, chilled me out, helped me deal with my relationship issues from past girlfriends, and been a constant companion for long drives out-of town.

The odd thing is that every time I’ve played their CDs for someone I always get the same reaction.  That music is great. Who is that band? I have always wondered why I keep getting the same reaction. I’ve had several theories to why Incognito is not well-known in America.

Could it be because they are British mostly? (Maysa is from Baltimore….I know! LOL!)

Could it be that their music is a mixture of 70’s funk, jazz, house, and dance music. (People like having a defined genre for their music listening pleasures)

Could it be that bands are not popular anymore? (Acts like Beyoncé, Usher, Drake, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus are what the masses like these days.)

It could be a combination of all of those factors.  However, I keep going back to the saying that started this blog post, “The good or very good is the enemy of the best.”

With 15 studio CDs and several live and remix CDs, Incognito has put out good music nearly on an annual basis and that consistency tends to get overlooked and underappreciated.  Well, not here.

Incognito consists of Jean-Paul “Bluey” Manuick, the creative genius and founder of the band. Also, there is a rotation of singers like Maysa (the most well-known), Joy Malcolm, Pamela Anderson, Mark Antoni, Tony Momrelle, Imaani, Jocelyn Brown,  and a bevy of musicians that have created the Incognito sound.  In recent years, the band has worked with Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, and Leon Ware.

My hope is that this band gets more recognition from the American music public. I guess it’s a fickle business on determining what becomes popular for mass consumption.  However, when there’s good music it deserves to be recognized and celebrated for their contribution.  This blog post is my appreciation for what Incognito has done throughout the years and the smile it has put on my face many times over.

Lastly, I have created a list of my favorite 15 Incognito Songs.  This was the hardest list I’ve created.  Here we go:

1) Did We Really Ever Try from Who Needs Love

2) Fences and Barriers from Adventures in Black Sunshine

3) When Tomorrow Brings You Down from Eleven

4) Everybody Loves The Sunshine from Bees, Things, & Flowers

5) A Shade of Blue from Beneath The Surface

6) I Remember A Time from Tales From The Beach

7) Step Aside from Tales From The Beach

8) Marrakech from No Time Like The Future

9) The Way You Love from Surreal

10) When Words Are Just Words from Tales From The Beach

11) Pieces Of A Dream from Positivity

12) Barumba from 100 Degrees and Rising

13) Come Away With Me from Eleven

14) Promise You The Moon from Inside Life

15) I Can See The Future from No Time Like The Future

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