Monday, January 2, 2012

The Dazz Band - "Joystick"

Joystick - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Dazz Band

(Debuted February 11, 1984, Peaked #61, 11 Weeks on the Chart)

One of the biggest icons of the 1980s was the video game system. Whether it was an Atari (which my family had), Intellivision, Colecovision or a Nintendo (which came out much later), it gave people a method of enjoying video games from their homes without having to get their fix one quarter at a time in the arcade. Early in 1984, I was also a sixth grader, and the term "joystick" had a double connotation: not only was it the device we used when we moved Pac-Man around the maze, but it was also a slang term given to very different device altogether. A more biological one we carried around with us.

The Dazz Band also used that double entendre in their song "Joystick," using sound effects in the song and explicitly mentioning the video game in the lyrics, yet still slipping in "take control of the stick...turn me on" in there as well. Anybody who paid attention to the words was going to know that these guys weren't necessarily singing about any Atari.

The Dazz Band was a Cleveland-based funk group that had formed during the late 1970s. Originally, they had the horn section that accompanied many funk units, but realized as the early 80s started that the "sound" was becoming more electronic and moved toward incorporating a drum machine and synthesizer into their act. "Joystick" was the band's first Hot 100 single since the #5 "Let it Whip" from 1982 but never managed to get it or any other song into the pop Top 40. On the other hand, they kept scoring hits on the R&B survey and to a lesser extent on the dance chart through 1988.

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