April 17, 1989 12:00 PM


Go-go music has been Washington, D.C.’s main choice for house-shaking funk for more than a decade, and E.U. is one of the first to break out beyond the Beltway. Livin’ Large is their first attempt to make a real run for it. Led by co-founder and bassist Sugar Bear Elliott, E.U. (Experience Unlimited) delivers a steady if occasionally bland sampler of the genre. Go-go is essentially a throwback to the ’70s disco-funk popularized by that era’s most successful groups, the Commodores, Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang. The sound synonymous with these bands was more ambitious and more highly produced than E.U.’s version, but Elliott and his 10-member ensemble provide a heavy dose of hip-grinding party music. The title track and “Shake Your Thing,” with rappers Salt ‘n’ Pepa on vocals, are the album’s best tracks and show some versatility. On “Da Butt ’89,” a slightly revised version of their hit from Spike Lee’s movie School Daze, Elliott & Co. don’t shy away from lifting riffs, borrowing from Led Zeppelin’s “D’Yer Mak’er.” “Taste of Your Love” is a sensuous ballad with a silky-smooth vocal track à la Earth, Wind & Fire (though no one in E.U. can match the pipes of a Maurice White or a Philip Bailey). There’s plenty to enjoy, as long as it’s kept in mind that E.U.’s formidable brand of funk is not meant to be a cerebral experience. (Virgin)

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