Unheralded Moments in Pop – Shalamar Invent Body-popping and Moonwalking

Shalamar, best known for their hits, “I Can Make You Feel Good” and “A Night to Remember“, are one of those bands who were preposterously huge in the 70s and 80s. A perfect example of a band who suddenly realise can comfortably fill a greatest hits album and then some, Shalamar are currently celebrating the 35th anniversary of their classic album, “Friends“, on which the previously mentioned tracks appeared. They’re also readying themselves for the release of their first new material for 20 years, “The Real Thing“, which has been seized upon immediately by the major radio outlets. Nostalgia? No, it’s just good!

Shalamar have missed out on a lot of the credit they deserve, even though 25 million record sales and over 100 silver, gold and platinum discs are more than a subtle hint that they were a flash in the pan. Aside from their musical success, they revolutionised dance-floors worldwide, or more specifically, ever-present leader, Jeffrey Daniel, did, by introducing not just body-popping but also the moon walk. But that was Michael Jackson, surely? Not even nearly, Jeffrey was never stood still, in any sense: if he wasn’t dancing, he was skating; if he wasn’t skating, he was unicycling; if he wasn’t doing that, he was teaching Michael Jackson how to dance.

The “Beat It” video on the “Thriller” album was filmed in downtown LA in factories, pool halls on the streets of some very run down areas. At the very same time the video was being made, Jeffrey was recording with Shalamar and had to run from one location to the other at a moment’s notice. Despite not being available for every scene in the video he went on to choreograph “Bad”, “Smooth Criminal” and was choreography consultant on the world tours and the film “Ghosts”. Referred to by Jeffrey as “the back-slide”, it was performed on their iconic 1982 Top of the Pops appearance and saw the playgrounds of Britain filled with children ruining their shoes the following day. It was not until the following year that Michael Jackson performed the same move before an audience, his master-stroke being a simple, catchy re-titling.

Shalamar’s longevity is down to the quality of their songs and the individual talent of Jeffrey Daniel, who channeled Marcel Marceau, Little Richard and Motown into one extraordinary career without blinking. Both Michael Jackson and Peter Crouch should be grateful he had such a positive impact on their careers, whilst audiences can celebrate a milestone for the band and a new single which shows talent will always last.

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