Before Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis became known as the team behind Janet Jackson’s astronomical success, they produced a series of R&B bangers for a range of artists including Patti Austin, Cheryl Lynn, and their Minneapolis homeboy Alexander O’ Neal. Their first solid success as a production team came at the top of 1983 with The S.O.S. Band’s “Just Be Good to Me”. That band had been more or less stuck in one hit-wonderville since their huge disco smash “Take Your Time (Do it Right”), and their alliance with Jam and Lewis not only put the production team on the map, but extended the career of S.O.S. by another decade.

“The Finest” was the first single from the band’s 1986 album Sands of Time. Lead vocalist Mary Davis’s clipped delivery was always the most unique thing on S.O.S. records, and Jimmy & Terry’s production sound worked very well with her voice. “The Finest” went on to be one of THE jams of summer ’86 (just as Control was catching fire), almost hitting the top spot on the R&B charts and narrowly missing the pop top 40-becoming the band’s second-highest charting hit. I could’ve sworn there was an honest-to-goodness video for this song, but I can’t find it anywhere on YouTube-damn it. So here’s a clip from a TV performance (from what show, I don’t know). Apparently Alexander O’ Neal (who sings on the bridge of the song with Davis) had other commitments, because he’s replaced by a random S.O.S. member for this TV performance.

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