By the late ’80s new wave music had become the mainstream of pop, so it was interesting to hear a near vintage sound become a dominant force on the charts if only for a short time. The husband and wife duo better known as Nu Shooz were already pop veterans when their third album Poolside was high on the charts. The infectious up tempo beats on hit singles like “I Can’t Wait” and “Point Of No Return” had the kind of simplicity more associated with pop from the first half of the decade.
The throwback sound may have been the result of years of Portland area releases that never got national distribution. Then one day a European remix of ‘I Can’t Wait” caught the attention of record execs at Atlantic Records and before you knew it Poolside was recorded, complete with previously released material from the band’s small fish days back in Portland (re worked of course).
Poolside was one of the better examples of tech driven mid to late ’80s pop. In some ways it was unusual as it was a collection of bouncy innocent dance songs that sounded as they could have been sampled by rappers from the Sugarhill era. The bright production was always heavy on rhythm with a back beat that resonated as well on the R&B charts as it did on mainstream pop channels.
That broad appeal made Poolside was something of a small revolution. It was simple, direct and danceable pop that had freestyle elements that appealed to the hip hop and dance community. “I Can’t Wait” had the distinction of being a major pop, R&B as well as dance hit thanks to a Shep Pettibone remix.
The voice of Nu Shooz, Valerie Day had the charm and optimism of the best girl groups of the time, but with a subtle sophistication that came with a bit of experience on the scene. That experience may have been one of the reasons Nu Shooz was nominated for a Grammy in 1987 for Best New Artist category, even though they were not new, just new to national distribution.
Nu Shooz’s impact on the charts would continue with their follow-up Told U So in 1988. Poolside however is the pair at their bubbly, happy rhythmic best.