Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For Enhanced Musical Flavour Just Add Oxo

I discovered the track ‘Whirly Girl’ via Volume 8 in the ultra cool compilation series ‘Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits Of The 80s’. It was one of those previously undiscovered gems that sits unassuming in the track listing when you pick up the CD, but later reveals its true magic upon first listen.

The artist behind this upbeat little pop number was a U.S. pop-rock quarter calling themselves Oxo (which previously I only associated with those little flavour cubes you add when cooking). Oxo comprised guitarist Orlanda, bassist Frank Garcia, drummer Freddy Alwag with vocalist and founder Ish ‘Angel’ Ledesma.

Ish Ledesma had previously fronted a Miami based Latino dance band called Foxy during the 70s. Foxy had scored two U.S. top 30 hits with ‘Hot Number’ (#21 in ‘79) and the 1978 top 10 hit ‘Get Off’ (#9). Interestingly four of the five members of Foxy were Cuban immigrants, including percussionist Richie Puente, son of the legendary Latin bandleader Titi Puente - but I digress. After four albums Foxy disbanded in 1981 and Ish Ledesma set about putting together a replacement act, resulting in Oxo.

Taken from the group’s self titled (and only) album, ‘Whirly Girl’ proved to be Oxo’s one and only chart hit when it reached #28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1983. The song was originally titled ‘Wordly Girl’ and Ledesma wrote it about his wife. The follow up singles ‘My Ride’ and ‘Dance All Night’ missed the charts altogether, consigning Oxo to the tribe of lost one hit wonders.

Following the short lived tenure of Oxo, Ledesma continued to be active in the music business, drawing on over a decade of experience, which included being a one time member of the TK Records house band (label for KC & The Sunshine Band and numerous other disco/dance acts). He’s worked with the likes of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and 2 Live Crew. Oxo bass player Frank Garcia worked as a producer/arranger and played on a number of albums by Latino artists. Garcia was later the focus of an episode of Showtime’s ‘This American Life’, which made reference to Garcia’s involvement with genuine one hit wonders Oxo.

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