Ready for the World

Ready for the World

While they have been often ignored in modern retrospectives of 80s music, during the period 1985-87 there were few acts that were bigger than Ready For the World.  Their Jheri curl look made them the young heartthrobs of Soul music, and their series of hit dance cuts and ballads, while not terribly original, were absolutely infectious.

Formed in the early 80s in Flint, Michigan by singer/songwriter Melvin Riley along with Gordon Strozier, John Eaton, Willie Triplett, Gerald Valentine and Gregory Potts, RFTW scored sizeable hits with the first two singles, the ballads "Tonight" and "Deep Inside Your Love."  But it was their third single, the magnificent Prince-sounding electronic dance tune "Oh Sheila," that moved the group to the top of the Pop and Soul charts.  The song became one of the year's biggest cuts (despite Riley's weird fake British accent in the intro).   Unfortunately, their follow up, "Digital Display," gave away their dirty little secret - basically they had two songs -- the uptempo "Oh Sheila" and the ballad "Deep Inside Your Love" -- and everything they released for the next two years would basically be a rewrite of one of the two.

The group tabbed local rock producer Gary Spaniola for their sophomore disc, Long Time Coming, and landed another top 10 crossover hit with "Love You Down" (a derivation of "Deep Inside Your Love") and also scored with "Merry Goes Round" (you guessed it, "Oh Sheila" redux).

By the time of 1988's Ruff ‘N Ready, RFTW had pretty much said all it had to say, and the album came and went quickly, though it landed the R&B hit "My Girly."  1991's Straight Down to Business was the group's last to chart, and in 1994 Riley left to record a couple of unsuccessful solo albums.  RFTW reunited for two albums in the late 90s (Freak the World and BYOB) but broke up again by 2000.

While Riley, who reaped the most benefits as the lead songwriter for the group, continued in the music business, the remaining group members ultimately took regular day jobs.  They occasionally reunited for mini-tours and in 2004 signed with Thump Records in time to release She Said She Wants Some, a commercial and critical failure.  They received some attention in 2005 when "Tonight" was sampled by Twista on his single "Girl Tonight," and the group looked to reunite yet again onstage for a tour.

By Chris Rizik

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