Monday, December 25, 2006

Goodbye to the Godfather..



I'm sure many of you have heard the news by now.. James Brown, Soul Brother Number One, The Godfather of Soul, The Hardest Working Man In Show Business and truly the Original Disco Man had passed away early this morning of Pneumonia.. If it weren't for James, there would be no disco, there would be no hip-hop and no funk. Simply put, there is no overestimating the man's influence on popular music today. As naive as it may seem, I never thought I'd see the death of James Brown. One of those legendary figures who, despite whatever setbacks he experienced, seemed nearly as robust and indestructible as his own legacy. Towards the end of 2004, when I heard that James was taking his "Funkin' Canada" tour through Calgary, I snapped up a ticket for myself as soon as I could. After the death of Rick James a few months before, I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to see a legend like James perform live and in person. I had the money, the show was right at my school, at the University of Calgary's MacEwan Hall; essentially, I had absolutely no excuse. I remember the date, December 8, 2004, one of the tightest shows I ever had the priviledge of going to. The show was standing room only, thankfully I had come early enough to get my ass right up front. From that vantage point, you couldn't help but see, feel and hear the discipline he commanded, not only of his band, but of himself to pull off a show like that. I remember the best part of the show, towards the end with his blistering, extended jam of "Sex Machine." For the most part I have a tendency to be fairly restrained, even at concerts, but he even managed to get my stiff-ass self chanting "git on up!".. He was no longer able to do his famous splits, yet there was no diminishing his powerful, albeit diminutive presence; every little hot stepping dance move and gutteral yelp commanding the approval of a crowd full of students, kids, parents - of all ages, spanning at least several generations.

Personal shortcomings notwithstanding, that's the way I'll always remember James Brown. Rest in peace J.B.

One last thing: In case anyone's interested, I'll no doubt be sure to have some disco J.B. up on the blog in the coming days..

LINKS:
JAMES BROWN @ THE ALL MUSIC GUIDE
JAMES BROWN @ WIKIPEDIA
THE GAUNTLET - CONCERT REVIEW - JAMES BROWN BREACHES 5TH DIMENSIONAL SPACE TO FUNK UP CALGARY (DECEMBER 9, 2004)
NPR LIVE CONCERT SERIES - JAMES BROWN IN CONCERT
THE STATE - JAMES BROWN HAS ALWAYS DONE THINGS HIS WAY (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
CNN.COM - JAMES BROWN HOSPITALIZED FOR PNEUMONIA (DECEMBER 24, 2006)
CNN.COM - JAMES BROWN: REMEMBERED (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
BBC NEWS - SOUL STAR JAMES BROWN DIES AT 73 (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
BBC NEWS - THE INFLUENCE OF SOUL 'GODFATHER' (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
BBC NEWS - JAMES BROWN: YOUR MEMORIES (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
CANADA.COM - LEGENDARY SINGER, JAMES BROWN, THE 'GODFATHER OF SOUL,' DIES AT 73 (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
DAVEY D's HIP-HOP BLOG - HIP-HOP LOSES IT'S GODFATHER JAMES BROWN (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
THE HUFFINGTON POST - WHAT JAMES BROWN TOLD ME IN PERSON 20 YEARS AGO (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
THE HUFFINGTON POST - JAMES BROWN R.I.P. (DECEMBER 25, 2006)
THE HUFFINGTON POST - JAMES BROWN IN THE WITNESS CHAIR C. 1980 (DECEMBER 25, 2006)


CATEGORIES: IN MEMORIAM.., ARTICLES & RAMBLINGS

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Yes, I know it's Christmas..



Moonlion - The Little Drummer Boy (1976, P.I.P)

Some of you might be wondering why the hell haven't I put up any Christmas disco, after all there was so much of it, I mean how could I not at least have put up the ol' Salsoul Orchestra Christmas album for chrissakes!?

Well, to be completely honest, my collection of Christmas disco is, to put it lightly, rather lacking.. I've never really been much for holiday music and when looking for disco, let's just say the Christmas stuff was way down on the list.. In my mind I always equated it with those K-Tel compilations; quick cash-ins by little budget labels in order to snag the desperate or indiscriminate holiday buyer.. In other words, just plain cheesy and plentiful, with little that could start me off and satisfy my budding disco fixation. I don't want to call it snobbery, but whatever, let's call it that.. At the time, I was looking for the sort of records that would open me up to the elusive world of the disco underground, the stuff that Joey Negro and Sean P. were digging up for their "Disco Spectrums," which I was all over at the time; the stuff that Larry Levan was said to have played at the Paradise Garage; the records that fans on the online forums and websites were all over and which I, as of yet, had no clue of.. I wanted to rediscover and relive the sort of things that had captured me as a kid, "Le Freak," "In The Bush," "Sunset People," "Think It Over" and the like.. Besides, I would always see tons of listings on eBay for the CD of the Salsoul Orchestra's first "Christmas Jollies" album, which is possibly (and I'm only guessing here) the only Salsoul album that has never gone out of print since it's release.. Needless to say, I didn't see anything in any of those cheesy, plentiful Christmas disco records that could take me there or anywhere near that underground disco world of beats and grooves that collectors, seasoned dancers and clubgoers (that actually were there) had laid claim to. In other words, it was less Paradise Garage and Studio 54 and more like an old Grandma and Grandpa at their weekly disco dancing class.

I'd like to think that I've moved beyond that. I quickly realized that I was never going to find anything worthwhile for myself unless I opened my mind; besides, most of the enjoyment from crate-digging came from following your own instincts and picking up things that looked different and interesting much more than it was about looking for those things that everyone else was looking for.. As well, many of those same fans and collectors were quick to hold things like the venerable "Christmas Jollies" album in high esteem, which more or less contradicted my whole theory that Christmas disco albums were completely insubstantial.. Recently I got a suggestion for the "Disco Noël" album by Mirror Image (which is apparently available on CD), a studio group that were also known as the Mistletoe Disco Band (thanks Chris!) who released a couple of Christmas disco albums on the budget Pickwick label. Their "Disco Noël" was one album I had seen many times, but had never bothered to pick up. I went to the store expecting to find me a good copy, but lo and behold, all the copies of that and other disco Christmas albums that I had remembered were down to a select few copies with worn, ripped covers and scratched, beat-up vinyl. I suppose it goes without saying, I didn't end up buying any of them.

In the mean time, I did have this one twelve-inch single that I had picked up in the summer. An early 12" single from 1976 on the P.I.P. (Pickwick International Productions) label (a "legit" arm of the budget Pickwick label, I assume), the A-side was a pleasant version of "The Little Drummer Boy" by an anonymous studio outfit called Moonlion. Produced by Rick Bleiweiss and Bill Stahl, who were most notably the same guys who had produced another P.I.P. act, The Gary Toms Empire, their Moonlion version is a bouncing, swinging take on the venerable christmas standard. Completely instrumental with jaunty, lilting strings and snares complimented by those noble sounding trumpets, it's perhaps a tad overwrought, but then again, so is this whole Christmas season thing. I suppose in that way, it captures it pretty well.

Anyway, that's my rather lengthy excuse. I do hope to have a better selection of Christmas disco classics next year. Rest assured, I'll be planning in advance. So whether this puts you into the Christmas spirit or not, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone out there.

LINKS:
MOONLION - THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (PROMO 12'') @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
BILL BLEIWEISS @ FIGLEAF ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
BILL STAHL @ THE ALL MUSIC GUIDE


CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, ARTICLES & RAMBLINGS

Friday, December 22, 2006

Disco Delivery #30:
Isaac Hayes Movement - Disco Connection (1976, HBS/ABC)



Isaac Hayes Movement - Disco Connection
Isaac Hayes Movement - Disco Shuffle
Isaac Hayes Movement - The First Day Of Forever
Isaac Hayes Movement - St. Thomas Square

Finally it's here!

I hadn't pulled out this album in a little while, until a reader recently asked me if I had the title track, which he had recently heard on the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance?" .. Despite the fact that I hadn't listened to it in a little while, it remains probably one of my all-time favourite instrumental disco albums, if anything one of my favourite Isaac Hayes disco efforts..

Isaac, who's contribution to the Stax label and the Memphis Sound has been well documented, was certainly no stranger to the disco either. From his seminal proto-disco, proto-rap "Theme from Shaft" all the way to "Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage á Trois)," "Don't Let Go," and "Shoot Your Best Shot," the latter produced for Linda Clifford, he was one of the most prominent R&B legends to make a serious transition to disco.. Although his mid-late '70's disco efforts were not often seen in the same light as his earlier efforts, there were some definite classics among them, some quite well known, others, like this one, that were rather overlooked..

An instrumental album released under the name of his backing band, the 'Isaac Hayes Movement,' "Disco Connection" was also to be one of the first Isaac Hayes albums that seemed to be aimed specifically towards a disco audience. Overall, it seems 1976 was Ike's "disco year." In 1976 alone, he would release a total of three albums; "Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak)," this LP and "Groove-A-Thon," all of them with something aimed towards the disco.

Apparently both this LP, along with the "Groove-A-Thon" album were released just weeks apart from each other, and just before the advent of the commercial 12" single, no less. By this time he had already left Stax and was on ABC under his own imprint, HBS (Hot Blooded Soul). Despite the hectic pace and his new and seemingly improved label situation, neither of the three LPs from that year would do as well on the charts as any of his previous. It seemed to signal the end of an impressive run on the Billboard charts where pretty much all, if not most of his albums ended up topping the R&B charts as well as reaching the top 20 of the pop charts. Although the charts on at allmusic.com don't indicate much action, the title track did however do a little something on the disco charts. According to the 1976 Billboard Disco Charts posted on the discomusic.com forums, the title track would stay on the disco charts for a total of five weeks and peak at #26 in January of that year. That said, the liner notes of the "Groove-A-Thon" reissue seem to suggest that perhaps both "Groove-A-Thon" and "Disco Connection" could have done better had they been promoted with 12" singles, so perhaps there were limitations there on the label's part. Regardless of all that though, in my opinion "Disco Connection" is perhaps a prime example of not only Hayes' genius, but of early disco at it's best; a mix of sophisticated funk combined with layered, rich arrangements and orchestration. In other words, an excellent example of that time where disco wasn't quite at full-throttle; where there hadn't yet been too many stylistic formulas applied to it. In my estimation at least, it was a combination that seems to have made that year a particualrly rich one in the disco era, creatively speaking.

The title track and "Disco Shuffle" are probably the funkiest and most disco-oriented of all the tracks on the album, with both selections anchored by dynamic horn sections and particularly in the latter, a heavy beat to go with it. One other notable attribute in "Disco Shuffle" are those meaty guitar licks, which are particularly engaging. Certainly one of the most effective uses (that I've heard at least) of this almost bluesy guitar sound in anything even remotely disco.. As far as the title track goes, one of my favourite elements of "Disco Connection" are those couple of great, ample wah-wah sections towards the middle and the end, giving the track a kind of signature Shaft-esque disco-funk edge. One could point out other distinctive attribute to "Disco Connection," which is in the fact that it is not held down, as one might expect, by any significant degree of bass, whether drum or guitar. It's beat is anchored by a much lighter, and much sharper (for lack of a better term) crashing beat. I'm not sure how exactly they got that kind of metallic, crashing sound; whatever the case, despite the absence of those bass elements, it's probably that same thing which sets it free in a way. It seems to give the track a certain lightness and dynamic edge, if you will. There's still that generous dose of funk, particularly in those wah-wahs and horns, yet there is also a lighter, faster, almost elegant dancefloor freedom about it that is uniquely disco.

"St. Thomas Square" and "The First Day Of Forever," are probably the two that showcase Hayes' melodic sensibility to the fullest, with both steeped in blissful, dreamy layered orchestration. "..First Day Of Forever" in particular showcases a particularly harmonious blend and interplay between the string and horn sections. As well, there is that beautiful flute in "St. Thomas Square," which progresses into an engaging, almost jazzy solo towards the end of the track. That said, neither of the two tracks would likely be considered a club stomper in any way, yet I for one just can't deny their engaging, melodic qualities. As much as they differ from the heavier, faster selections, they fit and compliment them perfectly. Taking the pace down slightly but not too much, still maintaining an engaging tempo, while giving some more room for those melodic, and orchestral (particularly in "..First Day of Forever") arrangements to shine through and work their magic.

From what I've come across, Hayes' brief association with ABC Records apparently came to an end with his filing for bankruptcy and a seemingly slow-selling duet album with Dionne Warwick. He would resurface in 1977 on Polydor with his excellent "New Horizon" LP which would yield classics like "Stranger In Paradise," "Moonlight Lovin' (Ménage á Trois)" and "Out Of The Ghetto" among others. His Polydor years, while not reaching the commercial heights of his Stax era, would yield more disco classics like "Zeke The Freak" and "Don't Let Go" to name just a couple. More recently Hayes has been one of the more prominent celebrity adherents of Scientology and not to mention his part as the voice of Chef on South Park. It seems 2006 has been, if anything, a full year for Hayes, with a mild stroke in January and subsequent pulling out if South Park, over being apparently offended by their lampooning of Scientology. His leaving the show was not without it's controversy, with reports and allegations that his leaving (largely reported by FOX gossip columnist Roger Friedman), coinciding with his recuperation from his stroke, were not so much of his own free will, but engineered by the Church of Scientology. Whatever the case, he has stood by his departure, saying "I just decided it was time to leave. For a time it was fun.. The fun ran out."

In addition to the controversy, 2006 also saw Isaac and his wife give birth to a new son and most recently saw the singing of a new record deal. Concord Music Group, who bought out the Fantasy label (which owned the Stax catalogue) in 2004, announced just a few days ago that it would be relaunching the Stax label in 2007 for it's 50th anniversary. Isaac Hayes and Angie Stone were announced as the first two signings to the relaunched label, so hopefully 2007 will see some new music from Ike himself. His last original album,"Branded" (1995, Pointblank/Virgin) was released over ten years ago now, so if anything, it's a return that's long overdue.

For a little something extra.. I just found a rare video of "Disco Connection" on dailymotion with Ike as conductor, or as Millie Jackson would say; "directin' the shit".. Even though the video is most likely staged, I always get a kick out of studio session videos like this. Helps one imagine all the more vividly just how the different musicians and sections work together, not to mention the sheer level of musicianship and coordination that it must have taken to put a track like this together..



LINKS:
ISAAC HAYES MOVEMENT - DISCO CONNECTION LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
ISAAC HAYES @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
ISAAC HAYES @ DISCOGS
ISAAC HAYES @ WIKIPEDIA
ISAAC HAYES @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
ISAAC HAYES @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
mySA.COM - HAYES HAS PUT STROKE, 'SOUTH PARK' BEHIND HIM (INTERVIEW) (OCTOBER 26, 2006)
THE PULSE - YOU CAN DIG HIM: ISAAC HAYES INTERVIEW (DECEMBER 13, 2006)


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO..

Getdisconnected.com update

*Updated January 13, 2007

I figure it's about time I update people on what's happened since I last posted about this company back in March.. This past July, I finally and thankfully received the CD of Debbie Jacobs' "High On Your Love" that I ordered back in November of 2005. Someone at the company had apparently seen my blog entry, tracked down a record of my order and proceeded to fill it. Although the sound quality of the CD is, in my opinion, less than stellar (for one thing the tracks on the second half of the album sound muddier than the first half); either way, I sincerely thank them for addressing my concerns and filling my order.

*Judging from the emails I recieved from them back in July, it seemed like they sincerely wanted to rectify any of the unfilled orders that they have. However disorganized they may have been, I really don't think they were out to deceive anyone. Since I originally posted this update, I've had a couple of people contact me through here about their unfilled orders and they've since been contacted, or attempted to be contacted by GetDisconnected. If anyone still has outstanding issues with them, don't hesitate to email them at either music@getdisconnected.com or info@getdisconnected.com or leave a comment below and they should get back to you.. If anyone is uncomfortable ordering directly from their webshop, GetDisconnected's reissues should be available at retailers such as Amazon.com, Perfect Beat or Dusty Groove. No doubt, you'll pay a bit more, but you'll have greater security..

LINKS:
DISCOMUSIC.COM FORUMS: GET DISCONNECTED UPDATE #1
DISCOMUSIC.COM FORUMS: GETDISCONNECTED UPDATE #2
DISCOMUSIC.COM FORUMS: GETDISCONNECTED CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
BUYER BEWARE: GETDISCONNECTED.COM (FEBRUARY 14, 2006)


CATEGORIES: CONSUMER ADVISORY, REISSUES & RELEASES

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dancing dancing in paradise..



El Coco - Dancing In Paradise (1978, AVI/Quality)

I know I said I'd update yesterday. Once again I'm late (as usual), I wanted to get the Disco Delivery done yesterday, but let's just say my Saturday night went on a little longer than I anticipated (not that I'm complaining or anything)..

I'm hoping to work on the upcoming Disco Delivery entry some more tonight, in the mean time here's one of my favourite El Coco records, hell, probably one of my all time favourite disco records.. "Dancing In Paradise" is to me, one of the best things Rinder & Lewis ever did. Starts off with some of the most exquisite strings, then goes into that equally exquisite synth driven melody... It all comes together in what is truly one of the most sublime, escapist disco records I've ever heard..

I remember I first heard this track, not on it's own, but sampled on Ultra Naté's "Dear John," a great song off her excellent "Stranger Than Fiction" (2001, Strictly Rhythm) album. One of the best uses of a disco sample that I've heard so far.

Anyway, Rinder and Lewis are one duo whose productions I've really been taking a shine to in the last while or so. Most recently, I got their excellent "Seven Deadly Sins" LP in the mail, but unfortunately, decent copies of the "Dancing In Paradise" LP always seem to elude me. So until I get that, here's a rip of the 12'' I got a couple of months ago..

Hope this'll tie you all over until then, as for the next Disco Delivery, here's a hint: think "connection" and "movement."

LINKS:
EL COCO - DANCING IN PARADISE LP @ DISCOGS
EL COCO - DANCING IN PARADISE US 12'' @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
EL COCO = DANCING IN PARADISE US 12'' @ DISCOGS
EL COCO @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
EL COCO @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE

PURCHASE:
EL COCO - GREATEST DISCO HITS CD (INCLUDES "DANCING IN PARADISE") | CDUNIVERSE.COM | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CA | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.FR

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #25 - RINDER & LEWIS - WARRIORS (1979, AVI/QUALITY)


CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES

Monday, December 11, 2006

Just to let ya know..

I apologise for the lack of updates this week, but unfortunately I'm in the middle of a spree of finals and term papers.. My next update will be sometime this coming Sunday the 17th, when I should be done with most of it.. Again, my apologies.

In the mean time, for those of you who haven't heard it yet, check out Barry Walters' new Disco internet radio station at RadioioDisco.. And in case some of you were wondering, Barry is not only a huge disco fan, but is in fact the same guy who has written for the likes of Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Out Magazine and Blender among others.. Definitely one of the most diverse, eclectic disco playlists out there, so check it out if you can..

Oh, and just a lil' hint: even though the link takes you directly to the disco station's page, you still have to select the disco channel from the drop-down menu when the pop-up window comes up..

Also, I just added a couple of new links as well, Terry's Musical Life and Slap Upside The Head (for anyone out there looking for a playful, witty take on gay issues up here in Canadaland), check 'em out as well..

Catch you all later!

LINKS:
RADIOioDISCO


CATEGORIES: MISCELLANEOUS

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Disco Delivery #29:
First Choice - Breakaway (1980, Gold Mind/Salsoul)



First Choice - Pressure Point
First Choice - Can't Take It With You
First Choice - Breakaway (12'' Version)
First Choice - I Can Show You (Better Than I Can Tell You) (Extended Version)
First Choice - Sittin' Pretty

I apologize for repeating myself somewhat, this is the second time I've posted a First Choice LP, but it's one that I've been listening to quite a bit lately. I first got this LP back in 2002, the first LP of theirs that I ever got. I remember at the time playing the hell out of "Pressure Point," but believe it or not, it's only recently that I've managed to really listen to the whole LP continuously. On the whole, my impressions are that it's perhaps not their best album, but nonetheless one with some overlooked gems on it.. For one thing, I think "Pressure Point" is one of their most infectious records; those tense, exquisite strings at the opening, great horn section and those drums, which are just plain bumpin'. It seems unfortunate that this doesn't seem to have been released as a 12'' single.. Produced by Norman Harris, but mixed by Tee Scott, Scott's mix teases you with series of brief breaks which, if anything, just hint at the potential greatness that an extended 12'' mix could have been..

One of the tracks that I sort of 'discovered' while revisiting this album was "Can't Take It With You." Not a strictly 'disco' song, but probably one of the best songs they did. To me it seems to recall some of the storytelling style of some of their earlier material.. A great lyric delivered with extra feeling by Rochelle Fleming herself; it's really the chorus though that brings it home, with the other two ladies, Annette Guest and Debbie Martin carrying it like a mantra when they sing "...can't take it with you, no you can't, when you're gone..gone..gone...". Let me just say, for the record, Rochelle and Loleatta Holloway (I really need to do an entry on her sometime) were two ladies that put the 'soul' in 'Salsoul.' Seriously, these women could sing the phone book, the dictionary even, and make make it sound genuine and soulful. Rochelle, particularly, just seemed to have a certain comforting warmth in her voice, which I think this song captures particularly well.

The single off the LP was the title track, "Breakaway," backed with "I Can Show You (Better Than I Can Tell You)". The former, written and produced by their long time producer Norman Harris along with Love Committee member and future Temptation Ron Tyson, has an overall sound that probably comes closest to that of their biggest hits. The understated break half-way through is probably my favourite part of that song, along with those straight-outta-Philly rhythm arrangements.. "I Can Show You.." was one of a couple of tracks on the album written and produced by the team of T.G. Conway, Allan Felder and Cary Gilbert. For this one particularly, it seems like the overall production style was perhaps somewhat dated by 1980, recalling a more earlier disco sound than anything that was to come in the 1980's, although that can probably be said for most of the album as well. Also, I've always thought the title was a little too wordy, since for one thing, the ladies barely manage to enunciate it in the chorus. That said, I've actually really grown to like this one, especially towards the second half when those accented horns are given a little more room to shine..

All of the tracks posted above were mixed by the late Tee Scott, a DJ pioneer who got his big start as a DJ in 1972 at the New York club Better Days. By the late '70s and into the early '80s Scott was starting to gain recognition as a mixer, his first mix was First Choice's own "Love Thang" from their previous album, "Hold Your Horses" (1979, Gold Mind/Salsoul). These days, Scott seems to be one of the more underrepresented DJ's/mixers of the time.. With the recognition given to Tom Moulton, Larry Levan and Walter Gibbons in recent years, maybe like the others, Scott will be one of the next to have his work anthologized.

As for the album, while "Breakaway" was a decent LP overall, they seemed to have played it fairly safe with it, opting to stick with familiar collaborators and a tried and true sound. It would have been nice to see how or if they would have branched out with their sound in the early 1980s if they would have continued on. Although it doesn't seem to have been intended as such, unfortunately this would be the last First Choice LP. In a 1987 interview (paraphrased from discomuseum.com), Rochelle mentioned that the early 1980's had seen the group mired in legal disputes with management (the nature of which I'm not completely sure of) that, to quote Rochelle, "knocked the spirit out of the group". According to the same interview, the group broke up amicably after that point, with Rochelle continuing on her own, releasing singles sporadically throughout the years, most notably "Love Itch" (1985, Prelude), "Danger!" (1994, Cutting Records), "Suffer (The Consequences)" (1995, Cutting Records) and most recently "Get It On (Summer Love) (2002, Equal) and "Are You Ready For Me" (2006, D:vision). She still performs occasionally, and apparently had an album in the works with Cutting Records at one point, though I'm sure that project has long been shelved. In any case, Rochelle's timeless voice has fronted many a disco classic and it's my hope at least, that we'll hear her grace some fresh, new grooves once again in the near future...

Note: "Breakaway" and "I Can Show You.." were both taken from CD, the other files were taken from vinyl.. Also, the "Breakaway" album was recently released on CD by Unidisc as part of their Salsoul reissues series, which has been spottily distributed, for whatever reason (territorial issues with other Salsoul licencees perhaps?).. Nevertheless, it is available and in print (see the purchase links below..). I haven't bought it yet, so unfortunately I can't speak for it's quality..

PURCHASE:
FIRST CHOICE - GREATEST HITS (2 CD) | CDUNIVERSE.COM | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.FR
FIRST CHOICE - ANTHOLOGY (2 CD) | CDUNIVERSE.COM | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.FR
FIRST CHOICE - BREAKAWAY CD | SAMTHERECORDMAN.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | AMAZON.FR

LINKS:
FIRST CHOICE - BREAKAWAY @ DISCOGS
FIRST CHOICE @ DISCOGS
FIRST CHOICE @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
FIRST CHOICE @ DISCO MUSEUM.COM
FIRST CHOICE @ JAHSONIC
FIRST CHOICE @ EVERYTHING2
ROCHELLE FLEMING @ JAHSONIC
ROCHELLE FLEMING @ WINTER MUSIC CONFERENCE 2000
TEE SCOTT @ JAHSONIC
TEE SCOTT @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
TEE SCOTT @ DISCOMUSIC.COM

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #6: FIRST CHOICE - THE PLAYER (1974, PHILLY GROOVE/BELL)


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, PAST REISSUES

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mutual... physical... attraction



Eve John - Mutual Physical Attraction (1980, Foreign Exchange/London)
Eve John - Good Love, Bad Love (1980, Foreign Exchange/London)

Updated and re-uploaded 1/15/09, and 2/8/13

I've had my sound card for some ten months now, and believe it or not, it was only few days ago that I finally learned to rip my vinyl properly.. Some of you may have noticed, but whenever I'd rip from vinyl there would be this incessant crackling that went way beyond the usual vinyl surface noise. I'd try to remove the crackling manually with a noise reduction program, but the results were decidedly mixed since removing the noise often ended up distorting the music itself.. Anyway, with a little fiddling on some of the hardware profiles, I've finally managed to solve that problem, so my new rips should sound a little less muddy than before..

On to the music..

This is one of the many 12" singles I acquired during my little vinyl shopping spree at the beginning of October. Definitely one of my best finds, "Mutual Physical Attraction" is one delightful disco sleeper from 1980; a sort of sexy, slightly sleazy euro-style hybrid of a pulsing electronic beat and an infectious horn arrangement.. To be sure singer Eve John has a voice that, while seemingly limited (with the background singers handling most of the heavy lifting), completely belies her anglo stage-name (she also recorded under the slightly more Francophone sounding moniker, Evelyne John largely, but not exclusively in French). In this case, her French-Canadian/Quebecois accent is really half of the charm of this record. As far as the production goes, the best part, in my opinion, is that amazing horn arrangement - the backbone of the song and the most obvious hook on the record.

Update (February 2012): Not sure which came first, however thanks to YouTube, I just found out Eve John had recorded a French version of this song - "Obsessions," also from 1980.


Eve John - Obsessions (1980, Quatre Saisons) (Mutual Physical Attraction)
Uploaded by rpmcanada1971


The B-side "Good Love, Bad Love," is a more conventional disco production.. The lyrics are hokey at best "whether it's a good love, a bad love, I need your love" and her vocal limitations are even more apparent; still, it's a pleasant tune saved by a string arrangement which is, quite appropriately, right up front in the mix.

The production on both sides is credited to Blue Jeans Records, but I'm assuming that's just a guise for Carlyle Miller, who both wrote and arranged the song (and is fully credited on the French version).. I guess it's no surprise that the horn arrangements are so great on the A-side, since Miller was known primarily as a horn player and arranger on some prominent disco records from Canada, most notably Gino Soccio's "Outline" (1979, Célébration), Karen Silver's "Hold On I'm Comin' " (1979, Quality/Arista) and Patsy Gallant's "Are You Ready For Love" (1976, Attic) and "Besoin d' amour" (1976, Attic) albums. He was also a Juno award nominee in 1976 for best songwriter on Patsy Gallant's hit "Sugar Daddy." Despite all that, I haven't yet found anything else he's been involved in on the production side, and according to the All Music Guide, his credits pretty much fall off after 1984 or so..

A full Can-Con production, it's kind of ironic that the record was released on the Foreign Exchange label, who true to their name, seem best known for licensing foreign productions for Canadian distribution, most prominently Santa Esmeralda's albums. Though, I have to say, their distributors, London Records (one of the most prominent purveyors of disco in Canada), had one of my favourite company disco sleeves

Update (January 2009): At the time of the original post, while doing a bit of research, I had actually come across a pressing with the original picture sleeve on eBay. The seller was from Italy, so I thought maybe the single got an Italian release with the pic sleeve. It was only recently that I realized that pic sleeve should have been for the Canadian release. I only found this out while diving through some records at my favourite record haunt (the same place I got this one), where I had found the original sleeve with the wrong record inside. I guess someone had shuffled it out at some point.. Nonetheless, I'm happy to finally have the proper sleeve (pictured above) in all it's big haired, over-painted, tiger printed glory..

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #9: KAREN SILVER - HOLD ON I'M COMIN' (1979, QUALITY/ARISTA) (FRIDAY MARCH 03, 2006)

LINKS:
DISCOGS: EVE JOHN - MUTUAL PHYSICAL ATTRACTION/GOOD LOVE, BAD LOVE 12"
DISCOGS: EVELYNE JOHN
DISCOGS: CARLYLE MILLER
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: CARLYLE MILLER (AS CARLISLE MILLER)
DISCOSAVVY - 1980 DISCO

CATEGORIES: CAN-CON DISCO, MINI DELIVERIES

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Last Call!


Jolo - Last Call
Uploaded by leynnad

Another one of my latest YouTube obsessions.. Before I stumbled upon this, I never would have guessed that this song had a video..

Jolo was essentially Jo-Carol Block and Lauren Carter who had sung back-up for most of the major acts on Megatone like Patrick Cowley, Sylvester, Paul Parker and Modern Rocketry.. They, along with a third singer, Carol McMackin, would start out as the Patrick Cowley singers. As Jolo, they would release a few singles and no album, so image-wise they were a little anonymous; watching the video now though, they come across kind of like a Hi-NRG version of Wendy & Lisa, if you will.. True to the Megatone sound, this record marries both an driving, edgy electronic production with an undeniably gay sensibility, which is probably most obvious in the sheer drama in those vocals, especially in the intro. Not to mention the lyrics; somehow I can never buy that scenario in the video, those cruisy lyrics just sound specially tailored for the boys. To top it all off, it looks like the video was filmed in San Francisco's legendary I-Beam..

I believe "Last Call" would be their best known song, and if anything, a classic example of that unique San Francisco Hi-NRG sound, with those great synth buildups and background hooks. The record was released in 1984 and produced by Barry Beam (AKA Barry Blum) and John Hedges, both of whom also produced "Jump Shout" and "Rocket To Your Heart" for Lisa. In the 90's, John Hedges would become the last president of the Megatone label. Sadly, in 2003 Jo-Carol Block (then known under her married name, Jo-Carol Davidson) would pass away from a brain aneurysm.

Last thing: Be sure to check out the girls at the 4 minute mark, and also the leather man at 3.10.. some of my favourite parts of the video..

LINKS:
JOLO - LAST CALL 12'' @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: JO-CAROL DAVIDSON: DISCO SINGER, PRESERVATIONIST (OBITUARY) (THURSDAY JUNE 5, 2003)
TRIBUTE TO JO-CAROL DAVIDSON
DJ'S PORTAL - INTERVIEW WITH JOHN HEDGES
JOHN HEDGES @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
THE I-BEAM @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
THE I-BEAM TODAY


CATEGORIES: VISUAL DISCO

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Upcoming Reissues & Releases (Chic and more!): (December 1, 2006 - January 22, 2007)

Updated 01/17/06

Aside from the Cerrone Reissues update, it's been a while since I've done one of these, so I figure it's about time I put together another round up of releases.

First off, I'm really excited about the Chic reissues. A little while back Wounded Bird Records (who came up with that name anyway?) did a 2 on 1 CD reissue of their "Real People" (1980, Atlantic) and "Tongue In Chic" (1982, Atlantic) LPs. About a year ago, I submitted a review of the 2 on 1 CD to discomusic.com; in the review, I wrote that I hoped Wounded Bird would reissue their other two 80's albums in the future.. I don't know if they were reading it or anything, but either way, I'm glad to know they'll be on CD again very soon, especially since the out of print CD editions were already going for big $$ on eBay..

Also, some updates on the upcoming 70's Supremes album sets from Hip-O Select that I posted about back in my first Disco Delivery entry. Nothing really definite yet, but I'm really excited about these as well.. Update: As of December 1st, Hip-O has released "This Is The Story: The 70's Albums, Vol. 1 1970-1973," so far only available on their website www.hip-oselect.com.. Unfortunately, no word yet on Volume two with their disco albums.. Curiously, CD Universe has a listing for "This Is The Story." They've scheduled their release for December 12th, with a list price of $52.49 US..

January 17th update: Just added details about the N.Y.C. Peech Boys Japanese reissue from December 2nd..

December 1st:


Delegation - The Promise Of Love (1977, State/Shadybrook / 2006, Vivid)
buy @ amazon.com | cduniverse.com | dustygroove.com | hmv.co.jp
This is one I saw on the upcoming reissues list over at Dusty Groove.. I've really been digging their song "Heartbreak No. 9" for the last little while, so this one caught my eye.. This was the UK trio's first album from 1977 and from what I've read online, the title track along with "Soul Trippin'," "Back Door Love" (hmm..), "Oh Honey" (thanks Joe!) and "Where Is The Love We Used To Know" were the notable tracks on this one.. I also came across this reissue listed on HMV Japan, so this one looks like it could be a Japanese reissue, so far that's the only other site I've seen it listed on..
DELEGATION - THE PROMISE OF LOVE LP @ DISCOGS
DELEGATION - THE PROMISE OF LOVE LP @ SOULSTRUT
DELEGATION @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
THE COMPLETE DISCO GUIDE TO DELEGATION @ DISCOSAVVY



Magic Lady - Hot N' Sassy (1982, A&M / 2006, PTG/Vinyl Masterpiece)
buy @ dustygroove.com | vinyl masterpiece
I remember hearing this album on mp3 a little while back, so far I've lost the mp3s, but I still remember it being a delicious slice of early 80's dance synth-pop goodness. Like all of their albums, this one was produced by Michael Stokes. His wife Linda Stokes was a member of the group, and interestingly enough, Michael himself was the head of A&R at A&M at this time, where he signed none other than Janet Jackson. So far, this album, like many of PTG/Vinyl Masterpiece's other releases, is only available through Dusty Groove, the Vinyl Masterpiece website and their seller on eBay..
MAGIC LADY - HOT N' SASSY LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
MAGIC LADY @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
MAGIC LADY @ SOULWALKING


December 2nd:


N.Y.C. Peech Boys - Life Is Something Special (1983, Island / 2006, P-Vine)
buy @ dustygroove.com | amazon.com | cduniverse.com | p-vine shop | hmv.co.jp
A Japanese CD reissue of the N.Y.C. Peech Boys (AKA New York Citi Peech Boys) lone LP (with great cover art by Keith Haring, no less). So far, I'm only familiar with the Peech Boys from their seminal Paradise Garage/Electro-funk classic "Don't Make Me Wait," originally released 1982 on West End. "Don't Make Me Wait" also appears on this album, and apparently Island also saw it fit to re-release it as a 12'' single. I'm not sure if the LP mix differs from the original release on West End, I guess that will be a surprise for when I hear it. Obviously, I have yet to hear this LP, but the entire thing was produced by Larry Levan (who needs no introduction) and Michael DeBenedictus, so this is definitely one for my wants list. The CD reissue includes several bonus tracks: "Life Is Something Special (Special Edition)," "Don't Make Me Wait (Dub)," "On A Journey (Dubmix)," and "Come On Come On (Don't Say Maybe) (Dub)." This CD was originally released in Japan on December 2nd, however the "import release" appears to have been January 16th, when it started showing up on some of the major retailers like Amazon and Dusty Groove.
ROBERT CHRISTGAU: N.Y.C. PEECH BOYS - LIFE IS SOMETHING SPECIAL LP (REVIEW)
PEECH BOYS @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
N.Y.C. PEECH BOYS @ JAHSONIC
PEECH BOYS @ DISCOGS


December 5th:


Chic - Chic (1977, Atlantic / 2006, Wounded Bird)
buy @ dustygroove.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | cduniverse.com
Chic's very first album and among their very best. Not the first time the album has been on CD, but as far as I know, the CD has been out of print for a few years now.. A while back when I did a review, I said this album was "just short of classic," I have to take that back. This is a surefire classic in every sense, definitely a must have if you like Chic..
Amazon says the release date is Dec. 5th, but if anyone wants it right away, Dusty Groove seems to have copies available already, and at a great price too..
CHIC - CHIC LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
CHIC - CHIC CD @ DISCOMUSIC.COM



Chic - Take It Off (1981, Atlantic / 2006, Wounded Bird)
buy @ dustygroove.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | cduniverse.com
In my opinion, one of the best Chic albums, certainly their best during the 1980s and one of their most underrated. This album has been on CD before, but has been long out of print, to say the least.. Can't wait to finally have a copy for myself!
CHIC - TAKE IT OFF LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
CHIC - TAKE IT OFF LP @ DISCOGS



Chic - Believer (1983, Atlantic / 2006, Wounded Bird)
buy @ dustygroove.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | cduniverse.com
The last Chic album with the classic lineup of Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers, Luci Martin, Alfa Anderson and Tony Thompson.. The reviews on this one still seem to be mixed today. By this time Bernard and Nile were involved individually in their own outside productions (not to mention their own solo albums) and were experimenting with a more synthesized sound on this album. That said, I really enjoy this LP as well, bad reviews notwithstanding. I'll admit it was more robotic than in the past, the Chic strings were long gone by this point, yet their unique Chic sound was still in place. This would be the last Chic album until 1992, when Edwards and Rodgers would regroup without Martin, Anderson or Thompson.. Anyway, this release is quite timely, given how someone was trying to pass one of the out of print CD editions off for over $100 US on eBay (gimme a break!)..
CHIC - BELIEVER LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
CHIC ALBUM REVIEWS @ ROBERTCHRISTGAU.COM



Chic - Chic-ism (1992, Warner Bros. / 2006, Wounded Bird)
buy @ dustygroove.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | cduniverse.com
Chic's early '90s comeback album.. At first I didn't know what to make of the production, with the classic Chic sound filtered through early 90's production values. That said, this one grew on me quite a bit.. Not one of their best, but a good album nonetheless (I don't think I could dislike any of their albums). I guess the disco "revival" or re-evaluation was just starting then, as well, Atlantic had released a well-received Greatest Hits CD on them the year before. I'm guessing those two things played a part in the timing of this album.. By this time Chic was Bernard, Nile with their new singers Sylver Logan Sharp (who's still with Chic) and Jenn Thomas. Needless to say, Bernard would pass away in 1996 and this would be the last Chic studio album to date (though there seems to be a new Chic album in the works)..
CHIC - CHIC-ISM (ALBUM REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE

December 10th:


Hot Bush - Hot Bush (1980, APA/TK / 2006, Soul Profiles)
buy @ dustygroove
A real rarity that I also came across on Dusty Groove's upcoming reissues list.. All I know about this album is that it was originally released in 1980 on TK Records' APA imprint and that it's apparently a disco album.. The track "Tell Me What You Will" seems to be the best known of the bunch, though that's not saying much. Dusty Groove doesn't specify the label that's reissuing this, and a search on some of the Japanese retailers is completely fruitless.. Nevertheless, this is one album that's piqued my interest.. Update: It seems Dusty Groove released this one early for some reason.. It's already available to buy.. Somehow I'm thinking this is probably an "unofficial" release..
BLACK MUSIC COLLECTORS - APA RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY

December 15th:


King Errisson - Magic Man/L.A. Bound (1976, 1977, Westbound / 2006, Westbound/Ace)
buy @ cduniverse.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
Aside from the fact that he's a well-renowned percussionist who's accumulated quite an impressive CV in his time, I'm not really too familiar with King Errisson and his work.. From what I do know, his big disco favourite "Manhattan Love Song" was off his "L.A. Bound" (1977, Westbound) LP. Needless to say, I've been wanting to hear that album for a little while now. That LP was produced by Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey, who also produced C.J. & Co. among others.. I did a review of one of the Mike Theodore Orchestra albums a few months back.. Needless to say any album with the two of these guys involved has got to be good..
KING ERRISSON - L.A. BOUND LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
KING ERRISSON @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE


January 22nd:


Discotheque, Vol. 2: The Paradise Garage (2007, Gut)
buy @ amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | cduniverse.com | dustygroove.com
Yes, another Paradise Garage compilation.. The Gut label's Discotheque series is described as "the soundtrack to the world's greatest clubs".. So far I've seen a promo copy of this 2-CD set for sale on eBay, but the seller didn't provide a tracklist. Amazon UK has it listed, but no tracklist there either (Update: Thanks to the anonymous commenter for providing a tracklist.. See the comments section for it).. This installation in the series (as will the others, I believe) will be researched and compiled by author Tim Lawrence and Ian Dewhirst who was involved with the Mastercuts compilations and some of the more recent ones on Salsoul/Suss'd, so I'm hopeful that there'll be some original selections on it.. So far Gut have released Discotheque, Volume 1 on Manchester's legendary Hacienda. In any case, I'm looking forward to what this and other future installations in their Discotheque series have to offer..


By the way, if anyone has any other upcoming releases they would like to notify me about, feel free to email me through the suggestions link on the top left hand menu..

CATEGORIES: REISSUES & RELEASES

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Disco Delivery #28:
Montana - A Dance Fantasy Inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978, Atlantic)

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Montana - Warp Factor II
Montana - Love Star
Montana - V.M. IV
Montana - Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) (feat. Sister Sledge)
Montana - It's Peaceful Out There
Montana - A Dance Fantasy Inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind (full side one suite)
                   Individual Movements:
                  First Movement: Mexican Desert
                  Second Movement: The Toys Come To Life
                  Third Movement: Comin' Round The Mountain
                  Fourth Movement: India
                  Fifth Movement: Space Center
                  Sixth Movement: The Child Communicates/Kidnapping
                  Seventh Movement: The Conversion (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
                  The Grand Finale: When You Wish Upon A Star (feat. Sister Sledge)


Updated and edited April 2013

Vincent Montana, Jr., as some of you may already know, was the driving force behind The Salsoul Orchestra, as well as one of the key musicians in M.F.S.B. and by extension a prominent figure in the world of Philly Soul.. Like some of the personnel (Baker-Harris-Young, for instance) involved with MFSB and Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International, Montana would leave the fold at the turn of the disco era and would end up over at Salsoul.. The Salsoul Orchestra was originally Montana's concept, in a recent interview, Vince described the Orchestra as being the realization of his dream in creating "a large orchestra with Latino rhythm, lush strings, a funky bottom and as I like to call it 'kickin’ ass brass' ." The Orchestra would soon become the Salsoul label's flagship brand, if you will.. Unlike some other disco "orchestras" the Salsoul Orchestra was a genuine 37-member ensemble that even performed live (at home and abroad) on occasion. They were also something of a Salsoul "house band" if you will, backing up artists like Carol Williams, Loleatta Holloway and Charo on some of their biggest records for the label. The "Up The Yellow Brick Road" (1978, Salsoul) album was to be the last Salsoul Orchestra LP that Montana would be involved with. Apparently during that time, he would end up leaving the Salsoul fold over a continuing disagreement over royalty payments. Other producers would later take up the helm; Tom Moulton and Thor Baldursson would produce the "Street Sense" (1979, Salsoul) album; Bunny Sigler and Patrick Adams would each do albums for the Orchestra as well. Granted, while there were still some excellent Salsoul Orchestra records after Montana left (I'm thinking "212 North 12th" off "Street Sense," much of the "How High" LP, "Take Some Time Out For Love" to name a few), none of the producers who followed would quite match Montana's success or identification with the brand..

Like many prominent disco producers, Vince was consistently busy throughout the late '70s but 1978 in particular seemed like an especially busy year. For one thing there was the Salsoul Orchestra's "...Yellow Brick Road" LP, the issues with the Salsoul label, and on top of that his move to Atlantic where he would release three(!) albums in that one year; the "Goody Goody" album, and under the moniker 'Montana', the "I Love Music" LP and this album.. I'm not sure which of the three came first, but judging from this album and the Goody Goody LP, his Atlantic period would enable him to experiment and branch out a little further with his sound. The title track of this LP is perhaps the most obvious example. Partially inspired by the John Williams theme for the film of the same name; unlike some of the medleys he would do on on Salsoul, this was about as ambitious - musically and conceptually - as he had ever gotten up to this point, with a full-on side-long disco symphony in seven movements. Not sure what it was with Sci-Fi movies that inspired so many disco re-makes, but you can add Vince Montana to the illustrious list of disco producers (Boris Midney, Meco, Van McCoy etc..) who were. A departure from the "kick-ass brass" of the Salsoul Orchestra and the dramatic side-long epics of Costandinos, while just as ambitious, Montana's epic feels much more down-tempo and atmospheric, in comparison, which is probably why it's something that I'd personally rather listen to than dance to (or more appropriately, something I'd rather fantasize about dancing to). At some fifteen minutes long, it's perhaps not the most instant piece on the record, but the best part of the suite starts around the eight minute mark, when the tempo and the arrangements start to pick up, peaking with a sublime vocal rendition of "When You Wish Upon A Star".

Personally, I'd have to say that the best part of this album would have to be side two. In some ways, side two seemed like Vince picking up more directly where he had left off with the Salsoul Orchestra, albeit with a greater jazz influence this time around. The Star Trek inspired "Warp Factor II" is perhaps the most indicative of this. Anchored by a percolating bass; it's a slightly darker, spacious (in both feeling and concept) hypnotic groove that draws you in and keeps you hooked with Vince's trademark "heavy vibes". In one of my favourite Vince Montana moments on YouTube, and in what also has to be a rare set-up; Vince would perform this song live (following an interview) in a 1978 appearance on The Steel Pier Show where he improvises on the vibes with such mastery and grace, you can hardly believe he's backed with nothing else but the song's recorded track.



Vince Montana, Jr. "Warp Factor II" - The Steel Pier Show (1978)
Uploaded by MontanaPSW


Despite an extended mix of this being tucked on the B-side of the album's 12" single (with the 'Dance Fantasy' suite on the A-side), I'd imagine this was the track which got the most play, charting the single at a respectable #23 on the Billboard Disco charts in 1978.

Another favourite of mine would have to be the all too brief "Love Star," with its beautiful melody and orchestration riding atop some trademark swinging Philly guitars, taking you on at least three musical peaks in the span of its relatively modest two minutes and thirty seconds.. Towards the end the LP, the classy Salsoul Orchestra-style rendition of the old standard "Fly Me To The Moon," with vocals by a pre-"We Are Family" Sister Sledge (who are credited for all the vocals on the LP), is possibly one of the better renderings of this dusty old standard, which he also performed (sans the Sisters) on his 1978 Steel Pier Show appearance.



Vince Montana, Jr. "Fly Me To The Moon" - The Steel Pier Show (1978)
Uploaded by MontanaPSW


"It's Peaceful Out There" brings the album full-circle - a coda back to the orchestral space theme of side one. Essentially a re-titled cover of Italian composer Federico Monti Arduini's (AKA Arfemo) best known pieces, "Amore Grande Amore Libero" (later the title of a film, also scored by Arduini) under the alias Il Guardiano del Faro (The Lighthouse Keeper) in 1975, this would have to be one of Vince's lesser known, though perhaps one of his brightest moments as a producer and arranger. Montana's orchestral arrangements here take Arduini's moogy original to another level altogether, making it sound like the cinematic orchestral piece that it was always meant to be.

One other interesting tidbit about the record is that disco mix master Tom Moulton ended up being recruited to mix this album.. Interesting, since by all accounts, Vince and Tom didn't exactly (and still don't) get along.. Here's what Tom had to say in an interview with Claes Widlund of disco-disco.com:

"I wish I could understand [Vince], I just don't. I just try and try and try, but I just don't understand him, so... 'Cause he didn't tell you that his album 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'.... he begs me to mix his album because Atlantic rejected it. He called me the day before Christmas and begged me. I said; 'Vince, I can't do this.' He said; 'You're a shit!' and then; 'Oh Tom, I'm sorry and bla bla bla bla bla...' I mean, I couldn't believe it - no one else could either... And I said; 'Vince, I'll do it on two conditions...' He said; 'What's that?' I said; 'You are not there and if you say one word to me other then Hello or Goodbye - I'm leaving!' And he did, and no one would believe it. Well I ended up mixing it, then they accepted it...."

If anyone needs further proof of their continued animosity, look no further than the comments section of Vince's interview with discomusic.com, where they both have it out.. While it's unfortunate that there's little love between these two giants of disco and Philly soul, a record with the talents of both Vince Montana and Tom Moulton can't be a bad one...

Despite the winding down of the disco era, Vince would continue making records. In the '80s he would put out, among many other things, the seminal "Heavy Vibes" on his own Philly Sound Works label. Vince and Philly Sound Works are still going strong today. Recently, some of his latest releases on PSW have received glowing reviews, most notably "That's What Love Does" feat. William "Smoke" Howard of The Ebonys which was reportedly a favourite among many DJ's in 2005.. Despite being set back by medical problems that same year, he's apparently still planning an album tentatively titled "The Revival Project" and more recently, released (promo-only so far) a new track called "You're My Everything" featuring his old Salsoul compatriots, Double Exposure. That said, I doubt there are too many guys like Vince; pushing 80, yet who can still command a contemporary audience with their music, all while staying true to their roots.... Here's to you, Vince!

LINKS:
DISCOMUSIC.COM: MONTANA - A DANCE FANTASY INSPIRED BY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND LP
DISCOGS: MONTANA - A DANCE FANTASY INSPIRED BY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND LP
DISCOGS: MONTANA - A DANCE FANTASY/WARP FACTOR II 12''
INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
DISCOMUSIC.COM: VINCE MONTANA INTERVIEW
DJS PORTAL: VINCE MONTANA INTERVIEW
ELECTRONIC BEATS: VINCENT'S GOT SO MUCH SOUL (VINCE MONTANA INTERVIEW) (WEB ARCHIVE)
DISCO MUSEUM: VINCE MONTANA JR. & THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA
PHILLY SOUND WORKS RECORDS
WIKIPEDIA: SALSOUL RECORDS

CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO.., VISUAL DISCO

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