Saturday, April 22, 2006

Disco Delivery #16:
Brenda & The Tabulations - I Keep Coming Back For More (1977, Chocolate City/Casablanca)

front cover back cover

Brenda & The Tabulations - I Keep Coming Back For More | LINK TWO
Brenda & The Tabulations - Superstar | LINK TWO
Brenda & The Tabulations - Everybody's Fool | LINK TWO
Brenda & The Tabulations - Let's Go All The Way (Down) (Album Version) | LINK TWO

I've only had this album for about a week now, but it's quickly become a favourite of mine. From the grooves, to that great cover shot, with Brenda looking fabulous (mink by Halston, no less).. But really, as far as the music goes, I wouldn't have expected anything less; with a great lineup of top-flight producers, namely John Davis, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli, who have all been a part of many a disco classic. Some of you might remember a few months back, when I put up an extended mix of "Let's Go All The Way (Down)" in one of my random track postings. That was probably the biggest hit off the LP, but since obtaining the actual album, my personal favourite would probably be the title track, "I Keep Coming Back For More." It's got an unmistakable Philly/Salsoul flavour to it, with those kickin' drums, the unique Philly style horn and string orchestral combo, just an all around excellent rhythm section behind it. Lately I've even found myself spontaneously humming that melody, singing those lyrics to myself (Yes, I love it that much).. For the most part, it sounds like a Norman Harris production, but is actually produced by Bobby Eli, who, I have to say has been behind quite a few great disco records that I've been discovering lately. Namely many of Jackie Moore's disco classics like "This Time Baby," "Take A Stand," "How's Your Love Life, Baby," and also "Just Can't Shake The Feeling" for Ava Cherry just to name a few..

The next track "Superstar," from what I've heard, was another relatively well-received disco track off the album. Produced by John Davis, who is probably best known for his own studio outfit, John Davis & The Monster Orchestra. For the most part, the theme is a bit on the cliché side, to quote a couple of lines.. "now I'm at the top of the world, it proves anyone can go far.. you can be a superstar just by being what you are.." etc.. etc.. On the plus side though, it's got one hell of an arrangement. Punchy in all the right places and a pretty catchy chorus to boot "look at me now, look at me now, I'm a superstar!".. Kind of reminds me of a certain Saturday Night Live skit from several years back..

"Everybody's Fool" is not exactly what I'd call a straight-ahead disco track. I'd probably call it a disco ballad, if you will. Compared to the non-disco tracks on the album, it's unmistakably disco in it's production, but probably not something I could hear a DJ spinning. One thing that I noticed when I heard it was the striking similarity it had to a Grace Jones track off her "Muse" (1979, Island) LP, the last of her disco albums. The song on Grace's album is "Don't Mess With The Messer," which pretty much recycles much of the musical portion of "Everybody's Fool," albeit with a faster BPM and cheekier, less melancholy lyrics. "Everybody's Fool" was also produced by John Davis; who also happened to be the arranger on the Grace Jones song. Oddly enough, despite the similarities and connections, the songwriting credits on both songs are completely different (things that make you go "hmm..").

In any case, while I enjoy much of John Davis' output, he did have a tendency to repeat himself at times; which reminds me, I'll have to put up more of his stuff in the future.. Overall though, if I had to compare, I'd probably prefer Grace's track. "Everybody's Fool" is pleasant and enjoyable in it's own way, but perhaps just a little bit on the pedestrian side for me..

As I mentioned earlier, "Let's Go All The Way (Down)" was the big disco hit off the album. Since I put up the extended version back in February, just to be faithful to the album, I put up the shorter 3.43 album version this time. Overall, this mix is a little tighter, but just as sexy and funky as the extended, complete with those great ad-libs.

Unfortunately one of my favourite producers, Norman Harris doesn't produce any of the disco tracks, but he does produce a couple of ballads on the album. One of them being Melissa Manchester's "Home To Myself," also done by Dusty Springfield a few years earlier. Another being "Leave Me Alone," probably my favourite among the non-disco tracks.

Gilda Woods, the woman who discovered Brenda & The Tabulations and who basically released most of their records through her labels (Dionn and Top & Bottom) is credited as a co-producer on almost all the tracks. From what I gathered though, despite that credit, her role was mostly as an executive producer, who left most of the actual producing "to the pros," so to speak. Also, I'm not sure who exactly the Tabulations were on this album. There isn't any group photo or even any credits for musicians or backup singers so it's a bit of a mystery. From what I read, Brenda & The Tabulations never really had a solid lineup. Early on they were a quartet with Brenda as the sole female, by 1970 they were a classic female girl-group trio. Judging from an interview with former member Maurice Coates, he and Brenda Payton were the principals, but even he had left by the time this album was released. I suppose the Tabulations just happened to be whomever was backing her at this point, which probably changed with every producer or something. Regardless, it's my hope that this album will get revisited sometime with a CD reissue. Hopefully Universal will pay more attention to the Casablanca catalogue one of these days. Given their prolific output, disco and otherwise, there are surely tons of rare or overlooked classics like this one just waiting to be rediscovered.

Interesting fact: Susan Munao, one time Casablanca PR chief and manager for Donna Summer is credited for Art Direction on the album..

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
GET UP AND BOO-GIE (FEBRUARY 1, 2006)

LINKS:
BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS - I KEEP COMING BACK FOR MORE LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS @ ALLMUSIC.COM
SOULFUL DETROIT FORUM - BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS - A FINE PHILLY SOUL ACT
SOULFUL DETROIT FORUM - BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS
SOULFUL DETROIT FORUM - THE VARIOUS ADVENTURES OF B. ELI
BOBBY ELI @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
NORMAN HARRIS @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
JOHN DAVIS @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM



CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tommy, I love theses tunes...I downloaded the extended version "let's go all the way" and play itall the time. I actually never heard of Brenda....Thanks to you I just can't do without now... (-_-)

Tommy said...

Thanks anon, glad you like 'em! :)

Tonton Décibel !!! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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