Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Disco Delivery #21:
Beautiful Bend - Make That Feeling Come Again! (1978, Marlin/TK)

Beautiful Bend - That's The Meaning
Beautiful Bend - Boogie Motion
Beautiful Bend - Make That Feeling Come Again
Beautiful Bend - Ah-Do It

I recently got an email suggesting this album, so I figured now would probably be a good time to pull this one out.. This project is probably one of my favourite things ever done by producer Boris Midney. Midney's otherwise known for other disco projects such as Festival (the name under which he released the infamous "Disco Evita" album), Caress and most prominently USA-European Connection among others. The Beautiful Bend project was to be his second disco release after the first USA-European Connection album.

Born in Soviet-era Russia; in August of 1964 while in Tokyo, Midney and fellow musician Igor Berukshtis would leave their Soviet vaudeville-style group and defect to the U.S. Embassy. Midney and Berukshtis would then be known as the first Russian Jazz players to defect to the west. Once in the US, they would form the Russian Jazz Quartet, who would release one album, "Happiness" in 1965 on the Impulse! label. Apparently the album was passed over at the time and still remains so..

Midney would later reinvent himself in the late '70s as one of the Euro-disco auteurs. Though firmly based in the US by this time, the sound of his productions are perhaps the Euro-est of all the Euro-disco producers. Others like Costandinos and Moroder would draw from funk, rock and R&B influences from time to time; Midney, at least at his most prominent, was firmly based in classical, orchestral, and even jazz influences with a very European melodic sensibility. So much so that Midney's appeal is often completely lost, his work even reviled among many R&B disco purists. That aside, his unabashedly grand, orchestral and at times esoteric European style is a large part of his genius. Just in how he was able to approach disco with a completely, in some cases radically different perspective and make it translate. Probably one of the ultimate examples of the diversity within disco music in the late '70s..

The opening track, "That's The Meaning," is nothing short of heavenly. With those crazy string effects ushering you into a darkly dramatic build up right up until the vocals come in with those few, simple, euphoric words.. "That's the meaning, that's the feeling, that's the joy good loving brings.. It's so real I could feel, I could touch, if I could.." Nothing sums up the feeling, the almost affirmative quality of the song better than that... "That's The Meaning" later segues into "Boogie Motion," which is probably the lightest track on the album with a real playful quality to it, particularly in those vocals and instumental passages towards the end.

From what I've read on forums and such, Side One ("That's The Meaning," "Boogie Motion") was the side that got the most club play, but Side Two (or as they call it on the album, the "Continuation of Side One") is probably the favourite of many listeners of the album. Listening to "Make That Feeling Come Again" it's not hard to see why. With it's dark beginning and the gradual, epic build up to those beautiful, heavenly melodies particularly towards the middle.. That middle part is probably the best part of the song. It's not an overblown peak, but one that's understated, simple and melodic. It mostly consists of a beautiful, layered piano and string combination that can probably be described as blissful perfection.

The album ends with "Ah-Do It", a dark, hypnotic, almost paranoid track with some amazing effects and powerful passages and transitions.

While his sound was unique, there is still a definite disco aesthetic in it, the lyrical themes and minimal female vocals, layered strings, tempos etc.. The rhythmic aspect is also there, albeit not as emphasized and in a groove that is much more esoteric than straight ahead funky. Truth be told, at times it almost comes across as something that is probably easier to listen to than to dance to. There's probably no better way to really absorb it than just simply listening and appreciating the layered melodious quality of the music. That said, I'd love to hear a DJ include these songs in their live set. I can only imagine how an epic track like "That's The Meaning" or even "Make That Feeling Come Again" would have translated on to a dancefloor in one of those early morning hours.. With those larger than life swirling, sweeping orchestral passages and amazing effects on an amazing sound system, the right audience, combined with whatever the drug du jour was at the time, it must have been quite the experience...

Almost and even slightly avant-garde in places, it's no wonder there are many people who either love it or hate this album, and much of Midney's work for that matter.. Whatever the case, Midney, particularly on this album really does take the whole idea of orchestral disco to another level, one that is highly atmospheric and (at least in this case) a little less conceptual. Midney and his work are sometimes referenced as the precursors to trance. I'm probably not knowlegable enough to espound on that comparison, though Midney himself certainly seemed to acknowledge it. In 1999 he'd release an album called "Trancesetter," (so far his last album) which I haven't heard yet, but which apparently combines elements of trance with some of his classic orchestral disco style. It was released at approximately the same time in which he reissued much of his work on CD through his own label on a series called "The Boris Midney Masters" with the "Beautiful Bend" album included. "Trancesetter," the "Beautiful Bend" reissue and all the others in his "Boris Midney Masters" series have been out of print now for several years, but the CD reissue is highly recommended for anyone who likes this album. It's in somewhat high demand these days, probably the most sought-after of his "Boris Midney Masters" series, but there are still copies to be found on Amazon.com and on eBay once in a while.. I'm not sure what Midney has been up to in these last few years. He still has an official website up called MidneyMedia (www.midney.com) detailing a few projects in progress, though I'm not sure how up-to-date it is. That aside, Midney is one producer who's work I'm really looking forward to hearing more of..





Matt said...

I've read your blog for a while and thought today would be a good one to just say thanks for all the music. You do a magnificent job of reminding us all what an amazing and diverse genre of music disco is.

Anonymous said...

Oh...one of my all-time favourites!

Fabulous stuff...keep it up!

Cameron said...

just found your blog. nice, nice! mas disco por favor. my friend Chantilly Bass and I just started a disco blog called "First Choice" ... check it out if you get a chance. seriously, nice blog. very well laid out. cheers!

Robert Drake said...

Tommy, I am quite impressed with your blog! What really blew me away was to find out that you're only 21!! I have rarely met someone in your bracket so fascinated with this genre as you ... kudos!

I too started a blog in January, documenting past memories and stories of my life ... most of it took place in the club scene in the 1980s ... this one post might strike your fancy:


Consider me a faithful fan from now on!

-Robert in Philadelphia

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog fellow disco fanatic. Beautiful Bends' Boogie Motion is an awesome song, but my favorite group is definetly Gregg Diamond's Bionic Boogie. You've definetly got to nab some of that, if you haven't already.

Tommy said...

Thanks Matt, Faloola, Cameron, Robert and Mr. Alexander for the feedback and the kind words, I really appreciate it!

Thanks Cameron and Robert for also pointing me to your respective blogs, really great stuff! I'll be adding them to my links very shortly.. Glad to have more disco out there in the blogosphere!

Also, thanks for the Bionic Boogie suggestion. I have at least a couple of Gregg Diamond productions around here, so I'll definitely be putting some Bionic Boogie up in the future..

Anonymous said...

Can you restored links this album?

Tommy said...

One of these days, maybe.. :)

jiggery-pokery said...

The infamous "Disco Evita"

It may not be orthodox 'disco',
but there are many people who
enjoy it, myself included. It
is also very hard to find, especially
the CD which is available in a few
places for $200-300.

I guess even disco has its snobs...

Tommy said...

Well perhaps 'infamous' wasn't the right choice of words on my part, so pardon me. If that's enough to colour me a snob, well then so be it...

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