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.
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