Friday, February 24, 2006

Disco Delivery #8:
Cissy Houston - Think It Over (1978, Private Stock)

Cissy Houston - Think It Over

Cissy Houston - Think It Over | LINK TWO
Cissy Houston - Somebody Should Have Told Me | LINK TWO
Cissy Houston - Warning-Danger | LINK TWO

In case anyone hasn't heard of Whitney Houston's latest fiasco, you can get all the lurid details at fourfour.. I thought things couldn't get any worse for her after those tabloid photos of her looking high-as-a kite at an Atlanta gas station; four in the morning, lopsided wig and everything. It looked like one of those MAD TV Debra Wilson-as-Whitney sketches come to life.. But alas, they just did. After hearing some audio of her latest "performance," my reaction was, to quote Nippy herself, "Hell-to-the no!"

While Mrs. Bobby Brown seems to be close to squandering her gift, this is probably no better time than any to put a little spotlight back on the original diva in the Houston houshold, her mother Cissy.. While her daughter's fame and recognition have since far eclipsed her own, she was and still is a highly respected name in the music industry. In a nutshell, as part of The Sweet Inspirations aside from releasing their own albums, had provided backing vocals for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke (among many others, mostly on the Atlantic label).. Cissy later went solo in the '70s and most notably cut the original version of "Midnight Train To Georgia" on the small Commonwealth United label. She'd recorded an album and subsequent singles for Janus Records (which took over the Commonwealth United label), but as excellent as many were, none of them would really make much impact. Meanwhile she had continued as a successful, prolific session singer during much of the '70s and in 1976 would cut an album with Jazz flutist Herbie Mann. Around this time she would come in contact with future producer Michael Zager. At the time Zager was part of a band called Ten Wheel Drive, for which Cissy was doing the vocal arrangements...

Zager, best known for his disco hit "Let's All Chant" by his Michael Zager Band project would later produce three albums for Cissy, two on the New York indie label Private Stock Records. The first album they did was 1977's self-titled "Cissy Houston" which was a straight, tear-jerking, heart-wrenching soul album, and a highly underrated one at that. The next album - "Think It Over" (1978, Private Stock) while, in my opinion, not as great as the previous, would be much more disco-oriented. "Think It Over," the title track and lead-off single was soulful disco at it's best. Whenever I hear someone equate "disco" with "soulless," this to me is one of those songs you can throw right back in their face. Personally speaking, "Think It Over" was probably one of the first disco songs that I loved. I remember first hearing it on one of my parents' 8-track (yes, those horrible things) disco compilations and wondering whether the "Cissy Houston" in the credits was, by chance, related to the Whitney Houston. The moment I heard that voice, I knew it. I remember really digging those punchy, sharp, dramatic horns; that commanding vocal presence with the sassiness and confidence of a strong woman that wasn't about to go quietly (sound familiar?).. There are those singers who cry when the man leaves, who cry after the man leaves, and then there are those who dare him to; it's those last women who, to me, usually make the best disco divas. There's just a real sense of drama and strength with that whole theme, the "you can go on and leave if you want to, but baby, you're gonna miss my lovin and I bet you will never find another woman like me" "love" song. Perhaps a theme that's been used up quite a bit now, but one when done right, can be so effective; just ask Gloria Gaynor...

Michael Zager had this to say, years later when talking about Cissy: "When she sings... she doesn't do too many takes in the studio. She never sings a song the same way twice, so getting a comp vocal [a full performance 'comped' from two or more vocal takes] can be difficult. [But] it's the way she feels the music. It comes from singing gospel. It's so emotional, and it translates. It's why every singer looks up to Cissy and idolizes her." (source) I think he sums it up pretty well when he talks about the emotion in her voice and it's effect.. While the family resemblance is there vocally, to me Cissy had a more subtle, but no less powerful style. I have to say these days, I enjoy many of Cissy's recordings because they were, in comparison to many today, unpretentiously soulful. Maybe one of these days Whitney should take the cue, if she still has it in her and go back to her roots and just do straight up, pure soul album, she's probably got nothing to lose at this point..

The songs I included here are the original versions from the first release of her "Think It Over" album, released on Private Stock. After the company went belly-up the album was reissued on Columbia with a different cover, and retitled "Warning-Danger." In addition, most of the songs were remixed and extended for the Columbia version; "Think It Over" went from six minutes to eight, "Somebody Should Have Told Me" from four to eight minutes, and "Warning-Danger" from over five minutes to over ten. She would also do a follow-up album in 1980 for Columbia, called "Step Aside for a Lady," which I haven't heard yet, but which seems to have picked up where this one left off, continuing in a similar disco direction. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of those Columbia releases have made it to CD yet..

LINKS:
CISSY HOUSTON @ ALLMUSIC.COM
CISSY HOUSTON @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
CISSY HOUSTON - THINK IT OVER LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
CISSY HOUSTON - THINK IT OVER 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM

PURCHASE:
CISSY HOUSTON - THINK IT OVER CD @ AMAZON.COM

CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES

Thursday, February 23, 2006

all I need's a little power..

okay so they didn't look like this in 1980, it's the closest I could find..

The Temptations - Power (1980, Motown) | LINK TWO

One little song before Friday.. This is one that I've been listening to quite a bit lately and a group which I'm just starting to get familiar with. "Power" was something of a comeback for the Tempts after a disastrous late '70s dry spell. It also signaled their return to Motown after a brief and unsuccessful stint on Atlantic Records. The Temptations hit it big in the discos early on with "Happy People" and "Glasshouse" off their 1975 "A Song For You" album, so it appeared they would have no trouble adopting disco elements into their sound and seemed well on their way to continued success. Unfortunately, it didn't quite turn out that way and would only be downhill from there.. After a few more albums they would leave Motown citing the label's lack of attention - a common complaint with many prominent Motown acts in the '70s (just ask The Supremes, The Four Tops and The Jackson 5 to name a few..). Jumping ship to Atlantic didn't exactly help matters either, so upon returning "home" to Motown, Berry Gordy himself (along with frequent collaborator Angelo Bond), in what seemed to be a response to their earlier claims of inattention, had personally taken the reins and produced their comeback album and single.

The result, "Power," is one pretty tight, meaty track; something of a throwback to the socially conscious themes that ran through much of their work with Motown funk genius and super-producer Norman Whitfield, minus Whitfield's grand (others might say grandiose) style. I really love how it builds up and peaks right when Dennis Edwards (I think that's him) gets to doing his his soul-shouting thing towards the end of the track.. "..their hands sweat.. their fingers itch.. I'm the only one you can trust with the switch.. give it to me!." In my opinion, a great blend of funk and disco to be sure.. It was also a long overdue follow-up to their 1975 disco hits; they had done some disco in between then, yet this was their first since '75 to make the club/disco charts (peaking just outside of the top 20). Judging from some of the things I've read, it didn't seem to be quite the big comeback that was expected. It would just miss the top 10 of the R&B charts and the top 40 of the pop charts, but even so, still a success after literally falling off the radar for several years there..

Note: I'm done with FileLodge. This file is up on zShare. Thanks to the commenter jbpeevish on the First Choice post for the suggestion.

LINKS:
THE TEMPTATIONS @ ALLMUSIC.COM
THE TEMPTATIONS DISCOGRAPHY @ WIKIPEDIA
THE TEMPTATIONS' ALBUMS 1980s, 1990s
THE TEMPTATIONS - POWER LP (REVIEW) @ ALLMUSIC.COM

PURCHASE:
LIFE:STYLES COMPILED BY COLDCUT CD (INCLUDES "POWER")

CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES

Friday, February 17, 2006

Disco Delivery #7:
Sylvester - M-1015 (1984, Megatone)

Sylvester - M-1015

Sylvester - Rock The Box | LINK TWO
Sylvester - Sex (LP Version) | LINK TWO
Sylvester - Sex (12" Version - An Ian Levine Remix) | LINK TWO
Sylvester - Lovin' Is Really My Game | LINK TWO

Fast-forwarding ten years from the early disco of the last disco delivery to 1984... Okay, so maybe 1984 is pushing it a little; some may not consider this disco, but I certainly do.. This was one of the last albums by Sylvester James, one of the bona-fide queens of disco (there can be more than one can't there?). After leaving the Fantasy record label in the early '80s after supposedly being miffed at their attempts to change his image and musical direction, he moved over to the small San Francisco indie label Megatone. He almost insantly struck gold with celebrated producer Patrick Cowley and "Do Ya Wanna Funk." His final album on the Fantasy label ("Too Hot To Sleep," 1981) saw him in a moving away from disco into a more classically soulful sound, while the sexually charged, cutting edge "Do Ya Wanna Funk" signaled yet another shift. "..Funk" would not only be one of the greatest examples of the emerging, distinctive "San Francisco sound," but a prototype for the direction Sylvester would take while at Megatone. Those years in part saw him return to the dancefloor, this time with a more aggressive, electronic Hi-NRG sound, with many of his songs presenting a much more blunt, up-front sexuality than ever before. Not to mention his image; while at Fantasy they occasionally tried (often in vain) to "butch him up" (see his '77 self-titled album cover). A complete contrast to his Megatone years when his image would often unashamedly blur gender lines to say the least.. So much so it even prompted Joan Rivers to ask if he was a drag queen. The response: "Honey, I am not a drag queen. I am Sylvester!.".. Says it all really..

Aside from being one of the last albums Sylvester would do, "M-1015" is often cited by some (like allmusic) as being his "last solid album." I would probably agree. Interestingly, the album title seemed to came from both it's own catalogue number and a notorious San Francisco bathhouse located at 1015 Folsom (thanks to Joe.My.God. for this info). Along with that curious title and the beautifully futuristic, androgynous cover drawing by David Duran, there were also some largely overlooked musical gems on this one. "Rock The Box" and "Sex" to name a couple are both amazing tracks, with those relentless three-dimensional swirling, pounding synths; infectious in their own dark, retro-futuristic sort of way... "Sex" is probably one of his definitive tracks from this period, not to mention one of his most (if not his most) blatantly sexual efforts, "You make it hard..and baby, I can't wait..I've got to have you now.." From the lyrics, to the the heavy, Hi-NRG production, the whole thing is practically tailor made for the gay scene. The Ian Levine 12" mix might be a little much, stretching it all the way to 9 minutes, but if like me, you can't get enough of this track, the 12" mix might just do it for you. Aside from extending it, it sounds like Levine used an alternate vocal take and included some new verses on the lead and background vocal parts..

Another notable track is his cover of the disco classic "Lovin' Is Really My Game," originally done by the group Brainstorm from their 1977 "Stormin'" album.. A huge disco favourite, which I can honestly say was never one of mine. Regardless, it seemed to show that Sylvester wasn't abandoning disco, not even in 1984. I suppose the disco backlash would have died down by then, but then again, with Sylvester hardly being mainstream at this point, it probably wouldn't have made a big difference anyway. Nevertheless, it would still be at least another ten or so years before it would be somewhat acceptable to cover a disco song... In any case, I don't even care for Sylvester's version that much either, but maybe someone out there does..

While Sylvester is most famous for working with Patrick Cowley during this period, much of this album was produced by both James "Tip" Wirrick (who produced "Sex") and the team of Morey Goldstein and Ken Kessie (who produced "Rock The Box"). Kessie and Goldstein also recorded as a duo under the name Modern Rocketry and had a notable hit around this time called "Homosexuality" which I believe was covered by the Pet Shop Boys not too long ago...

This most certainly won't be my last Sylvester entry. Despite his untimely death, he left an impressive catalogue and a groudbreaking legacy which, it seems is starting to get more recognition. There's a new book out by Joshua Gamson about his life called "The Fabulous Sylvester," which, as a reader just pointed out to me (thanks Michael!), was just released on paperback. I haven't bought it yet, but it's something I want to get pretty soon.. Also, if anyone's interested, the "M-1015" album is available on CD through Unidisc, who, if I'm correct, have since bought out Megatone Records' back catalogue. It was retitled "Rock The Box" complete with an unfortunate hack-job on that wonderful original cover, but all the tracks from the original album are there, plus some bonuses..

Note: Some fresh new links! Visit Doubt Beat, Back & Forth and Habitat '67, thanks to all three for linking me..

LINKS:
SYLVESTER - M-1015 LP @ DISCOGS
SYLVESTER - ROCK THE BOX CD @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
SYLVESTER - M-1015 REVIEW @ ALLMUSIC.COM
MOREY GOLDSTEIN'S PERSONAL SITE

PURCHASE:
SYLVESTER - ROCK THE BOX CD LISTINGS @ FROOGLE
SYLVESTER - GREATEST HITS 2-CD LISTINGS @ FROOGLE
THE FABULOUS SYLVESTER BY JOSHUA GAMSON (HARDBACK) @ AMAZON.COM
THE FABULOUS SYLVESTER BY JOSHUA GAMSON (PAPERBACK) @ AMAZON.COM

CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, PAST REISSUES

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Buyer Beware: getdisconnected.com

*****Note: I've since received the CD which I ordered in November 2005. For more read the December 2006 update.*****


I really don't like spreading around warnings like this, but this is my last recourse now. Many disco fans were enthusiastic when this company getdisconnected/Harlequin Entertainment came along and started doing some disco reissues. There was all sort of hope that this company would "get it right." There have been other companies doing disco reissues, some fairly well, others not so well most notably Hot Productions which had released a huge volume of disco albums on CD in the '90s, and many of them being somewhat disappointing. Hot had a little note on all their CDs mentioning that they were "from the original master tapes" but when listening it was obvious that they had lied since many of those CDs were so obviously mastered from vinyl..

Anyway to my issues.. I ordered a copy of their Debbie Jacobs - High On Your Love CD back at the beginning of November from the getdisconnected/Harlequin seller on eBay. One month later, I still had not received the CD, so I emailed to inquire why. By this time there were already people coming forward with similar stories, having ordered directly from them and not receiving any of their CDs sometimes months after their credit cards were charged. They (getdisconnected) had replied to some of the complaints and had honestly seemed to want to turn the tide on that criticism then, so I was happy when they had replied back to me the same day. They had assured me that they would follow it up "tomorrow" and in the worse case scenario would "gladly reship the item," to bear with them since they were having delays due to Hurricane Wilma and so on.. Even though I was a tad worried about them implying that they had already shipped the item, I was otherwise assured by the prompt, polite reply...

One more month goes by, I email them again in January asking 'where is my CD?' and no reply. By this time I was sure that they did not send the CD, but nevertheless hoped that they would at least reply to my little email. I usually hate filing complaints about people (like giving negative feedback on eBay), but I did consider filing a dispute claim with eBay. Unfortunately, by that time I had waited much too long; with that option gone, I just waited, still hoping it would arrive..

One month later, still no CD.. I last emailed them on February 4th, and a little firmer than my previous emails I asked them to at least refund my money if they have no intention of shipping my CD. Certainly it was the least I could ask after over three months of waiting. Hurricane or no hurricane that's more than enough time to follow up on one single order. Mind you, this isn't my first time ordering from them. I ordered their first album reissue (the Poussez album) in Dec. 2004. It arrived one month later, but at least it arrived. Now, I understand it's probably not easy running a small business like that, so I don't want to say these people are crooks, but it's obviously a fairly disorganized business and I would strongly caution anybody when ordering CDs from their website (www.getdisconnected.com) or from their eBay or Amazon marketplace shops.. I'm usually right there supporting any company who's willing to reissue some classic disco albums and do what the majors have no interest in doing, but this is no way to run a business..

In closing, I won't be promoting any of their future releases until I have the CD I bought (or the money I paid) in my hands.. Again, I strongly warn anyone from buying directly from getdisconnected; but if you are interested in their CDs, it's probably better to buy their products directly from either Perfect Beat, Amazon.com, or any other large, trusted online retailer independent of getdisconnected/Harlequin, which I know I'll be doing in the future.. At least with them you have some guarantee about when it will arrive and some recourse if you are unsatisfied, and no, none of these stores are paying me..

'til next time..

BUYER BEWARE LINKS:
GETDISCONNECTED ON eBAY (ID: dip63145)
GETDISCONNECTED ON AMAZON MARKETPLACE (ID: midsunnight)
GETDISCONNECTED CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS @ THE DISCOMUSIC.COM FORUM

PURCHASE LINKS:
GETDISCONNECTED RELEASES @ AMAZON.COM
PERFECTBEAT.COM


CONSUMER ADVISORY, REISSUES & RELEASES

Friday, February 10, 2006

Disco Delivery #6:
First Choice - The Player (1974, Philly Groove/Bell)

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"..cold blooded son-of-a-gun, that's what he is.."

First Choice - The Player (LP Version) | LINK TWO
First Choice - Guilty | LINK TWO
First Choice - Hustler Bill | LINK TWO
First Choice - Imagination | LINK TWO


I hadn't pulled out these ladies' early stuff in a little while, until last week when I heard "The Player" on Mac Daddy's latest mix, and it's been running through my head ever since.. In case anyone's not familiar with these ladies - First Choice (Rochelle Fleming, Annette Guest and Ursula Herring) were one of the premier female groups to emerge from disco. While not strictly disco (they had just as many excellent, straight-up Soul/R&B records) they had some of their biggest and most consistent success among disco audiences, from their early hits like "Armed & Extremely Dangerous" in the early '70s to their records on Salsoul towards the late '70s like "Doctor Love," "Double Cross," "Love Thang" and "Let No Man Put Asunder" among others (the latter most recently covered by Mary J. Blige)..

The first three tracks that I put up are off their second album, "The Player" produced by Stan Watson and Norman Harris. Mind you, I'll buy almost anything with Norman Harris' name on the credits, he's got to be one of my favourite producers, almost always a guarantee of quality Philly disco.. The first selection, the album's title track is a great slice of early disco. James Brown, Isaac Hayes and Norman Whitfield aside, I'm guessing this might have been one of the first songs with it's tempo (and with it's disco appeal) that went up to 7 minutes in length (7.10 to be exact) and with a large, prominent instrumental break. The structure of the extended track with the instrumental break would really catch on in a few years and become the prototype for future disco mixes. Just love those catchy refrains in there "...he's a player, he'll get next to you.. he's a player, this is what he'll do...he'll shoot you down..right down to the ground.." right along side those punchy horns; not to mention the extended break with that superb, percolating percussion. The whole thing sounds like it could been a theme for one of those many "Blaxploitation" films from the period, which is probably what inspired this song in the first place.. Recently Philly Groove Records put out a Tom Moulton mix of this song, extending it even further to 10 minutes, which is something I'd like to hear. Seems like the kind of mix that would have been done, had the 12" single been invented at the time..

The next two probably aren't as disco friendly as the first one, but are probably uptempo enough to be considered "early disco," so I'll include them here anyway.. The second song, "Guilty" is another favourite of mine with that great melody and those bright, wonderful string and horn sections.. The next one, "Hustler Bill" follows in a similar vein to "The Player," though not quite as heavy, but with another catchy refrain "...Hustler Bill... give me a thrill.. ridin' around in your automobile.." and a great vocal from Ms. Fleming..

For the last one I decided to use one of their non-album (and possibly unissued) tracks; a cover of "I've Got To Use My Imagination" originally by Gladys Knight & The Pips from their 1973 "Imagination" album. Aside from shortening the title, their version has a faster tempo and a busier arrangement; an early disco cover version, if you will..

A little bit about the sources of these tracks.. I actually took them from a great 2-CD compilation called "First Choice: Love & Happiness - Greatest Hits" from 1994 on the Japanese P-Vine label (not Unidisc like the allmusic review says). Perhaps "Greatest Hits" is a bit of a misnomer; aside from the bonuses, it only covers the material from their first two albums: "Armed & Extremely Dangerous" (Philly Groove/Bell, 1973) and "The Player." Regardless of that, it's still an excellent compilation. Tom Moulton was involved in the production and mastering of the collection and the sound quality is excellent (all selections from the original masters). My only gripe is with the liner notes, which are extensive but completely inaccurate, giving recording and release info for their Salsoul singles, when the material on the collection predates their Salsoul period by several years.. Unfortunately this set is out of print now, but it's the best collection of their early material that I've found so far..

** note: I apologise for being a little bit late with this update.. To potential users of File Lodge, I've just had the most aggravating, time consuming uploading experience ever.. grrr!!.. Just so you can be warned about them..

LINKS/PURCHASE:
FIRST CHOICE - THE PLAYER LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
FIRST CHOICE - GREATEST HITS (2 CD) @ AMAZON.COM
FIRST CHOICE LPs & CDs @ DUSTY GROOVE

CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, PAST REISSUES

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Upcoming Disco Reissues & Releases (and more.. )

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(Note: new updates/additions on 3/1/06, revised 3/16/06)

Just a little update on some upcoming CD album reissues and compilations in case anyone's interested.. A good chunk of these by Collectables records which should be out towards the end of the month..

February 28th:

The Trammps - Where The Happy People Go (1976, Atlantic / 2006, Collectables)
purchase @ amazon.com | dustygroove.com
One of THE disco groups; much more to them than "Disco Inferno," as I am just now discovering for myself.. The title track is one of their biggest and best known disco hits..
THE TRAMMPS - WHERE THE HAPPY PEOPLE GO LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
THE TRAMMPS - WHERE THE HAPPY PEOPLE GO (REVIEW) @ ALLMUSIC.COM

Kleeer - Winners (1979, Atlantic / 2006, Collectables)
purchase @ amazon.com | dustygroove.com
Kleeer - License To Dream (1981, Atlantic / 2006, Collectables)
purchase @ amazon.com | dustygroove.com
Two albums from the funk/disco ensemble Kleeer, often held in the same esteem as other great groups on the Atlantic label like Chic and Change. Prior to their incarnation as Kleeer, they were the Universal Robot Band who had some underground disco classics under the direction of well renowned disco producers Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael..
KLEEER - WINNERS LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
KLEEER - WINNERS (REVIEW) @ ALLMUSIC.COM
KLEEER - LICENSE TO DREAM LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM

Dee Dee Bridgewater - Just Family/Bad For Me (1976, 1979 Atlantic / 2006, Collectables)
purchase @ amazon.com | dustygroove.com
Tony award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater was a well known R&B singer before switching primarily to Jazz later in her career. "Just Family" is not disco, but 1979's "Bad For Me" produced by George Duke was her one stab at disco. The title track was a favourite at the Paradise Garage, the 12" having been mixed by none other than Larry Levan himself. These two albums were previously released separately as European import digipak CDs, which are still available..
DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER - BAD FOR ME 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM

March 13th:

Various - A Tom Moulton Mix (2006, Soul Jazz Records) (updated 3/16/06, this release has been delayed until April 3rd)
pre-order @ amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
Probably one of the releases I'm most excited about. On a recent thread on the discomusic.com forums, I had wondered about the possibility of an anthology of Tom Moulton's disco mixes, since "mixologies" for the likes of Walter Gibbons and Larry Levan had been released, yet Moulton, who was the most prolific out of all of them hasn't had any sort of compilation. Someone in the know replied and said that this would be coming out sometime in January, well January's gone and according to Dusty Groove, it's been pushed back to Mid-March, so we'll see about that one..

New Info: Just found out that Amazon UK now has a picture and a tracklist up and that this should should be out in around a couple of weeks. Amazon doesn't list the track times, but it says there are two discs, so they must all be full-length versions (I think most of us would be pissed if they weren't). At first glance looks like a pretty good balance of hits and rarities. Some of his well-known classics are included like "More, More, More" by Andrea True Connection "La vie en rose" by Grace Jones "Love Is The Message" by MFSB etc. There are also some rarities in there too, like the selections by Camouflage, Orlando Riva Sound, The Lovers and Udell to name a few.. Not to mention, what seems to be a new mix of Eddie Kendricks' "Keep On Truckin'"!. The Soul Jazz Records website (www.souljazzrecords.co.uk) says: "Many of the mixes are exclusive to this CD and have previously only existed as acetates or promos distributed only to Tom’s friends." So I'm looking forward to some of those surprises, can't wait for this one!

In case anyone isn't familiar with Tom Moulton and his contribution to disco, go here
.. Finding "A Tom Moulton Mix" on the credits of a record (and there are so many) is almost always a good sign..

As yet unconfirmed release dates:

The Supremes - 70's Albums sets (1970-1976, Motown / 2006, Hip-O Select/Motown)
Apparently the first batch of their 70's albums were supposed to be released this month, but they've since been pushed back.. Hip-O Select sent out a little note on their latest mailing list newsletter:
...Some of you may be wondering what happened to releases previously announced in ICE magazine and to a few of the fans' message boards, including The (70s) Supremes, Marvelettes, Rare Earth, Gloria Jones, All This And World War II, and Earl Van Dyke. These releases have not been forgotten and being rescheduled in order to give them the love and attention they truly deserve. Once we have firm release dates for them, we will make an announcement over email and on our site...
Hip-O Select so far hasn't disappointed with the quality of their releases, so however long the wait, I know it'll be worth it..

LaToya Jackson - LaToya Jackson (1980, Polydor / 2006, ?)
Reissue of the most intriguing and enigmatic Jackson's debut album which contained the dancefloor hit "If You Feel The Funk" among others. Not to mention notable guests like Patrice Rushen, Stevie Wonder, Ray Parker, Jr. and Jacko himself. Previously reissued on CD in Japan in the '90s; those old Japanese CD reissues are going for big bucks on eBay these days. More info at the LaToya Haven forum.
LaTOYA JACKSON - LaTOYA JACKSON LP (REVIEW) @ ALLMUSIC.COM

On another note:

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Motown has always been an interesting label and musical phenomenon to me. Being something of a Motown fan and having an interest in urban issues, I've always been intrigued by the City of Detroit. Looking at the Ruins of Detroit, it's beings me back to when I was a kid looking at the Ancient Greek ruins in books and the feeling of sadness, wonder and awe that I had looking at those images.. Which brings me back to Detroit..

I had only just found out about the Motown Building (not the little "Hitsville USA" house), but their later offices in the Donovan Building on Woodward Avenue and it's meeting with the wrecking ball last month.. Now it's always sad when a building goes down like they often do in Detroit these days, but what makes this significant is that there were archives and memorabilia still in the building, largely left alone since Motown's departure in 1972. Esther Gordy-Edwards of the Motown Museum (www.motownmuseum.com) had mentioned that there were still many things left that they hadn't yet had the chance to go through.. I don't know what's worst, that no one acted to salvage anything in all this time or that it was all sacrificed in the name of "aesthetics" and Super Bowl parking.. In my opinion, a building, no matter how faded it may be is still much more interesting and attractive than an empty, abandoned urban lot, but that's just me.. Luckily some urban explorers had managed to salvage some little pieces of memorabilia here and there (including correspondence from what was apparently Marvin Gaye's desk).. Many entries on this at the Detroit Blog and others.

LINKS:
DETROIT BLOG
- 01, 02, 03, 04
KEMPA.COM - DESTROYING HISTORY
STUPEFACTION - MOTOWN HISTORY, UNDER THE WRECKING BALL
METRO DETROIT URBAN EXPLORATION - DONOVAN (AKA MOTOWN) BUILDING
DUSTIN DWYER FOR MICHIGAN RADIO - THE MOTOWN BUILDING (STREAMING REAL MEDIA FILE)

CATEGORIES: REISSUES & RELEASES, ARTICLES & RAMBLINGS

Friday, February 03, 2006

Disco Delivery #5:
Giorgio Moroder - From Here To Eternity (1977, Oasis/Casablanca)

Holy moustachio!
Holy moustachio!

Giorgio Moroder - From Here To Eternity
Giorgio Moroder - Utopia-Me Giorgio

I hadn't pulled out this album in a long time, until recently when I heard "From Here To Eternity" in a scene from the recent movie C.R.A.Z.Y. which I saw not too long ago (excellent film, by the way) and I was reminded of the how great that particular song was, which leads me to the album..

Undoubtedly one of the most influential LPs in electronic music and one of the most significant to emerge from disco. Hot off the heels of "I Feel Love," he cemented his place as an electronic pioneer with this 1977 effort. Moroder, while not the first to dabble with electronic music (there were Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream before him); he was perhaps the first to really expand the electronic sound outside of it's original, somewhat avant-garde context and into disco paving the way for other producers and many acts in the post-disco era to bring it more into the mainstream..

The first half of this album is the most epic in it's sound. "From Here To Eternity," "Lost Angeles," and "Utopia - Me Giorgio" have an almost dark, intense hypnotic pulse that, outside of "I Feel Love," his earlier productions only hinted at. The entire first half (which would have been Side A on the original album) is all segued together, an original disco innovation that Giorgio used to great effect, especially on some of Donna Summer's future albums. The songs on the second half (Side B): "First Hand Experience in Second Hand Love," "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone," and "Too Hot To Handle" (my favourite from this bunch) seem a little closer to a typical Euro-pop sound, just rendered through an electronic backing. Not quite as epic sounding, but still a good flipside to the Side A medley..

While this is Giorgio's first full-length electronic album under his name (I don't really consider "Knights In White Satin" to be among his electronic albums), he had previously done an experimental electronic album in 1975 under the name "Einzelganger" (apparently meaning "individualist" or "lone wolf"). It was largely ignored on it's original release, but highly sought-after today (and well overdue for a CD reissue). While "...Eternity" is certainly a landmark, I actually prefer his follow-up, 1979's "E=MC²" which continues in the same electro-disco vein but more cohesive and more straight ahead disco, but that's for a later update..

Just one more little note: "From Here To Eternity" was newly remastered and reissued on CD by Universal's Hip-O Select division in 2004. It's a limited edition pressing and available exclusively through their website (www.hip-oselect.com) and occasionally through Dusty Groove. I haven't got this edition yet (still have the older Repertoire Records reissue), but I do plan to get it one of these days though. So if you're interested in purchasing it, check out those websites..

OTHER REVIEWS:
GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (2004 REMASTER) @ PITCHFORK

GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (2004 REMASTER) @ GROOVE RADIO
GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (2004 REMASTER) @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY @ ALLMUSIC.COM

OTHER LINKS:
THE GIORGIO MORODER DISCOGRAPHY
GIORGIO MORODER TRIBUTE @ DISCO-DISCO.COM
ILIXOR.COM- GIORGIO MORODER: A FORGOTTEN INFLUENCE, OR NOT
THE STYPOD - UTOPIA BURNS: GIORGIO MORODER


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, PAST REISSUES

Thursday, February 02, 2006

get up and boo-gie!

Just a little side delivery before Friday.. I got some email requests recently and thought I would post a couple of them up here, plus one other great track that I just came across..

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ABBA - If It Wasn't For The Nights (1979, Polar/Atlantic)

One of my personal favourite ABBA songs. This one was taken from their 1979 "Voulez-Vous" album, their most disco-influenced album and possibly the best single of theirs that never was. Many disco purists outright deny ABBA's "serious" disco viability. Too commercial, too campy, too white/european (ie. soulless) and so on.. Often put in the same category as the Bee Gees, Boney M etc.. Usually by the same people who would be biased against euro-disco in general. I'd certainly disagree with them, even though I'll admit they were more pop than disco, I'd say they still had legitimate disco credentials. Aside from the obvious (their hit "Dancing Queen"), "Voulez-Vous," "Summer Night City," "Gimme Gimme Gimme" (as sampled by Madonna recently) and "Lay All Your Love On Me" (which had a lot of club play back in the day) to name a few are all excellent disco songs with great pop-appeal. This one probably isn't straight-ahead disco but definitely disco-influenced with those guitars, that wonderful string section and a great melody as per many of ABBA's best..

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Silver Convention - Get Up And Boogie (12" Version) (1976, Midland International)

A great slice of early euro-disco from their self-titled second album. They were probably best known for their 1975 hit "Fly Robin Fly" which hit #1 in the US and I'd imagine would be something of an early disco cross-over hit. This one follows in a similar vein, short on lyrics for sure, but with a great string section and a funky groove, not to mention also a big hit in the US (peaking at #2 in the Hot 100 in 1976). Silver Convention were a group put together by Munich-based producers Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, part of a group of Munich-based producers like Jürgen Korduletsch (Claudja Barry, Ronnie Jones) and not to mention Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte (behind none other than Donna Summer) to name a few who were making waves in the US at this time. Many of the earlier disco productions by these producers were similar to this, with a very dominant US funk/R&B influence but with a certain European pop aesthetic, creating something of a distinct "Munich Sound," which, at least in the case of Moroder/Bellotte and Korduletsch, became more electronic and rock-influenced towards the late '70s..

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Brenda & The Tabulations - Let's Go All The Way (Down) (1976, Chocolate City/Casablanca)

Some great Philly disco that I've come across lately by the late Brenda Payton, who with the Tabulations had hits in the '60s and early '70s with songs like "Dry Your Eyes" and "Right On The Tip of My Tongue." This is from one of their later albums from 1976 on the Casablanca subsidiary label Chocolate City. Love those ad-libs, that signature Philly-style beat and that long breakdown. Apparently something of a classic in New York back in the day. After hearing this, I'm definitely on the look out for the LP this came from -"I Keep Coming Back For More," there were some real great producers on hand like John Davis, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli, who all have impressive disco credentials in their own right. I found an interesting thread on the wonderful Soulful Detroit forum where Bobby Eli, the producer & arranger of this song talks about working with Brenda & The Tabulations and how this track came about:

"Brenda and Gilda loved the song and thought that it would be a nice change of pace for Brenda.
I had no idea that it was an NYC Disco Classic.
We were just "piddling around" one day ane Brenda was trying those ad libs and hey...it worked.
I loved Brenda.She was such a sweet person, and left us much too soon.
"

(source: Soulful Detroit: Brenda & The Tabulations - A Fine Philly Soul Act)

'til next time...

LINKS:
ABBA - THE RELEASES
(great discography site)
SILVER CONVENTION - GET UP AND BOOGIE 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
SILVER CONVENTION @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS @ DISCO-FUNK.CO.UK

PURCHASE:
ABBA - VOULEZ-VOUS (REMASTERED CD) @ AMAZON.COM
SILVER CONVENTION - GREATEST HITS CD LISTINGS @ FROOGLE


CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES

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