Tuesday, May 30, 2006

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

Beautiful Bend (front cover) Beautiful Bend (back cover)

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


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..

LINKS:
BEAUTIFUL BEND LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
BEAUTIFUL BEND CD @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
BORIS MIDNEY @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
BORIS MIDNEY @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
THE FANTASTIC BORIS MIDNEY @ RATEYOURMUSIC.COM
J.B. SPINS - SOUNDS LIKE FREEDOM

PURCHASE:
BEAUTIFUL BEND CD @ AMAZON.COM
BORIS MIDNEY ANTHOLOGY @ CDUNIVERSE.COM


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, PAST REISSUES

Monday, May 22, 2006

Disco Delivery #20:
Hott City - Ain't Love Grand (1979, Butterfly/MCA)

Ain't Love Grand (front cover) Ain't Love Grand (back cover credits)

Hott City - Feelin' Love
Hott City - If All We're Gonna Do Is Dance
Hott City - Ain't Love Grand
Hott City - I Took His Money
Hott City - Peaks And Valleys

Another slab of disco from the Motor City this week.. Produced by the production team of Jeffrey Parsons and Jeffrey Steinberg and released on the LA-based Butterfly label, this album is probably one of my favourite disco gems. So far, the more I hear from the Butterfly label, the more interested I get in their output. For sure, one of the ultimate disco boutique labels. Some of you who have been following this blog since January probably remember me posting "Feelin' Love" for my third or fourth post back then. It was only this week that I finally obtained the full album, so forgive me for repeating myself a little bit. Ever since I received it, I've been listening to it like crazy, so I just had to put it up..

Four of the five tracks on the album (all except "Peaks and Valleys") were released on 12" singles. From what I gather though, the 12" versions were the same length as the album versions. All of the tracks were stellar, but the opening track "Feelin' Love" is probably the crème de la crème of this album. An exquisite blend of sexy, slow-burning, synth arrangements shooting, pulsing and surrounding those smooth, soaring vocals courtesy of Detroit singer Sherry Fox. It's probably the most atmospheric track on the album, the others being a little more forward lyrically and otherwise.

Speaking of forward, the next song on side A, also sung by Sherry Fox, "If All We're Gonna Do Is Dance" is probably one of the more ironic tracks on the album. In fact much of the album is almost dripping in a kind of defiant ironic, even sarcastic tone to it. With the same exquisite arrangement, although more melodic than synthesized, it's a song about a woman who's tired of dancing while waiting for her man to make his move. After being convinced that her man is finally going to "make it right," she goes to his place only to find more of the same.. To which she says "..If all we're gonna go is dance.. I'm going home.." I guess I don't have to have to point out the irony in this one. For me, it's really all in the juxtaposition between the theme and the delivery. It's not often you hear a woman sing so elegantly and beautifully yet so forwardly about her making the moves on her man. Even beyond that, it could even be a little *nudge nudge*, *wink wink* to the listener. Gotta wonder, if her man won't make a move, won't respond to hers and can't seem to stop dancing, perhaps he may not be all that into women.. Just a thought. In a way, it's all very Vanity 6 meets Karen Carpenter, if you know what I mean..

Opening side B is the title track, "Ain't Love Grand." This one has a more aggressive synth arrangement, faster tempo and colder vocals (by Bluejay, whoever she is). All of that, along with those lyrics, none of which seem to have anything loving in them.. "Hey.. Ain't love grand, one night stands, no demands.. Date me, rape me, crape(?) me, ain't love grand.. Bait me, mate me, hate me, ain't love grand.. Blind me, bind me, don't re-mind me, ain't love grand.."

Continuing in the same vein is "I Took His Money," this time with vocals by Ortheia Barnes and Mildred Vaney. A song that seems to be about a couple of women dabbling in and justifying a little bit desperate prostitution.. "I.. took his money.. he.. took my love... I needed money, he needed love.. " After which, one of the singers admits, "..sometimes you have to be dishonest, to make it through this life.." which seems put the ladies' whole idea of "love" under question. Kind of ironic, since really, exchanging money for sex pretty much cancels out any possibility or idea of "love". Which is perhaps one reason why the song wasn't called "He Took My Love" instead..

The next song, "Peaks and Valleys," is one that's slightly more positive and less sarcastic/ironic than the last few. Also with Ortheia and Mildred on vocals, the ladies document the ups and downs of their week, with the ever reliable relief of a Saturday night at the disco.. "Monday I got fired, Tuesday I got lucky, Wednesday someone broke in my car.. Thursday I got a new job, Friday I got evicted, Saturday night I dance like a star.." This song quite a fitting album closer and, in a way, sums up the ethos of disco quite nicely in the next lines: "..As long as I can dance, the valleys aren't so bad.. and when I'm old and grey there'll be good times, good times ahead..." Much like the Saturday nights at the end of a hard week, there's always the hope and the reminder of those good times to keep us going. That one day it'll all pay off and there'll be something better to look forward to.. "Up here.. down there.. peaks and valleys.. life is never smooth"..

One other thing that I love about this album is that decadent album cover, which looks glamorous, despite being shot either in someone's kitchen or greasy spoon cafe.. What looks like two lipstick lesbians, one standing up, the other up on the table, both sharing a drink. Right next to them, an elegantly dressed woman nonchalantly showing off her ring to what seems to be a bartender.. I wonder what, if anything, it's all supposed to say about the concept of the LP.

For whatever reason, this project was originally called Graffiti, with the first singles being released under that name. I guess the name change was done so as not to be confused with another group of the same name. The only other Parsons/Steinberg disco production that I know of were a couple of 12" singles they did (which I have yet to hear) for the 20th Century label under the moniker Cut Glass. The most well known of which was "Without Your Love" peaking in the top 20 of the disco charts in 1980. Overall, Hott City and Cut Glass aside, the two Jeffreys are something of an obscure duo. There's very little record of anything they did together or individually before (or at least in Parsons' case) after these two disco ventures. Although I have come across some information on a Jeff Steinberg who once worked for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Not sure if it is the same person as the one on this record, but his bio mentions that he has been in the industry for some thirty plus years and has worked in a variety of different genres. Unfortunately though, his official site (www.jeffsteinberg.com) says nothing of this record, so again, not 100% sure if it's the same guy.

One of the vocalists on the album, Sherry Fox seems to have been a fairly well known Detroit singer, most notably a part of the group RJ Fox. Fox would also appear as a backing vocalist on Aretha Franklin's rather dire 1991 album "What You See Is What You Sweat" among other things. Two of the other vocalists on this album, Ortheia Barnes and Mildred Vaney were also the vocalists on the Cut Glass project as well. Ortheia Barnes (now known as Ortheia Barnes-Kennedy), sister of soul singer J.J. Barnes is also a very well known singer in the Detroit area, having even been called one of the city's most beloved singers. Barnes would also appear as a vocalist on a few Aretha albums, namely "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" (1987, Arista) and her self-titled 1980 album. In 1985 she would release her one and only LP titled "Person to Person," (1985, Michigan Sattelite) with the single "Green-Eyed Monster." Later Barnes would establish her own non-denominational, non-traditional ministry in Detroit to help the homeless and those recovering from addiction. More recently in 2005 she would even make a run for Detroit City Council.

Prior to recording as Hott City and Cut Glass, Mildred Vaney, was most notably a member of a group called Quiet Elegance along with Lois Reeves (sister of Martha Reeves) and Yvonne Gearing. Quiet Elegance were quite an interesting group, recording for the Memphis Hi label and having been managed by The Temptations. Despite that though, their careers as recording artists never really took off like their performing careers. While they were active, they would tour with the likes of The Temptations, Al Green, and Tom Jones among others.. In the '80s after her disco work, Mildred Vaney would record as Millie Scott (sometimes credited as Mildred Scott) and would even do a couple of albums for the 4th & Broadway/Island label. Her first album, "Love Me Right" (1987, 4th & Broadway/Island) contained the top 20 R&B hit "Every Little Bit," which would be followed up three years later by a second LP "I Can Make It Good For You" (1990, Island). More recently she has also been one of Aretha Franklin's regular backup singers, both live and on her most recent record "So Damn Happy" (2003, Arista) as well as on some of the Four Tops' recent recordings.

Anyway, round of applause for you if you've still reading this.. In other things, I added three new music blog links: la Fin del Mundo, Plasticmusic and Rockcritics daily. Ender at la Fin del Mundo recently put up the Spanish version of Tantra's "Hills of Katmandu," which I hadn't heard until then.. So to any of you who liked the original and who haven't heard the Spanish version, go get it while it's hot!..

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
FROM 1979, WITH LOVE... (JANUARY 11, 2006)

LINKS:
HOTT CITY - AIN'T LOVE GRAND LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
HOTT CITY - FEELIN' LOVE 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
HOTT CITY - I TOOK HIS MONEY 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
HOTT CITY @ DISCOGS
CUT GLASS (MILDRED VANEY & ORTHEIA BARNES) @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
ORTHEIA BARNES: DETROIT'S OTHER DIVA DETROIT FREE PRESS (APRIL 19, 1987)


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES

Monday, May 15, 2006

Disco Delivery #19:
The Mike Theodore Orchestra - High On Mad Mountain (1979, Westbound/Atlantic)

High On Mad Mountain (front cover) High On Mad Mountain (back cover)

The Mike Theodore Orchestra - High On Mad Mountain | LINK TWO
The Mike Theodore Orchestra - Disco People | LINK TWO
The Mike Theodore Orchestra - Dragons Of Midnight | LINK TWO


Truth be told, I was planning to put up the Patrick Adams Presents Phreek album today, but when I played it, I realised my album was way too dirty and noisy to rip.. I really hope to put that one up some other time, just not until I find a way to give the record a good cleaning though..

With that little dilemma, I had to find something else that grabbed me enough to replace it, and this was it. So far this is my first orchestra posting and of all the disco orchestras I've come across, this one of my favourites. The Salsoul Orchestra was probably the most prominent and well known disco orchestra, but aside from them, studio groups calling themselves "orchestras" were a dime a dozen. Naming yourself an "orchestra" was at times an easy way to give an anonymous assemblage of studio musicians a level of grandeur, but there many during the disco era who were quite true to the term. While, in all cases, these "orchestras" were basically ensembles of studio musicians that rarely toured, many often had that characteristic "big" sound with large numbers of musicians (and specialized musicians) involved in the recording. This one in particular had at least fifty musicians involved, including a large string, horn and wind sections, not to mention the vocal chorus, percussion players and so on..

The producer behind this project, Mike Theodore was a Detroit-based producer/arranger who had worked quite frequently with another prominent Detroit musician, Dennis Coffey (best known for his classic track "Scorpio"). Together they would become one of the most prolific production teams out of Detroit during this time. Starting their partnership in the late '60s they would, among others, produce various acts largely for the Sussex and later the Westbound labels in the 70s. One of their biggest successes during the disco era was "Devil's Gun," (1978, Westbound) a classic disco hit for the group C.J. & Co. (of whom a couple of members appear on this record). Aside from that they would also produce records for the likes of King Errisson and the Tempest Trio during this time. In the late '70s, along with their work together they would branch out into their own solo productions. Coffey would release his own Dennis Coffey Band LP called "A Sweet Taste of Sin," (1978, Westbound) and Theodore would do two albums as The Mike Theodore Orchestra, the first being "Cosmic Wind" (1977, Westbound) spawning the disco hit "The Bull" and this album, "High On Mad Mountain" following in 1979.

True to the "orchestra" moniker, the album has that big, grand sound throughout. Full of funky, meaty guitars along with sweeping, graceful strings and punctuated drums and percussion. There are even some light synths in places to add that little bit of atmosphere. The incredible arrangements and musicianship involved in a record like this one is one of the things which astounds me about the disco era. Never again (or at least not since), at least in dance music, would there be productions with this level of careful detail and diversity. While there's something to be said for the emergence of electronic disco and some of the more laid-back, minimal productions from the likes of Chic, you can't help but admire the effort that went into orchestra-style productions such as this one. Alec R. Costandinos was one of those who championed the art of orchestral disco. While the European sensibility and conceptual works of Costandinos were completely different to the more American, rhythmic, even funk influenced sound of this album; his sound and that of this album could, in some ways, be put in a similar category. Both had high levels of musicianship for starters as well as grand, powerful, intricate orchestral production values/arrangements. In other words, both great examples, albeit in different ways, of an orchestral disco sound.

Aside from "Disco People," "Dragons of Midnight" and the title track both had a dark, ominous even aggressive sound to them, with deep punctuated horns and clouded, distorted vocal effects.. "High On Mad Mountain" is a particularly escapist track, with lyrics about "..freaky scenes of pure delight" and flying into "..a night of fantasy.." complete with blissful buildups and wild synth workouts. "Disco People" is slightly less dark than the other two, with somewhat livelier vocals and a somewhat playful arrangement to it. "Disco People" later segues into the album closer "Dragons of Midnight" with goes back into darker territory with those aggressive horns and a chanting, growling vocal chorus (which may either be menacing or somewhat hilarious, or both). All of the cuts on the album would end up peaking at #23 on the Billboard disco chart..

After the disco era, Mike Theodore would continue as a producer and also as an engineer on records such as Freeez's "Gonna Get You" LP (1983, Beggars Banquet) and the group Unlimited Touch as well as some other records like "Jungle Love" by Westside and "Hellfire" under his own name - both tracks mixed by Morales/Munzibai. This album along with the first Mike Theodore Orchestra album were put on a 2 LPs on 1 CD set by Ace Records (Westbound's UK licencees) in the '90s, which so far is still in print. I don't have that one quite yet, but I hope to soon. I'll probably review it on here when I do get it.

PURCHASE:
THE MIKE THEODORE ORCHESTRA - COSMIC WIND/HIGH ON MAD MOUNTAIN CD @ CDUNIVERSE.COM
THE MIKE THEODORE ORCHESTRA - COSMIC WIND/HIGH ON MAD MOUNTAIN CD @ AMAZON.COM

LINKS:
THE MIKE THEODORE ORCHESTRA - COSMIC WIND/HIGH ON MAD MOUNTAIN CD @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
THE MIKE THEODORE ORCHESTRA - HIGH ON MAD MOUNTAIN LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
THE MIKE THEODORE ORCHESTRA - HIGH ON MAD MOUNTAIN/DISCO PEOPLE 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
THE MIKE THEODORE & DENNIS COFFEY @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
THE MIKE THEODORE ORCHESTRA @ DISCOGS
MIKE THEODORE @ DISCOGS


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, PAST REISSUES

Friday, May 12, 2006

Even More Disco Fun with YouTube

I got an email last week from a kind reader tipping me off to some disco videos on that I haven't put up here yet. The embedded YouTube videos never worked with Opera (my browser) which is why I never put them up before. They're up now though, as well as the direct links..

Anyway, enjoy..



Karen Cheryl - Show Me You're Man Enough

I hope you're ready for a big slice of euro-disco fromage, because I don't know if I was when I saw this.. Honestly, I had no idea who Karen Cheryl (link in French) was until I got this email, but check out those dance moves! I want to know who choreographed this shit.. I damn near spit out my drink laughing! Quite possibly some of the campiest dance moves I've ever seen! The song is sort of lame, but gotta love that video though; those clothes, the dancing, the lights.. the dry ice! Not to mention those dancers..



Karen Cheryl - Sing To Me Mama

If that wasn't enough for you, here's more Karen Cheryl.. Not quite the over-the-top spectacle that the last one was, but hell, it looks like it must have been the same choreographer..



Three Degrees - Giving Up, Giving In

A live performance (yes, live!) by the Three Degrees during their Giorgio Moroder-produced Euro-disco period. I believe that's Sheila Ferguson on lead looking fab in those blinding sequins.. A pretty good performance, If I do say so myself..



Roberta Kelly - Zodiacs

Speaking of Giorgio Moroder, here's another live vocal performance this time from Roberta Kelly, the other female singer produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Apparently this was a big hit in Italy. Believe it or not, I remember hearing this song at the opening ceremony of the last Winter Olympics in Torino.. Just what IS up with that hideous yellow outfit though? Yikes!



Andrea True Connection - More, More, More

Okay I know this song is on almost every other disco compilation out there and is pretty much synonymous with everything disco, but I still haven't gotten tired of it. Produced by Gregg Diamond and mixed by Tom Moulton, this one is probably one of my favourite disco songs of all time. I honestly love Andrea's thin, porn-ish vocals on this song, it just doesn't sound right without it.. Music Is My Boyfriend has the backstory behind it, very interesting stuff.



Cheryl Lynn - Got To Be Real (on Soul Train)

Same as the last one. This one is on almost every mainstream disco compilation, not to mention on TV commercials and everything, but I still can't get enough of it. Such a great song. Even if she is lip-syncing, Cheryl gives an amusing performance to say the least. Just check out those facial expressions..



Kelly Marie - Feels Like I'm In Love

Mind you, I used to find this song quite grating, with Kelly's screechy voice and those Lady Bump-ish bloodcurdling screams towards the end. Somehow, this damn song has actually grown on me.. This the official video, which mostly consists of Kelly going around town with a couple of dancing sailors.. Basically, your typical low-budget, often cheesy (but fun) early music video..

CATEGORIES: VISUAL DISCO

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Disco Delivery #18:
Claudja Barry - Sweet Dynamite (1977, Lollipop/Salsoul)

Sweet Dynamite (front cover) Sweet Dynamite (back cover)

Claudja Barry - Love For The Sake Of Love (A Tom Moulton Mix) | LINK TWO
Claudja Barry - Dance, Dance, Dance (A Tom Moulton Mix) | LINK TWO
Claudja Barry - Sweet Dynamite (A Tom Moulton Mix) | LINK TWO
Claudja Barry - Love For The Sake Of Love (Original Version) | LINK TWO


One of my favourite disco divas this week.. Claudja Barry's probably best known for her hit "Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes," but this album from '76 (released 1977 in the US) was her first and probably her best among her '70s albums. Overall her other '70s albums were a little bit on the inconsistent side, although there were classics on each of them. For me though, she wouldn't top this album until her "Made In Hong Kong" (1981, Lollipop/Polydor) LP some five years later.. Claudja, in my opinion, had one of the more unique voices in the disco era. A classically trained vocalist, she never really fit the typical mould of a black disco singer, that of the gospel/R&B inflected vocal style, but instead one that was perhaps more torchy than conventionally soulful. Although apparently a huge fan of classic blues and soul (she recently hosted a radio program dedicated to it), her voice was often in another category altogether.

In some ways, you could probably consider Claudja the Canadian Donna Summer, if you will. As much as that may be an unfair comparison, there are some parallels. Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, Canada; Claudja's career, much like Donna Summer's, would take off in Germany where she was working as a stage actor in various musicals. While in Germany she would become, albeit briefly, an early member of Boney M. Shortly after her brief association with the group, she would start an association with Jürgen S. Korduletsch, who would go on to become her long time producer, collaborator and later on, her husband. Like Moroder/Bellotte and Kunze/Levay, Korduletsch's sound was another part of that Munich disco sound that was riding pretty high at the time. That Munich sound, at least to me, was something of a hybrid of American elements of funk and soul, filtered through a distinctly European pop aesthetic. Claudja's "Sweet Dynamite" album is one of the greatest examples of it, undeniably influenced by funk and R&B, yet sounding totally different from anything that came from the US. It's interesting to note that many of the players and personnel on this record like Keith Forsey, Gary Unwin, Thor Baldursson, Pepe Solera, Roberta Kelly, Jürgen Koppers etc.. were ubiquitous on many of the disco records out of Munich..

The original issue of Claudja's album contained ten tracks, most of which were under five minutes. For the most part the album was still disco, yet somewhat more diverse than the US release. There was not only the disco tracks, but others showing a slower, smoother side like her take on Gershwin's "Do It Again" and "This Taste Of Love," as well as "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do Do" (originally done by a singer named Jeanne Burton) really showing off her torchy side. This version was originally released in much of Europe and in Canada on Lollipop/Philips among other labels. It wasn't until the following year when the album was licensed for the US by the legendary Salsoul label that it was disco-fied in a big way. For their stateside release, Salsoul would commission mix master Tom Moulton to re-mix the album. Even though the album was cut down to five tracks, the results, like many Tom Moulton mixes, are significant improvements on the originals. Speaking of Tom Moulton Mixes, I just have to say that I think it's a bit unfortunate that the classic extended mix seems to have fell out of favour in, say, the past fifteen years or so. While there's something to be said about the creativity in remixing today, taking a song out of it's original context and putting a competely different backing on it; as far as I'm concerned, you can't lose by extending and building on the elements of an already great song. Taking apart the layers and bringing them up front, zeroing in it's best elements and extending them, it's exactly the sort of thing Moulton did so well.

One of the most well known songs on this album, and one that exemplifies Tom Moulton's mixing style so well is "Love For The Sake Of Love," a slow, smouldering, sensual groove with a sly guitar and a sexy vocal. Takes you up and takes you down and back again during it's nearly eight minute span.. A simple groove, lyric and melody that manages to work so well. The Moulton mix brings up the tempo a little from the original, taking some of those great background vocals up front and not to mention adding those wonderful breaks. One of those songs that seem to embody sexy when "sexy" was an art form.. Several years back it seems the breaks on this song were pretty popular. "Love For The Sake Of Love" was most recently and successfully sampled on Montell Jordan's "Get It On Tonite" from 2000 (a top 5 hit in the US), and less successfully (in my opinion, anyway) on Da Brat's "What'chu Like" also from 2000. Now speaking of sexy as an art form, despite Brat's sexual "confessions," there was just something so decidedly un-sexy about her delivery on that track. Amusing, yes. Sexy? No.. But I digress.

On to the next song... "Dance, Dance, Dance" (no relation to the Chic song of the same name) is probably my favourite track on the album right now. A fabulous song about dancing your tears, fears and troubles away.. Can't get enough of those big-band horns and Claudja's tremendous vocal, complete with funky guitar in the background to keep things swinging. There's also a great bass solo and some hot percussion on the break as well.

The title track "Sweet Dynamite" follows in much the same vein as "Dance, Dance, Dance." Albeit this time with a fuller arrangement, faster tempo and a suitably dynamic, almost ferocious vocal from Claudja. Got to mention that great horn and string section as well. There are also some really funky bass and synth sounds in the background which really get to shine on the break.. Like the lyrics say, it's "like a burning fire.."

Claudja would go on to release even more great records after this album. Even if some of her subsequent albums wouldn't top this one, she'd manage to build a excellent canon of disco and dance classics well into the 1980's. The original version of this album was released on CD in 1993 by Hot Productions. As far as I know, it's out of print, but well worth tracking down, as the album is great and the sound quality on the CD is excellent. These days her producer/husband(?) Jürgen Korduletsch runs the Radikal Records label, one of the top indie dance labels in the US. Also, Claudja herself has been making something of a comeback lately after effectively retiring during the 1990s. Her latest single "I Will Stand" was released last month on her own label Donna Jean Records. It also seems to be her first record without the involvement of Jürgen, which leads me to wonder if they are even still married. In any case, I hope to do a post about her new single very soon.

If you've gotten this far, I'd just like to add that I probably won't be doing the Disco Delivery posts on a set schedule anymore. Some of you have probably noticed I'm no longer sticking to Fridays. It seems my "holidays" will be more busy than my school days, so time will be a little tighter for me in the next little while. I'll still try to bring the "Deliveries" at the end of every week, but that could be anytime from Friday to Sunday.

Anyway, with that out of the way, I just added a couple great new music blogs this week. Music Is My Boyfriend and Milk Carton Pop Stars.. Check 'em out!

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

LINKS:
CLAUDJA BARRY - SWEET DYNAMITE (US LP) REVIEW @ ALLMUSIC.COM
CLAUDJA BARRY - SWEET DYNAMITE (US LP) @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
CANCONROX - CLAUDJA BARRY
CLAUDJA BARRY @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM
CLAUDJA BARRY @ ALLMUSIC.COM
CLAUDJA BARRY @ DISCOGS
CLAUDJA BARRY @ WIKIPEDIA
CLAUDJA BARRY BIO (circa. 2002)

PURCHASE:
CLAUDJA BARRY - SWEET DYNAMITE CD @ AMAZON.COM


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, CAN-CON DISCO, PAST REISSUES, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO..

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Liza does Donna

Yes! Believe it.. Just stumbled across this goodie on YouTube

Liza Minnelli does "Bad Girls"


From the 1980 CBS special "Goldie & Liza Together"

Love that ending... "Yes?.. Bad!"

CATEGORIES: VISUAL DISCO

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