Monday, October 15, 2007
Faust was right, have no regret..
Amanda Lear - Follow Me (Wally MacDonald Disco Mix) (1978, Inter Global Music/Epic)
Amanda Lear - Enigma (Give A Bit Of Mmh To Me) (1978, Inter Global Music/Epic)
Although I originally planned to this post this a couple of weeks ago, I had put it aside for a while after hearing some of Bobby Viteritti's stunning DJ sets. However, given the connection between this song and Bobby Viteritti, I figured I might as well do a little something on it now.
Although a much bigger star in continental Europe than in North America, "Follow Me" has got to be one of the enigmatic Amanda Lear's best remembered singles on both sides of the Atlantic. Although a largely underground disco classic in the US, "Follow Me" was apparently her biggest pop hit in much of Europe. If anything, the fact that "Follow Me" has been both remixed and re-recorded by Amanda herself a number of times since it's release seems proof of that... Originally the first single off her excellent "Sweet Revenge" (1978, Inter Global Music/Epic) album, that album was in itself nothing less than a Euro-disco classic. Moulded by Anthony Monn's pulsing, synth driven euro-disco production (also see Orlando Riva Sound and Magnifique), and Amanda's distinctively deep, smoky (albeit somewhat limited) voice; the resulting sound and concept - the combination of her voice, those lyrics, the string-laden, elegantly synthesized backing make the whole thing a kind of Dietrich-meets-Donna piece of disco brilliance. A combination of storytelling and sonic disco trance tinged with an enduring, enigmatic glamour.
The album version originally appeared in two parts, at the beginning and end of the A-side, both introducing and concluding a discofied Faustian fairy tale of a girl who sold her soul to the devil for fame and fortune and her eventual "revenge" over the devil's offer.. The first part has Lear playing the devil-as-temptress: "...Faust was right, have no regret.. Gimme your soul, I'll give you life.. and all the things you want to get.. so follow me..," while the second part has Lear playing a proverbial angelic character: "...I'll give you love, I'll give you strength, I'll give you wings, I'll be you're friend..if you agree to follow me..". Lyrically and conceptually excellent, perhaps the most striking lyric in the reprise would be: "there must be better things to do than sitting around sniffing glue.." A somewhat desperate rhyme if there ever was one, it's quite possibly one of the strangest verses I've ever heard in a disco song. It would be laughable if delivered by anyone else, but with her unique, inimitable delivery, it somehow manages to work, both evoking and complimenting the sort of solemn euro-disco decadence that typfied much of the record...
Although her primary label at this time was Ariola in Germany, the 12'' Mix was evidently comissioned by Canadian licensee Inter Global Music, a little regarded (at least these days) CBS-associated label whose catalogue seemed largely to consist of licensed European disco productions (David Christie, Penny McLean, Dee D. Jackson, Sticky Jones Gang etc..) for the Canadian market. Remixed by the late Toronto DJ, Wally MacDonald (who had done a few other disco remixes for Inter Global, among others), his mix is perhaps the definitive version of this record. The remix takes the original from the book-ends of the album's conceptual A-side, merges the two parts from the album, turning it into a sweeping, albeit slightly stripped-down, ten minute Faustian epic all on it's own..
Perhaps the greatest achievement of this disco remix has got to be in it's treatment of the orchestration. Somewhat submerged on the album version, the way those swelling strings, with their swirling crescendos coloured with those heavenly harp sounds (along with the much more prominent beat), were brought right up to the forefront, really bring out the beauty in the track, their presence taking the original to new heights altogether.. The heightened orchestration adorning those extended passages, in a way, seem to fill in for a lyrical narrative, painting pictures and evoking drama like no words or vocal could.. Towards the end, the effect of Lear's smoky whisper fading out amidst the swirling strings, in it's blissful beckoning seem to provide the perfect summation for the thing of beauty that this record is..
In a related note, with it's dramatic elegance, it's perhaps no wonder that this particular song ended up becoming Bobby Viteritti's signature anthem at San Francisco's Trocadero Transfer during his tenure. It became such a Trocadero staple, that Viteritti had evidently done four different edits/mixes of it, in order to keep it fresh for his audience. As Viteritti relates in his interviews with disco-disco.com and discomusic.com, it's emergence as his signature anthem was something of a happy accident. A record that practically everyone in his record pool had slept on, it was only when Viteritti was close to running out of records one night that he decided to play it. The overwhelming response that followed ended up solidifying it as a veritable Trocadero anthem..
As far as the different releases of the remix go, Inter Global had evidently released the disco mix on both regular vinyl and red coloured vinyl. Although it was later reissued on the small Canadian label Siamese Records, and later on CD on a now out-of-print Canadian compilation, "Hi-NRG Classics" (1997, SPG), according to the discomusic.com interview with Vincent DeGiorgio (a prominent figure in the Canadian disco scene and friend of remixer Wally MacDonald), apparently the initial Inter Global releases were the only ones to be taken from the master tapes. All subsequent copies/pressings (including the Siamese pressing) were apparently mastered from vinyl copies, as the original tapes of MacDonald's remix were unfortunately lost after Inter Global Music's demise.
Sadly, Wally MacDonald, the Toronto-based DJ behind this remix had apparently died of AIDS in the early 90s. Although little seems to be known about MacDonald, who has been cited as an influence by the likes of Barry Harris (formerly of Thunderpuss) and referred to as a "Picasso on two turntables" by friend Vincent DeGiorgio, he was evidently quite a highly regarded DJ in the Toronto scene. A user on the discomusic.com forums had, at least several years back, embarked on a kind of memorial project for MacDonald, so hopefully more information about him will surface in the near future..
As for the B-side, "Enigma..," the version on the 12'' is exactly identical to the one on the album, yet being another one of the best tracks off "Sweet Revenge" (I don't there are any bad ones,acome to think of it) I also had to include it here. With it's stunning intro, punctuated by those shooting disco laser sound effects, Amanda's deep, icy vocals, not to mention the lyrics, practically (and purposely, I'm sure) epitomizing the aura of perpetual mystery surrounding her, it's perhaps one of her most iconic tracks.. Recently, "Enigma.." has had a mini-resurgence of sorts as a result of being used in a popular European ad for Kinder Bueno (see the Czech version on YouTube)..
All that aside, I couldn't possibly do a post on Amanda Lear without including some of her many stunning archived TV appearances from this time. All lip-synced of course, but the woman looks so absolutely fabulous on camera, it's no wonder YouTube is full of her TV performances. The first one included here is a stunning lip-sync of "Follow Me" off what looks to be Musikladen - with her fabulous outfit, her feline grace all complete with audience clapping along (on the one and the two, naturally), it's a total gem... The others - for "Gold (one of the best tracks off "Sweet Revenge," in my opinion) and "Enigma..", are nothing less than a couple of campy, crazy, and in the case of "Gold" totally fucked up performances from Italian TV (which I probably would have been better off saving for Halloween, but I couldn't help myself). Apparently, these were from a TV program called Stryx on the RAI network, which from what I can see, was likely campy, over the top Euro-variety TV at it's absolute best. I'm sure there's also a performance of "Follow Me" from that very same program, which I'd die to see, but which so far, no one has uploaded yet..
Amanda Lear - Follow Me
Uploaded by Homeland42
Amanda Lear - Gold
Uploaded by MateushPrv
Amanda Lear - Enigma (Give A Bit Of Mmh To Me)
Uploaded by MateushPrv
Although at times her music seems to take a back-seat to the mystery surrounding her, her origins and that perpetual question of whether or not she is a post-op transsexual (which she has repeatedly denied), the resulting intrigue seems to have proved rather lucrative for her career. Still appearing on TV and releasing records, the rumours only seemed to add another dimension of intrigue to her already distinctive style, and her already rather storied place in rock history (Salvador Dali muse, Roxy Music cover girl, David Bowie paramour etc..). Speculation aside however, with Anthony Monn's stunning production and Amanda's own unique vocal and lyrical contributions, "Follow Me" remains not only a touchstone in Lear's musical career, but perhaps one of the more beautifully distinctive, enduring disco classics out there..
Although Amanda's "Sweet Revenge" album has been available on CD for some time now, SPG's "Hi-NRG Classics" (1997, SPG) compilation (now out-of-print) is so far the only place where it's ever officially appeared on CD.
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
BOBBY VITERITTI - A NIGHT AT THE TROCADERO.. (SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 30, 2007)
VARIOUS - HI-NRG CLASSICS (2 CD) (INCLUDES 'FOLLOW ME' 12'' VERSION)
AMANDA LEAR - SWEET REVENGE (CD)
CDUNIVERSE | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK
AMANDA LEAR - FOLLOW ME (LYRICS)
AMANDA LEAR - FOLLOW ME 12'' @ DISCOGS
AMANDA LEAR - FOLLOW ME 12'' @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
AMANDA LEAR - FOLLOW ME 12'' (SIAMESE REISSUE) @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
AMANDA LEAR - FOLLOW ME 12'' (SIAMESE REISSUE) @ DISCOGS
AMANDA LEAR - SWEET REVENGE LP @ WIKIPEDIA
AMANDA LEAR - SWEET REVENGE LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
AMANDA LEAR @ WIKIPEDIA
AMANDA LEAR @ MOOKYCHICK
ANTHONY MONN @ WIKIPEDIA
ANTHONY MONN @ DISCOGS
WALLY MACDONALD @ DISCOGS
INTER GLOBAL MUSIC @ DISCOGS
CATEGORIES: SIDE DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO, CAN-CON DISCO
Posted by Tommy at 12:00 AM