Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Disco Delivery #36:
Loleatta Holloway - Queen Of The Night (1978, Gold Mind/Salsoul)



Loleatta Holloway - I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I'm Right On Time) (Album Version)
Loleatta Holloway - I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I'm Right On Time) (12" Mix)
Loleatta Holloway - Catch Me On The Rebound (Walter Gibbons 12'' Mix)
Loleatta Holloway - Catch Me On The Rebound (Album Version)

Updates:
03/23/11 - reposted files & video, added photos, text edits
03/03/07 - additional info and video


Recently, when Buy Music By Mail was closing up shop, I ended up buying a whole whack of Unidisc reissues from them; this album and a few others. I got them in the mail just yesterday, and this was one of the first ones I had opened and I don't think I've stopped listening to it since. With that, I figured this would be the perfect time to finally do an entry on Loleatta..

I had originally got this album on vinyl some five/six years ago now. Unfortunately the vinyl didn't play as well as it looked, so I didn't really play it too often. I can't even find the vinyl here with all of the others, so I probably left it at my parents place when I moved out a little while ago (found it! proper album cover photos added 3/23/11).. Anyway, getting this CD was the first time I had listened to the album in several years, and I've just been having the best time rediscovering a track which I had all but forgotten about until now..

The track in question just happens to be the side two opener, "I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I'm Right On Time)," which has got to be one of the most seriously underrated Loleatta tracks out there. Despite being sampled as the basis for "The Queen's Anthem" back in the 90's, for whatever reason this is just one of those Loleatta tracks which doesn't seem to be discussed or cited too often.. Apparently the ABC network in the US even used the instrumental in it's promos at the time, so perhaps that might explain why this was passed over (thanks to the anonymous commenter for this info). Either way though, this was an instant favourite of mine on the album, and one that I would easily rank alongside Loleatta's better known classics.. Written and produced by Bunny Sigler (whose stuff I'm growing ever fonder of, the more I hear it) and mixed by Tom Moulton (who also mixed the entire album), it's a thrilling piece of good ole' get-down-to-the-real-nitty-gritty soulful disco with everything I love about both Bunny and Loleatta's stuff. With those trademark full and busy Bunny Sigler disco arrangements paired with Loleatta's explosive voice and presence - really, what's not to love? Those strings gliding and sliding all over the place, horns blasting, hooks everywhere.. All of it matching Loleatta's uplifting vocal intensity note for note, complimenting her inimitable sassiness through and through.. It's nothing less than a power-packed, explosive release of intense, glorious disco fabulosity. And speaking of fabulous, what's a Loleatta classic without a good ole vamp/ad-lib? Just when you think things are starting to wear a little thin, Loleatta's back in the mix doing her thing, or "goin' for herself" as she puts it:
"..All I'm doin' is getting myself together.. for YOU, baby! I mean, do you want me to come downstairs with ROLLERS in my hair!? Huh!? Really? I have to get together for you baby, cause if I don't, you'll look at somebody else.. And when we go out, I wanna be ALL that you see.."
What can I say? A little attitude with a whole lotta soul and I'm sold..

The album version at some seven or so minutes wasn't brief by any means, but the Unidisc CD adds a mysterious ten minute 12'' Mix of this track as a bonus. That mix takes out most of the spoken parts and the slower sections generally, but makes up for it by giving those awesome string arrangements a little more room, keeping things in dancefloor mode all the way through.. Anyway I say mysterious, because for whatever reason the only 12'' of this that I could find was a promo copy that's the same length as the album version (at least according to the label). The CD doesn't give any mixing credits, so I'm guessing it's also mixed by Tom Moulton like the album version. Given that vinyl copies of this 10 minute version are either non-existent or untraceable, I'm not even sure if or even when this was originally released.. Update: Mystery solved.. It turns out the 10 minute '12'' Mix' was in fact, a previously unreleased mix. That mix would eventually be released on the compilation CD Salsoul 12'' Gold Master Series, Vol. 2 (1995, Salsoul/Bethlehem), which probably explains why they couldn't denote it as 'previously unreleased' on the more recent Unidisc CD reissue (thanks to discomusic.com user 'Disco Funk' for this info.)

Going back to the album, the big showstopper and favourite on the LP was, quite fittingly, the opener "Catch Me On The Rebound." An undisputed Loleatta Holloway Salsoul disco classic, produced by the ever-reliable Norman Harris, the Tom Moulton album mix is in itself a veritable hard-hitting Philly-style tour-de-force with that infectious horn driven hook, frantic hi-hats and of course Loleatta blowing away right over top.. It does it's thing so well, it almost doesn't need a remix. So just when you think an already great track couldn't be improved on any further.. Enter Walter Gibbons.

Gibbons has become one of the most celebrated remixers of the disco era, and rightfully so. A maverick of the disco mix so to speak, Gibbons' mixing style was truly ahead of it's time. With Gibbons' mixes often drastically altering the originals, it's perhaps not so surprising that while many of his mixes were hits for listeners and dancers, his mixing style had also been known to ignite the territorial tendencies of some producers as well. While remixes that significantly alter and/or add-on to the original have become industry standard over the years, judging from what's been written (see the liner notes of "Mixed With Love - The Walter Gibbons Salsoul Anthology"), at the time his style was pioneering, innovative and even brazen. While like any artist, he had both his creative successes and missteps, to me no one quite broke things down the way Gibbons did. In other words, he wasn't so much in the business of extending and organizing as much as he was in taking the elements of a song and using the mixing process to deconstruct, reimagine and rearrange them.

So far, "Catch Me On The Rebound" has got to be one of my favourite Walter Gibbons mixes.. One of the things I love about his mixes is how he often managed to zero in on not just elements that were underplayed in the original, but elements which you never even knew existed. Case in point: those glorious, extended vocal runs and guitar licks which were either not fully audible or even present on the original. Also check the breakdown on the intro, with nothing more than a tight bassline and hissing hi-hat drawing you in, with the other layers gradually coming in further into the track introducing the different key instruments: the flute, guitar, piano, percussion and horns. Each of them gets enough space somewhere in the mix to really be heard and appreciated.. Another great part of his mix are those clever start/stop edits on the drums dramatically and effectively accentuating her vocals.. Overall, it is quite simply a flawless mix which manages to draw that balance between the richness and polish of a dancefloor stormer with the raw, spontaneous energy of an extended jam session..

That said though, for me the crowning achievement of this mix is, above all else, Gibbons' emphasis on Loleatta's vocals in all their full ferocious, soulful splendor. He'd done it before with his mix of "Hit And Run" (which I hope to put up sometime) and he does it again here just as effectively. You could tell how much Walter appreciated the presence and power of Loleatta's voice with the way he showcased it, milking that vocal for all it was worth.. So far, I don't think I've heard any of her album tracks do that quite the way Walter's mixes did. Walter seemed to know, judging from her disco-disco.com interview, what Loleatta herself knew; to capture that voice was not to rein it into strict lyrical verses, but to highlight her at her most raw, creative, expressive and improvised moments: with Loleatta goin' for herself, vamping and testifying in these explosive outbursts of raw, unadulterated emotion, strength and soul. Simply put, nothing quite captured her voice the way a Walter Gibbons mix did.

As far as the rest of the album is concerned, I'm not sure how I'd rate this compared to her other records. To be honest, even though I'm familiar with all her hits from various compilations I only have two of her albums: this one and her first Salsoul album. So far it fits the mould of the first Salsoul LP, which is split roughly evenly between uptempo tracks and ballads, and I honestly have yet to really get past the uptempo tracks.. Aside from the two big ones, "Catch Me On The Rebound" and "I May Not Be There..," "Good Good Feeling" and "Mama Don't - Papa Won't," both produced by Norman Harris, are also a couple of strong uptempo tracks. Of the ballads, the most notable is probably her version (which is certainly one of the better ones) of "You Light Up My Life" produced by Tom Moulton and the closer "I'm In Love" produced by her late husband Floyd Smith and Gordon Edwards. On that note, I'm reminded of one of her responses from her interview on disco-disco.com, where she said:
"Floyd produced mostly ballads, because he knows that I'm a ballad singer - but I got caught up in the Disco thing. With the fast songs and the fast music. But that's why he would always fight that I had ballads on my albums.... Because he fought for that, otherwise I think Norman Harris and that team all really wanted me to just do all Disco numbers.... But Floyd was like; 'NO! You'll burn her out. She'll burn out trying to sing those fast songs all night, every night.' He was right, so he put some ballads in there where I could always stop for a moment and do a ballad."
which seems to explain the roughly even split between uptempo tracks and ballads. Although the change of pace is nice and perhaps needed at times, I can't help but imagine how absolutely killer an album packed full of dance tracks would have been..

Anyway, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Loleatta was one of those artists who singlehandedly put the 'soul' in Salsoul. There's just something about Loleatta's voice - no matter what she's singing, her's was just one of the most thrilling, electrifying voices to come out of disco era. There's definitely more of her that I want to put up, but hopefully this'll do you all for now.

Just to add on to things: Thanks to YouTube I recently found some great footage of Loleatta doing a fabulous, live (believe it!), energetic performance of "I May Not Be There When You Want Me.." and sounding great, if I do say so myself.. And in case anyone is in doubt about it's authenticity, at one point she forgets the lyrics, but manages to pick things up again without missing a beat. Just one of those slight imperfections that makes it all the more real..


Loleatta Holloway - I May Not Be There When You Want Me (But I'm Right On Time) (Live TV Performance)
Uploaded by ClassicDanceHits


I'm told that this video is also available on the "Salsoul Classics" DVD from Unidisc, in case anyone's interested..

On that note, I also recommend the Unidisc CD reissue of her "Queen Of The Night" album (not to be confused with the hits collection of the same name). I haven't been able to listen to it on my stereo, which is unfortunately out of commission for now but judging from how it sounds on my iPod, the sound quality is quite good and the bonus mixes are definitely a plus.


PURCHASE:
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - QUEEN OF THE NIGHT (CD REISSUE)
AMAZON.CA | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.DE | CD UNIVERSE
MIXED WITH LOVE - THE WALTER GIBBONS SALSOUL ANTHOLOGY (3 CD SET)
AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.COM
SALSOUL 12'' GOLD MASTER SERIES, VOLUME TWO
CD UNIVERSE | AMAZON.COM
SALSOUL CLASSICS (DVD)
AMAZON.COM

LINKS:
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - QUEEN OF THE NIGHT LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - QUEEN OF THE NIGHT LP @ DISCOGS
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - I MAY NOT BE THERE WHEN YOU WANT ME 12'' @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - I MAY NOT BE THERE WHEN YOU WANT ME 12'' @ DISCOGS
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - CATCH ME ON THE REBOUND 12" @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY - CATCH ME ON THE REBOUND 12" @ DISCOGS
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY INTERVIEW @ DISCO-DISCO.COM
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY @ JAHSONIC
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY @ DISCOMUSEUM
MS. FUNKYFLYY'S LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY PAGE
ROBERT CHRISTGAU REVIEWS LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY
DIVAZOO: LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY @ WIKIPEDIA

WALTER GIBBONS @ DISCOGS
WALTER GIBBONS @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
WALTER GIBBONS - MIXED WITH LOVE CD (REVIEW) @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
TIM LAWRENCE: MIXED WITH LOVE - THE MUSICAL WORLD OF WALTER GIBBONS
WALTER GIBBONS @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM

CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO

Friday, February 23, 2007

Article: Can You Feel The Force?

Just came across a good little article on Disco through the Deep House Page forums and the Chic Tribute website. It was just published today in The Guardian, so thought some of you out there might want to read it in case you haven't already..

Although I question the claim that Chic "wrote and produced 16 albums" during the disco era I stand corrected, grand total 1977-1983 (incl. the two unreleased and Soup For One) is 16, otherwise some great quotes and insight..

And also, a little bit of news at the end regarding a possible Chic box set in May (say it ain't so!).. Can't wait to get more details on that!

Can you feel the force?

Thirty years ago, disco music bestrode the globe like an afro-haired, stack-heeled colossus. Paul Lester digs out his glitter ball and talks to some of the musicians who led the dance

Friday February 23, 2007
The Guardian

Think of 1977: the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten as the anti-Christ, God Save the Queen in the charts during the silver jubilee summer, the Clash's landmark debut album, the Jam draping the Union flag over their amps, Elvis Costello spitting revenge and guilt, the Ramones and Television and Blondie and Talking Heads coming over from New York. But there was more to 1977 than punk. The charts were dominated by MOR behemoths - Fleetwood Mac's Rumors and the Eagles' Hotel California - and if you were looking for a musical movement to define the year, one that came up from clubs, you wouldn't look to CBGBs or the Roxy. You'd look instead to the records that were played in a New York club called Paradise Garage.



In 1977, disco bestrode the globe like an afro-haired, stack-heeled colossus. There had been disco records before, notably Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby and George McCrae's Rock Your Baby. But by 1977, disco - dance music's logical next step after the orchestrated, soul-based Philadelphia sound of the early 70s - came to seem less like a series of wonderful flukes and more like the soundtrack to a pop era. The Trammps and Tavares, Thelma Houston and T-Connection, the Brothers Johnson and the Fatback Band were all over the radio and the charts. The real indicator of its popularity was that other artists latched on and began to "go disco", with Marvin Gaye one of the first to succumb with Got to Give It Up, Abba following suit, and even behemoths of white rock - notably the Rolling Stones, Kiss and Rod Stewart - getting in on the act.

The year also saw the debut British chart entries from disco's prime movers, Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire. And, in March, the Bee Gees' manager, Robert Stigwood, made a phone call to his charges that cemented forever the popular perception of disco: he asked the Gibb brothers to provide new songs for the soundtrack to his latest project, a movie called Saturday Night Fever. Finally, there was a bolt of sequencer-driven electro-disco strangeness called I Feel Love by Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder, one of two trailblazing singles from summer 1977 that transformed the way people thought about popular music - the other being God Save the Queen.

"My vision of the disco era was that it was the most liberating time we ever had in America," says Nile Rodgers, guitarist and co-leader of Chic. Rodgers and his musical partner, bassist Bernard Edwards, were the Lennon and McCartney of the dancefloor. The genre bequeathed countless brilliant one-off singles, but the work of Rodgers and Edwards - whose distinctive sound graced Chic's records and productions for Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, Carly Simon and many more - had the consistency, creative edge and prodigious output of a classic band.

"I'm a child of the 60s," says Rodgers. "I was very influenced by the psychedelic hippie movement, and I was 13 the first time I took LSD. My parents were beatniks, but after they divorced my mom married a white man so our home was very multicultural, open and cool, with poetry, bebop and jazz. And downtown New York was an incredible melting pot of nationalities." But the 1960s, he says, were nowhere near as liberated as the 70s. One reason was Vietnam.

"Disco came out after Vietnam," says George McCrae, whose 1974 smash Rock Your Baby, which sold 11m copies, was disco's Heartbreak Hotel. "There was so much turmoil. People were down and they wanted to escape. It was a dark, terrible time after the civil rights movement. There was a revolution, and disco came at the right moment. It was escapism, like in the 20s after the depression, with the Charleston. People needed to dance. My song I Get Lifted was meant to lift up the people. I had another one called You Can Have It All. There were messages in the music."

Helen Scott-Leggins of the Three Degrees, who made the transition from Philly sound to disco with a string of singles produced by Giorgio Moroder in the late 1970s, takes a slightly different view. She believes the emergence of this new strain of dance music signalled a shift of focus: "Five years earlier it was all about the words, with artists like Sly [Stone], Marvin and Curtis trying to make serious album statements. But during disco, the revolution was in the rhythms."

She also recalls the sense of adventure and mad ambition. "We had fun with the choreography, that's for sure. But some of our outfits - what were we thinking?" she laughs, drawing comparisons between the peacockery of punk and disco. "Punk was an extension of disco; it was just a little more extreme with the piercings and tattoos and different-colour hair. But they had a lot in common. The disco style was outrageous: the bell-bottoms and hot pants, the hairdos, huge eyelashes. When I look back at some of the costumes I think, 'woah, we were running a risk, weren't we?' We could have been arrested!"

For Steven Collazo, the musical director of Odyssey, disco was a time of tensions: between musicianship and mechanisation, between what he calls the "plastic clubs" that played commercial disco and the underground where the harder stuff got aired, and between the latent violence of mainstream hetero discos and the carefree exuberance he witnessed on the gay scene that helped spawn the movement .

"I learned at the 'plastic clubs' to never raise my arms above the imaginary homosexual line, ie above the eyebrows, otherwise the sphincter police would arrest you," says Collazo. But he's got a serious point. "I'm not gay, but I remember one amazing night when I was 18, going to this huge gay club in New York called the Paradise Garage. It was almost like a blueprint for a future society, devoid of social or sexual barriers in an atmosphere of total abandon. I'll never forget that night."

Nor will he forget some of the murkier elements that fuelled disco, such as narcissism and narcotics. "People were like, 'I want to look fly, because I am fly - I ain't got much money but tonight I'm going to put my glad rags on.' There was a sense of desperation in their pursuit of pleasure, and a related upturn in drug use. Cocaine and a lot of other drugs bubbled up into the disco scene, especially the plastic clubs, whereas in the underground clubs it was pot, blotter acid - little sheets of paper you'd stick on your tongue - or more exotic substances like peyote. So you'd have this beautiful symphonic disco music playing, and meanwhile all these people with their metabolism running high, all pumped-up and drugged out. It could get pretty ugly."

Disco's "dark side" can be seen in its most commercially successful manifestation. Saturday Night Fever, released in December 1977, is one of the bleakest mainstream movies ever made in the name of escapist entertainment. In it, John Travolta plays Tony Manero, a blue-collar drone whose balletic grace on the dancefloor is a means of escape from his miserable, working-class life in Brooklyn.

"It was no more or less bleak than the working-class lives of people in Liverpool going out on a Friday or Saturday night," says Chris Amoo of the Real Thing, whose Star Wars-inflected Can You Feel the Force was the UK's finest contribution to disco.

Nevertheless, the image of Travolta as Manero in that suit doing that dance seemed to fix disco in people's minds as comically effete, while the increasingly ubiquitous nature of disco on the radio enraged rock fans, who felt their music was being squeezed off the airwaves.

Hence, the "disco sucks" campaign, barely two years after the genre's emergence. On July 12 1979, DJs Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, along with Michael Veeck (son of Chicago baseball club owner Bill Veeck), staged a promotional event with an anti-disco theme - Disco Demolition Night - between games at a White Sox double-header. The event involved exploding disco records, and ended in a riot. Disco's nadir coincided with probably its greatest achievement: the arrival at No 1 in the charts barely two weeks later of Chic's Good Times, the track that begat rap, sampling (nowadays, Chic are more sampled than James Brown or Kraftwerk) and the polished R&B of today.

For Tavares, whose music featured on the epochal Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Rose Royce and the other acts, disco is full of happy memories: of winning Grammys and being chased down the street by excitable fans, of being right there at the centre of the disco storm.

But for Nile Rodgers, there remain mixed feelings about the period Chic dominated with their "diatonic, cool chromatic chords", harmonically complex melodies and disco symphonies influenced by Prokofiev and Ravel. A period during which he and Bernard Edwards, as the Chic Organisation, wrote and produced 16 albums, made the biggest-selling single in Warners' history (Le Freak) and, virtually on their own, turned disco into an art form.

"We provided the soundtrack for a new, upwardly mobile, black middle-class," he says. "But we always subverted the message. That's the paradox of Chic: we had this fantasy of jet-setting disco superstardom, and later we lived it. But remember where I came from - I was a subsection leader of the Black Panthers, and I was passionate about this radical movement.

"Before long, though, we became successful - very successful - and I would have said it was devastating but I weathered it," he says of Chic's punishing schedule and attendant distractions. "The lifestyle of excess took its toll on us physically as well as mentally - that was pretty apparent. The problem is we became accustomed to success. And then came the backlash ." He says of the "disco sucks" period: "I don't mean to be a conspiracy theorist but I was there, and it was like we had the plague. It was horrible."

And then he remembers that "amazing universal movement" and the album Chic produced for Diana Ross in 1980, Diana ("It was so angular, dark and avant-garde - listen to how weird it is") and a recent New Yorker Top 10 of the Most Influential NYC bands ever and suddenly disco doesn't seem like a dirty word.

"Where were Chic in the list?" he savours the question one more time because he knows the answer, and it's a good one. "Above the Ramones, man. Above the Ramones."

The Best Disco in Town tour, featuring George McCrae, Rose Royce, Tavares, Odyssey, the Three Degrees and the Real Thing starts in May. A Chic box-set will be released by WEA in May.

LINKS:
GUARDIAN UNLIMITED - MUSIC: DISCO - CAN YOU FEEL THE FORCE? (FRIDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2007)

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
BBC RADIO 2 - THE RECORD PRODUCERS: NILE RODGERS (JANUARY 6, 2007)


CATEGORIES: ARTICLES & RAMBLINGS, DISCO NEWS

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Disco Delivery #35:
Montreal featuring Uchenna Ikejiani (1979, Salsoul)



Montreal feat. Uchenna Ikejiani - Higher And Higher
Montreal feat. Uchenna Ikejiani - If You Believe In Me
Montreal feat. Uchenna Ikejiani - Under The Lights of Montreal

As promised earlier, some Canadian disco this time around..

One of the things that Montreal is well known for, then and now, is most probably it's vibrant nightlife and cultural scene. Even after the 1970s, when Montreal was surpassed by Toronto as Canada's largest business centre, culturally speaking Montreal was and still is in a class of it's own. The sheer amount and quality of disco records that came out of Montreal in the late '70s and early 80s was one significant indication of that. I don't have a specific number, but just going by my own digging experience, the number of disco records coming out of Montreal far outnumbered anything from anywhere else in Canada.. Just a list of some of the more prolific disco producers out of Montreal: Michel Daigle and Dominic Sciscente (Black Light Orchestra, Alma Faye Brooks); Tony Green (France Joli); George Lagios and Pat Deserio (Bombers, Bob-A-Rela); George Cucuzzella and Peter Di Milo (Erotic Drum Band, Nightlife Unlimited) and of course Gino Soccio and the husband/wife team of Denis and Denyse LePage behind Lime who need no introduction.. Another one to add to the list would have to be Joe La Greca, who helmed this project. La Greca would produce (or otherwise have his hand in) some pretty significant Montreal disco, like, for example Kat Mandu's "The Break," the first Lime LP and of course, a great deal of Carol Jiani's material. La Greca's collaboration with Carol Jiani began with this album with Carol featured under her real name, Uchenna Ikejiani. Recorded in 1978, but released the following year by Salsoul, evidently this LP was her very first recording and along with MTL Express (1978, Unidisc), one of the earliest La Greca productions I've come across..

This past November, Carol did a webchat of sorts on the discomusic.com forums, which yielded some interesting and often entertaining answers (the lady loved her booze!).. According to her answers on the webchat, she met Joe LaGreca while at Montreal's Concordia University, through a studio musician they both knew. When asked about any more specific memories/details regarding the making of this album, she replied:
ALL I REMEMBER FROM THE DAYS OF MONTREAL ALBUM WAS THE AMOUNT OF WINE AND CHAMPAGNE ETCC LOVED THOSE WILD DAYS WE ARE CALMER NOW

..which gave me a little chuckle. Sounds like she was a lot of fun back then..

Anyway, it also reminded me of a story I was told by a guy I was in contact with a few years back.. Unfortunately, I've since lost contact with him, but he was apparently a good friend of Carol's back in Montreal. I probably shouldn't tell this story, but anyway, the jist of it was that the woman on the cover was not Carol, but in fact, a model called in at the last minute.. Evidently Carol was scheduled, but unable to make the photo shoot. As for why.. well, let's just say it fits into a certain pattern developing here...

As far as the album itself goes, this one has to go down as one of my favourite Joe La Greca productions. Like most of the albums he was involved with, there was a real percussion-heavy style to it with this deep, dense drum on the bottom along with this flat, crashing, cascading drum sound layered right on top.. That flat, heavy crashing drum in particular seemed to be a trademark on many La Greca productions and that generally percussion-heavy style on other Montreal disco as well (ie. Erotic Drum Band). With that, there's also a certain stripped-down efficiency to the album's sound; all the tracks are started off and and anchored by this identical, sharp, choppy hi-hat sound along with those hypnotic, supple basslines (courtesy of Serge LaMarche). Granted, while that may have been the backbone, there are also a great deal of effects on the backup vocals as well as those striking, punctuated blasts of horn and/or synth in the mix. While putting all of that together may sound slick on paper, it didn't sound quite as such on record. Perhaps the prominence of that bass and hi-hat anchor, Jiani's simple yet effective vocals, or perhaps the bits of rock guitar and unadorned piano trills give it something of an unpolished, uncomplicated, stripped-down quality. Though given that Salsoul had an interest in the album, it may have had a bigger budget attached to it than some other Montreal disco albums of the time, yet that simple, efficient, rough-around-the-edges aesthetic is still very evident on the album, which also seems typical of quite a bit of Montreal disco. While perhaps necessitated by financial limitations, it's become something of a trademark and at least in this case, a rather refreshing one. When executed as it is on this album, it's not so much a detraction, but something which manages to give the record it's own exciting and engaging quality without being overly slick and polished..

Of the three tracks on the album (yes, only three), the first track which captured me was the Side Two opener, "Higher and Higher." Opening with that hypnotic hi-hat and bass along with those light, but loopy synths, this track just had an instantly captivating quality to it. That urgent vocal combined with that relentless bass which lures you in, backed by those horns keeping you hooked and finishing the job. Before you know it, you're half-way through the track and lost in the middle of some kind of musical labryinth where things really start to get trippy (check out those crazy, high-flying vocal effects). It's not so much an ecstatic, euphoric high that this track alludes to, but a darker, wilder, more mysterious and entrancing one. It's one of those tracks which draws a fine balance between the rhythmic and the electronic, with the bass and horns commanding your attention and those key, yet understated synth parts and vocal effects creating that soaring, trance-like atmosphere..

The big draw on the album, given it's length was likely "If You Believe In Me," with all thirteen minutes covering Side One. I have to say, I love the layered, spacious mix on this track, which has more breaks than you can shake a stick at. Much like "Higher and Higher," the track is carried by that hi-hat/bass combo, although with a much greater melodic emphasis particularly with that piano in the mix giving it a slightly lighter touch. A lighter touch in the beginning at least, before descending into an extended orgy of crashing drums and percussion; mad, menacing loopy synths and that aural haze of cooing, moaning, whooping vocals in the background. The whole track, especially in the second half, also has this inescapable tension between light, ordered melodic sanity and all-out rhythmic madness, with the track continually switching back and forth between the two. Slightly chaotic perhaps, but oddly captivating nonetheless.

With that though, if there's any track on the album that exemplified rhythmic madness, it's the last track, "Under The Lights of Montreal." Completely instrumental, it's the only track on the album not featuring Carol (AKA Uchenna) in any audible capacity. Much like the other tracks, the first half of the song is tempered by an understated piano keeping things rather light and pleasant before the second half. At that point, the drums break loose and the whole thing descends into this penetrating, unyielding, almost tribal dancefloor voodoo. The shortest track on the album, but perhaps the most intense.

As far as Carol's vocal is concerned, comparing it to her later records, her relative inexperience seems evident on here. Perhaps it was her youth, or that maybe she was half-in-the-bag while recording (kidding!). Whatever the case, let's just say at this point her voice hadn't yet grown into the full, husky and gutsy instrument that it would later become. If anything though, while the fullness wasn't there, there was still that certain unpretentious gutsiness to that mananged to be completely endearing and captivating at the same time, in spite of her limitations. If anything, it was not a voice that would be (or even could be) reduced to cooing breathily in the background. I suppose in that way it sort of reminds me of Madonna's early recordings. It's often said, especially with her first album, that what Madonna lacked in range and general vocal prowess she made up for in attitude and spunkiness. I'd say the same thing for Carol's voice on this album. While she would be capable much more depth and power than this album or that my Madonna comparison would indicate, on these recordings she definitely has that distinct personality to her voice which makes up the difference.

Regardless of that, a few years after this she would have her big breakthrough with "Hit N' Run Lover." It wasn't just a breakout hit for her, but the gift that kept on giving so to speak. Not only was it remixed for it's US release, but Carol herself has re-recorded it at least twice, most recently last year in 2006.

Evidently, Jiani would later leave Montreal for the UK, where she would work with Ian Levine on a few singles as well as re-record "Hit N' Run Lover" among other things. So far, her last full-length album was "Superstar" (1996, Popular/Lime, Inc.), which I believe was a Canadian-only release and reunion of sorts with the Montreal crew. In my opinion, that album was one fabulously hyper-produced euro-fied 1990's Ni-NRG effort, which I'll admit has become one of my most cherished guilty pleasures.. These days, based in London, Jiani has been on something of a comeback trail recently, with not only the re-recording of "Hit N' Run Lover," but evidently some new recordings on the way (covers mostly). Either way, it's good to hear a diva from back in the day releasing new material. Check her Myspace to hear one of the newest versions of "Hit N' Run Lover."

As far as LaGreca is concerned, I'm not sure what he's been up to lately, but one of the last things I've seen him credited on was the Los del Mar version of the infamous "Macarena," the cash-in copycat of the Los del Rio original, which will undoubtedly be a mainstay of '90s nostalgia in years to come (God help us)..

Although Joe La Greca is credited as the primary producer on this album, the album's co-producers, Dominic Sciullo and Guy Rheaume as well as it's mixers, the late Bobby 'DJ' Guttadaro (one of the first superstar DJs) and David Rodriguez, Jr. likely deserve a good deal of credit for the record's sound as well. Interestingly, after this album one of the co-producers, Dominic Sciullo along with this album's executive producer, Vincent Ciambrone would produce a record called "Boogie People" (1979, Magnum/GRT). Although that record isn't quite as good as this (at least in my opinion), it had a slightly similar sound and feel to this album, which seems to confirm their contribution to this LP. Given also, how influential the mixing process was for many disco records, the (most likely) Salsoul-appointed mixers Guttadaro and Rodriguez were probably responsible for giving the finished product a good bit of extra polish and focus as well..

Overall though, this record to me is one of the more significant documents of the Montreal disco sound, an early pairing of one of it's biggest producers with one of it's biggest singers. Certainly one of the more interesting albums to come out of Salsoul, and in it's own right, an excellent albeit brief document of some of the eclectic disco sounds that were coming out of Montreal during this time.

So far the only track off this album to make it to CD is "Higher and Higher," which was included in the recent compilation Salsoul Presents Disco Trance and Cosmic Flavas (2006, Salsoul/Suss'd)

I should also add: that Montreal logo on the album cover is so awesome, it ought to be on a t-shirt..

LINKS:
MONTREAL FEATURING UCHENNA IKEJIANI LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
MONTREAL FEATURING UCHENNA IKEJIANI LP @ DISCOGS
CAROL JIANI @ MYSPACE
CAROL JIANI'S OFFICIAL SITE
CAROL JIANI @ DISCOGS
CAROL JIANI @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
CAROL JIANI WEBCHAT (NOVEMBER 2006) @ DISCOMUSIC.COM FORUMS
CAROL JIANI (AKA UCHENNA IKEJIANI) @ DISCOMUSEUM
JOE LA GRECA @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
JOE LA GRECA @ DISCOGS
BOBBY ''DJ'' GUTTADARO @ DISCOGS
BOBBY ''DJ'' GUTTADARO @ DISCOMUSEUM.COM

PURCHASE:
SALSOUL PRESENTS DISCO TRANCE AND COSMIC FLAVAS (INCLUDES ''HIGHER AND HIGHER'') | AMAZON.COM | DUSTYGROOVE.COM

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
SUNSHINE ON MY MIND... (JANUARY 7, 2007)


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

One year, one month and eleven days of Disco Delivery..



I originally planned to do this on the one year anniversary of the blog, so yes, I'm way late with this.. I figure better now than never though.

Anyway, just wanted to do a look back at some selections from the 2006 blog entries, just in case anyone missed any. I originally planned to put all of the files back up for a limited period of time, but I figured that would take a bit too much time to re-rip (given that my early rips were shit) and to find file space, so I figure this was the next best thing.

Soon, to follow-up on this I will be re-posting the files (plus one more) from the first entry on The Supremes' Mary Scherrie & Susaye LP.. If anyone out there hasn't heard The Supremes' "Come Into My Life," now's your chance.. Possibly the best thing ever done by The Supremes. Ever. It's that good.

Thanks to everyone who has linked me, left me comments and sent me emails over the past year. It's much appreciated!

Enjoy..

The Supremes - Come Into My Life
from Disco Delivery #1
Norma Jean Wright - Sorcerer (12'' Version)
from Disco Delivery #2
Frisky - You've Got Me Dancing In My Sleep
from Disco Delivery #3
Wilson Pickett - Groove City
from Disco Delivery #4
Giorgio Moroder - Utopia-Me Giorgio
from Disco Delivery #5
First Choice - The Player
from Disco Delivery #6
Sylvester - Sex (An Ian Levine Remix)
from Disco Delivery #7
Cissy Houston - Think It Over
from Disco Delivery #8
Karen Silver - Make Me Feel Alright
from Disco Delivery #9
Linda Clifford - Runaway Love (12'' Version)
from Disco Delivery #10
Phylicia Allen - Around The World
from Disco Delivery #11
Damon Harris - It's Music
from Disco Delivery #12
Madleen Kane - Let's Make Love
from Disco Delivery #13
Suzi Lane - Ooh La La
from Disco Delivery #14
Brenda & The Tabulations - Let's Go All The Way (Down) (Extended Version)
from Disco Delivery #16
Claudja Barry - Dance, Dance, Dance (A Tom Moulton Mix)
from Disco Delivery #18
The Mike Theodore Orchestra - High On Mad Mountain
from Disco Delivery #19
Hott City - Feelin' Love
from Disco Delivery #20
Beautiful Bend - Ah-Do It
from Disco Delivery #21
Spinners - One, One, Two, Two, Boogie Woogie Avenue (Home Of The Boogie, House Of The Funk
from Disco Delivery #22
Duncan Sisters - Boys Will Be Boys
from Disco Delivery #23
Love & Kisses - Accidental Lover
from Disco Delivery #24
Rinder & Lewis - Blue Steel
from Disco Delivery #25
A Taste of Honey - Dance
from Disco Delivery #26
Noel - Dancing Is Dangerous/Is There More To Life Than Dancing?
from Disco Delivery #27
Montana - Warp Factor II
from Disco Delivery #28
First Choice - Pressure Point
from Disco Delivery #29
Isaac Hayes Movement - Disco Connection
from Disco Delivery #30

Tantra - The Hills Of Katmandu
from Fly with you to the misty hills of Katmandu..
The Sisters Love - Give Me Your Love (Danny Krivit Re-edit)
from Give Me Your Love..
Eve John - Mutual Physical Attraction
from Mutual... physical... attraction

**Files will be up for exactly two weeks from today**


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tonight..

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Barbara York - Tonight (1983, Smash One Music)

Note: FYI, this file has a much lower bitrate than what I usually post..

Although I've made exceptions in the past, I've had this rule for myself, especially when it comes to vinyl: to only post things that I actually have in my collection, as opposed to mp3s that I've downloaded or have been given. Although lately, after some of the great mp3s I've downloaded and that others have given me (like this one), I'll probably be breaking that rule more often now...

Anyway, on to the music...

Today's file is courtesy of a reader, Wayne, who very kindly sent me the file and cover scans to this delightful little slab of funky italo.. A great little record from '83, driven by that sharp, sleek guitar right up front, which along with those echoed vocal effects, just hook you instantly.. Additionally, that quintessentially 80's whistling synth along with Barbara York's (not her real name, I'm quite sure) vocal both work beautifully on this track. In this case, the singers' exceptionally full vocals more than made up for her thickly accented and at times incomprehensible English. It probably speaks to the fact that the singer on this record actually had some modicum of vocal talent, whatever the linguistic limitations.. Anyway, it hardly matters. It seems that was something common with many Italo-disco records (projects with American vocalists like Change excepted); if the record was musically strong, it didn't so much detract from it as much as add to the distinctive charm of the whole thing..

So maybe some might not agree with me calling this record 'funky', and okay, so it probably doesn't throw-down with some of the serious funksters out there; regardless of that though, there's a definite urbane, American aesthetic to this record. As far as Italo goes, it probably has more in common with the American influenced sound of Change or the B.B. & Q Band than say, Ken Laszlo, Klein & M.B.O, Tantra etc. I guess to put it more specifically, for me, "Tonight," sounds something like Easy Going meets Change, if you will.. It's probably no wonder, considering that this record was, along with Pino Toma, co-produced by Giancarlo Meo who, along with Claudio Simonetti, was also the producer behind Easy Going, Kasso, Vivien Vee etc.. Also, this track and a couple of the earlier Barbara York singles were produced with not only Meo, but with people like Davide Romani and Paolo Gianolio (who co-wrote this track) in prominent roles. Romani and Gianolio, aside from writing or co-writing a great deal of the tracks off Change's awesome "Glow Of Love" and "Miracles" albums are also alleged, given their prominent roles, to have deserved full production credit alongside Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi on those records.

Anyway, to me Italo is definitely one of the most interesting fields of disco out there.. I've explored it in bits and pieces so far, but so far it's not exactly something I've really explored in a great deal of depth. So far though, one thing I love about Italo is how diverse it was in it's own right, often going from the sleek, American influenced variety (i.e. Change, B.B. & Q Band and other Petrus/Malavasi productions) to the electronic disco of Tantra, Azoto and to the irresistably melodic pop music of, say Gazebo to name one example.. Also, not to exclude the contributions of Giorgio Moroder and La Bionda either.. Generally speaking, another thing I love is that great, inescapable sense of melody that many Italian records I've come across seem to have. In a way that applies to a great deal of my favourite European pop music as well. As far as European pop goes though, I'd have to say that both the Italians and the Swedes seem to have the greatest melodic sensibility out there..

All that aside, hope some of you out there enjoy this one. Again, special thanks to Wayne for the file and the scans.

LINKS:
BARBARA YORK - TONIGHT 12'' @ DISCOGS
GIANCARLO MEO @ DISCOGS
GIANCARLO MEO @ WIKIPEDIA
FREESTYLE ROOTS: JACQUES FRED PETRUS & MAURO MALAVASI

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #17: TANTRA - MOTHER AFRICA (1981, UNIDISC) (APRIL 29, 2006)


CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Disco Delivery #34:
Unyque - Makes Me Higher... (1979, DJM)



Unyque - Keep On Making Me High
Unyque - Party Down
Unyque - It's Hot
Unyque - Disco Lullaby
Unyque - Grand Slam

A little something on the lighter side this week courtesy of producers Freida Nerangis and Britt Britton (AKA Vernon Britton).

Nerangis and Britton were, most notably, behind most of the albums by the Crown Heights Affair (as their producers, and apparently their managers). Aside from Crown Heights Affair, Nerangis and Britton were also behind a couple of one-off projects, namely Made in U.S.A. and this album.

Released 1979 on the American arm of big-time music publisher Dick James' DJM Records label, the sound on this project is, quite appropriately, significantly different from their work with Crown Heights Affair and on the Made in U.S.A. album.. Taking the essence of their style and kicking up the disco quotient a few notches, "Makes Me Higher..." is nothing more and nothing less than a straightforward, richly produced, high-energy disco album. That's not to say that it necessarily bears a direct resemblance to the sharp, electronic pulse of early '80s Hi-NRG, yet pretty much all the tracks, compared to their previous work, have a faster, heavier, propulsive, dare-you-not-to-dance groove to it. All of the elements on the album seemingly working together in beat-by-beat unison towards a single goal: to get you up on the dancefloor, partying down, getting high on the music (and perhaps other things as well). In that way it differs somewhat from the big-band disco-funk groove of, say, their production on Crown Heights Affair's "Dreaming A Dream," or tracks like "Melodies" and "Never Gonna Let You Go," by Made in U.S.A., all of which seem to have a lighter, more easy-going groove to them. In addition to the tempo, and perhaps the more streamlined backing tracks, the lyrics on the album are never one to get in the way of the overall guiding purpose either. They are, to paraphrase Grace Jones, slaves to the rhythm, for the most part. It's that sort of thing which often makes the lyrics on this and other disco albums easy targets for rock critics. Take those countdown lyrics on "It's Hot," and "Grand Slam," which, particularly in the former, seem to resemble nursery rhymes put to a beat.. Less of a singers' showcase and more of a key layer of rhythmic vocal accompaniment, if nothing else. Putting aside any rockist tendencies however, that's not to say they are in any way awful. A bit on the clichéd side perhaps, but nevertheless, they serve their purpose well, doing their dancefloor duty like nothing else.

The most arresting track on the album is, quite appropriately, the opener "Keep On Making Me High," with those uplifting vocals, hypnotic handclaps lead by that irresistable piano-guitar-horn combo. Those vocals, along with the horns are probably the key uplifting element in all this, especially when the vocals hit that peak verse: "...and when I get it going...I'm gonna reach the sky.." Just the way the vocals gradually phase out after that verse, the best way I can describe the effect, is like a kind of hypnotic disco trance.. That relentless tempo, those sublime vocals, bright horns and sharp, spellbinding guitar all conspiring to seduce the listener to it's groove.. Literally taking the listener along, climbing high with the music. Topping it all off, there's also that great flamenco style break towards the end. The idea of it probably seems harsh and abrupt, but the result is actually beautifully surprising. It's like the tracks' culmination into a kind of lavish, twirling, exotic disco dream sequence, if you will..

The review of the album on discomusic.com mentions that "Keep On Making Me High" appears to be influenced a great deal by Evelyn "Champagne" King's "Shame" (minus the drama, of course). For whatever reason, I never really connected the dots until after listening to the two tracks back to back, but the combination of those piano chord progressions in certain places and that bold brass sound are probably the first things that strike me as similar.. It's most likely those similarities which might explain why, at first listen, "..Making Me High" manages to sound so appealing, yet so oddly familiar at the same time..

The other two tracks on side one pretty much pick up where "Keep On Making Me High" left off, never letting up on the groove, continuing that relentless dancefloor pace. "Party Down," is perhaps the other major standout on the A-side, especially with that sharp, infectious guitar work right up front, along with that galloping percussion and ever present horn section propelling things along. While "..Making Me High" was elevation, "Party Down" is just pure and simple, straight-ahead, full-tilt boogie.. The peak point is probably towards the end (or at least three-quarters of the way through) where one section starts off with that guitar refrain, followed by that wild synth effect (sounding like a kind of like a processed funk guitar), then followed by the horns and then all three together. A perfect breakdown if there ever was one..

"Disco Lullaby," the side two opener is, despite it's title, no snoozer. Highlighted by pretty male/female duet vocals and punctuated by a propulsive guitar/bass/drum combination, singlehandedly emphasizing the 'disco' element. The tempo is just as fast as the other tracks, yet it's perhaps the one song on the LP that comes closest to the more carefree 'fa-la-la-la' kind of groove Nerangis and Britton achieved on some of their earlier productions. It's allure is a little gentler, the vocals and lyrics given more detail and emphasis than on the other tracks. To be sure, a welcome change of pace; takes things down just enough to give a touch of variety, yet not so much that it breaks the mood and continuity of the whole thing..

The closer, "Grand Slam," with it's baseball metaphor for dancefloor cruising: "...when I'm through I'll get you all alone.. when I do I'm gonna drive it home.. ", takes things up a few notches again, working that background guitar for all it's worth... After the softer touch of "Disco Lullaby," this one takes things full circle in a way. That refrain as well as that tense, escalating guitar break/buildup towards the middle just totally get me going....

As far as the personnel on the album are concerned, interestingly no members of Crown Heights Affair or Made in U.S.A. are present. The most prolific contributor is Carlos Franzetti (mispelled as Carlos Frazetti on the album), credited for horn arrangements. After that, the only other contributor with traceable credits is one of the vocalists, Laurie Bogin, who had previously released an album in 1975 called "The Exceptional Laurie Bogin" (1975, Buddah).

So far, the Unyque LP is one of the last Nerangis/Britton productions that I've come across.. Into the 1980's, it would seem Nerangis and Britton would no longer be involved with the Crown Heights Affair, with Bert DeCoteaux producing their first album of the 1980's "Sure Shot" (1980, De-Lite) and later on group members Ray Reid and William Anderson taking production duties on their own albums and on other projects. Aside from this, one of the last productions by Nerangis/Britton (that I've come across anyway) were a couple of songs, "Brand New Key" and "Addicted To Your Love," by a singer named Jolina in 1980, also for the DJM label. Not sure if there was an album or any more singles for Jolina, but after that, there is pretty much no trace of any more productions by Nerangis and Britton. So far, the last thing I've seen Britt Britton involved in, was as the writer for a 1998 single by singer Anthony Moriah called "The Reality". Despite no longer being in the music business, a search on Freida Nerangis, however, had the most up-to-date information. Currently, Nerangis is the Executive Director for The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc., a New York theatre comapny whose mission is, according to their website: "...to present live theatre performances by and about black people to a culturally diverse audience that is often underserved by the theatrical community..."

To sum up, overall, the Unyque album is probably not the most distinctive or ambitious disco album out there; no paeans to survival or lost love and thankfully, no uninspired insipid ballads for the sake of "versatility" either. That said, it's hardly a detraction in this case. In fact, there's probably something to be said for the album's consistency. It's grooves singlehandedly aim for the dancefloor and that's exactly where it hits. The focus was danceability, no more, no less; it's perhaps that very thing which makes this album as consistent and solidly satisfying as it is.

Unfortunately, this album isn't on CD, nor are any of the tracks off of it. So far, I have yet to find any compilation CDs with any of the Unyque tracks on it, but if anyone else has, feel free to let me know..

Also, just cleaned up and added a bunch of great links over on the right... Check 'em out if you haven't already.. Special mention goes out to The Message Is The Music, a great new disco presence on the blogosphere.. Updates a lot more frequently than I do too, I have to say.. So if you haven't already, check it out!

LINKS:
UNYQUE - KEEP ON MAKING ME HIGH 12'' @ DISCOGS
UNYQUE - MAKES ME HIGHER... LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
FREIDA NERANGIS @ DISCOGS
BRITT BRITTON @ DISCOGS
DJM RECORDS @ DISCOGS


CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO..

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Timing, Forget the Timing..



Black Devil Disco Club - Constantly No Respect (2006, Lo Recordings)

Black Devil - "H" Friend (1978, Out)
Black Devil - Timing, Forget The Timing (1978, Out)

For the last few years, I've been fascinated, like many others I'm sure, with the legendary cult Black Devil LP, "Disco Club" from 1978. Black Devil were Bernard Fevre and Jacky Giordano, two French library musicians who went under the aliases Joachim Sherylee and Junior Claristidge, respectively. An odd, experimental, and utterly fascinating electronic disco LP, evidently released only in Italy and in France, "Disco Club" was long confined to the dustbins of obscurity. Confined that is, until being rediscovered, years later, by P.P. Roy of Rephlex Records. It's obscurity and rediscovery are the stuff of collector legend, a classic example of the kind of "holy grail" mythology that never fails to generate interest.. Here's what one of the product descriptions say:

"Originally released on Out Records way back in 1978, Black Devil’s “Disco Club” is an extremely rare disco masterpiece, an epic journey into the deepest electronic disco ... The record was discovered by Rephlex’s own PP Roy for 20 pence at a car boot sale, and quickly found favour with friends Richard D. James and Luke Vibert. The record has received heavy road testing from Richard and Luke, and original copies are on the net for up to £200...

Keen as ever to share fantastic music, label co-founder Grant Wilson-Claridge has managed to secure the exclusive license for Rephlex, unwittingly beating Metro Area’s Morgan Geist (a long time fan) to the snap!.... It was made manually in a recording studio in the suburbs of Paris using synths and occasional tape loops and a drummer: no midi or computers...
"

Needless to say, this record is unlikely to go for less than $100 US now.. I'm not sure why Rephlex didn't just do a straight reissue of the whole thing, but somehow they, to paraphrase their All Music Guide overview, annoyingly reissued the LP in bits and pieces: a little on one 12" release, a little more on another 12'' and then the rest on a CD single.. Since they all come from one album to begin with, the obvious question would then be, why not just put the whole damn thing on a single CD already?

I can only guess, but perhaps being well aware of how lucrative it's rarity and all the mythology behind it can be (and has been) in generating interest, that may have been one reason for releasing it the way they did. Essentially, putting the music out there, while at the same time, not diminishing the attractive 'cult rarity' status of the original with a full reissue. I can only say that if that were the case, it has worked out brilliantly, even if it is frustrating for buyers/listeners to have to get multiple releases across different formats to have the whole thing. Although that probably didn't hurt either from the label's perspective..

Either way, the reissue and all the interest it generated evidently inspired Fevre (this time without Giordano - who seems to have more pressing matters to deal with) to pretty much pick up where he left off. Lo and behold, some 28 years later in 2006, a new record appears from Fevre, now under the guise Black Devil Disco Club, giving full reference to the cult record. Appropriately titled "28 After" (2006, Lo Recordings), it's probably one of my personal picks of 2006. Capturing the essence of the 1978 Disco Club LP, with it's rough, eerie, icy retro synthesized sounds, vocals processed into oblivion and smatterings of congas; the record also, in addition to it's continuity, has an unmistakably contemporary digital sheen to it. Admittedly, I'm not too well-versed in contemporary electronic music, yet to me, the combination of the two has resulted in a record that is completely distinctive, being neither of yesterday nor today, or like the original, neither "library" or typically disco but in something of a separate class altogether. While "28 After" definitely sounds more contemporary than it's predecessor, the fact that the sound bears such strong reference to and continuity with it's predecessor ultimately makes it, in a contemporary context, neither here nor there in a way. Not fashionably retro, yet not neatly contemporary either..

Given how closely the two Disco Club LPs follow in sound, yet how far apart they are in years, there are inevitable questions of whether "28 After" is really a new recording, or just unreleased stuff from the late '70s.. Again, perhaps aware of it's lucrative mystery, evidently, no one's telling. It appears that the same enigma surrounding the original LP and reissue is truly, as they say, the gift that keeps on giving... That said, I'm leaning towards them being new recordings. If they aren't new recordings, there had to have been either a great deal of remixing and/or additional production involved to have it sound the way it does. There are certain sounds and effects on this record which I don't even think were even possible in 1978, nor do I think this record would have sounded as clean as it does if it was mostly recorded some 30 years ago.

"'H' Friend" and "Timing, Forget The Timing," are, to me, the standouts on the original "Disco Club" album. Listen to the intro of "'H' Friend," with what certainly seems like a clear reference to Giorgio Moroder's "From Here To Eternity." While evidently inspired by the Moroder record, both tracks differ in that they have a noticeably darker, less polished, more abrasive quality than Moroder's work; like Moroder on acid if you will. On both records, the vocals are so processed in places, to the point where they resemble a kind of distant, menacing foghorn. That paired with their relentless, hypnotic pulse make a couple of records so striking and odd, you can't help but wonder what kind of madness had to be at work there.

If anything, it's definitely not your typical disco. As fascinating as it is listening to it, it's still hard to imagine your typical disco DJ playing it. Checking the comments on the album's discomusic.com entry though, evidently there was at least one DJ from back in the day who played it..

"..This is an amazing RE-discovery. . . I bought this at a DJ import store in New Orleans around 1979? or so. . .was always amazed that it got a floor in the first place. A fellow DJ was even cheeky enough to follow Alicia Bridges' "I Love The Nightlife" with this record (first song on Black Devil) uncharacteristically early in the evening and, much to my astonishment, kept 3/4 of the floor! I always played Black Devil (usually both sides back to back) for my "late crowd" who didn't necessarily need (or want) that 4-bumps-a-measure bass drum sound.

Lordy, I will have to look in my vinyl collection that's been sitting in outdoor storage for years and see what, if any, shape this piece of vinyl is in. I always thought it was at least 20 years ahead of its time. I have been vindicated!....

M. Durio
former DJ: Parade Disco, The Civic Disco, New Orleans; original DJ Cafe Lafitte's, heart of Boys' Town, French Quarter, NOLA ca. 1979-80.

Fast-forward to today.. The track off "28 After" that seems to be generating the most buzz is "I Regret The Flower Power," a dark, propulsively moody track buried in intriguing, hypnotic and ominous sounds along with a highly processed vocal and lyric, consisting of little more than "I regret.. the flower.. power..... I regret.. this time of love.." For sure one of the boldest tracks on the EP, however my personal pick would have to be the instrumental track "Constantly No Respect." Outlined by an almost hyper, hypnotic pulse, coloured with both an eerie processed humming and bold, sharp synth textures; it's a track which is both alluring and sublime yet icy and ominous at the same time. That said, out of all the tracks on the album those two are perhaps the most representative of the deep, dark depths of disco on the EP..

Given all the buzz surrounding the release and the enigma clouding it, it's bound to have it's detractors. And so it does, evidently Tim DiGravina of the All Music Guide isn't convinced. In his review of "28 After," he quips:

"File this one under 'That Dorky Joke Isn't Funny Anymore, Never Was.' 28 After is the purported sequel to French duo Black Devil's entirely non-mythic 2004 Rephlex debut. That effort was supposedly recorded in 1978 and not reissued until 28 years later (note: was actually reissued 26 years later in 2004), hence the pun title of this release. This time around, the music is credited to one fellow, Bernard Fevre, who was supposedly working under an alias previously. Lo Recordings likes to have fun with cutesy tricks and fabricated press releases, but in the end it all comes down to the quality of the music. And whether 28 After was recorded in the '70s or the early 2000s, this is amateurish stuff....

...'I Regret the Flower Power' isn't a lark, it's one of the most unintentionally absurd 'dark' dance tunes of all time. It makes the Blue Man Group sound credible and the Bloodhound Gang look like John Cage. Not energetic or dynamic for the dancefloor and not intelligent enough for headphone listening.... That it cropped up on numerous Best-of-2006 lists shows the success of the tricky press releases or just the gullibility of critics falling for indie cooler-than-thou hype..
"

Needless to say. I don't agree with the review, but I can understand some of it's sentiments. The review seems to assume that the original "Disco Club" album was some kind of hoax or at the very least, a joke on hipsters and critics alike. At the time of it's reissue, before investigating it's background and with all the hype and the questionable release formats, I too had suspected it's authenticity (like many others, it seems). For all I knew, it could have been a retro-futuristic contemporary record masqueraded and promoted as an actual forgotten obscurity. One so obscure that it was known only by a choice few in certain elite circles, who all of the sudden were generously making it available for the rest of us to indulge in.. "Now you too can find out what the Chemical Brothers have known about for years!..." Given that, one couldn't help but detect a grain of truth in the whole "indie cooler-than-thou hype" argument. As much as that may have gained it an audience, it also seemed to make it a bit suspect, in my opinion.

That said, the more I find out, the more convinced I am of Black Devil's authenticity... Recently, Fevre has been doing the occasional live date and more recently did a radio interview at Radio Campus Paris (interview is in French, so unfortunately I can't understand, not sure if it demystifies anything either), which seem to be slowly putting a face to the whole thing. Also, the fact that there is an actual copy of the 1978 album on eBay right now as well as cover and label scans on Discogs and elsewhere all to point to Black Devil and their '78 LP being completely genuine, so in that case the All Music Guide review is mistaken. Again, while I don't agree with the assessment, I can certainly understand the skepticism, especially with the hype and mystique surrounding it. The whole thing pretty much begs to be questioned/deconstructed. Typically, being a bit of a contrarian, I'm not usually one to buy into that sort of hype. I still have to say though, as distinctive as the latest project is and as obscure, innovative and ahead of it's time as it's predecessor was, there certainly seems to be more than enough there for both records to back up their hype and stand on their own, with or without the mystique factor.

Additionally, Fevre contributed to a curious LP called "Spatial Disco 2005" (1978, Atoll), which sounds intriguing to say the least.. Also, Waxidermy has audio from one of Fevre's earlier LPs called "The Strange World of Bernard Fevre" (1975, L'illustration Musicale) if anyone's interested..

LINKS:
BLACK DEVIL - DISCO CLUB LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
BLACK DEVIL - DISCO CLUB 2006 CD SINGLE (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
BLACK DEVIL - DISCO CLUB (ITALIAN LP) @ DISCOGS
BLACK DEVIL - DISCO CLUB (FRENCH LP) @ DISCOGS
ilXor - BLACK DEVIL - DISCO CLUB (1978) EP

DISCOGS FORUMS - LIBRARY MUSIC: BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB: 28 AFTER
BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB - 28 AFTER CD @ DISCOGS
BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB - 28 AFTER CD (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
MUSIC FOR ROBOTS: THE DEVIL'S MUSIC
WOEBOT: BEDROOM DISCO
ALMOST COOL MUSIC REVIEWS: BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB - 28 AFTER
BOOMKAT - BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB -28 AFTER
PITCHFORK MEDIA: BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB - 28 AFTER
GROOVES MAGAZINE: BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB - 28 AFTER
DISSENSUS - BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB

DISCOSTYLE.COM - LIBRARY DISCO
PHAT CORNER @ RADIO CAMPUS PARIS: BERNARD FEVRE INTERVIEW (EN FRANÇAIS)

PURCHASE:
BLACK DEVIL - DISCO CLUB (3 TRACK CD SINGLE) | CDUNIVERSE.COM | AMAZON.COM
BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB - 28 AFTER CD | CDUNIVERSE.COM | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.FR | AMAZON.DE


CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, NUDISCO, PAST REISSUES, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO..

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