Saturday, January 19, 2008

Million Dollar Orchestra, Ashford & Simpson and other new/upcoming disco releases..

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but there's a small crop of exciting disco releases from this past week and coming this month that I just had to mention. At the end of the list, I also decided to put a few things from last year that I missed out on, so without further ado..

January 15th:


Al Kent Presents The Million Dollar Orchestra - Better Days (BBE)
buy @ CD UNIVERSE | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | DUSTY GROOVE
While there's quite a bit of buzz going around about this, I thought I might as well do my part and spread the word about what is perhaps one of the most exciting disco releases to come along recently (that's not a reissue or compilation, for that matter). With all the interest in disco, and how well referenced it has become, there's probably no better time than now to resurrect the disco orchestra ...

That said, while I've always felt it would be nearly impossible to truly recreate the sound and feel of classic disco today, particularly the classic sounds of Salsoul, The Crown Heights Affair, P&P and other earlier disco of the mid-70's, this album certainly comes as close as possible. Produced and concieved by Al Kent of Million Dollar Disco, those who are familiar with the rarities on the MDD "Disco Demands" compilations will likely have a good idea of the feel on here.

Having recorded the album with real strings and real musicians in a real analogue studio no less, the sound here, held down by some awesome bass playing, percussion and string sweetening manages to sound lovingly authentic without sounding dated. Although while somewhat short of the heights of, say, the grandaddies of disco orchestras - MFSB and The Salsoul Orchestra, they've captured a groove on here that retains a certain rawness, while capturing the rhythm, elegance and warmth of classic disco.. Better Days, indeed.

The return of the disco orchestra? We'll see. Nevertheless, a record that's both welcome and overdue...

To hear a sample of the tracks, go to the Million Dollar Disco website, the BBE website or the Million Dollar Orchestra's Myspace page where they have a great medley of tracks off the album. Personal favourites: "Get It Boy," "Canal Street Bus Stop" and "Feel The Music."
MILLION DOLLAR ORCHESTRA @ MILLION DOLLAR DISCO
MYSPACE - MILLION DOLLAR ORCHESTRA
MILLION DOLLAR ORCHESTRA - BETTER DAYS @ BBE
MILLION DOLLAR ORCHESTRA - BETTER DAYS @ DISCOMUSIC.COM



VA - Disco Not Disco: Post Punk, Electro & Leftfield Disco Classics 1974-1986 (Strut)
buy @ AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | CD UNIVERSE | DUSTY GROOVE
The official and welcome return of Strut Records and their highly regarded disco-not-disco series of avant-garde, leftfield disco.. Strut have set up a nice micro site to promote this @ http://www.disco-not-disco.com/ where you can hear full samples of several tracks. Perhaps a tad too leftfield for some at times, the selections are nevertheless always interesting and revealing. Given the impressive list of compilations Strut brought out during their initial four year run, it's great to see them back.
STRUT RECORDS
STRUT RECORDS (1999-2003) @ JAHSONIC
STRUT RECORDS @ DISCOGS


January 23rd:


The Trammps - S/T (1975, Golden Fleece / 2008, Epic)
buy Japanese reissue @ HMV.CO.JP | CD UNIVERSE | DUSTY GROOVE
buy the regular reissue @ CD UNIVERSE | AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.COM

A Japanese paper sleeve/mini LP reissue of their first album for the Golden Fleece label. There was initially a reissue of this album in 2002 by Epic/Sony in the US, which had unfortunately gone out of print not too long ago. Produced by Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Earl Young (AKA B-H-Y) this is a great, soulful disco record filled with the classic Philly sound. The 2002 US reissue included three bonus tracks, but this Japanese reissue includes a fourth, "Promise Me" (later included on PIR's cash-in album "Disco Champs"). Admittedly this Japanese reissue is somewhat exorbitantly priced, so aside from the used copies of the earlier out-of-print US reissue, a good alternative would be the UK release of the regular edition, which it seems was put back in print late last year.
THE TRAMMPS - S/T (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
THE TRAMMPS - S/T (2002 CD REISSUE) @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
BAKER-HARRIS-YOUNG @ DISCOGS


February 26th:


Ashford & Simpson - The Warner Brothers Years: Hits, Remixes & Rarities (Rhino)
buy @ CD UNIVERSE | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | DUSTY GROOVE
Although lamentably, the CDs of A&S's Warner albums have been out of print for some time now, this set is a definitely a welcome release. Compiled by Johnny De Mairo and enthusiastically endorsed by Nick & Val themselves, "Hits, Remixes & Rarities" is a two disc set with the originals in disc 1 and remixes on disc two. Thankfully much more than your average hits compilation, over half of the tracks on the first disc are 12" Versions, most remixed by Valerie's brother Jimmy Simpson and some released on promo only and notoriously hard to find. Case in point: track one - "Over & Over" and track four - "One More Try." Promo copies of the latter in particular have been known to fetch up to $500 even up to $700 on eBay. Curiously, the 12" version of "One More Try" was earlier set to be included on the Joey Negro compilation "Soul Of Disco, Vol. 2" (2006, Z Records) but to the disappointment of fans, apparently pulled from the tracklisting at the eleventh hour. I guess we now know why...

As an added bonus to the 12'' versions, the second disc includes remixes and re-edits by the likes of Dimitri From Paris, Joey Negro, Joe Claussell, John Morales and classic disco mixmaster himself, Tom Moulton.

It certainly seems promising that Warner went as far as to issue a press release to promote this release as a "reintroduction." Is a comeback on the horizon, perhaps? Regardless, a must-have if there ever was one!

Update: Release date pushed back from January 29th to February 26th

Note: The artwork was apparently revised not too long before this writing, included here are the two versions released..
REUTERS - LEGENDS ASHFORD & SIMPSON RELEASE ULTIMATE COMPILATION
ASHFORD & SIMPSON @ DISCOGS
ASHFORD & SIMPSON @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
SUGAR BAR NYC


Been Missed:

December 19th:


Aretha Franklin - Jump To It (1982, Arista / 2007, BMG Japan)
HMV.CO.JP | AMAZON.COM | EBAY
Aretha Franklin - Get It Right (1983, Arista / 2007, BMG Japan)
HMV.CO.JP | AMAZON.COM | EBAY
Another group of Japanese reissues, this time of some of The Queen's early 80's Arista albums. Out of the six that have been reissued (all her 80s Arista albums except for her 1980 self-titled), of note are the first two, the couple of albums produced by the late, great Luther Vandross. In my opinion, some of the brightest moments of her Arista years before it all went to crap by the end of the decade ("Through The Storm" anyone?). Although not disco per se, the sly, sassy groove of "Jump To It" was her biggest dance hit in the US and undoubtedly one of her greatest moments of the 1980's. There are some other choice funky, post-disco boogie treats on both albums such as "Get It Right" and "Every Girl Wants My Guy," which is a particular favourite of mine.

An earlier remaster was released in the US by Arista/BMG in the late 90s, along with a brief run budget-reissue in 2004 by Sony/BMG in the UK. I believe both those editions are now out of print, leaving these as the most current editions. Also packaged in a paper sleeve/mini LP style.
ARETHA FRANKLIN @ WIKIPEDIA
ARETHA FRANKLIN - JUMP TO IT LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
ARETHA FRANKLIN - GET IT RIGHT LP (REVIEW) @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE


October 29th:


VA - Deep Disco Culture, Vol. 2 (2007, Suss'd)
buy @ AMAZON.CO.UK | CD UNIVERSE | DUSTY GROOVE | SOUNDS OF THE UNIVERSE
Brought to you by the same folks behind the Salsoul Flavas compilations, comes a second set of rarities in their Deep Disco Culture series. Apparently quite an emphasis on P&P material on here, but there are quite a bunch of rarities aside from that such as the instrumental of Azoto's "San Salvador," and the Patrick Cowley mix of Tantra's "Hills of Katmandu" to name a couple. Most places online appear to be out of stock as of this writing, so hopefully that'll be rectified shortly..
VA - DEEP DISCO CULTURE (2 CD) @ DISCOGS

CATEGORIES: REISSUES & RELEASES, NUDISCO

13 comments:

FunkyChris said...

Hi,
I can only recommend "Better Days" by The Million Dollar Orchestra!
It's as if a dream came true - newly produced DISCO music :-D
Would be great if there'll follow more in future.

Tommy said...

Hey Funkychris, I hope the MDD Orchestra album does well enough to warrant a follow-up as well.. Another winner from BBE! Thanks for the comment :)

Kristofer D. said...

Thanks Tommy for the heads up...

I sure plan to grab Ashford & Simpson's remix set.
And what a surprise to read that you also dig my all-time favorite ARETHA song : EVERY GIRL WANTS MY GUY !!

Many people forget that Luther started with disco/dance music.His NEVER TOO MUCH CD is still at the top of my list.Sad to see him drift away from pure dance music with each album.

Hugs my friend

Enrique said...

Tommy: I was at Turntable Lab LA yesterday looking over some new and recent releases and picked up the "Disco Not Disco" and Dirty Sound System's "Dirty Space Disco" compilations. "Disco Not Disco" is essential and contains a lot of my favorites from the early 1980's post-disco era: Konk (originally on Sleeping Bag), Quango Quango (originally on Factory), Material, James White and the Blacks, Shriekback; plus amazing tracks I'd never heard before. An essential piece for dance fans who want to go a step deeper. Dirty Sound System's compilation is equally amazing--fantastic cosmic/space disco-influenced re-edits of obscure and forgotten 70s tracks. My current favorite!

PS Thanks for the heads up on "Deep Disco Culture". Sounds like a winner! A Patrick Cowley remix of "Hills of Katmandu"? Whoa.

Enrique said...

...One more thing: There's a track on the "Disco Not Disco" comp (Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Seoul Music") that isn't mentioned on the track listing, but is truly amazing.

Tommy said...

Hey Kristofer, no problem, thanks for the comment! :) Yeah, "Every Girl Wants My Guy" is a great song! It almost feels like it was written with a gay man in mind lol.. I'll definitely be getting the A&S set, for sure!

Hey Enrique, thanks for the details about the Disco Not Disco and Dirty Space Disco. I found the tracklist and it definitely looks like something I'm going to have to check out.. I'll probably add it to the list later on. Thanks again! :)

Enrique said...

Ugh. Sorry for the confusion. The track IS Gina X's Kaddish and not the YMO track... A glitch in gracenotes.

American Athlete said...

Both the new Deep Disco Culture Vol. 2 comp and The Million Dollar Orchestra "Better Days" LP are two of my favorite newer releases. Nice reviews. Keep up the great posts.

Tommy said...

Hey no problem Enrique.. I'll probably get this now on account of your endorsement! :)

Hey American Athlete. Thanks for the comment! I need to get a copy Deep Disco Culture.. BTW, I enjoy your blog as well! :)

silkelectric said...

Just ordered from amazon my copy of the Ashford & Simpson compilation. I'm dying to hear it!
Keep this blog running!
Kiss

Tommy said...

Hey silkelectric - Can't wait for the A&S too! As far as keeping the blog running, I'll be sure to do so :)

Tim said...

Yes this is a superb album, i have also been checking out a similar superb disco edit series called Mutant Disco Trax on the Disco Dust label, fantastic disco edits.. if you like todd terje or Lindstrom / metro area check them out, i managed to find them online, very rare and hard to get hold of... and so far about 5 or 6 Volumes in as many weeks

Tommy said...

Thanks for the tip on the Mutant Disco Trax, Tim.. I have to admit, I'm a little out of the loop when it comes to some of the newer re-edits, but I'll check it out sometime!

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