Thursday, November 06, 2008
Although it may have been bittersweet for some out there (particularly for many of you in California), I'd like to extend congratulations to my American readers out there on making history on Tuesday...
In light of that, I thought this might be a good time for this song.
According to Joel Whitburn's 1974-2003 Hot Disco/Dance chart book, this was the only charting single for Zulema as a solo artist on the Billboard Disco Charts (#37), though she's probably better known these days for her song "Giving Up" from 1972, a great track apparently well regarded in disco and hip-hop circles. A sorely underrated soul singer/songwriter in her own right, Zulema Cusseaux was also a member of a little-known 60's girl group called The Lovelles, an early lineup of Faith Hope & Charity, and a frequent collaborator of Van McCoy throughout her career.
Listen: Zulema - Change (12'' Version) (1979, LeJoint/London)
This song, "Change," taken from her final album "Z-licious" (1979, LeJoint/London) seemed like something of an oddity. Written, produced and arranged by Cusseaux herself, it was, in my opinion the best track on what was otherwise a weak album, by her standards. Bringing a blistering consciousness to the dancefloor, it's perhaps not the sort of thing escapist soundtracks were made of. The fire in her delivery, the hopeful, yet critical lyrics, occasionally veering into hectoring, preachy territory (all you sinners.. won't be winners.. when the master.. comes around on judgement day.. etc..) along with the rawness of the arrangement behind it, are what seemed to make this an unusually captivating single. It's those very qualities in the lyrics and the music: the urgency, the frustration coming through with the call for change which seem to give this track a strange sort of currency and relevance today.
The 12" version included here was mixed by Richie Rivera, who, for some reason isn't credited on the Canadian pressing I have. The break on here just after the 4 minute mark with those keyboard solos and guitar riffs take this several steps higher than the album version, which, for the record, I would have put up here if I was able to find my copy of the LP..
Although Zulema seems to have dropped off the face of the earth (or at least of the music industry) after the early 80's or so, after this final album, she teamed up briefly in the early 80's with Al MacDowell to form the duo Zalmac, who had released an album on the TSOB (The Sound of Brooklyn) records. In 1996, Ichiban Records, along with David Nathan had compiled and released a collection of some of her solo material for RCA. It's a compilation that I highly recommend for those interested in discovering the deep, soulful sounds of Zulema.
For those interested in hearing more of Zulema, there's a great posting on YouTube of what was likely her last solo single, a little known piece of countrified soul entitled "A Mother Cries," released 1981 on TSOB.
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #48: ASHA PUTHLI - L'INDIANA (1979, DASH/TK) (TUESDAY NOVEMBER 20, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #37: MIDNIGHT RHYTHM (1978, ATLANTIC) (WEDNESDAY MARCH 14, 2007)
DON'T DENY YOURSELF, JUST COME INSIDE.. (TUESDAY MARCH 6, 2007)
ZULEMA @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
ZULEMA @ DISCOGS
ZULEMA @ WIKIPEDIA
ZULEMA - CHANGE (US 12") @ DISCOGS
ZULEMA - CHANGE (CANADIAN 12") @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
ZULEMA - Z-LICIOUS LP @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
ZULEMA - Z-LICIOUS LP @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
RICHIE RIVERA @ DISCOGS
ZALMAC @ DISCOGS
CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES