Saturday, November 15, 2008

First we shake, then we break..


Chic - Hangin' (1982, Atlantic)

While we're on the subject of Chic, I thought I might as well post the audio and video for "Hangin' " which I've always thought was one of the best singles from their latter period in the 1980's. Although I'd say "Take It Off" (1981, Atlantic) was Chic's best album of the 80's, I always thought this song and the "Tongue In Chic" (1982, Atlantic) album which it came from really showed them hitting their stride with their updated sound.. With a killer hook, horns centre stage and the cool, yet lively vocals from Bernard and the ladies; with Chic giving off just a little more 'street' and still maintaing their dance-appeal, this is definitely Chic at their funkiest. If I had my way, this would have been to the early 80's what "Le Freak" was to the late 70's.

Chic - Hangin' Uploaded by PaulJD2006
As far as the video goes, I never in a million years expected to find one, but one day while poking around on YouTube, there it was. Posted by the video's director himself, New York filmmaker and Emmy Award winning editor Paul Dougherty, the video is as much of a gem as the song is. With the Chic guys playing DJ, Luci and Alfa looking fly on the dancefloor, along with kids, club scenes, art groupies, and a little requisite pop-locking; it feels like a time capsule of New York and of Chic themselves in the early 80's. Director Paul Dougherty elaborates on the video in the directors notes from his YouTube page:
Though a little overwhelmed by this gig, I'm proud and lucky to have featured an early incarnation of hip-hop in this November 1982 production. I might add to this description but for now I'll just say that I met some of the players in the cast at New York's Fun Gallery. This scene was a hotbed of graffiti and hip-hop and because it was in the East Village, there was a lot a crossover, art meets the street, etc. There I met the guy I cast as the messenger, the legendary Kano and his young pal "On" aka On-ski (doing the ET dance in the tan outfit and ski hat). Also noteworthy is the disco setting which was the storied Roxy (roller-rink & disco) where c/o the nights that Kool Lady Blue organized there, white folks got some of their earliest exposure to hip-hop Chic was a pleasure to work with. I wish I could have hit one out of the park for them on this video but at least it's a fun time capsule that further ties them to the hip-hop sound they helped invent..
Whatever his reservations, as it is, this looks like one of the best visual documents of Chic's classic lineup out there, in one of the more overlooked phases of their career, no less. Aside from this video, Dougherty had directed or edited videos for the likes of Public Image Limited, Afrika Bambaataa, Whodini and The Beastie Boys, some of whch are listed on his YouTube playlists as well as his own website. Like Dougherty had alluded to at the end of his directors notes, this is one of those songs (and videos) in Chic's catalogue which perfectly situated them in between their disco heritage and the hip-hop movement which they, in part, had influenced. One of their underrated classics, in my opinion. In a little bit of side trivia: "Hangin'" was also covered in 1990 by the 'other guy' in Wham!, Andrew Ridgeley for his first and only solo album, "Son Of Albert" (1990, Epic), which I haven't heard, though I'm not expecting much. To add one more video treat before I finish off this post, evidently there was also a video for "Give Me The Lovin," one of the singles from their final album of the 80's (and witht heir classic lineup), Believer" (1983, Atlantic). Looking at this video, it seems obvious that the end was near, since Chic themselves aren't even in this one, having been stood-in for by a bunch of kids playing dress-up. One of the comments on YouTube suggests that the kids were a bit of a trend at the time, though given the waning status of the group, a fairly convenient one, it seems. Anyway, the quality is sort of shitty, but I still think it's kinda cute.
Chic- Give Me The Lovin' Uploaded by NickFRESHBoogie
PURCHASE: CHIC - REAL PEOPLE/TONGUE IN CHIC CD AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | DUSTY GROOVE | CD UNIVERSE CHIC - BELIEVER CD AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | CD UNIVERSE PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES: CHIC & JOHNNY MATHIS COLLABORATIONS TO FINALLY BE RELEASED? (TUESDAY NOVEMBER 11, 2008) UPCOMING SISTER SLEDGE REISSUES (FRIDAY AUGUST 10, 2007) BBC RADIO 2 - THE RECORD PRODUCERS: NILE RODGERS (SATURDAY JANUARY 6, 2007) UPCOMING REISSUES & RELEASES (CHIC AND MORE!): (DECEMBER 1, 2006 - JANUARY 22, 2007) (SATURDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2006) UPCOMING REISSUES & RELEASES (APRIL 25 - MAY 30) (FRIDAY APRIL 21, 2006) DISCO DELIVERY #2: NORMA JEAN WRIGHT - NORMA JEAN (1978, BEARSVILLE) (SATURDAY JANUARY 14, 2006) LINKS: CHIC TRIBUTE CHIC @ DISCOGS CHIC - REAL PEOPLE/TONGUE IN CHIC CD REVIEW @ DISCOMUSIC.COM ALL MUSIC GUIDE: CHIC - TONGUE IN CHIC (REVIEW) ALL MUSIC GUIDE: CHIC - BELIEVER (REVIEW) PAUL DOUGHERTY - TV NOOK PAUL DOUGHERTY ON YOUTUBE ROXY NYC @ WIKIPEDIA THE ROXY, NYC @ DISCOMUSIC.COM THE ROXY, NEW YORK @ HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chic & Johnny Mathis collaborations to finally be released?

Updated 02/03/09

Those familiar with Chic and Nile and Bernard's more obscure productions are likely familiar with the unreleased album they had produced for Johnny Mathis in 1981, entitled "I Love My Lady." Even moreso than the reported Aretha Franklin sessions, which it seems were aborted even before they had began, this album, apparently an actual finished project, has become the undisputed holy grail of Chic Organization productions. Given that people in the Chic camp like Rob Sabino, the late Tony Thompson and Nile Rodgers himself have undyingly vouched for it's excellence, no one seems to have an official explanation as to why it continues to remain unreleased. It's been suspected that Chic's production was a much too radical change in direction for Mathis. In Daryl Easlea's excellent book, "Everybody Dance: Chic & The Politics of Disco," there are a few pages dedicated to the unreleased Mathis album. At the time, Mathis had just come off a very successful collaboration with Deniece Williams, with Rodgers and Edwards apparently drawing inspiration from the aftermath of his comeback. In Easlea's book Nile Rodgers explained the inspiration and his theory as to why the album was pulled:

"He had been this big superstar, then his light dimmed a little, and then he came back after that massive record with Deniece Williams. His popularity rekindled, he went on this reckless tear - partying and hanging out; it really frightened the people closest to him. When we did this record, it was so exciting and youth oriented. All his people went 'oh my god.'... The Johnny Mathis record to me sounded like Al Jarreau meets Chic. It didn't sound like Johnny Mathis to me - it was even more edgy than I'd ever heard him.. That's why it was pulled. His audience at the time was like middle-aged women who would go out to Vegas, and this was pushing his envelope." (pgs. 191-2)

Apparently the shelving of the album project didn't stop Mathis from breaking out somewhat. The apparent 'reckless tear,' that Rodgers talks about possibly gives some context to him coming out as a gay man the following year..

However, as elusive as the album is, apparently there are some out there with copies of the recordings, one of them being Ralph Tee of Jazz FM in the UK, who recently played the title track on his radio show this past Sunday (November 9th). I recently came across a post on the discomusic.com forums by a mystery poster from the UK who had put up a link to a rip of the radio stream. Listen for yourselves..

Johnny Mathis - I Love My Lady (unreleased) (link updated)

At the end of the clip, Ralph Tee says that this and two more tracks from Chic's Johnny Mathis album will be given an official release on a Chic box set, supposedly planned for next year. I haven't been able to find any further details so far, so hopefully those will be forthcoming...

As it is though, this track sounds like one of the finest things Chic did in the 80's, like a slightly Brazilian flavoured, sparer version of the classic Chic sound.. Despite the breezy, laid-back arrangement, the Chic groove and elegance is unmistakable. While the 80's had seen Chic moving with the times, ditching the ever present Chic strings (which appear here in their understated spendour) in favour of synths, horns and a generally more funk-centred sound; this track instead echoes both the classic Chic disco sound of the 70's and some of their more adventurous acoustic efforts in the 80s ("You Can't Do It Alone," "Tavern On The Green" and some of the other tracks off the Soup For One Soundtrack to name some examples). Although I can't help but wonder how this could have sounded with a full "I Want Your Love" or "Upside Down" type of treatment, this song occupies a wonderful middle ground between the two acts. With Johnny Mathis adopting a bit of Chic's urbane edge, and at the same time giving the Chic Organization an opportunity to further expand, experiment and redefine their sound in the post-disco landscape, this is ultimately a welcome revelation. Hopefully we'll be hearing more soon..

UPDATE 02/03/09: And apparently we are hearing more.. Courtesy of the Chic Tribute site, another track, entitled "Sing" has just leaked. Unfortunately it's only a one minute snippet this time, but a pretty promising one nonetheless.. Go to the Chic Tribute News page to hear the sample.

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
BBC RADIO 2 - THE RECORD PRODUCERS: NILE RODGERS (SATURDAY JANUARY 6, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #2: NORMA JEAN WRIGHT - NORMA JEAN (1978, BEARSVILLE) (SATURDAY JANUARY 14, 2006)
UPCOMING SISTER SLEDGE REISSUES (FRIDAY AUGUST 10, 2007)
UPCOMING REISSUES & RELEASES (CHIC AND MORE!): (DECEMBER 1, 2006 - JANUARY 22, 2007) (SATURDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2006)
UPCOMING REISSUES & RELEASES (APRIL 25 - MAY 30) (FRIDAY APRIL 21, 2006)

LINKS:
JOHNNY MATHIS - I LOVE MY LADY @ CHIC TRIBUTE
CHIC TRIBUTE NEWS: NEW MATHIS TRACK (FEBRUARY 2, 2009)
DARYL EASLEA INTERVIEW @ CHIC TRIBUTE
TONY THOMPSON - THE MAN WHO PUT THE BACKBONE IN CHIC (ECHOES MAGAZINE INTERVIEW) @ CHIC TRIBUTE
EVERYBODY DANCE: CHIC & THE POLITICS OF DISCO (BY DARYL EASLEA) @ AMAZON.CO.UK | AMAZON.COM
CHIC @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
CHIC @ DISCO-DISCO
CHIC @ DISCOGS

CATEGORIES: DISCO NEWS, MINI DELIVERIES

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Fascination Movement v. 0.5 (beta)

Earlier in the year, I did a little post about The Fascination Movement's awesome remix of Starcluster's Smoke & Mirrors (feat. Marc Almond). Fascination Movement member and fellow blogger Sean Wolcott of The Red Room (an awesome blog, btw) recently sent me a little teaser of their upcoming debut EP, "0.5," which is due for release in early December on the Aube label. From what I've heard so far, the EP as well as the single, "Radio" are nothing less than brilliant.. Melancholy vocals + shiny, supple synth textures = awesome!


The Fascination Movement - Radio
Uploaded by fascinationmovement

If you like Moroder, New Order, OMD, or even Cut Copy this'll likely be right up your alley.. There's a genuine feeling and appreciation for the sound that I love about this, which, despite the 80's influences, give it a lasting sort of freshness and currency.. A nice change from the sort of ironic pastiche that used to pass for this sort of thing.

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
FEELING FASCINATION (MONDAY JANUARY 14, 2008)
BBC RADIO 2: CLASSIC SINGLES - I FEEL LOVE (SUNDAY DECEMBER 30, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #40: MUNICH MACHINE - A WHITER SHADE OF PALE (1978, CASABLANCA) (SUNDAY APRIL 29, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #14: SUZI LANE - OOH LA LA (1979, ELEKTRA) (SATURDAY APRIL 8, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #5: GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1977, OASIS/CASABLANCA) (FRIDAY FEBRUARY 3, 2006)

LINKS:
MYSPACE - THE FASCINATION MOVEMENT
THE FASCINATION MOVEMENT @ DISCOGS
MYSPACE - AUBE RECORDS
THE RED ROOM

CATEGORIES: NUDISCO

Change



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)

LINKS:
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

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