Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Helping Myself



Kendra - Helping Myself (Instrumental/Vocoder Version - pitched down)

Kendra - Helping Myself (Instrumental/Vocoder Version) (1983, JC/Unidisc)
Kendra - Helping Myself (Vocal) (1983, JC/Unidisc)

Gotta love the Unidisc titty sleeve..

A little something today that I'd come across on one of my recent record hunting adventures. Written by a one Jean Fortin and Produced by Jerry Cucuzzella (who I'm assuming is a brother or other relation of one time Montreal DJ and Unidisc founder George Cucuzzella) and released on his label, JC Records; without even looking at the credits, this would still be an immediately identifiable Montreal disco track.

Starting right at the beginning with the sort of melodious, somewhat jaunty, galloping synth patterns and sounds typical of a lot of the electronic disco that came out of Montreal at the time; the production on the single is impeccable. The lyrics and vocals however are another story. The Discogs entry for this single has a review by Murderbot describing the vocal as 'appalling'. Although I personally wouldn't go that far, the vocalist herself (who I'm naively assuming is this Kendra girl) actually sounds fairly decent, especially compared to others I've heard before. That being said however, the vocals don't exactly add much to the track itself. Being fair though, that might be in part because the lyrics don't exactly give much to work with either...

Vocals and lyrics aside though, the instrumental on the flip side more than made up for it's limitations. Less of a straight, clean instrumental track, they (wisely) kept the French/English vocodered backing track in the mix, singlehandedly taking this one out of the scrapheap.. Unlike the female vocals on the A side, the bilingual robotic space alien voice on the vocodered instrumental track made the perfect highlight for the synthesized, space disco elements of the track.

With that little revelation, I wanted to see how far I could take things, so I decided to pitch down the instrumental as far as my old Technics would go (which really isn't that far). Keeping the space, but toning down some of the jauntiness, I actually think this turned out a little bit better at a slightly slower tempo.

Curiously, "Helping Myself" also appears as the B-side of the Suzy Q cover of Suzi Lane's "Harmony." Although credited to Suzy Q, I'm not sure if that version is simply an edit of this one, or of it was an actual re-recording. Given that the producer of this track, Jerry Cucuzzella had produced much, if not all of the Suzy Q records, that along with the interchangable and anonymous nature of some of these studio acts, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the former.

A classic case of a track salvaged by it's instrumental, I'd put this as one of my more notable finds lately. Certainly well-representative of the sort of Montreal electro-disco that I've come to appreciate more and more these days.

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
KEEP IT COMING.. (WEDNESDAY JULY 4, 2007)
A MOMENT OR TWO.. (TUESDAY MAY 8, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #35: MONTREAL FEATURING UCHENNA IKEJIANI (1979, SALSOUL) (WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 21, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #14: SUZI LANE - OOH LA LA (1979, ELEKTRA) (SATURDAY APRIL 8, 2006)

LINKS:
KENDRA - HELPING MYSELF 12'' @ DISCOGS
JERRY CUCUZZELLA @ DISCOGS

CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, CAN-CON DISCO

9 comments:

Mike said...

I love this TRASH! Personally, I think the vocal is fine. Sure, she's no La Toya but I've heard a hell of a lot worse! I wonder if this talented goddess ever released an album under a different name.

Charles said...

It's a shame that Montreal has forgot about its glorious electro-disco days. It seems there were such unique singers and projects coming out during those times: Pluton & The Humanoid, Geraldine Cordeau, Stephanie Wells, to name a few. I'd love to read more about the Tojo or Matra days. Unfortunately, it isn't documented enough.

Thank you for posting this track, never heard it before. My ears have heard worse vocals before, but you are right, your pitched down vocoded version works better. Great idea, I love it!

Tommy said...

Hey Mike - lol.. Indeed, nobody can touch Toy Toy! Anyway, Carol Jiani claims to have been the uncredited singer behind Suzy Q's "Get On Up And Do It Again" so I wouldn't be surprised if this girl had recorded something else under a different name.. Thanks for the comment! :)

Hey Charles - Glad you liked the pitched down version! I agree, Montreal's disco history seems woefully underdocumented these days. Even Unidisc itself has done a better job of reissuing the Prelude catalogue than it's own.
Glad you mentioned Geraldine Cordeau, I really enjoy her album as well as the releases on Tojo (at least the ones I've come across so far). It's funny how influential and strangely contemporary a lot of those Tojo releases still sound.. Thanks for the comment! :)

Kid Who said...

thanks for the shares! dope bits up here. if u get a moment check my new blog kidbreaks.blogspot.com, would be good to know what you think.

keep up the hard work!!

Tommy said...

Kid Who - No problem! Thanks for stopping by.. I'll be sure to check out your blog!

ITALO SLEAZE said...

It's amazing. I love flakey vocals. No autotune back then !!! Cheers.

Tommy said...

haha no doubt! Glad you liked, Italo Sleaze!

Anonymous said...

It's not a claim it's a fact carol jiani released get on up and do it again in the spring of 1981 on prelude records, late 1981 another version of the song appeared by suzy q on atlantic, the difference is noticible carols is the real version, but it is the get on up and do it again sleazy mix that is the classic.

Dominic said...

Because of your blog comments on "Helping myself", I went straight for the pitched down instrumental thinking that the vocal version would be embarrassing. But it isn't too bad at all.
Thanks for the chance to hear both versions.

Search this blog