Scarlet Rivera - Scarlet Fever (Promo 12'' Version) (1978, Warner Bros.)
Scarlet Rivera - Scarlet Fever (Edit) (1978, Warner Bros.)
Since picking this up a few years back, this little obscure disco one-off from violinist Scarlet Rivera has become a real favourite of mine. From what I've gathered Rivera had come to prominence after playing on Bob Dylan's 1976 "Desire" album and the accompanying Rolling Thunder Revue. Shortly thereafter Rivera would release a couple of albums of her own for Warner Bros., this track being the lead off of her second LP of the same name.
Produced by Jimmy Wisner, who had a hit of his own in 1961 with "Asia Minor," a rock and roll adaptation of Grieg's "Piano Concerto in A Minor" released under the alias Kokomo; as a producer and arranger, Wisner go on to would work on records by the likes of Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Tamiko Jones, Herbie Mann and Carly Simon among others..
A clever play on her name mixed by the prolific Jimmy Simpson, the extended version on the A-side makes an indelible first impression. Opening with a heavy, bumping beat and an infectious bassline, the soft whispery vocals highlighting the minimal and memorable (albeit in that charmingly trite, infectious way) chorus, along with Rivera's delicate, soaring violin at the top of the mix end up making this one swirling, sexy slice of disco. Although her "Scarlet Fever" LP has since been reissued on CD, this promo only 12'' mix wasn't included on the reissue and hasn't (as far as I know) made it to CD/digital..
Although with disco tracks, it's usually 'the longer, the better,' the shorter version on the B-side is also worth a listen. Jimmy Simpson isn't credited on that mix, but the vocals at the top of the track, along with the extended string crescendos end up making the most of the nearly three and a half minute edit on the flipside.
In a 2003 interview with the Bob Dylan fanzine Freewheelin', when asked about 'doing disco,' Rivera had distanced herself from this track, without actually mentioning it by name, saying in no uncertain terms that she hates the song and was pushed into doing it:
Q: You have done Disco music?
A: No, on my very first record my producer pushed me into doing a song like that and I hate the song. I don’t like the record now! He took advantage of me and I have learned from that. I now know who that artist is!
Rivera's feelings notwithstanding, from a disco point of view, I think "Scarlet Fever" holds up pretty well. In retrospect, "Scarlet Fever" can probably be categorized alongside disco efforts of noted instrumentalists like Herbie Mann and Candido. Although a one-off as opposed to the full-length disco efforts of Candido and Mann, this track, at least in my estimation, did a good job of incorporating her string stylings into a nice ephemeral piece of disco fever..
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #52: STAINLESS STEAL - CAN-CAN (1978, WARNER BROS.) (TUESDAY FEBRUARY 5, 2008)
DISCO DELIVERY #43: WARDELL PIPER (1979, MIDSONG INTERNATIONAL) (MONDAY AUGUST 27, 2007)
DISCOMUSIC.COM - SCARLET RIVERA - SCARLET FEVER 12''
WIKIPEDIA: SCARLET RIVERA
WIKIPEDIA: JIMMY WISNER
DISCOGS: JIMMY WISNER
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: SCARLET RIVERA - SCARLET FEVER LP (REVIEW)
DISCOGS: JIMMY SIMPSON
FREEWHEELIN' (TAKE 13): INTERVIEW WITH SCARLET RIVERA (BY MASATO KIRO)
CATEGORIES: SIDE DELIVERIES