Saturday, October 31, 2009

lady midnight, she wants you tonight..




Picked this one up in Toronto a few weeks ago. Credited to a group calling itself Halloween, I don't think anyone could expect anything other than a throwaway disco novelty, yet this turned out to be surprisingly solid..

Written and produced by one-time Motown staff producer Jerry Marcellino, who with Mel Larson had worked on The Jackson Five's later albums and most of Michael Jackson's early solo records; aside from the name, the Halloween novelty here is actually fairly subtle. With verses littered with lines about "midnight ladies dressed in black," "partying under the full moon," and "spinning magic spells," that's about as close as it gets on here..

Halloween - Lady Midnight (1979, Mercury/PolyGram)
Halloween - Come See What It's All About (1979, Mercury/PolyGram)

That being said, the solid grooves and production on here more than made up for the obvious lack of laughing vampires and screaming disco chicks. The A-side "Lady Midnight," opening with the sort of synthy disco pulses that always win me over and plenty of guitar action all over the breaks would have to be the choice track for me here. The bass-heavy, mid-tempo disco groove of "Come See What It's All About" is no less worthy though.

As stated on the single cover, both tracks here came off of the album "Come See What It's All About" (1979, Mercury/PolyGram), which at the time of this writing, has yet to be listed on Discogs. One that I'll be on the lookout for though..

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
R.I.P. MICHAEL JACKSON (FRIDAY JUNE 26, 2009)
DISCO DELIVERY #57: NOCTURNA (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) (1979, MCA) (FRIDAY OCTOBER 31, 2008)
DISCO DELIVERY #47: HOT BLOOD - DISCO DRACULA (1977, DYNAMO) (WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 31, 2007)
I WANNA SUCK YOUR.. OOOOH! (TUESDAY OCTOBER 31, 2006)

LINKS:
DISCOGS: HALLOWEEN
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: HALLOWEEN - COME SEE WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT LP
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: JERRY MARCELLINO
DISCOGS: JERRY MARCELLINO
VEGAS COMMUNITY ONLINE - JERRY MARCELLINO

CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Funkytown, Montreal




CBC Radio 2 - Inside The Music: Funkytown - The Montreal Disco Era

I'm quite a few months late with this, but came across this several months back while poking around on the CBC Radio 2 site one night. Originally aired in January of this year, Radio 2's "Inside The Music," hosted by Patti Schmidt aired this 53 minute documentary, entitled "Funkytown: The Montreal Disco Era" on the history of Montreal's disco scene. The backstory is explained on the Radio 2 blog:

In 1977, radio producer Colin MacKenzie (who has worked with The Signal) moved to the suburbs of Montreal and watched disco explode from a distance. Sometimes he joined in while circling a roller-rink, despite the fact that Led Zeppelin was scribbled across the back of his jean jacket. He had to admit it, he thought Earth Wind and Fire had some great moves -- and some great threads. (Editorial Aside: How come no one has resurrected that phrase? Great threads indeed.)

Recently MacKenzie moved back to Montreal and noticed that a lot of disco-era players were still alive and living in the city, either making music or involved in the entertainment business. He decided he needed to find out why Montreal had been such a major player in the world of Disco....

...By 1979 Hollywood stars, New York glitterati, politicians, royalty and the jet set were all beating a path to Montreal’s legendary disco clubs to dance the night away. What happened? Suddenly Montreal had platinum status admission to the VIP lounge of coolest of the cool disco cities right alongside Paris, New York, Berlin and LA. For a brief moment in time, the remnants of a cultural revolution, new wealth, and corruption were joined by sex and drugs and the pounding beats of disco for never ending nights let loose on Montreal’s dance floors.

While not without it's omissions, so far, this documentary is one of the few comprehensive, contemporary accounts of Montreal's disco scene that I've found (at least in English). One of the most notable (albeit perhaps arguable) facts highlighted in the documentary, which doesn't seem quite as well-recognized today, is how Billboard had once called Montreal the second most influential disco market in the world, right next to New York, of course.

While the history of disco in New York, and it's social context within American society, post-Vietnam, amid the undercurrent of decline in New York City itself have been well analyzed and documented, the unique circumstances that made Montreal a disco hot spot seem largely unexamined, by comparison. While there were similarities like the pioneering influence of the gay community; the rise of the Quebec nationalist movement and The Quiet Revolution, the city's linguistic/cultural duality - being geographically North American, yet culturally situated between Anglo-America and Europe are notable, albeit distinct parallels to the influences around New York's disco experience.

The rise of Montreal's disco scene is documented here by a series of interviews with writer William Weintraub, Montreal DJ Robert Ouimet, dance historian Michel Landry and industry players Michael and Dominique Zgarka, who discuss Montreal's place in breaking European disco records in the American market. Performers Pierre Perpall and Patsy Gallant are also given time here, with Gallant addressing the controversy around her biggest hit, "From New York To L.A.," a questionable adaptation of Gilles Vigneault's Quebecois anthem, "Mon Pays."

A valiant, albeit still incomplete examination of Montreal's disco history, it seems unfortunate (interviews and inspired subject matter aside) that there wasn't time to devote more attention to the other notable acts, records and producers that came out of Montreal at the time. A look at Montreal's disco history cannot be complete without any mention of Gino Soccio, Denis and Denyse LePage of Lime, the Unidisc label and the prominence of Montreal's Italian-Canadian community in the disco scene. I guess time limits and the need to present this for a general English Canadian audience were all limitations that needed to be considered here, however I suppose (or, rather hope) it's all potential material for a Part Two, if anyone at the CBC is willing.

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
HELPING MYSELF (WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2009)
BBC RADIO 2: CLASSIC SINGLES - I FEEL LOVE (SUNDAY DECEMBER 30, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #46: GUY LAFLEUR - LAFLEUR! (1979. UNIDISC SPORTS) (SATURDAY OCTOBER 27. 2007)
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)
SUNSHINE ON MY MIND... (SUNDAY JANUARY 7, 2007)
BBC RADIO 2 - THE RECORD PRODUCERS: NILE RODGERS (SATURDAY JANUARY 6, 2007)

LINKS:
CBC RADIO 2 BLOG: MONTREAL'S DAYS OF DISCO (BY LI ROBBINS) (JANUARY 8, 2009)
CBC RADIO 2: INSIDE THE MUSIC
CBC RADIO 2: INSIDE THE MUSIC AUDIO ARCHIVES
DISCOGS: ROBERT OUIMET
WILLIAM WEINTRAUB - OFFICIAL SITE
THE CANADIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MUSIC IN CANADA - DISCO

CATEGORIES: CAN-CON DISCO, INTERVIEWS

Thursday, October 08, 2009

I'm hoping that you can..



Flying off to Toronto for a week or so later today, hoping to see a couple of concerts and hopefully take in a few other things as well (I hear these guys throw a great party). I figured I might as well put up some music up before leaving..

Recently got a copy of this 12", (double A-side, same tracks on both sides) and have barely stopped playing it since. While this pressing is on the Canadian 6 AM label (which was owned by Geraldine Hunt), I doubt the production itself is Canadian given the missing MAPL/Can-Con symbols; however (and I mean this in the best possible way), with a groove as economically funky as this is, it could easily pass for one.

Listen: Coco De Jour - Love Me Tonight (1982, 6 AM/Rio)

Written and produced by Ben Elliott and Burt Szerlip, aside from the credits All Music Guide and Discogs list for Burt Szerlip, mostly as an engineer who (among other things of course) had worked on notable disco albums like Ferrara's "Wuthering Heights" (1979, Midsong), Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" (1979, Cotillion/Atlantic) and Herbie Mann's Super Mann (1978, Atlantic) and is listed as a co-producer on the Front Page disco classic, "Love Insurance", I have no idea who they are. There are no other details on the 12", not even a copyright year (something that's inexplicably missing from many Rio label releases), however the other pressings listed (Discogs lists an Ariola Benelux release with a phased remix on the B-side, that I'm curious to hear) list it as a 1982 release.

Centred around those choppy, inescapable guitar riffs wrapped around a sexy vocal, that starts out nice, tender and teasing, but ends up graduating into a desperate plea by the end. Put it together with a fat, bumping bass and it all makes for some good nighttime disco lovin'..

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
FAUST WAS RIGHT, HAVE NO REGRET.. (MONDAY OCTOBER 15, 2007)

LINKS:
DISCOGS: COCO DE JOUR - LOVE ME TONIGHT 12"
DISCOGS: BEN ELLIOTT
DISCOGS: BURT SZERLIP
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: BURT SZERLIP
DISCOGS: RIO RECORDS

CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Megatron Man: The Life & Times of Patrick Cowley


Got the email on this a little while back, but for those who haven't heard yet, coinciding with the release of Patrick Cowley & Jorge Soccaras' long lost "Catholic" project, San Francisco's Honey Soundsystem and Mama Calizo's Voice Factory are putting together a wonderful memorial event and exhibition for Patrick Cowley, to be held in San Francisco on October 18th (on what would have been the eve of his 59th birthday). As part of the event, there will also be an ongoing exhibition, a "living altar" of sorts, with artifacts, interviews and multimedia installations about his life and work to be held until November 19th. The organizers are hosting an open call for Cowley-inspired/related works from fans, friends and colleagues. They've set up a website at www.megatronman.com with more details and contact info. Wish I could be there for this..

On October 18th, 2009, Honey Soundsystem and Mama Calizo's Voice Factory will host Megatron Man: The Life and Times of Patrick Cowley an early evening event celebrating the life of a musician who we have bonded over and has influenced us on various levels including our sound, aesthetics and cultural upbringing in San Francisco. Often credited as the American Giorgio Moroder, Patrick's legend has become a symbol for a time when free love and technology would come together to forever change the social landscape. On this evening we come together to celebrate the journey and genius of Patrick to appease all the disco spirits of so many like him who fell victim to the AIDS crisis during the early 80's. An exhibition of never before seen artifacts, interviews, multimedia installations along with an open call for submissions that has generated responses from artists, music enthusiasts, and old friends and colleagues from all over the world. Those in attendance of the event are encouraged to bring their own offerings to what will be a living altar on the eve of what would be Patrick's 59th birthday. Directly following the exhibition will be a record release party down the street celebrating the worldwide premier of Catholic the "lost" Patrick Cowley/Jorge Socarras record finally seeing the light of day after 30 years via Macro Records.

Please join us in any way that you can to help celebrate our hero and our city by participating in either physical or inanimate form. The event will occur during the late afternoon at Mama Calizo's Voice Factory and feature various rarely seen artifacts from Patrick Cowley's days as well as video screenings and keynote speakers who were well acquainted with the man of the hour giving revealing insights about his life's murky history and a glimpse of San Francisco in the early 80s.

Finally, we will be hosting an open call of submissions for Cowley inspired works from fans all over the world to create a living and breathing exhibit that showcases the past, present and future of Patrick's influence. As far as content you can send us what ever medium you are comfortable with be it musical, graphical or textual. Even better, if you have old photographs, letters or anything else relaying the spirit of Patrick--send those in, we'll gladly accept digital copies as well.

If you simply want to just say a few words about how Patrick has inspired you, an anecdote or memory, or some other small gesture, simply email it to us and it will be printed and posted amongst the exhibition.

All submissions will find a home within the memorial no matter how big or small so please do not hesitate to participate and spread the word. Contact/more info at www.megatronman.com

*Please have all submissions to us by October 16th or you can bring them in person on the day of the event if you'd like.
In other "Catholic" news, D*ruffalo recently posted some of Patrick's original gear (tracked down by the Honey Soundsystem boys) as well as some info about the second 12" from the project, "Burn Brighter Flame" with mixes from Oni Ayhun and Morgan Geist. Recently, Jorge Soccaras was on WFMU radio, in conversation with Daniel Blumin, where they played selections from Catholic along with some other favourites. Part-way through they also play some thus far unreleased Patrick Cowley instrumentals on the program, which are a definite must-hear for Cowley fans (Patchwork Symphony - Section 3 says it all).

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DO YOU LOVE YOUR ROBOT CHILDREN? (TUESDAY AUGUST 4, 2009)
DISCO DELIVERY #50: BRENDA MITCHELL - DON'T YOU KNOW (1978, BARCLAY/POLYGRAM) (SATURDAY JANUARY 12, 2008)
LAST CALL! (SUNDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #7: SYLVESTER - M-1015 (1984, MEGATONE) (FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17, 2006)

LINKS:
MEGATRON MAN - THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PATRICK COWLEY
D*RUFFALO - THE DAILY MAGAZINE FOR EXCESS CULTURE: THE PROPHETS (SEPTEMBER 17, 2009)
WFMU - PLAYLIST FOR DANIEL BLUMIN (WITH GUEST JORGE SOCARRAS) (SUNDAY OCTOBER 4, 2009)
WORLDANDSOUND: PATRICK COWLEY & JORGE SOCARRAS - BURN BRIGHTER FLAME (ONI AYGHUN & MORGAN GEIST VERSIONS)
MAMA CALIZO'S VOICE FACTORY
MYSPACE: PATRICK COWLEY & JORGE SOCARRAS
MACRO RECORDINGS
PATRICK COWLEY TRIBUTE
RESIDENT ADVISOR NEWS: MACRO GET CATHOLIC (INTERVIEW WITH STEFAN GOLDMANN) (MONDAY JUNE 1, 2009)
DISCOGS: PATRICK COWLEY
DISCOGS: JORGE SOCARRAS
MYSPACE: JORGE SOCARRAS
HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM
MYSPACE: HONEY SOUNDSYSTEM

CATEGORIES: IN MEMORIAM.., DISCO NEWS

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

And Party Every Day..


A label which began in 1974 as a lowly independent in Warner's corporate constellation, to one of the industry's leading lights, and back again by the end of the decade, sucked into yet another conglomerate, hemmoraging money; the story of Casablanca Records has been oft-cited (as both success story and cautionary tale) yet, at least until the release of this book, still largely untold in it's entirety.

While it didn't start off as such, to many, the name Casablanca Records has become practically synonymous with Disco, with both it's successes and excesses, right along with Studio 54, and perhaps Saturday Night Fever, as emblematic of the beat and line driven juggernaut that was the enterprise of disco in the late 70's. So much so, that the company's reported overindulgences (the alleged secretary sent out to collect employees' drug requirements to name one well-circulated myth) have become the stuff of legend. What has gotten somewhat lost in the sensationalism of it's history however has been the bold, entrepreneurial spirit of it's late founder Neil Bogart, which fueled the company and was evident throughout it's roster, in all of it's major hits and misses (see the now infamous Johnny Carson album and the Kiss solo albums, which to quote one oft-cited Casbah anecdote, "shipped gold, and came back platinum").

While Casablanca's successes - it's roster lined with the likes of Kiss, Cameo, Parliament, The Village People and Donna Summer and it's place as perhaps the most commercial of the so-called Disco labels is well represented, its output beyond it's commercial side is just as revealing. The incredible works of Alec R. Costandinos and Giorgio Moroder, long-lost soul like Gloria Scott (one of the first major Barry White productions), James & Bobby Purify, Jeannie Reynolds to Hugh Masekela, Margaret Singana and funkstress Lalomie Washburn. Personally, they also get special credit for backing the unabashedly gay sensibilities of D.C. LaRue and Paul Jabara, not to mention the Village People's back-room leather bar counterparts, The Skatt Bros. along with Jacques Morali productions such as Dennis Parker, and the Ritchie Family as well. Beyond their well-known successes, the wealth of underexploited music still out of print in it's catalogue is immense. With acts that ranged from the outlandish to the influential and hopelessly obscure, it's not only emblematic of a label that seemed to thrive on doing things differently, but one that could have only been assembled by what was one of the industry's great music men.

Written by Larry Harris, cousin of Neil Bogart and one of the label's original co-founders, along with Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs. While Harris according to some of his recent postings on discomusic.com attempts to "set the record straight" from some of the accounts described in Frederic Dannen's still definitive book "Hit Men," the previews and early reviews certainly don't paint this as a whitewash either. Today (October 6th) marks the official release (via Backbeat/Hal Leonard) of the three hundred page book, which so far looks to be the definitive account of the incredible rise and spectacular fall of what should be considered one of the great, and certainly most infamous record labels of it's time.

For a preview, the authors have set up a website with some choice passages at www.casablancabook.com. Aside from the official previews however, a fitting companion/primer to the book and to the Casablanca story as a whole would have to be Christian John Wikane's incredible series on the label, "Play It Again" at PopMatters. Until the release of this book, Wikane's piece has to have been one of the more comprehensive articles on Casablanca yet. Published this past August to commemorate the label's 35th anniversary, mostly focusing on the music, Wikane's series traces the Casablanca story in five parts, with interview quotes from more than 50 of Casablanca's artists and executives.

On the visual side of things, the people behind the Casablanca book have also set up a YouTube account to promote the book, where they've posted up some great, long lost TV ads and performances. Some of my favourites include the commercial ads for Alec R. Costandinos' "Romeo & Juliet," the final Munich Machine album "Body Shine," Space's "Just Blue" as well as the whispery candle-lit commercial for Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby," all of which I had to post below..


Alec R. Costandinos - 1978 "Romeo and Juliet" Promo Film
Uploaded by CasablancaBookTV


Munich Machine - 1979 "Let Your Body Shine" Promo
Uploaded by CasablancaBookTV


Space "Save Your Love For Me" 1979 Casablanca Records Disco Promo Film
Uploaded by CasablancaBookTV


Donna Summer - 1975 Casablanca TV Commercial
Uploaded by CasablancaBookTV


PURCHASE:
AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | PLAY.COM | BARNES & NOBLE | CHAPTERS.INDIGO

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
VINCE ALETTI'S DISCO FILES (WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2009)
BBC RADIO 2: CLASSIC SINGLES - I FEEL LOVE (SUNDAY DECEMBER 20, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #40: MUNICH MACHINE - A WHITER SHADE OF PALE (1978, CASABLANCA) (SUNDAY APRIL 27, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #24: LOVE & KISSES (1977, BARCLAY/POLYDOR) (MONDAY JULY 31, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #16: BRENDA & THE TABULATIONS - I KEEP COMING BACK FOR MORE (1977, CHOCOLATE CITY/CASABLANCA) (FRIDAY APRIL 21, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #5: GIORGIO MORODER - FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1977, OASIS/CASABLANCA) (FRIDAY FEBRUARY 3, 2006)

LINKS:
AND PARTY EVERY DAY - THE INSIDE STORY OF CASABLANCA RECORDS (OFFICIAL SITE)
BACKBEAT BOOKS: AND PARTY EVERYDAY - THE INSIDE STORY OF CASABLANCA RECORDS
DISCOMUSIC.COM FORUMS - "AND PARTY EVERY DAY" CASABLANCA RECORDS BOOK COMING OUT
THE VILLAGE VOICE - LA DOLCE MUSTO (TUESDAY AUGUST 18, 2009)
HITS DAILY DOUBLE (BOOK REVIEW) (SEPTEMBER 4, 2009)
THE VINYL DISTRICT: TVD RECOMMENDS - AND PARTY EVERY DAY: THE INSIDE STORY OF CASABLANCA RECORDS (THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 24, 2009)
POPMATTERS: CASABLANCA RECORDS - PLAY IT AGAIN (BY CHRISTIAN JOHN WIKANE)
SOULTRACKS: INCREDIBLE CASABLANCA RECORDS STORY REMEMBERED (AUGUST 17, 2009)
DISCO-DISCO.COM: CASABLANCA RECORDS
BOTH SIDES NOW: CASABLANCA RECORDS STORY
WIKIPEDIA: CASABLANCA RECORDS
DISCOGS: CASABLANCA RECORDS
WIKIPEDIA: NEIL BOGART

CATEGORIES: DISCO NEWS, VISUAL DISCO

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