Late last year just before the Christmas holidays, in an evening of compulsive record digging, for the princely sum of $3, I had stumbled on a copy of the elusive original Jamaican pressing of Andrea True's "More, More, More."Notable not just for being an early pressing, but for containing an altogether different, early mix of the song as well as an instrumental B-side, not available anywhere else. Released on the Federal Records label, copyrighted 1975, the year before it would be picked up by Buddah in the US, before the "The Andrea True Connection," and before it was given "A Tom Moulton Mix" into the version that is well-known today.
Listen: Andrea True - More, More, More (Original 7" Instrumental) (1975, Federal)
Stream: Andrea True Connection - More, More, More Pt. 1 (A Tom Moulton Mix) (1976, Buddah)
As undeniably infectious as the little breathy disco song about getting the cameras rolling and getting the action going is, the story behind it - how a porn star ended up with one of the biggest hits of the time, is probably one of the most interesting behind-the-music anecdotes of disco.. Having reportedly filmed a commercial for a real estate company in Jamaica, due to a ban on asset transfers - a response to US sanctions placed after the election of Prime Minister Michael Manley (branded a Castro sympathizer by the US), True wouldn’t be able to leave Jamaica with her earnings intact. Alongside her adult film work and some bit parts in mainstream films, True had done some small-time nightclub singing around New York and reached out to one of her connections. Hatching a plan, she'd call on her friend - musician and up-and-coming producer, Gregg Diamond (whose biggest gigs up until that point seemed to have been playing in a band called Five Dollar Shoes and with the enigmatic gay glam icon Jobriath in his backing band The Creatures) to help cut a song for her, so she could effectively launder her earnings out of the country in the form of a master tape. Speaking to Abby Garnett at RBMA in a recent (and rare) discussion of their disco work, the late Gregg Diamond's brother and right-hand man, Godfrey Diamond told the story:
"So we had this song hanging around for about a year. We tried different people on it, but we really didn’t know what to do with it. Andrea True knew Gregg and would come over to the house all the time. About a year after we created the demo, we get a call from Andrea, and she says 'I did this movie down in Jamaica and I made some money, but I can’t leave the country with the money or they’re going to take half of it. One of the guys that I know here has a studio. Do you have anything up there I could sing on?'
So we go down there with our demo, throw on her voice, make it sound as good as we can because she wasn’t really a great singer – we had her sing it like a dozen times, over and over, so we got this thick version of her, this big, lush, breathy and sexy vocal. Then we edited it, cleaned it up and put a bunch of reverb on it so it has that big effect. We come back to New York, Gregg hooked up with some lawyer that he knew, they shopped it around, and every label in New York passed on this record.
One of the guys we talked to in that time was Art Kass, a very smart guy who had a record company called Buddah Records. He’d let everybody pass [on records], and he’d be the guy that calls later and goes 'So what happened?' So after everybody passes, I get this call from Art, and he ends up drawing up a deal for the record, and signs Andrea True as the artist. When it broke the Hot 100, me and my brother were like, 'This is the best we’re ever gonna do in our life, we hit it, this is it.' And it just kept creeping. It took like eight months to get into the top 20. And then we’ve got a #1 record on our hands. "
That being said, this early version, while considerably more raw than the pretty, polished Tom Moulton mix that would rise up the charts, still keeps the song's bare essential elements. The soft-focused, double-tracked vocals on the chorus, the combination of sex and sweetness and overall catchiness all still very much intact, if still slightly blurry. The intro is noticeably much sparser on this version, however the trumpets are just as prominent; the cowbell hooks - sampled in the late 90's on Len's "Steal My Sunshine" are there, though much more subdued. Overall, it wasn’t exactly a radical overhaul, however listening to this and Moulton's mix side-by-side is almost a study in how far all the finer points of good mix - all the small, but key elements, can really go in refining and elevating a record.
Andrea True - More, More, More (Musikladen - May, 29, 1976)
Uploaded by Kanal tilhørende JUKEBOSEN
Speaking to James Arena in his book, The First Ladies of Disco, Tom Moulton relates his own initial impressions and contributions:
"When I say crude, I mean there were a lot of horn mistakes, and it was sloppy. It was like a demo that people kept adding things to. The basic thing about it was it was very rough. In other words, you'd have heard the tape and you would have said 'Okay, that's good, now let's record it for real.' But there's always something about a hook that gets me - that's why they call them hooks. And I liked it. I had heard it and I liked it and I thought I could do something with it. Andrea wasn't singing much on it, I had to double her vocals and add a lot of reverb on it just to make it, you know, very sweet and dreamy.. It took me about six hours to finish it.”
"I thought the record had something. I liked that sort of hokey Herb Alpert-ish trumpet solo. I thought it was kind of corny enough to really work... Buddah said they would take it if I mixed the record, but Gregg said, 'no way!' He didn't want anyone to touch it. Well, Gregg must have gone around the block several times and finally got back to Art [Kass] and said, 'Okay, Tom can mix it, but I have to be there.' I said, 'That's fine as long as he keeps his mouth shut. He can be there. I don't care.' We already [heard] his version, and nobody seemed to want that! So anyway, we agreed to do it . He had to have a limo to drive him to my studio. I thought he was kind of whacked out - seemed like he was high as a kite. I never saw him doing anything, but he appeared like someone on something. He was sleeping when he arrived. The driver asked if he should wake him up, and I said 'Hell no! Just drive him around and come back in three or four hours!' " (pg. 45)
Once Over Nightly” seemed to be playing, just as “More, More, More” was hitting airwaves. Even with the abundance and accessibility of porn today it’s still hard enough, if not nearly impossible for anyone working in porn to achieve any level of mainstream success, let alone a #1 hit, even after their porn careers are over. Speaking perhaps to the relative innocence of the times, however brief and fleeting her crossover stardom was, it’s a feat which has yet to be duplicated all these years later. For those who haven't read it, James Arena's book The First Ladies of Disco has it's first and one of its most comprehensive chapters dedicated to her. Apparently, Arena's First Ladies project began as a biography of her, however with the lady herself no longer with us, and with much of her life story pre- and post- stardom completely elusive, with no children or surviving relatives coming forward to fill in the blanks, it's perhaps the most detailed and dedicated recollection of her life story that we'll get.. Andrea True, born Andrea Marie Truden, passed away on November 7, 2011 in Kingston, NY at the age of 68.
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discogs: andrea true - more, more more (jamaican 7")
discogs: andrea true connection
discogs: tom moulton
discogs: gregg diamond
wikipedia: more, more, more
red bull music academy - interview: godfrey diamond on andrea true's "more, more, more"... and more (by abby garnett) (august 13, 2014)
daily freeman: disco singer andrea true, 68, dies in kingston; had hit with 'more, more, more' (november 19, 2011)
new york times: andrea true, singer of disco hit, dies at 68. (by paul vitello) (november 24, 2011)
los angeles times: andrea true dies at 68; porn star turned disco singer (by valerie j. nelson) (november 25, 2011)
the independent - obituaries: andrea true: disco diva of more, more, more fame (by pierre perrone) (sunday november 26, 2011)
google books: first ladies of disco (by james arena)
iafd (internet adult film database): andrea true
CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, IN MEMORIAM