Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Disco Delivery Mix #11: Midnight Shift

Photo: Newsstand by Toby Old, 1999

Putting up another Disco mix I recorded back at the end of January. A combination of records I had recently acquired along with others from the recesses of my collection.

Going from light to dark, moonlight to sunshine, a little froth and a little funk, I thought the Donna Summer track "Working The Midnight Shift" (which appears at the middle of this mix) set the tone for things quite well.

A personal thing I've really enjoyed about doing these mixes (and playing them back) is how it's given me an opportunity to take records that I haven't played in a while and really make them part of my daily/regular listening.

Disco Delivery Mix #11: Midnight Shift (Download)

Tracklist and track notes below. Enjoy!


T.C. James & The Fist-O-Funk Orchestra - Bumpsies Whipping Cream (Savarese 12” Mix)
Nite School - Do You Speak French?
José Calvário - Lisboa à noite (Lisbon By Night)
Manu Dibango - Motapo
Trademark - Days Of Pearly Spencer
Chrisland - Angela, Angel
Donna Summer - Working The Midnight Shift
Theo Vaness - Sentimentally It’s You
Who’s Who - Palace Palace
The Stewart-Thomas Group - To Freak Or Not To Freak
The Red Stripe Band - Try Love
Billy Newton-Davis - Romance (Disco Remix)
Dusty Springfield - Baby Blue (Disco Version)
Nancy Wilson - Sunshine

All the records used in this mix

Track notes:

T.C. James & The Fist-O-Funk Orchestra - Bumpsies Whipping Cream (Savarese 12” Mix): A bit of a lascivious start to the mix, I first heard this song on the T.C. James & The Fist-O-Funk Orchestra album which was a lovely cheap find some years back. Was delighted to discover this lovely extended mix by Tom Savarese on 12". This was taken from the Canadian 12" which has Savarese mixes on both sides. A US promo has a Walter Gibbons Mix (not of this song) on the A-side, and has become well sought-after, going by its Discogs stats.

Nite School - Do You Speak French?: A little sexy "parlez-vous français?" instructional number with a lot of sprightly female vocals and swirly strings, which is always a winning combination with me! Belgians Jean Kluger and Ralph Benatar with American producer/engineer Galen Senogles appear to be the team behind this. Benatar with either Kluger or Senogles also had a hand in other disco goodies by Black Blood and LAX, among others. Senogles was also the engineer on a number of Rinder & Lewis projects on the AVI label.

José Calvário - Lisboa à noite (Lisbon By Night): A little something from an obscure album, The Best Disco In Sound from noted Portugese composer José Calvário, which happened to get a Canadian release back in the day. A lovely orchestral disco album which lands in the same lane as the records of Costandinos, side-long suites playing all the way through seamlessly.

Manu Dibango - Motapo: I had gotten Manu Dibango's 1978 album Sun Explosion for cheap a few years back at one of my local (and dearly departed) record haunts here in Toronto. For 4 tracks and a whopping $3, there were some lovely long Afro-disco goodies on here, this being one of them. In a sense, works in much the same way as the very euro-orchestral disco of the previous entry.

Trademark - Days Of Pearly Spencer: A favourite of mine, and one of the better covers of singer-songwriter David McWilliams' original from 1967, reportedly about a homeless person from the streets of Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Marc Almond would later successfully cover this in 1992 however, not surprisingly, I enjoy this disco version best. Even keeping the "telephoned in" vocal effect used in the original, there's an evocative melancholy here which which is not only retained but in my opinion, heightened in this disco translation.

Chrisland - Angela, Angel: Continuing on the disco noir of the previous track is this song by Chrisland, one of several monikers used by the French singer/producer Christian Girard. With lyrics like "it must have been the devil to have left those scars upon your arm," it's evidently a disco song about losing a loved one to the depths of heroin addiction. Unusual subject matter for disco to say the least, but one that I've long loved and wanted to place properly in a mix.

Donna Summer - Working The Midnight Shift: The namesake of this mix and the final entry in these disco chronicles of urban misery is perhaps one of my favourite Donna Summer songs, and in my opinion one of the best moments of her Once Upon A Time double album. The urging pulse of Giorgio Moroder's synthesized backing track perfectly evokes the sadness and desperation of the lyrics and Donna's yearning vocal. A little pitched up here for beat-matching purposes, but hopefully not to the song's detriment.

Theo Vaness - Sentimentally It’s You: Including yet another Theo Vaness track on this mix, one that I had retrieved from my collection in storage over the Christmas holidays. There are sections of the vocal and lyric that I'm not especially crazy about, however I decided to mix this in just before my favourite part of the track, when that great propulsive break kicks in. Taken from his Bad Bad Boy album, which has probably one of the more homoerotic disco album cover shots of the time.

Who’s Who - Palace Palace: Lifting things up a little is this nugget by Daniel Vangarde, French disco super-producer and father of Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter. Reportedly inspired by a night at a New York roller-disco where he was taken by the dancers skating with whistles and perhaps also an ode to the famed Parisian disco "Le Palace," this is undoubtedly one of my favourite things to come from the mind of Daniel Vangarde. Because Music recently released a lovely retrospective of his work on his Zagora label, which also includes this track. Nevertheless, was glad to find an original 12" late last year.

The Stewart-Thomas Group - To Freak Or Not To Freak: A pleasant little cheapie that I also came across late last year, this was a one-off single by Marvell Thomas, (brother of Rufus, Carla and Vaneese Thomas), and soul songwriter Randall Stewart. While I probably wouldn't call this the greatest thing I've bought for $2.99, it's certainly not without it's charms, and provides a nice little lift in the mix.

The Red Stripe Band - Try Love: I had heard this track out from time to time, wondering what it was. Finally found out when I saw it reissued on 7" late last year, which I ordered straight away. Originally recorded by it's songwriter Tony Wilson, founding member of the group Hot Chocolate, this is easily my favourite version of this song. As of this writing, original pressings of the 1981 single are going for over $300 US on Discogs.

Billy Newton-Davis - Romance (Disco Remix): A pleasantly surprising recent cheap find, likely the first single from Toronto-based singer Billy Newton-Davis. I recall in the early days of this blog, a reader emailing me about looking for a copy of this single. Never had any luck coming across it until late last year. Produced by a one Boh Tanasijczuk, (who only has this one credit to his name on Discogs) and mixed by Toronto Disco DJ Wally MacDonald, it may not have been as polished as some of Newton-Davis' later work, but it has an appealing groove that convinced me to take this home.

Dusty Springfield - Baby Blue (Disco Version): A non-album disco single from the late, great Dusty Springfield, I had long been taken by this song, so much so that I ended up buying a copy of the 12" on eBay late last year. Written by some British heavy-hitters - Bruce Woolley, with Geoff Downes and future super-producer Trevor Horn (both later in The Buggles), this is perhaps my favourite of Dusty's disco efforts. I remember being surprised to read that Dusty herself was more enthusiastic about performing and releasing disco in the late 70s than even many of her producers were, which perhaps explains why this was one of the few. Love the combination of her vocals over the sleek synth pulse and latin-tinged percussion here.

Nancy Wilson - Sunshine: Ending things on a mellower, jazz-funk tip here. Taken from Nancy Wilson's 1979 Love, Life & Harmony album, one of the last from her long run at Capitol Records. While this album had some disco-leaning tracks, this song, however, was not among them. Fully one of the sublime highlights of the album though and one of the best grooves she's put her inimitable vocal stylings to.


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