Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Lost in the night

Photo: Nona Hendryx by Nick Sangiamo, 1984

Posting a little overdue mix for the start of summer...

Some years back I had made a little tradition of putting a mix up for Pride season, so am coming back to that partial sort of way. At the same time, this particular mix isn't exactly the straight-on celebratory disco that I'd usually have on tap for the occasion. Decided instead to go in a few different directions this time, using various selections of post-disco, and/or disco-adjacent material this time. Still, quite heavy on female singers, as is my tendency. Most of the songs on here are just under or just over 100 BPM, so I suppose this one's perhaps more for walking than dancing.

Most of the records I used for this mix were also ones that I brought the last time my partner Andrew and I played our INTERGEN night in May. As it turns out, we'll be doing another INTERGEN night this coming Wednesday June 28th, a kind of post-pride recovery through records, if you will. Starting at 9PM at The Little Jerry in Toronto. If you're in the area, do come by!

Lost In The Night (Download)

Tracklist and track notes below... Enjoy!


Terry Crawford - Chocolate Candy
Hot - Just ‘Cause I’m Guilty
Lucio Battisti - Un uomo che ti ama
Maxine Nightingale - Get It Up For Love
Alfie Silas - Put The Freeze On
Nona Hendryx - Soft Targets
Costas Charitodiplomenos - Lost In The Night (12" Version)
Barbara Fowler - Come and Get My Lovin’
First Love - It’s A Mystery To Me
Linda Clifford - I Want To Get Away With You
First Choice - Pressure Point
Dalida - Helwa ya baladi
Martha Velez - There You Are
Paula Moore - On The Edge
Liza Minnelli - If There Was Love

All the records used in this mix

Track Notes:

Terry Crawford - Chocolate Candy: A favourite of mine from Canadian singer Terry Crawford (sometimes called Terri Crawford) and one that I had happened upon quite by accident. Back in 2006, when I was living in Calgary, my favourite record shop had a back store room full of records. The owner noted how much disco I was buying, so let me into his store room, telling me that anything I found in there was $2 bucks a pop. I didn't have a portable record player with me, nor did they have a preview station, so I was going largely on instinct. While this wasn't exactly the disco I was perhaps half-expecting, I consider it one of the gems I found in that particular expedition. Written and originally recorded by American singer-songwriter Cheryl Dilcher in 1973 (who herself has a little disco connection), there's something about the bass in the groove here, and Terry's vocal approach that cinches this as my preferred version. Some years later, I figured out this was a fairly sought after record when someone from Europe messaged me on Discogs offering to pay me an amount of my choice for a .wav file of this song. As of this writing, the promo-only 12" is still going for upwards of $200 USD on Discogs, though I will say, for the intrepid diggers out there, copies still show up once in a while in Canadian dollar bins.

Hot - Just ‘Cause I’m Guilty: This group, comprised of Gwen Owens, Cathy Carson and Juanita Curiel put out three albums, all of which were helmed by the Muscle Shoals production duo of Clayton Ivey & Terry Woodford. I first heard Ivey & Woodford's work on The Supremes 1975 self-titled album. Not long after their time on Motown, they had one of their biggest hits on this group with the song "Angel In Your Arms," later covered by Millie Jackson, Barbara Mandrell and Reba McIntyre, to name a few. While that was the hit, the funkier sass and swing of "Just 'Cause I'm Guilty," the last track on Hot's self-titled album, remains my favourite. In any case, both songs summarize that intersection of soul, funk, and country that Ivey & Woodford covered so well.

Lucio Battisti - Un uomo che ti ama: First heard of Lucio Battisti through the Italian diva, Mina, who sang many of his songs. One of his many successful collaborations with the lyricist Mogol, his 1976 album (which this song is from) is among my favourites. Called Lucio Battisti, La batteria, Il contrabbasso, eccetera (The drums, the double bass, etcetera) it's one I had discovered from my partner, Andrew's collection, and shows Battisti incorporating ever more elements of American funk and disco into his sound. Recently, Sony Music Italy reissued the album on vinyl with a bonus CD which included the Spanish version of the record. This song, (which in English means, "A Man Who Loves You") and the entire record remain a wonderful listen in either language.

Maxine Nightingale - Get It Up For Love: I don't think I've heard a bad version of this song, which is a good thing, because there seem to be quite a few out there. I first heard this song when Táta Vega covered it as a disco song on her Try My Love album in 1979, which I had written about on this blog some years back - see Disco Delivery #41: Táta Vega - Try My Love (1979, Motown). This version, from 1977 on Maxine Nightingale's second album Night Life (sometimes titled Love Hit Me after its lead single) cuts closer to Ned Doheny's original. Though Táta's version will always be tops for me, I'd rank this up there as a favourite also.

Alfie Silas - Put The Freeze On: Alfie Silas-Durio has a long list of credits to her name as a session singer, as well as three albums of her own from the early 80s. This one's from her first, Alfie on RCA in 1982, which had a number of good tracks (I've found 1982-83 to be particularly good years for post-disco R&B/Boogie records). Ended up buying the album largely on the appeal of this song. Its melancholy synths conjure up spacey themes and metaphors, as do the lyrics. From that description one would think the whole thing could fall into gimmicky and/or cheesy territory, but it all comes together in quite a sincere, soulful and innovative way. Pitched down slightly for a little extra depth.

Nona Hendryx - Soft Targets: One of my favourite songs from her underrated 1984 LP, The Art Of Defense, the lyrics conjure up thoughts and images of vulnerability and uncertainty with a groove that's minimal but powerful. Pitched this one down also for beatmatching purposes and to impart a little extra power. In my opinion, a highlight of the work she did with Material/Bill Laswell in the early 80s.

Costas Charitodiplomenos - Lost In The Night (12" Version): Italo-Disco from Greek singer/songwriter Costas Charitodiplomenos. I had discovered Costas' songs on YouTube, and was intrigued at the Italo sound some of his work had. The connection clearly wasn't lost on the Italians either, as this ended up on the Many Records label in Italy, remixed by Mario Flores and Romano Bais (who put out a number of Italo records as R. Bais). Lyrically and melodically solid, I thought it worked well with the theme and feeling of the previous Nona Hendryx track and many of the other selections here.

Barbara Fowler - Come and Get My Lovin’: Stellar boogie from the Radar label and singer Barbara Fowler, who had been a vocalist in the disco/boogie projects Sinnamon and Sparkle. Don't always get to play this one, but am glad to find a place here for it. From the extended dubby synth effects to a killer soulful vocal, this has so many of the things I love about early 80's boogie. Produced by Eric Matthew (AKA Joe Tucci), the man who brought you Gary's Gang, Sure Shot by Tracy Weber and many of Sharon Redd's hits.

First Love - It’s A Mystery To Me: I've covered this group here before, when I posted their 1980 disco single Don't Say Goodnight/Love Me Today. Until recently, their sole album, Love At First Sight, on their producer, Donald Burnside's label, Chycago International Music, remained elusive for me. When I finally picked it up at a recent record fair, this song was one of the standouts for me. From 1982, one of those golden years of boogie, much like the previous selection - a funky groove, with lovely synths together with charming, soulful harmonies.

Linda Clifford - I Want To Get Away With You: One of my favourite disco divas, and a highlight from one of my favourite albums of hers, I'm Yours from 1980. That album was mostly produced by Isaac Hayes, and this song in particular has his stamp all over it. Personally, I think it's too bad this wasn't a single. I love hearing Linda sing in her lower register here, and all of the little classy touches on the production, from the elegant pauses to the guitar hook that gets you right from the top.

First Choice - Pressure Point: Another one I've covered here before - see Disco Delivery #29: First Choice - Breakaway (1980, Gold Mind/Salsoul). This was from the group's last album, and while this song wasn't among their hits, it's definitely among my personal favourites of theirs. Produced by the ever reliable Norman Harris and mixed by Tee Scott, from those strings at the intro, to all of the sharp, teasing breaks and edits, am glad to finally place this one in a mix!

Dalida - Helwa ya baladi: Changing gears into a signature song from the late icon of French pop, Dalida. I picked up a Canadian pressing of the album this was from, Dédié À Toi/Monday Tuesday some years back. However it wasn't really the disco tracks that captured me but this one, the last song on Side A. Sung in her native Egyptian Arabic, the title evidently translates to "Oh Sweet, My Homeland." Something of an evergreen patriotic song in Egypt these days, it's easy to hear why this became one of Dalida's most beloved songs in Egypt and across the Arab world.

Martha Velez - There You Are: I had bought Martha Velez' album Escape From Babylon at my favourite Calgary record store back in 2005. At the time, I didn't really have a great deal of knowledge of all the great names involved, but it intrigued me nonetheless. Between that and the fact that it was sealed and had a song called "Disco Night" on it, how could one go wrong? Beginning her recording career as a folk singer, she recorded this reggae album in 1975 with Bob Marley and Lee "Scratch" Perry in Jamaica. While this album still seems to get mixed reviews, it's one I personally love and go back to again and again, with a much fuller appreciation these days. This song, written by Marley, is to my ears, one of its high points.

Paula Moore - On The Edge: One of the big record fairs here in Toronto had room of $5 records that I used to love going to. It's a frenzy, but one never knows what one will find there. This particular album, titled High and Low in most territories, retitled Valparaiso in Canada after its hit single, is one case in point. Produced by super-producer and Daft Punk dad Daniel Vangarde, it's not quite like the hits he made for Ottawan and The Gibson Brothers, opting instead for a more subdued synth-centred sound here. While the album is perhaps not consistent enough in my ears to to be a classic, there are nevertheless, several remarkable songs on it, this being one of them. Combining the synth sound of much of the album with a reggae beat on this track, the result actually sounds much more interesting than it seems on paper.

Liza Minnelli - If There Was Love: From Liza's 1989 Results album, produced by the Pet Shop Boys. I probably needn't say much more, but to my mind, one of the great producer-artist pairings of that moment. I remember as a young gayling, Results being presented to me as a key part of my education in queer culture. The drama and resonance of Liza's voice in this song and the Pet Shop Boys' production and notably Neil Tennant's sharp personal lyricism here summarizes, to my ears, why that partnership worked so well. One of the song's key verses: "Men of affairs, women with power, satellites talking, to clutter our lives. Banks of predictions, policies made, prophecies broken, violence deranged..." Words which feel perhaps truer now than they did then. Culminating with a recitation of Shakespeare's Sonnet 94, while there are a number of great songs on the album, this is perhaps the one I go back to the most.



Anonymous said...

What happened to the Disco Music message board?

Tommy said...

Unfortunately, it went with most of the site when the owner decided to basically close much of it in 2016. There was some content left, but it looks like even that's all gone now. It was such a key resource for me, but I can understand that it was costing the webmaster a lot of money, not to mention social media and Discogs perhaps rendering parts of it redundant. That said, I was and am still sorry to see it go. The databases of information and especially the forums are what I miss the most.

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