Thursday, December 24, 2009

Disco Delivery #63: Je te tiens, tu me tiens par la barbichette (Bande originale du film de Jean Yanne) (1979, Barclay)



The Ritchie Family - Forever Dancing (Te Deum)
Mimi Coutelier - Boogie Lady
The Ritchie Family - La Barbichette (You Make Me Feel It)
Village People - Hot Cop
Mimi Coutelier - Boogie Lady (Instrumental)
The Ritchie Family - La Barbichette (You Make Me Feel It) (Instrumental)

Unfortunately I don't have anything especially seasonal for this year, but I figure something colourful, cheesy and fun like this would do for the time being..

Produced by Jacques Morali (who, for those who may not know, was the late mastermind behind The Village People and The Richie Family etc..); the soundtrack to the late French writer, director, actor and satirist Jean Yanne's 1979 film "Je Te Tiens, Tu Me Tiens Par La Barbichette" (based on the French nursery rhyme, which apparently translates into "I've Got You, You've Got Me by the Chin Hairs" or "I've Got You, You've Got Me By the Hairs of My Chinny Chin Chin") seems to be, at least on these shores, one of Morali's lesser known releases. A full-on disco soundtrack featuring exclusive originals by The Richie Family and one of the film's stars Mimi Coutelier (also Jean Yanne's paramour, it seems), along with one recycled Village People tune ("Hot Cop," from 1978's "Cruisin'" LP), it's not an especially long LP by any stretch. Filled however, with big, effusive vocals and the sort of Philly-on-steroids production bombast one would expect from Morali, anyone (like me) who has a soft spot for his work will likely find more than enough to love here anyway.

While, as far as I know, none of the soundtrack exclusives have been made available digitally as of yet, the film itself is currently available on DVD. I had actually ordered the DVD recently, but since I haven't been able to get the damn Region 2 thing to work on on my PC's DVD yet, I still have yet to see the film (not that I'd understand a whole lot with my severely limited French anyway, but still..). That being said, from what I've gathered through stilted Babelfish translations of the DVD synopsis and various viewer reviews out there (someone correct me if I've got any of this wrong), the film is apparently a big send-up of the French television business, revolving around the kidnapping of a famous TV presenter by anti-TV terrorists (how quaint) and the subsequent staging of a big disco TV special in order to generate the ransom revenue. Jean Yanne and Mimi Coutelier play two of the inspectors, with Coutelier's character eventually getting a part in the actual special itself (as seen below). Naturally, all of this along with Morali's soundtrack also make perfect excuses for The Ritchie Family and the Village People to make notable musical cameo appearances.

Aside from Morali and business partner Henri Belolo, notably the film's writer/director and star Jean Yanne and regular Morali collaborator Beauris Whitehead (AKA Peter Whitehead) are all given writing credits on the soundtrack exclusives. Two of those originals "La Barbichette (You Make Me Feel It)" and "Boogie Lady" are also included on the soundtrack album in their instrumental versions. A hat-tip to DJ's or perhaps just something to fill space, they're worthy additions, since they're just about as enjoyable as their vocal versions.

The Ritchie Family's "Forever Dancing" would have to be, at least in my opinion, one of the soundtrack's showpieces. Stumbling across that song's YouTube clip (and subsequently having that tune and those images burned and looped in my head) practically compelled me to go track the whole album down.

A disco adaptation of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's "Te Deum" (also known as the Eurovision theme song) I think this one has to be both heard and seen to be appreciated in its full colourful campy glory. With the bright, spandex costumes, stare-down dance routines and neon lights in the clip, I dare anyone to not have this running in their head for a good week or so thereafter.



One of my other favourites here is Mimi Coutelier's "Boogie Lady." Granted, her voice is practically weightless, with the Ritchie Family (I'm assuming) on background doing most of the heavy lifting, but it's so damn sweet and catchy, it hardly matters. The clip of Mimi's dance sequence (choreography courtesy of Marilyn Corwin) looks like yet another one of THE disco glamour moments here (which, it appears Madonna was quite taken with, also). With that high kicking, arm twirling solo dance routine, blinking projections in the back surrounded by every other manner of disco variety show glitz; for what was probably supposed to be a stinging parody, it looks so damn fabulous it might as well have been a tribute..



The Ritchie Family perform the title theme for the closing disco sequence, but you can see almost everyone, including a couple of the Village People and Jacques Morali himself (2.52-2.54 in the glasses and red shirt), as well..



Running just over thirty minutes and with only three original/exclusive tracks (not including the two instrumental versions), it may be somewhat short, but still a whole lot of fun and well worth tracking down for fans of Morali's work. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone.

PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
LOOK FOR AN ASCOT, A BIG CIGAR.. (WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 31, 2008)
DISCO DELIVERY #11: PHYLICIA ALLEN - JOSEPHINE SUPERSTAR (1978, CASABLANCA) (FRIDAY MARCH 17, 2006)
THE FUGITIVE COP (WEDNESDAY MARCH 8, 2006)

PURCHASE:
JE TE TIENS, TU ME TIENS PAR LA BARBICHETTE (REGION 2 DVD)
AMAZON.FR

LINKS:
DISCOGS: VARIOUS - LA BARBICHETTE - BANDE ORIGINALE DU FILM DE JEAN YANNE
DISCOGS: THE RITCHIE FAMILY - LA BARBICHETTE/FOREVER DANCING (7" SINGLE)
DISCOGS: JACQUES MORALI
DISCO-DISCO: HENRI BELOLO & JACQUES MORALI
IMDB: JE TE TIENS, TU ME TIENS PAR LA BARBICHETTE (1979)
ALL MOVIE GUIDE: JE TE TIENS, TU ME TIENS PAR LA BARBICHETTE (1979)
NEW YORK TIMES - MOVIES: JE TE TIENS, TU ME TIENS PAR LA BARBICHETTE
WIKIPÉDIA: JE TE TIENS, TU ME TIENS PAR LA BARBICHETTE
IMDB: JEAN YANNE
THE INDEPENDENT - OBITUARIES: JEAN YANNE (BY PIERRE PERRONE) (MONDAY MAY 26, 2003)
ALL MOVIE GUIDE: JEAN YANNE
THE TELEGRAPH - OBITUARIES: JEAN YANNE (MAY 31, 2003)
IMDB: MIMI COUTELIER
WIKIPÉDIA: MIMI COUTELIER
IMDB: MARILYN CORWIN

CATEGORIES: DISCO DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mix Fix #1: Let's Go Downtown

Photo credit: GarySe7en @ Flickr

Thinking of maybe making this, a selection of my favourite mixes, a semi-regular thing here. What with some of the links that end up in my inbox and the others I've been exposed to lately via mix-sharing sites like Soundcloud (best new social sharing site, IMO), I don't think I've ever really listened to this many mixes before. Perhaps one of these days I might, just might even get one of my own up. For now though, there's plenty of excellent stuff out there.

To start things off, recently I was sent a killer 40 minute boogie mix by The Broadway Sounds. No-nonsense, straightforward mixing, great track selection and enough funky synth and slap-bass to get things up and moving.

Broadway Sounds - C'mon Baby Let's Go Downtown Mix (download link)
Tracklist: Alvie John - "Give It All To Me" / Motion - "Emotion" / Lonnie Jordan - "Fine Foxy Lady" / Plush - "Free & Easy" / Flight - "Flying High" / Krystol - "Don't Change Your Ways" / Titus Williams - "Give Me Some Love Tonight" / Brenda Hillard - "Give Me All Of Your Love"


Sean Wolcott, one half of The Fascination Movement and formerly of the abruptly, but dearly departed blog, The Red Room (apparently taken down without notice, even to him) recently brought this to my attention. The Fascination Movement have an album in the works and not too long ago released their new single "Bringing Down The Walls". This mix was posted as a little companion to that on the AUBE Records blog. Only streaming at the moment Sean just provided a download link, definitely one of the best Italo-flavoured mixes I've heard lately. Tracklist and info HERE.


The Fascination Movement - DJ Sets Vol. 2 (download link)


Was recently turned on to Monorail's Monoblog via a recent posting on Beat Electric, having posted a killer boogie mix by Beat Electric's BT Magnum recently, just posted the fourth in their Riders Mix Series last week by one of my favourites, Codebreaker's Steven Hawley (see posting on their "Follow Me" single). Serously awesome mix with all the hyper, funked-up synthy excitement one would hear on a Codebreaker record. No tracklist at this time, but highly recommended.

Riders Mix #4: Together We Can Be Free - A DJ Mix by Steven Hawley of Codebreaker


In more Italo stuff, The good people at the Valerie Collective recently posted a mix by Italo Disco veteran Fred Ventura. For those who enjoy neo-Italo and who have yet to hear about this, just for the record, the Valerie Collective's "Valerie and Friends" compilation is a must-hear. Tracklist and info HERE.

Fred Ventura - Disco Relix Mixtape


In more straight-ahead disco territory, Professor Eddy, another D.D. friend and favourite (whose mixes I've posted previously) recently uploaded a sexy, funked up classic disco set up on Mixcloud. Great combination of well-appointed disco favourites like Beautiful Bend and funk treasures like the Chicago Gangsters. Tracklist & info HERE.

Professor Eddy - Steamy Soul, Funk & Disco


For those who haven't heard it yet, American Athlete's Pat Les Stache just posted a live mix from last month at the Go Bang! Party in San Francisco. With that many can't-go-wrong disco classics, it's a must-hear. Was in the Vancouver area at one point last year and am regretting not making it out to Seattle for Pat & T.M.L's HMA Studio parties now.

Pat Les Stache at Go BANG! 10-24-09 San Francisco Debut Set! by Go BANG!


Dick Gustavsson of Sweden, an old friend of this blog put up a seriously awesome podcast fairly recently on Podomatic. The mix for Autumn is one that I've been digging recently. Straight to the point, nothing but the funky goods. Nearly an hour of pure pleasure..

DixMix: Autumn Leaves


A mix from 2006, The Beat Broker recently put his Italo Keepers mix up on Soundcloud. Ace mix of some off-the-beaten path Italo Disco. Tracklist and info HERE.

Italo Keepers by the Beat Broker


CATEGORIES: MIX FIX

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get up on it and ride..



The Temptations - Bare Back (1978, Atlantic)

The Temptations - Mystic Woman (Love Me Over) (1978, Atlantic)
The Temptations - Touch Me Again (1978, Atlantic)


For the record, while I'm definitely not endorsing any of the practices supposedly suggested or implied in this song, I do heartily endorse it's groove.

The title track from The Temptations' "Bare Back" (1978, Atlantic) album, their second and last during their brief, unsuccessful period on the Atlantic label in the late 70's, this was a single, but like all of their other Atlantic material, never went anywhere commercially. Supple basslines, spirited vocals (largely courtesy of lead vocalist Richard Street), and propulsive bass-heavy groove aside, perhaps it was better that it didn't, in retrospect. I suppose using the expression "riding bareback" as a metaphor for life and living may have been acceptable in 1978 pre-AIDS; to say that it's an expression which hasn't held up too well over the years would probably be an understatement. Then again, I suppose that depends entirely on one's perspective..

However, with the great production and the admittedly out-of-context naughtiness one can't help but read into it today, I personally can't get enough of it. With this track and practically the entire album produced and co-written by Motown veteran Brian Holland alongside brother Eddie Holland and their main writing partner at this time, Harold Beatty (essentially Lamont Dozier's replacement), this is just one of the many excellent, underrated productions that the Holland Brothers were involved with at the time. While there's no topping the legacy of Holland-Dozier-Holland as pop songwriters, Eddie Holland's bright, funk-bottomed, disco flavoured productions in the late 70's for acts like The Supremes (covered on here before), The Jackson 5, Eloise Laws and others like the short-lived group, New York Port Authority are top quality, in my opinion..

As far as the album goes, In spite of having pulled together a top-flight team of Philadelphia's finest (which included Norman Harris and future group member Ron Tyson) on their first Atlantic LP, "Hear To Tempt You" (1977, Atlantic), out of their two Atlantic albums, I'd consider this to be the best of them. While not as ambitious as their Norman Whitfield material, or their last big Motown record, the Jeffrey Bowen-produced "A Song For You" (1975, Gordy/Motown), the other disco-flavoured tracks on the record like "Mystic Woman (Love Me Over)" and "Touch Me Again," the sublime balladry in "Ever Ready Love" (also a single), and "I See My Child" (the only track not written by Holland, Beatty and Holland) make it solid and satisfying, nonetheless.

While I can't imagine any of the current Tempts revues get too many requests in their shows for the song in question, thankfully You Tube has video. One from a 1979 live performance on the Chicago TV show Soundstage, and another from the ever-reliable Soul Train. Also from the same Soul Train appearance, is a performance of one of the album's ballad tracks "Ever Ready Love," which, if I'm not mistaken, might have been their final single release for Atlantic.


The Temptations - Bare Back (1978)
Uploaded by 2007wiifit


Temptations - Bare Back (Soundstage Chicago 1979)
Uploaded by whatiship73


The Temptations - Ever Ready Love (1978)
Uploaded by 2007wiifit


PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
WHITNEY DOES LOLEATTA.. (FRIDAY AUGUST 7, 2009)
R.I.P. MICHAEL JACKSON (FRIDAY JUNE 26, 2009)
DISCO DELIVERY #51: THE SUPREMES - HIGH ENERGY (1976, MOTOWN) (SATURDAY JANUARY 26, 2008)
DISCO DELIVERY #41: TÁTA VEGA - TRY MY LOVE (1978, MOTOWN) (SATURDAY MAY 19, 2007)
THE SUPREMES - MARY, SCHERRIE & SUSAYE (REPRISE) (THURSDAY MARCH 8, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #12: DAMON HARRIS - SILK (1978, WMOT/FANTASY) (FRIDAY MARCH 24, 2006)
ALL I NEED'S A LITTLE POWER.. (WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 22, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #1 - THE SUPREMES - MARY, SCHERRIE & SUSAYE (1976, MOTOWN) (TUESDAY JANUARY 10, 2006)

LINKS:
DISCOGS: THE TEMPTATIONS - BARE BACK LP
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: THE TEMPTATIONS - BARE BACK (REVIEW)
DISCOGS: BRIAN HOLLAND
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: BRIAN HOLLAND
WARR.ORG: THE TEMPTATIONS - BARE BACK (REVIEW)
ROBERT CHRISTGAU REVIEWS: THE TEMPTATIONS

CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO

Friday, September 18, 2009

Disco Discharge and Other Recent/Upcoming Disco Releases & Reissues

It has been a while since I've done one of these posts, but Harmless' new Disco Discharge series are honestly some of the most pleasing disco compilations I've heard in a little while now. While not 100% devoted to rarities and obscurities, compiled around specific names or niche categories like most of the disco compilations that tend to pique my interest these days, I was, to be honest, half-expecting to be a little underwhelmed. To my own surprise, I've spent much of the last week or so indulging in these, discovering songs I never knew about (the awesome Bobby O. production by Free Enterprise - "Make It On My Own," "Take Me To The Top" by Advance, Massara's "Margherita," Johnny Mathis' "Gone, Gone, Gone) and re-acquainting myself with well-known classics that I've long taken for granted (Rose Royce's "Do Your Dance", the Shep Pettibone mix of Phyllis Nelson's "I Like You), or never even bothered with in the first place (Fern Kinney's "Groove Me," Manhattan Transfer's "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone"). I have to give them credit with this, not only have they managed to mark a fine balance between choice rarities and the more well-known commercial hits, but across the four double-disc volumes in this series (Classic Disco, Disco Queens, Gay Disco & Hi NRG and Euro Disco), they've put together quite a broad-based series, well tuned to the current disco zeitgeist, balancing the classic disco of the late 70's with the increasing movement towards Italo, Boogie and Hi NRG.

As far as rarities are concerned, there are a good number of tracks on here which either don't seem to have ever been, or at the very least haven't been widely available on CD until now. While the track times are all listed, and the promo stickers advertise all tracks as "12" or long LP versions," not all of these special versions are specifically labeled on the tracklists, like, for example the rare Canadian 12" mix/extended edit of Amanda Lear's "Blood and Honey," mastered from the original tapes and exclusive to this series. With all of its sweet extended percussion breaks, finally being able to hear this track here in pristine digital quality is one of the major treats on here, especially given the prices that the original Direction label 12" release has commanded on eBay in the not too distant past. Also included among the other unlabeled versions on here are the John Luongo's 12" mix of Melba Moore's "Pick Me Up, I'll Dance", the extended mix of Sparks' Moroder-produced "Number One Song In Heaven," the seven minute version of Time Bandits' "Live It Up," the 12" version of Silver Convention's "Get Up And Boogie," and the "Roy Thode 12" version of Poussez' Come On And Do It, to give a few. It also has to be said, that any compilation that takes the care to track down the masters for both of Sylvia Love's classics - "Instant Love" and "Extraterrestrial Lover" (also exclusive to this series) is definitely in my good books.

In addition to the musical selection, the sound quality across the volumes is also refreshingly consistent and of high quality. While it may not always be possible, the care taken in tracking down original master tapes for the overwhelming majority of selections is commendable, given the number of compilations (excellent ones too) out in the disco world that don't. Luring the listener with a classic while keeping things interesting with a series delicately timed surprises; as a listening experience, this series this is pretty much everything good compilations should be.

One of the best functions of the compilation album - which doesn't seem to be going away, in spite of the changes in music consumption (in fact, I'd probably argue the opposite), is as one of the primary gateways into new avenues of music. As far as I'm concerned, while there's a lot here those for those well acquainted with disco and looking something new; for those who aren't, it's a perfect place to start.

The first volume, Classic Disco was already released September 7th, with Disco Ladies scheduled for release on September 28th, followed by Euro Disco on October 5th and Gay Disco & Hi NRG on October 19th via Harmless/Demon. All include liner notes by Alan Jones, co-author (with Jussi Kantonen) of "Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco" (read the essay from the Classic Disco volume here).

In the meantime, for those who would like a preview, Horse Meat Disco's Luke Howard has put together an excellent 30 minute Disco Discharge mix, featuring tracks from the series. Enjoy.

Listen: Luke Howard - Disco Discharge Mix | LINK TWO

Luke Howard - Disco Discharge/Soulful Disco Mix (tracklist):
1. Idris Muhammad - Could Heaven Ever Be Like This
2. Glitter Band - Makes You Blind
3. Grey And Hanks - Dancin'
4. Lucy Hawkins - Gotta Get Out Of Here
5. Esther Phillps - What A Difference A Day Makes

VA - Disco Discharge. Classic Disco (2009, Harmless)
buy/pre-order @ play.co.uk | juno | phonica |amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com

VA - Disco Discharge. Disco Ladies (2009, Harmless)
buy/pre-order @ play.co.uk | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com

VA - Disco Discharge. Euro Disco (2009, Harmless)
buy/pre-order @ play.co.uk | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com

VA - Disco Discharge. Gay Disco & Hi NRG (2009, Harmless)
buy/pre-order @ play.co.uk | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com

Recent & Future Reissues:

Aquarian Dream - Fantasy
(1978, Elektra / 2009, Warner Music Japan)
buy/pre-order @ hmv.co.jp | CDBANQ | dustygroove.com
This is one I'm personally very excited for. An Aquarian Dream album on CD - almost thought it wouldn't happen. While their first LP was reissued on CD in the 90s (now out of print, of course), this is probably their finest. For those who haven't heard, "You're A Star" is pure epic pleasure and as far as the rest of it's concerned, when it is produced by the great Norman Connors and reissued by the Japanese, you just can't go wrong. Note: both of their Elektra albums (this and 1979's "Chance To Dance") are available digitally (in the legit sense), so consider this one for those who still value the physical. (To be released October 14, 2009)
ALL MUSIC GUIDE: AQUARIAN DREAM - FANTASY (REVIEW)

Gregg Diamond Bionic Boogie - Hot Butterfly
(1978, Polydor / 2009, Funky Town Grooves)
buy/pre-order @ funky town grooves | dustygroove.com
An exciting release from Funky Town Grooves label. While this album had been reissued on CD in 2005 by the P-Vine label in Japan, the people at FTG (with the help of some discomusic.com forum members) tracked down five extra bonus tracks - 12" mixes of the title track, "Fess Up To The Boogie," "Cream (Always Rises To The Top), and two different 12" mixes of "Chains." A top shelf Gregg Diamond production, with Luther Vandross on vocals (along with Cissy Houston in the background), this is one of my favourites and one I'm personally looking forward to. FTG haven't listed a specific release date, but have posted an info page on their website. (Scheduled for release in October/November 2009)

Pattie Brooks - Love Shook/Our Ms. Brooks
(1977, 1978, Casablanca / 2009, Funky Town Grooves)
buy/pre-order @ funky town grooves
While the combination of Pattie's voice and Simon Soussan's production can be a little oversweetened for my liking at times, it's nice to see more Casablanca disco releases make it to CD (especially in times like this). One of the main people behind the Funky Town Grooves label confirmed on the discomusic.com forums that this reissue will be taken from the master tapes, so it certainly looks promising. (To be released September 28, 2009)


Jackie Moore - I'm On My Way/With Your Love
(1979, 1980, Columbia / 2009, Expansion)
buy @ soul music store | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
These two classic disco albums, produced by Bobby Eli (and backed by the whole Philly studio gang) are finally making it to digital. The former, "I'm On My Way" is especially overdue, including her two big disco killers "This Time Baby" and "How's Your Love Life Baby," which are essentials on anyone disco selections, as far as I'm concerned. Note: Haven't heard it for myself yet, but an early review on Amazon.com says this was mastered from vinyl. Be warned. (Released September 8, 2009)

Gray & Hanks - You Fooled Me/Prime Time
(1978, 1981, RCA / 2009, Expansion)
buy @ soul music store | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
The two albums Zane Gray and Len Ron Hanks did for RCA are also here, both in their entirety. Brought to you by the same folks who did the Jackie Moore reissue (above), the former "You Fooled Me," which includes their disco hit "Dancin'" (as included on the Disco Discharge Classic Disco set) was reissued on CD in Japan last year, but with this much more accessible release and with both albums included, this might be better way to go if you want it on CD (unless, of course, this is mastered from vinyl as well). (Released September 8, 2009)

George & Gwen McCrae - Together
(1975, Cat/TK / 2009, Shout!/Cherry Red)
buy @ cduniverse.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
Perhaps more on the soul/R&B side of things, produced by Clarence Reid (AKA Blowfly) and Steve Alaimo, this is a great mellow grooving classic, I had to include this here. As far as soulful female voices go, I can never get enough of Gwen McCrae and this one fits in well with her material at the time (which was also produced mostly by Reid & Alaimo). This reissue includes six bonus tracks, all George McCrae solos, who, compared to his former wife, has been generally less represented in the world of reissues. (Released August 25, 2009)

Sylvester and The Hot Band - The Blue Thumb Collection
(2009, Hip-O Select/Universal)
buy @ hip-o select | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
So perhaps not disco at all, but still a major release from a disco-historical perspective. Hip-O/Universal have at last gone out and filled one of the outstanding gaps in Sylvester's catalogue by making his first two albums, "Sylvester & The Hot Band" (AKA "Scratch My Flower") and "Bazaar" (along with a couple of rare bonuses) available on CD. An intriguing pair of records - heavy on covers, both albums are a departure from the disco he would later record on the Fantasy and Megatone labels during the height of his career. Crossing between folk, funk, rock and soul, it however fit right in with the eclecticism that the Blue Thumb label was known for. A must-have for Sylvester fans. (Note: for those wondering about the scratch-and-sniff flower on the original debut LP, Hip-O select have included one in air freshner form, in lieu of its omission on the cover. I believe this is exclusive to orders from their website though.) (Released June 12, 2009)
SOUL & JAZZ & FUNK: SYLVESTER & THE HOT BAND - THE BLUE THUMB COLLECTION (REVIEW)

Candi Staton - Chance
(1979, Warner Bros. / 2009, Wounded Bird)
buy @ cduniverse.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
This was released a while back, but I had to put this here as this is a favourite of mine. Prior to the release of this I'd bought a sealed copy of the vinyl album to keep 'on ice,' so to speak. Had I known about this, I probably wouldn't have done that, but anyway, produced by Candi and noted disco mixer Jimmy Simpson, this album includes the hit "When You Wake Up Tomorrow" and the underrated title track. Soulful disco fans, take heed. (Released June 9, 2009)


Belle Epoque - Miss Broadway
(1977, Big Tree / 2009, Wounded Bird)
buy @ cduniverse.com | amazon.com | amazon.co.uk | dustygroove.com
Another one released in June, and one that I never expected either. Wounded Bird continue to mine the depths of the WEA archives for these things, and I couldn't be happier. Timely too, as I've been listening to Glass Candy version of the title track recently, but nothing tops the original. (Released June 9, 2009)

List updated September 21, 2009


PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
MILLION DOLLAR ORCHESTRA, ASHFORD & SIMPSON AND OTHER NEW/UPCOMING DISCO RELEASES (SATURDAY JANUARY 19, 2008)
UPCOMING SISTER SLEDGE REISSUES (FRIDAY AUGUST 10, 2007)
HAVE A COCKTAIL.. UPCOMING DISCO COMPILATIONS (JUNE 2007) (THURSDAY MAY 24, 2007)
NEW CERRONE REISSUES (THURSDAY OCTOBER 12, 2006)
DISCO REISSUES UPDATE (MARCH 17TH - APRIL 12TH) (THURSDAY MARCH 16, 2006)
UPCOMING REISSUES & RELEASES (APRIL 25 - MAY 30) (FRIDAY APRIL 21, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #7: SYLVESTER - M-1015 (1984, MEGATONE) (FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17, 2006)

CATEGORIES: REISSUES & RELEASES, DISCO NEWS

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