Average Joe

September 28, 2014

AJ.jpgDisco had its stars, but I love it as the domain of the every man, where a street corner crooner from Jersey or Philly or Canada or Ohio or Italy or Illinois could have his moment to shine in front of an orchestra’s sweep riding the sweetest beat.  This one goes out to the man I crown as the King of Average Joe Disco, Benny Troy, whose magnificent “I Wanna Give You Tomorrow” is the epitome of the genre and will always be in my disco top ten.  Much love as well to recent discovery and podcast new comer George “Boots” Clements, whose epic disco take on “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” is ripe for rediscovery.  Take it away, fellas!

 

The Boogie Man - Martin Mull ’77 # Disco Train - Jerry Rix ’76 # Love Across the Room - Paul Delicato ’82 # Dancer - Sea Cruise ’78 # You Got It - Kumano ’80 # Baby Gets High - Peter Brown ’83 # Not Tonight - Macho ’80 # Steppin’ Out - Ray Dahrouge ’79 # Two Ships in the Night - Benny Troy ’76 # Get Up & Do It Again - Bob McGilpin ’79 # Lady - Montreal Sound ’77 # Dance My Life Away - Dennis Tufano ’79 # Sunshine Superman - Eclipse ’77 # (Ghost) Riders in the Sky - Boots Clements ’81 # I Wanna Give You Tomorrow – Benny Troy ’76

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Disco Mbobulation

September 15, 2014

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No theme for this set. No real organization principle here at all.  In fact, I’m not even sure these tracks even go together very well.  And so, DISCOmbobulation! 

Suspicions – Lenny Williams ’80 ҂ Small Talk – Al Hudson & the Soul Partners ’78 ҂ Together – Cameron ’80 ҂ Let’s Get Serious – Jermain Jackson ’80 ҂ Money is the Root – Jesus Wayne ’79 ҂ Shake It Down – El Coco ’82 ҂ Keep Holding On – Ace Spectrum ’75҂ Bernadette/Reach Out I’ll Be There – J.T. Connection ’79 ҂ Never Gonna Be the Same – Ruth Waters ’79 ҂ Washing Machine – NCCU ’77 ҂ Beat of the Night / Work Me / Treat Me Right – Fever ’79 ҂ Theme from Mork & Mindy – Cake ’79

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Love Is…

September 2, 2014

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I Fell in Love Last Night at the Disco – the Whispers ’77 ♥ Let Me Love You Once Again – IOB ’77 ♥ Lovers – Bruni Pagan ’79 ♥ I Want Your Love to Last – Hi-Gloss ’81 ♥ Love Thang – First Choice ’78 ♥ Love Is You – Carol Williams ’76 ♥ Love Me – the George K Band ’77 ♥ Baby I Love You – Easy Going ’79 ♥ I’m in Love – Nana Love ’78 ♥ Gimme Your Love – Alma Faye ’79 ♥ I Love You – Donna Summer ’77 ♥ Love Insurance – Front Page ’79 ♥ Gimme Some Loving – Cerrone ’79 ♥ I Got Your Love – Stratavarious featuring Lady ’76

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Boogie Lessons

August 19, 2014

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This installment is another loose collection of stuff hanging around the edges of my listening piles. I’ve fallen for the Kenny Nolan–penned “Take Your Mama/Daddy for a Ride.” Jim Gilstrap and Lulu both released it in 1975. I suspect Jim beat Lulu to the punch if only because Nolan contirbuted most of the cuts on Gilstrap’s Swing Your Daddy lp. Mizz is a disco girl group who put in an 11th-hour appearance during Casablanca’s last days of disco.  They offer a terrible cover of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and a credible version of Leslie Gore’s housewife-rock torcher “Love Me By Name,” but the real keeper is the psychedelic flute work on “Gotta Get Next to You.”  I love the gender switch on Denise LaSalle’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” but the cover to die for here is Enoch Light’s take on “I Feel Love” (!!!!).  Stripped of much of the electronic gimmickry that defined the original, this version reminds us anew of the song’s brilliant construction.  And I’d love to hear the Kenny G sax at the end of this on the original.  I can’t find much on Livin’ Proof who put out an early disco lp on the Ju-Par label, but their super-perky “Disco-Boogie” sounds like a long-lost classic, and the female vocalist’s hilarious exhortations to learn how to boogie inspired the title for this week’s episode.  Cheryl Barnes is best remembered as the actress who tore into “Easy to Be Hard” in the film version of Hair.  The Ray Dahrouge (who???) track is one of those delightful cuts that (likely unintentionally) never resolves its stance—is he more into  the guy or the girl in this copulation fantasy of his? IOB stands for Impact of Brass and it’s an early effort from the always reliable Gregg Diamond.

Take Your Daddy for a Ride – Jim Gilstrap ’75 Grease – The New 50 Guitars Gotta Get Next to You – Mizz ’80 Da Ya Think I’m Sexy – Denise LaSalle ’79 I Feel Love – Enoch Light and the Light Brigade ’77 The Real Thing – Daddy Dewdrop ’79 Hold On, I’m Coming – Karen Silver ’79 Disco-Boogie – Livin’ Proof ’78 Say Goodbye – IOB ’77 Save and Spend – Cheryl Barnes ’77 I Can See Him Making Love to You, Baby – Ray Dahrouge ’79 Don’t Be So Mean in Your Jeans – Bruni Pagan ’79 Wear Your Red Dress Tight – Timothy Wilson ’78 Midnight Ride – Barbara Pennington ’78 All This Love I’m Giving – Gwen McCrae ’79

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Bangers and Mash (English Disco - Part 2)

August 11, 2014

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Part two of my English Disco series.  Enjoy!

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing – Les Reed Orchestra ’78 ϕ Take Your Mama for a Ride – Lulu ’76 ϕ Drive Me Crazy (Disco Lady) – Gloria Jones ’76 ϕ Doin’ That Crazy Thing – Jeff Lynne ’77 ϕ Miss You – the Rolling Stones ’78 ϕ Wooly Willy Tango – Rick Wakeman ’79 ϕ Kitty Sittin’ Pretty –Kokomo ’75 ϕ Standin’ in the Shadows of Love – Rod Stewart ’78 ϕ Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? – Tom Jones ’81 ϕ Boogie Nights – Heatwave ’76 ϕ That’s the Kind of Love I’ve Got for You – Dusty Springfield ’78 ϕ Drownin’ in the Sea of Love – Ringo Starr ’77 ϕ Love Bite – the Richard Hewson Orchestra ’76 ϕ Band of Gold – the Armada Orchestra ’75 ϕ Family Man – Fleetwood Mac ’87 ϕ Let’s Dance – David Bowie ’83 ϕ I Just Love What You’re Doing – Hot Chocolate ’79 ϕ The Eve of the War – Jeff Wayne ’78

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Phoning It In

July 29, 2014

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Ah, disco; let’s return to a golden age when we used to do social things other than stare at the social media sites on our phones.  Which is not to say that the fone phun here is anything more than bemusedly ridiculous.  Two of the songs – “Telepathy” and “Don’t Send Nobody Else” – aren’t about phones per se, but make me think of phones nevertheless. 

(212) – Area Code (212) ’79 Ѽ Girl 6 – New Power Generation ’96 Ѽ Smooth Talk – Evelyn “Champagne” King ’77 Ѽ Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number – Michael White ’79 Ѽ Sex over the Phone – the Village People ’82 Ѽ Don Quichotte – Magazine 60 ’84 Ѽ The Hostage – Donna Summer ’74 Ѽ Call Me Tonight – Cerrone ’79 Ѽ Party Line – Carolyn Peyton ’77 Ѽ Bad Connection – Strange Affair ’80 Ѽ Long Distance Romance – the Ritchie Family ’76 Ѽ Call Me – Blondie ’80 Ѽ Telepathy – Deborah Allen ’87 Ѽ Don’t Send Nobody Else – Ace Spectrum ’74 Ѽ Call Me – Al Green ’73

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English Disco (Part 1)

July 21, 2014

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Acquiring a 12" disco single of the Rolling Stone’s “Hot Stuff” inspired this podcast, although when I set out I didn’t think I could pull enough material for a full edition of disco from UK-identified artists.  Well, fool me!  I found enough for two.  I don’t know that the follow-up will follow directly on the heels of this one, but rest assured it is coming.

Are You Ready for Love? – Elton John ’79 Sir Dancealot – Olympic Runners ’78 Hot Stuff – the Rolling Stones ’76 Cut the Cake – Average White Band ’75 Funky Like a Train – the Equals ’76 That’s the Way (I Like It) – Madeline Bell ’76 It’s in His Kiss – Linda Lewis ’75 Goodnight Tonight – Wings ’79 Makes You Blind – Glitter Band ’75 Bring on the Love – Gloria Jones ’78 Use Your Imagination – Kokomo ’75 Save Me, Save Me – Dusty Springfield ’78 Up in a Puff of Smoke – Polly Brown ’75 Love Hit Me – Maxine Nightingale ’77 Don’t Know If I Like It – Marsha Hunt ’77

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A Little House in the Country

July 8, 2014

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Three women:  I was gob-smacked to discover that longtime favorite Sammi Smith had recorded a disco cut. Sammi hit it big first time out of the gate with her canonical, aching cover of “Help Me Make it Through the Night” and then retreated into a modest career as a country singer’s singer who had a penchant for playing the faded rose. (Her weeper “Room for Rent” is a minor, overlooked masterpiece and, I’ll wager, the only song you’ll hear today from the point-of-view of a room. I regret that she never recorded a country version of June Christy’s down-on-your-luck standard “Something Cool,” because it would have been mind-bending.) I love her version of “The Letter;” its only flaw is that it’s over way too soon; love to hear an extended mix of this! You’ll find it on what was, as far as I know, her last album, 1979’s barely-released “Girl Hero.” It came out on the obscure Cyclone label and features a kind of chilling photo of Sammi as Amelia Earhart. (I told you she had a penchant for playing doomed damsels: “Help Me Make It Through This Flight”? Okay, I’ll stop.)

 “99 Miles from L.A.,” one of the least country-sounding cuts here, has one of the best country pedigrees. It’s from soul singer Dianne Brooks whose 1976 album “Back Stairs of My Life” (love that title!). was recorded in the Enactron Truck http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/2010/09/08/brian-ahern-americanas-magic-maker/ and produced by Brian Ahern (he of Emmylou Harris and Anne Murray fame; Anne and Bonnie Raitt provide back-up here). The album features a mix of Nashville and L.A. session cats and comes down more definitively on the soul side, despite a cover of “Desperado” and a song penned by Rodney Crowell (“This Morning the Blues”).

Tip of the Stetson to Tennessean Edd Hurt who recently turned me on to self-proclaimed Queen of Country Dance Music, Scooter Lee.  “Any Kind of Loving” is from her 1979 debut “A Louisiana Lady.” Despite being produced by none other than Porter Wagoner and featuring cream-of-the-crop Nashville pickers, it never achieved major-label release.  I would classify Louisiana Lady as country-disco-lite, she would however go whole-hog for the boot-scootin’ boogie on subsequent outings.  (Check out her cover of “Dizzy” for example.)

Dancin’ Cowboys – The Bellamy Brothers ’80 ♦ Any Kind of Loving – Scooter Lee ’79 ♦ Why Don’t We Sleep On It Tonight – Glen Campbell & Tanya Tucker ’81 ♦ Third Rate Romance – Ace Spectrum ’75 ♦ Shame, Shame, Shame – Boots Randolph ’77 ♦ Two Doors Down – Joe Thomas ’78 ♦ Disco Party – Memphis Horns ’76 ♦ Black Grass – Bad Bascomb ’72 ♦ Break Down – Muscle Shoals Horns ’76 ♦ Jolene – Kellee Patterson ’76 ♦ The Hoodooin’ of Miss Fannie Deberry – Kenny Rodgers ’78 ♦ Tobacco Road – Bob-A-Rela ’79 ♦ Ode to Billy Joe – Sweet Potato Pie ’76 ♦ 99 Miles From L.A. – Dianne Brooks ’76 ♦ The Letter – Sammi Smith ’79 ♦ Yellow Rose of Texas – Silver Blue ’78 ♦ Your Cheatin’ Heart – The Robin Hooker Band ’79 ♦ Justified & Ancient – The KLF featuring Tammy Wynette ’91 ♦ Peace Train – Dolly Parton ’97

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Nights in White’s Satin

June 30, 2014
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The piano glissandi!  The swooping, sighing, stabbing strings!  The harpsichord!  Such day-glo rococo go-for-baroque ultrasuede madness could only mean a Barry White production.  That or Liberace, but he would never, ever get this down and dirty.  Thus the magic of The Maestro: a musical mix of high camp and low-down funk.  At the height of his reign, Barry managed a veritable village of acts—Love Unlimited, the Love Unlimited Orchestra and his own solo career—and produced artists such as his mentor Gene Page, Gloria Scott, Jay Dee and Tom Brock.  I’ve rounded up a sweet sampler of the work, and if you don’t find yourself spinning on the dance floor, you’ll likely swoon onto your purple velour fainting couch.  I close with this thought:  as delirious as it all gets, there’s always some very canny studio/street/cultural smarts at the heart of any Barry White production. Take the Vietnam War references in “If We Don’t Make It” or the sly and loving homage to Bacharach and David’s “I Say a Little Prayer” in the opening lines of the fluffy “I’m So Glad That I’m a Woman.”

 If We Don’t Make It Nobody Can – Tom Brock ’74 Playing Your Game, Baby – Barry White ’77 Love’s Theme – Love Unlimited Orchestra ’73 Just As Long As We’re Together – Gloria Scott ’74 Don’t Play That Song – Gene Page ’74 Your Sweetness Is My Weakness – Jay Dee ’74 Standing in the Shadows of Love – Barry White ’73 Satin Soul – Gene Page ’74 We Can’t Let Go of Love – Barry and Glodean ’81 Morning Time – Jimmie & Vella Cameron ’81 Naked As the Day I Was Born – Tom Brock ’74 I’m So Glad That I’m a Woman – Love Unlimited ’79 It Ain’t Love, Babe (Until You Give It) – Barry White ’79 A Case of Too Much Lovemaking – Gloria Scott ’74 Don’t You Know How Much I Love You – Love Unlimited Orchestra ’78 Theme from Together Brothers – Love Unlimited Orchestra ’74 There’s No Other Love – Jimmie & Vella Cameron ’81 My Sweet Summer Suite – Love Unlimited Orchestra ’76

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How to Groove

June 13, 2014

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Do It Fluid - the Blackbyrds ’74 ₸ You Can Do It - Arthur Prysock ’77 ₸ Boogie Up, Rock Down ...Ride a Funky Starship - Carlis Munro ’79 ₸ Badd Motor Folk - Uncle Louie ’79 ₸ How to Groove - IOB ’77 ₸ I Know You Will - Logg ’81 ₸  Live and Learn - Ace Spectrum ’76 ₸ Can You Dig the Funk? - Solar Source ’81 ₸ Grass- African Suite ’80 ₸ Shoot to Kill - Booty People ’77 ₸ I Don’t Know What’s on Your Mind - Spiders Webb ’76 ₸ Let Me Party with You - Bunny Sigler ’77 ₸ Chove Chuva / Mas Que Nada - Alice Street Gang ’76

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