Sons of Beaches

April 18, 2014


We just can’t seem to shake Ol’ Man Winter's grip ’round these parts, so I thought I’d try to break his spell by summoning the sons of summer.  This podcast spins out from a trio of ’60s sunshine pop producers—Curt Boettcher, Gary Usher and Bruce Johnston—who formed a loosely based association in the ’70s with the mission to produce “California music,” their term for a nostalgic dance music that would serve equally well at the beach , on the strip (drag or Sunset) or at the disco.  Their most noted production is the Beach Boy’s disco-fied “Here Comes the Night,” a disc that is curtly dismissed by most Beach Boys purists, a fact that to me, at least, says more about the close-minded attitudes of rockist fan boys than it does about the disc which makes me happy every time I fire it up.  Two more of these collaborations came out in the mid-’70s credited to California.  “Music, Music, Music” was issued as a 7' and 12" on Warner Bros, while “I Can Hear Music” came out on a a split promotional 12" with a Beatles medley credited to Café Crème. 

Various incarnations of the trio produced disco tracks for other artists—Sailor’s “Down by the Docks” is included here—and second-tier Beach Boy Bruce Johnston issued two bits of California music (“Pipeline” and “Deidre,” the latter co-authored by and featuring backing vocals from Brian Wilson and sounding like a great lost Beach Boys track).  The cuts were featured on his solo LP Going Public which gained modest attention for two of its original ballads, “Disney Girls” and “I Write the Songs” (yes, that “I Write the Songs”!). 

The tracks credited here to Boettcher as a solo artist were kept in the vaults until recently, when they surfaced on a couple of compilations of his work.

There have been a couple of disco versions of “Good Vibrations.”  The best of the bunch by far is by Silver Blue—a track that is oddly out of place on a LP where the majority of the songs covered have the feel of C&W or Western swing.  What you hear on this podcast was taken from a DJ-only super-fidelity pressing.  Good Vibrations was the name of a Canadian project that issued an LP of six souped-up Beach Boys covers.  If those heavenly harmonies sound familiar, that’s because the vocalists include members of Chic, as well as Luther Vandross and David Lasley.  Sea Cruise is a Canadian duo; their Beach Boy’s medley is quite pedestrian musically, but there is a certain wittiness to the selection and sequencing of the tunes they cover

That brings us to Mr. Bad Vibrations himself, Mike Love.  You may be surprised to learn that the squarest of the Beach Boys took a dive into disco as well.  He’s represented here by his cover of ABBA’s “On and On and On,” a song he covered on his 1981 solo Looking Back With Love.  ABBA maintained that the song had been inspired by the Beach Boys, and Mike gives it a full sons-of-the-surf treatment.  The role of the song’s boorish narrator fits him like a glove and you wonder if he’s in on the song’s joke.  Love’s own ADC record label released an LP by Beach Boy bodyguard and all-around ruffian Rocky Pamplin; the track here was penned by Love and his brother, Stan, who also produced the album.  I’ve had it in mind to do this podcast for some time now, holding out in hopes that I might score one more bit of Love disco.  Concurrent with his run in the Beach Boys, Mike maintained membership in a side band—Celebration—and they recorded a disco album in the late ’70s, Disco Celebration, that was distributed to deejays on ADC but never released commercially.  The occasional copy surfaces, but I’ve not landed one yet.  It offers a full-out disco take on “California Girls” that I am told has to be heard to be believed.  Someday….

California Music—Curt Boettcher ’78  ҉  Down by the Docks—Sailor ’77  ҉  Good Vibrations—Silver Blue ’78  ҉  Music, Music, Music—California ’76   ҉  Pipeline—Bruce Johnson ’77   ҉  On and On and On—Mike Love ’81  ҉  Deidre—Bruce Johnson with Brian Wilson ’77  ҉  Banana Boat Song—Curt Boettcher ’78  ҉  I Can Hear Music—California ’78 ҉  God Only Knows—Good Vibrations ’78  ҉  Beach Boys Medley—Sea Cruise ’78  ҉  Here Comes the Night—the Beach Boys ’79  ҉  Disco Symphony—Rocky Pamplin ’79  ҉  Don’t Worry Baby—Good Vibrations ’78

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Get Off

April 9, 2014



A collection of Philly cream cheese dollops (for the most part) that have been hanging around looking for a home.


Music Trance – Ben E. King ’79 ʯ We Got to Hit It Off – Millie Jackson ’79 ʯ As – Sister Sledge ’77 ʯ Get Down – Gene Chandler ’78 ʯ Get Down Saturday Night – Oliver Cheatham ’83 ʯ Get Up Off Your Backsides – the Hues Corporation ’78 ʯ Start It All Over Again – Rod ’80 ʯ Something Else – Logg ’81 ʯ Get Off – Cleveland Eaton & the Garden of Eaton ’79 ʯ Love Epidemic – the Trammps ’75 ʯ Outside Looking In – Carlis Munro ’79 ʯ Happy Man – Impact ’76 ʯ I Made a Mistake – Love Committee ’80

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Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

March 28, 2014

YourGuess.jpgOur artists for this podcast are obscure:  there’s not much I can tell you about them other than they put out the records you’re listening to here.  In fact, more than a few managed just barely to end up on records at all.  A few have backstories – anyone of a certain age will immediately recognize Bill Saluga’s alter ego, but I doubt many of you remembered his name (or why his shtick was so popular).  It’s the kind of novelty record I should hate, but it’s just so damned funky.  One also wonders why anyone would cover Patrick Hernandez’s “Born to Be Alive,” but I’m glad that unknown Rick Summer did as I don’t hate his version quite a lot.  And disco Sweeney Todd?  Really?  But somehow this manages to be nearly divine.  It’s an ideal artifact of its time as it was—I dare say—the only disco single ever released on RCA’s prestigious Red Seal classical label, which might explain the bizarre artist’s name.  (Red “seal,” fish, get it?)  I’m still trying to determine what to make of Judy Clay’s cover of the Bee Gees.  I like the jolt of gritty diva realness she brings, but the chitlin’ circuit aesthetic is at odds with the whole enterprise.  I sure wish I’d had this disc when I did my Alternative Saturday Night Fever episode.   Gazuzu slays me, but then I’m a sucker for gibberish.  Do you think the Tom Tom Club heard this prior to their debut?  Which brings us to the closer—Frank Pellico.  Him, I know about.  This is a bit of local color; he played organ at a supper club in Palos Park, IL, just a few miles down the road from my home and only a stone’s throw from hometown disco hero Peter Brown (who hailed from Orland Park).  He also was house organist for the Chicago Cubs back in the day and continues to ply his trade for a little team called the Blackhawks.  It also seems he recorded a fair share of mighty Wurlitzer disco, although I don’t seem to find “YMCA” in his recorded repertoire.  Pity.


Sexy – Gino Dentie and the Family ’76 % Excitation – Brutus ’83 % Drums on Fire – Gazuzu ’82 % Remone – Kocky ’79 % Born to Be Alive – Rick Summer ’79 % Jump – The Ring ’79 % Dancin’ Johnson – Bill Saluga ’79 % The Rock – East Coast ’78 % The Ballad of Sweeney Todd – His Master’s Fish ’79 % I Love You and Disco Too – Variations ’79 % Shine Your Light – The Graingers ’81 % Stayin’ Alive – Judy Clay ’78 % The Hustle – Frank Pellico ’76

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March 24, 2014

beastly.jpgBird – Cymande ’73 ^ Hot Butterfly – Sweet Inspirations ’79 ^ Pussycat – Sylvia ’76 ^ Monkey See, Monkey Do – Le Pamplemousse ’77 ^ Atomic Dog – George Clinton ’82 ^ Funky Chicken – Rufus Thomas ’70 ^ Catfish – the Four Tops ’77 ^ Honey Bee – Gloria Gaynor ’75 ^ Rattlesnake – Carol Williams ’76 ^ The Pink Panther (from Philadelphia) –Guy De Lo and His Orchestra ’78 ^ The Bear Necessities – Inspired  ’78 ^ Dis-Gorilla – Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots ’77 ^ Penguin – Peter Brown ’79 ^ Over Like a Fat Rat – Fonda Rae ’82 ^ Tiger, Tiger – Bionic Boogie ’79 ^ Dragons of Midnight – Mike Theodore Orchestra ’79 ^bFunky Worm – Ohio Players ’73 ^ Blind Sheep – Dusty Springfield ’82

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The Naked and the Damned

March 14, 2014

nd.jpgFirst, the naked:  It all started when minor adult film star Andrea True had an out-of-left-field disco smash with “More, More, More.”  Figuring that’s what the people wanted, producer Michael Zager tried to repeat the magic with major adult film star Marilyn Chambers, but it was not to be.  Not forgetting the ladies (and a lot of the men, too!) there was adult cinema star and model Dennis Parker (who went by the name Wade Nichols when he shucked it all) and centerfold favorite Rocky Pamplin (who dropped the y when he dropped his trou).  Surprisingly, Pamplin had even more nefarious claims to fame.  He was a hanger-on to the Beach Boys (Mike Love’s pro basketball–playing brother Stan Love co-produced his lone album The Rock), and Love and Pamplin were convicted for allegedly beating the living crap out of Dennis Wilson over a reported drug deal gone haywire.  Which is a lovely segue into the rest of our fare for this edition—songs about the damned. 

Like an Eagle – Dennis Parker ’79 Benihana – Marilyn Chambers ’76 What’s Your Name, What’s Your Number? – Andrea True Connection ’77 Surrender – Rocky Pamplin ’79 Up Jumped the Devil – John Davis & the Monster Orchestra ’77 The Moon Is the Daughter of the Devil– Afro Cuban Band ’78 Sinning – Grace Jones ’79   Selections from The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Alec R. Costandinos &  the Synchophonic Orchestra ’78 Terror on the Dance Floor – Hot Blood ’77 Devil’s Gun – C.J. & Co. ’77 Sinner Man – Sarah Dash ’78 Flight From Versailles – Grand Tour ’77   Inferno – Fire and Ice ’79 Possessed – Doris Jones ’79 The World Is a Madhouse – Silver Convention ’76 He Was a Steppenwolf – Boney M. ’78

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Modern Love

March 9, 2014


“The game” changed in the ’70s, in no small part thanks to changing attitudes and technologies associated with reproduction.  Also, a couple of liberation movements did their part as well.  Disco became the de facto soundtrack for modern love in all its glory and grief.

Sex-O-Sonic – The Love Machine ’77 + Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied) – B.T. Express ’74 + Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It – Leon Haywood ’80 + Party Freaks – Miami ’74 + Love at First Sight – Frisky ’79 +  Lay Me Like You Hate Me – Wilson Pickett ’78 + Rough-Ride – The People’s Choice ’78 + Spend the Night – Bob-A-Rela ’79 + Gotta Love Somebody Else – Cindy and Roy ’79 + Come On and Do It – Poussez! ’79 + Soul Je T’aime – Sylvia ’76 + Obsession – Animotion ’84 + Strip-Tease – Cerrone ’78 + Hot Leather – Passengers ’80 + Sleazy – Village People ’79 + I Took His Money – Hott City ’79 + Nasty Street – Crème D’Cocoa ’79

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February 27, 2014

Feeling guilty, so I found room for Mike Theodore.  Actually, I’ve been getting into this lush stuff of late, so here’s some mo’.  I did repeat a few artists from the last orchestra podcast, although I didn’t have to. Which is another way to say that I haven’t exhausted my supply of disco orchestras.

 Reminiscing – Midnight String Orchestra ’80 • Give Me Some Mo! – Guy De Lo & His Orchestra ’78 • Rain Forest – Biddu Orchestra ’76 • Shadow Dancing – Glendale Symphony Orchestra ’79 • Hooked on You – Larry Page Orchestra ’77 • Autumn Leaves – Illusion Orchestra ’82 • Love Is on My Mind – Rice & Beans Orchestra ’77 • Jazzman – Peter Nero & His Orchestra ’75 • Love Bite – Richard Hewson Orchestra ’76 • When It’s Right for Love – John Davis & the Monster Orchestra ’79 • Drum Dreams – Electric Light Orchestra ’80 • High on Mad Mountain – Mike Theodore Orchestra ’79 •  Fighting on the Side of Love – THP Orchestra ’76 • 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (Blow Your Whistle) – Percy Faith & His Orchestra ’75 • Dancing Angel – Constellation Orchestra ’78 • Happy Trails – Silver Spurz Orchestra ’79

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…And Then There Were None

February 17, 2014

“One of these days I’m going to just up and leave you,” say the Pips, and so they did, at least for two no-Knight in-sight disco albums on Casablanca. 

After a brief countdown, this podcast celebrates that spirit of carrying on after the uppity and outta here, featuring tracks from bands who had been left by (or temporarily abandoned by or at least on hiatus from) their headliner.  So, we get the Pips w/o Gladys, the Supremes w/o Diana, the Miracles w/o Smokey, the Coconuts w/o Kid Creole, the J.B.s w/o JB, and the Sunshine and Glitter Bands w/o KC and Gary, as well as the Osmonds post-Donny, the Harlettes après Bette and Funkadelic sans George Clinton.

And, I ask you , what other podcast would have the cajones to follow ersatz Funkadelic with ersatz Osmonds?

Five Special – Why Leave Us Alone ’79 Ø Four on the Floor – Any Day Now ’79 Ø Three Degrees – Jump the Gun ’79 Ø Two Tons o’ Fun – Do You Wanna Boogie, Hunh? ’80 Ø One Way – You Can Do it ’79 Ø Baby I’m Your Fool – the Pips ’78 Ø Rock Your Baby – the Sunshine Band ’75 Ø Connections and Disconnections – Funkadelic ’81 Ø I, I, I – the Osmonds Ø Can’t Dance (Dance, Dance, Dance) – the Harlettes (Sharon Redd, Ula Hedwig, Charlotte Crossley) ’78 Ø Ticket to the Tropics – the Coconuts ’83 Ø Makes You Blind – the Glitter Band ’75 Ø Little Bit of Disco – J.B.s International ’78 Ø Love Machine – the Miracles ’75 Ø High Energy – the Supremes ’76

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Dreams of the Everyday Housewife

February 7, 2014

The Seventies were the golden age for the “mature” female singer songwriter —think Carole King, Laura Nyro, neither of whom is represented here—and quite a few found their way to disco, if only for a dance or two.  So sit back, turn off your stories, pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay and get ready for some girl talk with Mrs. Gregg Allman, Mrs. David Bowie and Mrs. Herb Alpert, along with all their domestic goddess BFFs.  (Sorry ONJ, but the Mike Theodore rule applies here; there’s not room for all.)  I should also note that this kicks off with what is probably my all-time favorite ABBA track, a song that fully illustrates the amazing mixture of sophistication and deliciously clueless ESL tomfoolery that defines the band and gives us winning lines such as “There’s not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see.”  How can you top that?  Easy, with “The latest one by Marilyn French—or something in that style.”

The Day Before You Came – ABBA ’82 Ȝ Baby Blue – Dusty Springfield ’79 Ȝ Hang on in There Baby – Bette Midler ’79 Ȝ All I’ve Got – Astrid Gilberto ’77 Ȝ Lotta Love – Nicolette Larson ’78 Ȝ Hold Me Dancing – Margo Guryan ’78 Ȝ I’m Not in Love (Girl, You’re in Love) – Scherrie Payne’84 Ȝ Lovelines – Karen Carpenter ’80 Ȝ Double or Nothing – Lani Hall ’79 Ȝ Make Love to Me – Helen Reddy ’79 Ȝ Git Down (Guitar Groupie) – Cher ’79 Ȝ Obsession—Angela Bowie ’89 Ȝ Shoppin’ A to Z – Toni Basil ’83 Ȝ Housework – B52s ’86 Ȝ The Letter – Sami Smith ’79 Ȝ Don’t Let the Flame Burn Out – Jackie DeShannon ’77 Ȝ Keep My Love Light Burning – Evie Sands ’79 Ȝ Fly Too High – Janis Ian ’79

Listen Now:


January 31, 2014

Gems from great orchestras back in the day.  (Apologies to Mike Theodore.  Sometimes you just can’t fit it all in.)

Strange Games & Things – Love Unlimited Orchestra ’76 ₰ Midnight Lady – Heart and Soul Orchestra ’77 ₰ Touch Me, Take Me – Black Light Orchestra ’77 ₰ Stardust – Charlie Calello Orchestra ’79 ₰ Last Train to London – Electric Light Orchestra ’79 ₰ Side Two (Magic Bird of Fire; It’s Good for the Soul; Salsoul Rainbow; Don’t Beat Around the Bush; Salsoul: 3001) – Salsoul Orchestra, Greatest Disco Hits ’78 ₰ Love Has Come My Way – Tony Valor Sounds Orchestra ’78 ₰ Disco Dancing – Rice and Beans Orchestra ’76 ₰ Blacker the Berry (Sweeter the Juice) – Biddu Orchestra ’78 ₰ Don’t Don’t – Love of Life Orchestra ’80 ₰ Ain’t That Enough for You? – John Davis and the Monster Orchestra ’78 ₰ Tong Poo – Yellow Magic Orchestra ’78 ₰ Synergy – Alec R. Costandinos and the Synchophonic Orchestra ’79 ₰ Philly Armada – Armada Orchestra ’76 ₰ In Search Of… – In Search Of Orchestra ’77

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