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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Lagniappe

May 26, 2014

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Noun: Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas—a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus.  Little somethings extra from artists with good track records of including singles on their albums who still managed to let a few crumbs fall from the table.  The reasons were many (label changes, contract disputes, too much material for a single album, not ready to fully commit yet to disco, odd movie score projects, water-testing…)

Hold Me, Lonely Boy – Norma Jean ’79 + Walk Away – Donna Summer ’79 + Forever Dancing – The Ritchie Family ’79 + Philadelphia Freedom – The Elton John Band ’75 + Fighting on the Side of Love – THP Orchestra ’76 + Dance Man – El Coco ’79 + Can’t Be Love, Do It to Me Anyway – Peter Brown ’80 + Love Exciter – El Coco ’79 + We’ve Got Love on Our Side – Silver Blue ’77 + La Barbichette – The Ritchie Family ’79 + Danger – Gregg Diamond ’79 + High Society – Norma Jean ’79 + Stand Up and Dance – Gregg Diamond ’79+ Hold On to Your Hiney – Tony Joe White ’76

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The Charlie Hustle

May 12, 2014

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Disco from out of left field (especially the title cut!).  I made an exception for “Happy People” because – after having unfairly assigned it to the done-to-death bin – I slipped it on the other day and was knocked-out anew by that amazing descending bass line.  Some tidbits:  The Writers are a jazz funk super-group headed by Hugh McCracken and Ralph MacDonald.  Shobizz is an early showcase for Rupert Holmes. Spiders Webb features female bassist extraordinaire Carol Kaye along with her husband, drummer Spider Webb.  Their 1977 album I Don't Know What's On Your Mind on Fantasy is a forgotten disco-funk masterpiece with a fabulous cover.  Scare it up, if you can.  Just found this:  Pete Rose commenting on "The Charlie Hustle":  "It has the disco sound.  I like it."  Pete knows!

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling – Crème de Coca ’78 ← Share Your Love – the Writers ’79 ← What Is Funk? – Rare Gems Odyssey ’77 ← I’ve Learned From My Burns – Spiders Webb ’76 ← Singing in the Shower – Les Rita Mitsouko featuring Sparks ’88 ← Cinderella (Queen of the Dance) – Daniel Jackson Explosion ’77 ← Turn on the Motion – Daddy Dewdrop ’79 ← That’s Where the Happy People Go – the Trammps ’76 ← The Charlie Hustle – Pamela Neal ’79 ← Street of 1,000 Discos – Shobizz ’79 ← The Letter – Queen Samantha ’78 ← For Elise – the Philarmonics ’77 ← Dance With Me – New York Rubber Rock Band ’76

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Sons of Beaches

April 18, 2014

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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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