Sylvester's life was fascinating and unexpectedly beautiful about a boy who was a little different but who was determined to be himself, at a time when, Lord knows, that wasn't easy. A biopic needs to be made and I think RuPaul should play him, although she would have to put on the pounds. I read a great biography of him called The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, The Music, the Seventies in San Francisco written by Joshua Gamson. It was an enchanting and shocking story. I highly recommend it. He was always true to himself as he was pushing boundaries in terms of image and homosexuality long before anyone. As far as his music goes, we embraced his famous falsetto voice, high energy disco and gospel roots. I am featuring two beautiful songs by him one is a slow version of one of his major disco hits "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" from his 1978 Step II LP. I simply love the feel of this song without the beats. Also, I wanted to share "You Are My Friend" from his legendary San Francisco Opera House live concert LP Living Proof. Sylvester you are greatly missed and you legacy lives on girlfriend! Enjoy
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The rain has finally stopped but it is still overcast an no rainbows! Today, I want to celebrate all the wonderful friends I share my life with as I am as lucky and honored to know a wide spectrum of colorful friends. Some of those colors might not mix together so well and yet they make a beautiful rainbow. We could use more rainbows and what a perfect soul to guide us into that rainbow than none other than the late Sylvester. I have been wanting to honor this incredible legendary performer and coincidentally I ran across a posting of some sort of documentary about his life being shown on a site called tvoneonline.com. I didn't get a chance to see the entire documentary but here is the teaser. During my searches I also came across this amazing clip from yet another documentary in the works about his life featured here.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Wow...I'm back from nature and the rain has been non stop. "Save Me" is a song I'm featuring today by non other than Brooklyn native Nanette Workman. I discovered this iconic woman while rumaging through record bins in Montreal a while back and instantly fell in love with her music. She was raised in Jackson, Mississippi by musician parents and then moved to Quebec, Canada where she has become one of their own. Although an English native speaker, most of her music is sung in French. She became a disco sensation during the mid 70's with songs from her LP Lady Marmalade. "Dancer Dancer" was a huge disco dance floor filler. One of my favorite songs from this seminal disco LP was "Donne Donne". A luscious and dramatic song with beautiful chic arrangements. Finally, I am thrilled to have found the English version of this song from her LP titled Nanette Workman which has all her previous songs sung in English for the first time . Upon hearing the English version, I totally lost it since it brought back memories when I was a young lad listening to that song played by my mother! I finally put the pieces back together why I reacted so strongly to the French version. Now let's hope we are "saved" from this rain! Enjoy
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I has been a crazy week with lot's of work and to top that I decided to go wireless with my Internet connections resulting in not posting much this week. So I'm happy to be back and glad to go wireless now. Today I'm featuring an amazing song by cult disco favorites W. Michael Lewis and Laurin Rinder, who produced, arranged, wrote, and played all the instruments on the vast majority of their material. Their distinctive sound was partly a result of their jazz training, which showed up not only in their arrangements and chord progressions, but in the overall musicality and sonic imagination. Rinder and Lewis produced their own tracks in 1975, issuing the LP Caravan under their fictitious group name El Coco (a drug reference). Mondo Disco followed in 1976, as did Let's Get It Together, the point where they really hit their stride. "Let's Get It Together" became a substantial club hit, breaking them on the disco scene. The title tracks on 1977's Cocomotion and 1978's Dancing Paradise were also successful. Following this success they became issuing side projects with such guises that included Tuxedo Junction, Saint Tropez, le Pamplemousse, Rinder & Lewis and the Rinlew Allstars. All amazing releases!
Monday, March 22, 2010
It's Monday. the rain is back and it's back to work!...but can't complain with such gorgeous weather we had recently. Today I'm posting a song that's been in my head lately "Voce Abousou" by one of my favorite least known disco bands called The Brothers. This song is from their 1976 LP called Don't Stop Now. I've heard "Usted Abuso" in Spanish before, interpreted by the iconic Celia Cruz and Willie Colon. The spanish version is the ultimate transcendental salsa song considered to be a Latin American anthem with it's bitter sweet theme of abused love. This song also has a been interpreted as a political cry for all the abuses suffered in Latin America. The version featured here is lighter, airy with a sweet disco feel interpreted in Portuguese by none other than Vicki Sue Robinson. Totally Miami Beach circa 1977. I simply love the orchestration of this song with it's vivid horns and instrumental breaks. Bravo to The Brothers! Enjoy
Sunday, March 21, 2010
What an amazing weekend it has been with temperatures soaring almost in the mid 70's! An early Spring indeed and the people in this city are going nuts. I ventured out to the Met and saw the African Art collection and the Illuminated Manuscripts Exhibit as well. Both superb exhibits that provied the artist in me with so much inspiration. Today, I am featuring "Pagliacci" which means clown in italian by Maynard Ferguson from his 1976 LP Primal Scream. Manynard was a Canadian jazz musician and bandleader who was noted for being able to play accurately in a remarkably high register. He is known for "Gonna Fly Now" also known as "Theme From Rocky". In Primal Scream which came out a the height of disco, Maynard does his own intense interpretation of Ruggero Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci". This song is pure disco drama. The arrangement is done incredible well and you can't help but like it as you listen to Maynard's horn soar over the rest of the orchestra. Enjoy
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Lordah! It has been hectic these past two days, Spring is here and I wanted to begin this posting by appreciating all of you for your wonderful and encouraging comments on previous posts. For inspiration, I continue to pay my respects to the "other" ladies of disco by featuring a song by none other than the late Vicki Sue Robinson. "Common Thief" was a great disco song that was overshadowed by the huge success of "Turn The Beat Around". The song is from her 1976 debut album Never Gonna Let You Go . Most of the songs on this album are simply brilliant by combining them with the raw emotion of a blues singer and the reckless improvisation of a bebop singer. She started her career as an actor on Broadway; she was in Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. "Common Thief" follows her usual over-the-edge vocals combined with congas in your face and amazing ascending bass riff. This song is pure Philadelphia sound. No wonder she was born there! Enjoy
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Today I'm posting a song to commemorate 6 months of being smoke free. It has been the hardest choice I've ever made. I started smoking since I was 16 years old! talk about a 27 year love affair with nicotine. I did it "cold turkey" and it still feels very raw. I still have moments of craving but those moments seem to vanish every day! I am determined to beat this addiction which I compare to an unhealthy love affair. I don't want to get preachy here so let's face the music! This is a song about giving up a hard love affair and the message keeps me going during those hard moments. Zulema was a member of Hope, Faith & Charity before she went solo. Her songs are nothing short of fierce and are filled with such empowering messages. She is best known for her single mother anthem "This Child of Mine". "Giving Up" was the peak song at discos such as Flamingo, 12 West and the legendary Nicky Siano's Gallery during the mid 70's. Also, this song is referenced several times in Andrew Holleran's haunting and brilliant novel about gay 70's hedonism Dancer From The Dance. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A gorgeous day today. The sky was beautiful and I thought what a perfect day to post a song by one of my favorite musician/composer of all times, Arthur Russell. I first heard of him from the now defunct Nuphonic label compilation that featured a song called "That's Us Wild Combination" during the late 90's, this song was pure bliss and I fell in love with his voice and unique orchestrations. I couldn't get enough of his music and to my shock discovered he was the same man behind some of my favorite dance songs of all time such as "Go Bang! #5", "Is It All Over My Face" and "Kiss Me Again" by calling himself under different alias such as Dinosaur L, Loose Joints or Dinosaur. This past December I read Tim Lawrence's fascinating biography "Hold On To Your Dreams" and was in total awe of his genius. He was one of the most important and seminal but least known contributors to New York's downtown music scene during the 1970's and 1980's. He broke ground in experimental music, instrumental, new wave, disco, quirky rock, twisted folk, voice-cello dub and hip pop-inflected pop. He made the cello sing and and took it to new levels. Since 2004, there has been several posthumous releases that has brought new attention to this prolific artist and a documentary film called Wild Combination has been released to critical acclaim. I find great inspiration in Arthur and I could easily go on and on about him since there are so many layers to peel about him and his music. Today, I am featuring one my many favorites songs from him called "See-through" from his LP World Of Echo. In 2007, I remixed this song by simply overlaying it with a couple of back beats in order to take this song to a new plateau and yet keeping the integrity of such a masterpiece with it's sublime simplicity and purity. Enjoy
Happy Monday and the work week has started. What a rainy and stormy weekend it was! I'm staring this week on sleepy mode. I'm still getting used to the new time change. Today's song inspiration is by David Joseph's 1983 song "You Can't Hide (Your Love From Me)". That's right. I couldn't find much information on this guy but I did hear some killer mixes by Souledz. I love the breaks and the overall feel of this song. It is pure 80's disco soul and brings back memories of college partying at a club called Juniors in Hammond, Louisiana. I used to work a similar outfit pictured on album cover. Black and white, big belt buckle and skinny black tie was sort of 80's mod back then. I also heard that Larry Levan used to play this a lot at Paradise Garage. A pure classic.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The rain continues in NYC and it's time to continue to shack up so I dedicate this to those who are shaking up with their love ones. A lot of people probably have heard the 1980's cover version by post-punkers A Certain Ratio. The original was recorded by Washington DC funk band Banbarra in 1975 and wasn't a hit but did get a lot of play in Northern Soul clubs which is where A Certain Ratio, being from Manchester, probably heard it. Banbarra themselves seem to be the very definition of "obscure". This song is a classic and it's composed of two parts, Part one being more vocal with a brilliant bit of rough and tough funk with a floor shaking bass line with some hard thumps. With it's scratchy guitar and raw vocals it actually sounds more "alternative" than the cover version. Part two has more of an instrumental feel. Enjoy
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I'm doing double duty today! I have decided to post one of my favorite 70's bands. Barrabas was from Spain and the group's musical style was initially Latin rock with jazz and funk influences, and later developed into a more disco orientated sound. Barrabas was led by drummer Fernando Arbex and formed it in 1971. Later that year they released their debut album Wild Safari spawning the hit singles "Woman" and "Wild Safari". David Mancuso pretty much introduced this amazing music to his dancers during his loft parties and the rest was disco history. They opened the flood gates for danceable rock. Their diverse musical styles paved the way for many disco rock artists to emerge from the dance floors around that time such as Babe Ruth and it continues to inspire most the new Latin rock bands that have emerged during the past 30 years. The song I'm posting "On The Road Again" (click here to watch video) is from their early 80's work which I think has been overlooked by critics and deserves to be revised. Also, this song was from their 1982 LP Piel de Barrabas. There are about four different versions of this song and it was released as a disco single featured here. I can't get enough of the diversity, sweetness and intensity of their music. I was saddened to find out of Fernando's passing in 2003. He as such an influential musician, his first band formed in 1965 called Los Brincos is considered to be the "Spanish Beatles".
Happy Saturday! It is nonstop raining in the city today! Could nature be laying the ground work for Spring? Today I am feeling this remarkable song by Chantal Curtis. She was French but made incredible New York disco soundings records like this raw and classic "Get Another Love". A song with amazing driving beats that sets her incredible voice ablaze and the beautiful use of the harmonica during the song breaks. I have rarely heard harmonica used in disco song before and here it works fantastic. I found out that Chantal also recorded under the name Michelle for West End records and the music she made around that time was very "street". Chantal had a tragic ending when I found out she was murdered by her boyfriend during the mid 80's. She also recorded another smash disco song ironically called "Hitman" in '79 from the same album which is also considered another disco classic.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Today I am posting a seminal song by Crystal Grass called "Crystal World". This amazing song caused quite a stir at the discotheques during the early 1975. It's one of those rare classics that you barely hear nowadays. This song pretty much epitomized disco funk. You might recognize that this song was sampled by late eighties British dance sensation S-Express on their coming out song "Theme From S-Express". I know very little about them except that they were from the UK and this song comes from their first LP called Crystal World. This song is truly a disco gem. Enjoy
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Today I'm posting a new discovery song called "Let's Get Together" by Pam Todd And Love Exchange. The first time I heard this song, I immediately recognized it since I had no idea that this one was the original of one of my favorite house songs ever. The version that I know was sung by Tyree; little that I knew it was a cover! I am beginning to become suspicious of all my favorite house songs now and I must embark on a hunt since I have become a "Disco Monk".
This one is completely different than the house version. I love the arrangements on this one, specially the Moog Synthesizers and I'm loving Pam's voice. I learned that this was their first LP and was produced by underground disco hero Greg Carmichael who is known for his spacey, funky sound. The LP featured cult items such as the title track, "Making Love" and "Can't Hold This Feeling" which I have yet to hear. Also, there was a follow up from this LP in 1978 under the name Pam Todd & The Gold Bullion Band which produced a minor club hit called "Baise Moi (Kiss Me)". I am planing to check this out and will keep you posted. Enjoy
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Today I'm posting one of my favorite "never saw the light of disco ball and disco dance floor day" songs. It is called The Party Freaks by a band called Miami. Songwriter Willie Clarke created this self-contained band around vocalist Robert Moore. Amid cutting three albums, Miami served as the house band for TK Records' family of labels. Their first album, The Party Freaks came out in 1974 and featured catchy jams like "Party Freaks" and "I Can See Through You"; a second LP, Notorious (1976), spawned their popular "Kill That Roach" (a reflex-phrase in tropical cities like Miami where roaches grow big as butterflies and even fly on occasions). A final album, Miami, hooked around an update of Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," dropped in 1978, but didn't do well and the band dissolved eventually. Initially the song is a little under 3 minutes long and I was going to post the song as is, however; I love the instrumental break so much that I decided to re-edit the song and expanded it and continued playing more leading to a full on remix almost twice as long. The song is about luring a lady to come over and hang out with the freaks at the party that usually hide in the back. I was probably one of those freaks at some point. I truly enjoyed playing with this song and since it has the title word "freak", I decided to make it even freakier by remixing it.
Party Freaks (Original Version) - Miami
Oh yeah! Enjoy
click below to download song
Party Freaks (Original Version) - Miami
Monday, March 8, 2010
"...I can't stop, when the music plays, I can dance all day....." I love the escapism of this song and it's the perfect song for Mondays. It was hard to return to work today when we have been blessed with such amazing weather and after the day is done all I want to do is dance. This song is by John Davis and the Monster Orchestra's first release Night and Day in 1976. The 12" single, "I Can't Stop" was one of it's original tunes. This LP enjoyed a minor success during that time. There where a string of other 12" singles that where strong in the Discos, specially the cover version of Ashfor & Simpson's "Bourgie Bourgie" which was big at the Paradise Garage. Also in the 80's they had a dance hit called "Hangin' Out. In the 90's John Davis also wrote, produced and performed the "Theme From Beverly Hills 90210" which I'm planning to listen in the future.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Another glorious day today! The sun and sparks so much needed excited energy to the people, streets and parks. I love it , I love it, I love it. I had a great time spending time with friends and family this weekend. This is a brilliant song that I happen to love because of the breaks and the back and forth between funk and disco. It's called "Street Talk" by none other than Bob Crewe. Mr. Crewe is a songwriter, singer, manager, record producer and fine artist and actually found out he went to my alma mater, Parsons School of Design to pursue a career in architecture. Also, to add to the theme of Oscar weekend, he produced and wrote the soundtrack for the movie Barbarella, another movie high on my list of favorites. He has written a large number of Top 10 singles such as "Lady Marmalade" (LaBelle), "Swearin' To God" and "My Eyes Adored You" (Frankie Valli), and a string of hits for the Four Seasons already featured on this blog to name a few. During the Disco years, he was heavy hitter also by producing covers of Henry Mancini's "Moon River" and "Two For The Road". In 1975, Crewe wrote and produced disco material for The Eleventh Hour who had dance club success with a least three releases such as "Hollywood Hot", Bumper To Bumper" and "Sock It To Me/It's Your Thing". All terrific disco songs that I am planning to post in the near future. So for now, I've got to get my tuxedo ready for the Oscars! Enjoy
Saturday, March 6, 2010
A beautiful day in city today and it almost felt like spring with that big blue sky engulfing all of us! I realized that I haven't shared any of my own song re-works lately, so here's one for your listening pleasure. This is a song called "Fellini Odyssey" and since it's Oscar weekend it seems only appropriate to feature a song based on a movie; one of my favorite movies for that matter. This song is from Federico Fellini's fantastic film "Juliet Of The Spirits", a deliciously neurotic story and visual orgy that was nominated for two 1967 Academy Awards including Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. The movie score was done by none other than Nino Rota who was Fellini's main music man. Nino Rota was a world renowned composer who is best known for film scores. He scored nearly all of Fellini's films and took cinema music scores to new heights. He also scored films by Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli and the first two of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy. He wrote more than 150 movie scores for Italian and international productions from the 1930's until his death in 1979. Nino Rota, thank you for giving us amazing music! Enjoy
Friday, March 5, 2010
It's Friday evening and I am ridding the subway while crossing the bridge bathed in Manhattan skyline. I am filled with thoughts between the difference of the unexpected and the predictable while listening to "Who Loves You" by the Four Seasons. I can't help to get all cheery, teary and cheesy all at the same time. We all probably know this song quite well and lord and behold, I have to be careful here not to disappoint the discerning ears of this blog that's supposed to be about the unexpected, the left field and the rare. Yet this song is proof of the ingenious creativity that lies in pop music plus I am presenting you the disco version! There were three versions of this song released in the United States, the one on the Who Loves You LP pictured here which is four minutes, 20 seconds long and begins with a short percussion section before the start of the vocals. The A-side of the single has a four minutes, four seconds, version which starts with an unusual "fade-in" beginning what begins with the first word of the vocals; the B-side (labeled "Who Loves You" (Disco version) is the same as the A-side but with the instrumental break done twice and the song ending sooner. The instrumental breaks never fails to amaze and since it's repeated twice deleviring a sort of 80's high energy feel. It is pure pop with it's predictable unpredictability and that's the inspiration for this weekend. Enjoy
Thursday, March 4, 2010
A long and yet exciting day today so I will make it short and to tell you also that I went to see the Tim Burton's exhibit at MoMa and it was awesome! I highly recommend it. I wanted to share a sweet and stunning song by Bobby Moore. I know very little about this performer except that this song became the first ever 12" pressing released in 1975. This new format revolutionized dance music for ever. Enjoy
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
So here I am on this Wednesday and I thought of sharing a hilarious yet inspiring song called "Potential" by the Jimmy Castor Bunch from their 1975 LP Butt Of Course. This group had great success with songs such as "It's Just Begun". On this album, we hear a combination of funky grooves and some slow ballads. Other standouts in this album are "The Bertha Butt Boogie" and "E-Man Grooving". I simply just love the humor of this music. We don't hear much of this kind of creativity done well anymore. This song is quite something, specially when Jimmy spells out P.O.T.E.N.T.I.A.L and then makes a hilarious call and response to the rest of the band. This song might be cheesy and self-serving but the instrumental break with the trumpets blaring takes the listener to another level that is amazingly glamourous! Enjoy
Click below to download
Click below to listen
P.S. I am loving the cover of this album also!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Today I had a long day so I will be very brief and I need this amazing song to unwind. Creative Source was a Los Angeles-based quintet who seemingly appeared out of nowhere in the early ’70s to score with a funky disco rendition of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You).” Their second LP called Migration, didn't so so well on the charts, however at that point they were a favorite amongst DJs and when they would play this funky cover of Carole King called "Corazon", the dance floor would go wild. I particularly love the throbbing beats and the spanish chants. I believe this song is a blueprint for house music. A true classic.
P.S. This is one of my favorite Album covers.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Happy Monday! Today I am posting this amazing track called "El Galleton" by Tempo 70 from one of my favorite LP's I own, Nu Yorica! Culture Clash in New York City: Experiments in Latin Music. 1970-77. Every song in this compilation is brilliant. It captures the spirit of Latin Funk during the 70's in New York city. I was researching about Tempo 70 and found very little about this band except that this comes from an LP called El Primer LP and it's the brainchild of Argentinean pianist and disco genius Bebu Silvetti who is know for disco classics such as Spring Rain. I'm not sure this information is accurate since it was dubious and debated on the blog I read it from, who knows! I believe this is a song that goes well with those Monday blues. Enjoy