Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yksi, Kaksi, Kolme

I stopped by Artists and Fleas on North 6th Street in Williamsburg and had a poke through someone's dollar bin which yielded a post-Mutantes solo Rita Lee (circa 1980) about which there isn't much to report - if the term BraPop doesn't exist, I hereby coin it. If the most interesting thing that can be said about a record is that it was allegedly popular with the British royal family...

A better score was Shalamar's second from 1979 called Three For Love - their records are always worth picking up because they usually contain a couple of keeper songs that wouldn't necessarily make it onto a greatest hits collection. The band itself (best known subsequently, if at all, for launching Jody watley's solo career) typifies what I consider the golden era of disco music which actually started circa 1979 when the Comiskey Park Disco Demolition Night was supposedly signaling its end. After all the Studio 54 mania, Time magazine stories, your aunt taking disco dancing lessons etc, the serious dancers and clubgoers (Blacks and Latinos, gay whites) whose music it had been to begin with, resumed dancing and never really stopped.

The early 80s brought the Paradise Garage and West End records, S.O.L.A.R. records in Los Angeles (Shalamar's label), and the first few Madonna singles (not to forget Taana Gardner, Fonda Rae, some of Sylvester's best work, Teena Marie, The Weather Girls etc) and was also the last time dance music recordings were made by live musicians (improvements in electronic instrument technology and the changing aesthetics which spawned house and techno left, by the mid-80s, Washington D.C.'s go-go music as the last genre exempt from the drum machine).

Anyway, Shalamar are pretty easy to return to periodically and I do, though Jody Watley's solo work never caught my attention to the same extent and while her exercise video was not her finest aesthetic hour, she's become sufficiently financially independent that she no longer deals with record companies and puts out her records herself, which I can only applaud. Slowly this is bringing me around to her 2006 release The Makeover which only has one really remarkable song but I've returned to it quite a few times as well, called "Bed of Roses", a collaboration with jazz-inflected electronica group 4 Hero that shows her and them to great advantage - which is really all I meant to say.

1 comment:

Soft said...

Actually, "Three For Love" was released in 1981, not 1979. But I agree, that the golden era of disco music started in 1979. I encourage you to find a copy of "Fire Night Dance" by the Peter Jacques Band, which was another of Italian disco producer Jacques Fred Petrus' studio groups. The music is true Euro-disco of the highest production quality.