Double Disco Friday: CRUISING THE BEATS [2011] and AMERICAN HOT [2012]

It was probably all too apparent that I was growing bored with recent entries in the Disco Discharge series as the music left me cold and unmoved.  For that I apologize as I never intended this site to be anything less than positive.  The music and my lack of enthusiasm for it had me questioning myself: Maybe I'm not the fan of disco music I thought I was, maybe I only like the popular more mainstream stuff I have heard on the radio as I have never set foot in a true underground disco club so I have no context.  The two albums featured today, while not consistently top flight, had enough really good moments where I was lost in the music, a slave to the rhythm that it felt good to be alive and that is what disco music does for me or rather what the music does to me.  Cruising The Beats is the last of the class of 2011 for the Disco Discharge series, the twelfth album of the bunch.   The twenty-one track double-album has familiar names performing unfamiliar songs, familiar song titles which turned out to be different songs entirely, a few new to me disco classics and one surprise.  Before we get to the music, how about some picture sleeves?  
The surprise was RAQUEL "ONE OF THE MOST GORGEOUS WOMEN EVER TO WALK THE FACE OF THE EARTH" WELCH!  And check out her killer all-star supporting cast on the cut: Michael Zager, Bob Esty, Steve Thompson, Michael Barbiero and Oscar winner Paul Jabara.  Her song could have been a horrible waste of every one's talents but it actually turned out really, really well.  Love it!  
And how cool is this label?  Very colorful, playful and unmistakeably Eighties - 1983 to be exact.  Cruising The Beats features songs from 1978-1988 with the average vintage being 1982 though only the first song actually dates from that illustrious year. 

The album kicks off with no fewer than six great songs in a row and before listening to it, only one Dan Hartman's epic "Vertigo/Relight My Fire" was familiar to me. Well actually, the first track was familiar to me as well just not as a damn near ten minute disco version by Boys Town Gang. Voyage's "Golden Eldroado" would pair nicely with other Latin tinged disco tracks like "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by Santa Esmerelda as would Who's Who's hypnotic "Palace Palace". The rhythmic guitar lick that runs throughout "Dance" by Night Force had me wanting to lace up the skates and hit the beach front boardwalk though the lyrics had me torn whether to "Get up and dance" or "Get up and do it". Track six is Noel's "Dancing Is Dangerous" which is not as ominous as it sounds - merely a cautionary tale of irresistible beats. These six songs are from 1978-1980 with the lone exception being album opener "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" from 1982.  In general, I don't care for the post-1980 songs on Cruising The Beats though there are exceptions. The Raquel track for one and the oddly named band Waterfront Home with their familiar looking title "Take A Chance (On Me)", a throbbing, Bobby O masterpiece.  The man himself gets behind the mic as Bobby O covers "Suspicious Minds" with a moody Miami Vice-like atmospheric synth opening before the other machines join in and it gets fun.  Actually, skipping back through the album's second disc, I'd say the sequence from Raquel Welch down through Technique's penultimate track are certainly worthy of your time.  The closing Medley from Patrick Juvet sounded good to me the first time through but I'm not getting anything from it the second time around.

yeartitleartistBillboard Disco Chart
1982Can't Take My Eyes Off YouBoys Town Gang9:3515
1979Vertigo / Relight My FireDan Hartman9:381
1978Golden EldoradoVoyage4:561
1979Palace PalaceWho's Who5:40-
1980DanceNight Force6:4228
1979Dancing Is DangerousNoel9:1491
1984What A Way To GoLifeforce4:51-
1983Maybe This TimeNorma Lewis6:48-
1983Sound Of My Heart (Slightly Baroque)The Sleeping Lions6:30-
1981The Two of UsCladja Barry & Ronnie Jones8:3039
1988Anything Like YouJanet D'Eon5:53-
1985SatellitesEllie Warren8:41-
1985I Believe In DreamsJackie Rawe7:21-
1987This Girl's Back In TownRaquel Welch6:4629
1983Take A Chance (On Me)Waterfront Property5:3914
1986Midnight LoverPeople Like Us7:34-
1988Suspicious MindsBobby O6:29-
1981Mama Told MeThe Fantastiques5:37-
1979Manhattan ShuffleArea Code (212)6:1241
1984Can We Try AgainTechnique5:1029
1979The "Gay Paris" / French Pillow Talk (medley)Patrick Juvet11:18-

Next up is number 13 in the Disco Discharge series, an album entitled American Hot featuring twenty tracks from 1974-1983, including disco thumpers by Tony Orlando sans Dawn, Aretha Franklin hitting on the Doobie (Brothers) and Luther Vandross bragging about finding a girl.  Following up my renewed faith in the power of the music, American Hot did not disappoint.  There are even three jazzier artists making an appearance on the album: Randy Crawford, Herbie Mann and Donald Byrd.  We'll get back to the music after a brief pause for some pretty pictures.

American Hot grooves from start to finish and just may be my favorite thus far in the Disco Discharge series.  From The Tom Moulton Mix of Claudja Barry's "Love For The Sake Of Love" which comes groovin' in slowly through the saxy solo halfway through The Brothers "Are You Ready For This?" which may well be the oldest track in the entire series to the acoustic guitar and electric piano of Miss Crawford's "Last Night At Danceland", the first three songs glide by effortlessly.  In case you were wondering, Tony Orlando holds his own as the loverman in "Don't Let Go" and Aretha churches up the Doobie Brothers "What A Fool Believes" atop producer Arif Mardin's busy and funky backing track.  Every single track here was new to me and I hit repeat after the album was done to enjoy it all again.  The album's closing track "A Night In New York" has me jonesing for more from the curiously named Elbow Bones & the Racketeers.  They remind me of a toned down Dr. Buzzard & the Original Savannah Band or Kid Creole & the Coconuts which, it turns out, they kind of are.

yeartitleartistBillboard Disco Chart
1976Love For The Sake Of LoveClaudja Barry7:43-
1974Are You Ready For ThisThe Brothers3:2313
1980Last Night In DancelandRandy Crawford4:53-
1978SupermanHerbie Mann5:32-
1978Don't Let GoTony Orlando8:5327
1978American GenerationThe Ritchie Family6:3519
1979Sexy CreamSlick6:4246
1979Love Is The Ultimate (medley)Ultimate8:126
1978Think It OverCissy Houston6:005
1979SnapshotDelores Hall7:58-
1979I Got Love On My MindMarilyn McLeod5:51-
1979I Need Somebody To Love TonightSylvester feat. Patrick Cowley6:38-
1976Fill Me Up (Heart To Heart)Andrea True Connection10:03-
1978Touch Me On My Hot SpotSaturday Night Band11:312
1979New York By NightDennis Parker5:0747
1978Love Disco StyleErotic Drum Band9:2317
1980What A Fool BelievesAretha Franklin5:0839
1981Sugar And Spice (I Found Me A Girl)Luther Vandross4:57-
1981Love Has Come AroundDonald Byrd and 125th Street, NYC7:474
1983A Nigfht In New YorkElbow Bones & the Racketeers5:4824

1 comment:

  1. On the first album, I rather enjoy Norma Lewis' take on "Maybe This Time". The second album has some strong R&B hitters with Aretha and Luther. Also, I always enjoy hearing the Ritchie Family.