CERRONE-LOVE IN C MINOR.
CERRONE-LOVE IN C MINOR.
Recently, I wrote about Cerrone’s second album Cerrone’s Paradise, released in 1977. The album that inadvertently started Marc Cerrone’s solo career was Love In C Minor, released the year before, in 1976. After this, Marc Cerrone would go on to become one of the biggest selling artists of the disco era, selling over thirty million albums worldwide. This made Marc Cerrone one of the most successful European disco artists. Apart from being a hugely successful artist, Marc is an innovator. He realized the importance of the kick drum in modern dance music, and is credited with positioning the kick drum at the front of the mix. However, when Mark Cerrone recorded his debut album Love In C Minor, which was rereleased by BBR Records in 2011, he never envisaged a long and successful solo career. Instead, this was Marc bowing out from music, but determined to do so with a bang, rather than a whimper.
Having left his previous group Kongas after the group decided to change direction musically, the now twenty-three old Marc Cerrone found himself married with a young family. Now was the time to heed the advice of his father, and get himself a “regular” job. Using a portion of his royalties from the sales of the Konga’s music, Marc bought a record shop Import Music. However, rather than settle for family life and working in his record shop, he wanted one last hurrah musically. This he said was farewell to music from Marc Cerrone. So, to make sure this was a memorable musical farewell, Marc enlisted the help of Alec R. Constandinos, a writer and producer. Together, the pair would ensure that Marc farewell was a Magnus Opus, fitting his premature farewell to music.
Marc had an idea for his farewell, an album that was a sensuous symphony of delicious disco music. Grandiose and lavish this album would be, tinged with funk and spread over two sides of the album. Initially, Alex was unsure, but quickly came round to Marc’s way of thinking. Now convinced in the project’s merits, the pair headed across the channel, destination the Trident Studios in London.
Once Marc and Alex arrived in London, they spent September and October of 1976, recording what would become Love In C Minor. With three tracks written, two by Marc and Alex, who’d also produce the album, they put together a band and backing singers. Joining Marc on the album, would be keyboard player Don Ray, with whom he’d colaborate on Marc’s second album Cerrone’s Paradise and Don’s Garden of Love. Among the other musicians were bassist Mo Foster, percussionist Tony Carr and guitarist Hughie Burns. The backing vocalists were Madeline Bell and Jackie Sullivan who both sang on Cerrone’s Paradise, plus Stephanie De Sykes, Joanne Williams and Jean Hawker. With John Watson’s brass section and the Pat Halling String Ensemble, Love In C Minor was indeed going to a lavish album, worthy of any farewell to the music industry. However, would Love In C Minor prove a successful farewell to music from Marc Cerrone?
Now that Love In C Minor was recorded, Marc tried to get a French record label interested in the album. Regardless of who he approached, no-one was interested. Instead, he decided to have five-thousand copies pressed, and sell them himself. Alex wasn’t convinced, trying to stop Marc from making what he thought was a huge mistake. Sadly, this lack of belief in Marc’s music caused a split in their relationship. Undeterred, Marc had the record pressed, with five-thousand copies of Love In C Minor pressed for his own Malligator Records label. Then fate would intervene when an error was made in shipping an order.
This shipping error resulted in copies of Love In C Minor finding their way across the Atlantic, finding there way to New York. Love In C Minor took the Big Apple’s discos by storm. Atlantic Records realizing the potential of the album, struck a deal to license it through their Cotillion Records subsidiary. Before Love In C Minor was released in America, Love In C Minor (Part 1) was released as a single reaching number thirty-six in the US Bilboard 100, while reaching number twenty-nine in the US R&B Charts. Meanwhile, the single reached number twenty-six in the UK. On the release of Love In C Minor, the album reached number 153 in the US Billboard 200, number fifty-five in the US R&B Charts and number two in the Disco Charts. Quickly, Love In C Minor had become a hugely popular album, resulting in Atlantic desperately trying to persuade Marc to tour the US to promote the album and tour. Marc was insistent that he’d finish his second album, which would become Cerrone’s Paradise. It seemed that Marc Cerrone’s farewell to music would’ve to be put on hold, after the success of Love In C Minor which I’ll now tell you about.
Opening Love In C Minor is Love In C Minor (Part 1) which was released as a single, a track that lead to the term Euro Disco being coined. It’s a sprawling, sensuous sixteen minute Magnus Opus, that took up one side of Love In C Minor. As the track opens, there’s badinage and double entendres from Marc’s backing vocalists, before pounding drums, lush cascading strings, percussion and the rhythm section combine with flourishes of keyboards. The tempo is 126 beats per minute, perfect for a disco track. While the strings swirl and sweep, horns rasp as the rhythm section drive the track along. By now, the sound is a combination of a dramatic arrangement and sensuality from the backing vocalists. They in turn change from sweet and innocent backing vocalists, before being are transformed into a hedonistic, sensuous and ultimately orgiastic chorus. Later, the funk influence makes its presence felt, when the rhythm section and percussion combine to create a pulsating, dramatic backdrop complete with wah-wah guitars. A musical contrast in provided by the lush strings, sultry sax solo and punchy keyboards from Marc. Subtle backing vocalists reenter, very different from their earlier erotic sound. By the end of the track, you realize not just how innovative a track this was, but how inluential it was, helping launch Euro Disco. Truly, this was a moment of genius from Marc Cerrone, a brave musical visionary of the disco era.
Black Is Black is the only track on Love In C Minor not written by Marc and Alex. Instead it co-written by Michelle Grainger, Steve Wadey and Tony Hayes. Here, the tempo increases, reaching 132 beats per minute. There’s more of a Euro Disco sound, when the track opens, with keyboards giving way to chiming guitars, rhythm section and lush strings. Listen carefully, and there’s even a hustle sound to the arrangement. Beautiful, understated, breathless backing vocalists enter, combining well with the swirling strings. Meanwhile the keyboards and pounding drums sit well together, helping give the track its Euro Disco sound. Adding an uplifting, joyful sound to the track are the cascading strings, blazing horns and backing vocalists. Combine this with some catchy lyrics sung by the backing vocalists, and classic American disco given a European twist by Marc Cerrone, and you’ve the recipe for a timeless sounding track, that over thirty years later still has a contemporary sound.
Closing Love In C Minor is Midnite Lady, the fastest of the trio of tracks on the album. Hissing hi-hats open the track, before the track takes on a moody, thoughtful sound. Accompanying Marc’s breathless, sensual vocal, is an arrangement that promises drama. This is signaled by the relentless, pounding beats, keyboards and percussion. They sprinkle funk throughout the arrangement, especially when the rhythm section and percussion combine, before being joined by blazing horns. Then when the lushest of strings and backing vocalists enter, there’s still a funky sound, which combines with the Euro Disco sound. Later, the track takes on a pulsating, dramatic sound, thanks to the drums, while strings and backing vocalists provide a contrast. It’s almost impossible not to get caught up in the track’s irresistible sound. Quickly, you’re drawn in and just as quickly, swept away by this Midnite Lady.
Listening to Love In C Minor you only begin to realize just how innovative and influential this album was. Marc Cerrone was brave, releasing an album that was unlike anything before. In doing so, he helped invent a new genre of music Euro Disco. The three tracks on Love In C Minor have a timeless quality like all good music. Unlike many similar albums, Love In C Minor’s release, the album retains a contemporary sound. Given that it’s now thirty-six years since Love In C Minor’s release, this is quite remarkable. It seems ironic that this was meant to be Marc Cerrone bowing out of music and bidding the music industry farewell. If it hadn’t been for a shipping error, then Marc Cerrone may have ended up behind the corner in his record shop Import Music. Thankfully, fate intervened, resulting in the start of a long and successful career, and over twenty further albums. However, the album that started his career was Love In C Minor, which was rereleased in October 2011. This gives disco lovers to either discover or rediscover the delights on Marc Cerrone’s innovative and influential debut album Love In C Minor. Standout Tracks: Love In C Minor (Part 1), Black Is Black and Midnite Lady.
CERRONE-LOVE IN C MINOR.