DISCO DISCHARGE-AMERICAN HOT.

DISCO DISCHARGE-AMERICAN HOT.

Since 2009, when Harmless Records launched the Disco Discharge series, compiler Mr Pinks has been bringing quality disco to the masses over the previous twelve volumes. These twelve previous volumes of the Disco Discharge series have ranged from Classic Disco, Disco Fever USA, Disco Ladies through Disco Boogie to Euro Disco, Euro Beats and European Connection. Truly, this is one of the most comprehensive disco series ever, perfect for disco newcomers or disco veterans. However, Mr Pinks work isn’t done. Not by a long shot. His first compilation of 2012 is Disco Discharge-American Hot, which will be released on 26 February. Now you’d think after twelve previous volumes, Mr Pinks would be under pressure to keep up the same quality as previous installments of the series, and that standards might be starting to slip. After all, we’ve all watched other inferior compilations quality and standards slip after four or five volumes. Not for Mr Pinks, he’s a perfectionist, a crate digger extraordinaire who dares to dig where other disco compilers fear to dig. His raison d’etre and life’s mission is to educate disco novices and bring delicious disco delights to the masses. Well, with Disco Discharge-American Hot he doesn’t disappoint. Quite the opposite, instead, he goes the extra mile, delivering hidden gems and forgotten classics aplenty. With a combination of strutting disco divas, soul veterans and disco converts on Disco Discharge-American Hot, there are twenty full length mixes to revel in. So dust of your disco balls as I tell you about the music on Disco Discharge-American Hot.

DISC ONE.

Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot features eleven tracks, with a few surprising and intriguing tracks. This includes Tony Orlando, formerly a clean cut teen idol, then member of Dawn, famed for tracks like Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree. Here, he shakes loose the shackles of his previous group and is transformed temporarily into seventies, strutting disco star. Jazz flautists Herbie Mann’s Superman is also included, which reached number one in the Billboard Dance Charts, resulting in a reluctant disco star. The disco divas come in the shape of Cissy Houston, Claudia Barry, Delores Hall and Marilyn McLeod, while Randy Crawford’s Last Night In Danceland is a welcome inclusion. Among the disco groups are Slick, The Brothers and The Ritchie Family, Disco Discharge regular. Overall, the quality of music on Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot is what you’d expect from disco dilettante Mr Pinks. However, what are the highlights of Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

My first choice from Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot is Claudja Barry’s Love For The Sake Of Love, with the version chosen the Tom Moulton Mix. This track was originally released on Salsoul Records in 1977. It has a deceptive introduction, with just drums providing the track’s heartbeat, before keyboards and guitars enter. The tempo is slow for a disco track, just 91 beats per minute. By now, you’re anticipating that something is about to happen, that sometime soon, the track will explode into disco heaven. However, the track just meanders beautifully along, gradually revealing its charms and delights. Then, after nearly three minutes, Claudjia’s sensuous whispery vocal enters, accompanied by subtle backing vocalists. After six minutes, it’s all change, as the arrangement grows. Claudjia, accompanied by percussion, lush strings and chiming guitars combine, and they’re  key to the success of this subtle, sensuous and beautiful mid-tempo track.

Randy Crawford’s Last Night In Danceland, was released in 1980 on Warner Bros, and was taken from her album Now We May Begin. Written by Joe Sample of The Crusaders and Will Jennings, this is another mid-tempo track demonstrates both Randy’s versatility and talent as a vocalist. Opening with an acoustic guitar, before the rhythm section and keyboards enter. They give way to Randy’s tender, gentle vocal, while the understated arrangement features just keyboards and the rhythm section, allowing the vocal to take centre-stage. Quickly, Randy’s vocal grows in power, delivering the lyrics in a thoughtful, then jazzy style.  Meanwhile, cascading strings join an arrangement that combines elements of jazz and soul. This track that would become a rare groove classic, while Randy would become one of the biggest artists of the eighties.

What I love about compilations like Disco Discharge-American Hot, is you find hitherto unknown disco tracks like Tony Orlando’s Don’t Let Go, released in 1978 on Elektra. The track is a cover of a 1958 track recorded by Roy Hamilton and was co-produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett. Now this is a cry way from his days with Dawn or as a teen idol, with Tony transformed into a strutting disco star. Against a string laden backdrop, horns punctuate the arrangement, as Tony delivers the lyrics is a melodramatic style. Accompanying Tony are soulful, female backing vocalists, while the pounding rhythm section drive the track along. Later, an organ drifts in and out of the track, augmenting the pounding drums, strings and horns that are key to the track’s sound and success, as as this nine minute epic reveals its hidden charms. Although very different from what you’d expect Tony Dawn to sound like, and Mr Pinks deserves credit for unearthing this hidden gem. Play this track and ask people to guess the singer, and I’m sure nobody will correctly guess Tony Dawn.

One of the best tracks on Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot, is Cissy Houston’s Think It Over, which has a real classic disco sound. Released in 1978 on the Private Stock label, it has everything you’d want in a disco track. Swathes of lush, cascading strings, blazing horns, the tightest of rhythm sections and of course a true diva in Cissy Houston to deliver the lyrics. She’s accompanied by some stunning backing vocalists, whose contributions are energetic and dramatic. The longer the track progresses, the better it gets. Cissy’s impassioned and powerful vocal is accompanied by a myriad of horns, strings, backing vocalists and handclaps, as the track combines great tracks you’ll find on Disc One, this is by far the best.

The last track I’ve chosen from Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot, is Marilyn McLeod’s (I Don’t Wanna Dance Tonight) I’ve Got Love On My Mind. Released in 1979 on Fantasy Records, this was co-written by Marilyn with Pam Sawyer. Previously, Marilyn had been signed to Motown, where she cowrote Love Hangover for Diana Ross and Same Ol’ Love for Anita Baker. Here, she demonstrates just how talented a vocalist she is, delivering the lyrics against a quick, pounding disco beat. It’s a combination of the rhythm section and swirling strings that give way to Marilyn’s sweet vocal, while backing vocalists accompany her. As the track progresses, Marilyn’s voice soars, while the strings play and backing vocalists play a more prominent role in the track. For nearly six minutes you can’t help but succumb to this hook-laden and quite beautiful track. Truly, resistance is impossible, so just enjoy the journey.

Although I’ve only mentioned five of the eleven tracks on Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot, there’s many more great tracks awaiting discovery or rediscovery. Another two tracks that are worth mentioning are Delores Hall’s diva-esque performance on Snapshot and The Brothers’ Are You Ready For This? The latter is a popular instrumental in both Northern Soul and disco circles, and was a track I was pleased to find had been included. These are two tracks that I could just as easily have mentioned. Really, given the consistent quality of music of Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot, it was quite difficult choosing just a few tracks to mention. Mind you, when you’ve a compilation as good as Disco Discharge-American Hot, then choosing just a few of the many highlights isn’t easy. Will this be the case on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-American Hot?

DISC TWO.

On Disc Two of Disco Discharge-American Hot there are even more hidden gems, familiar tracks and disco classics awaiting the listener. Opening with Sylvester featuring Patrick Cowley’s I Need Somebody To Love, and taking in tracks by Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross and Donald Byrd, Disc Two of Disco Discharge-American Hot closes with the feel-good sound of Elbow Bones and The Racketeers’ A Night In New York. In total, there are nine tracks on Disc Two of  Disco Discharge-American Hot, which continues where Disc One left of. This makes you wonder whether Mr Pinks ever rests in his pursuit of disco perfection given the quality of music he’s chosen? Choosing from nine delicious slices of disco isn’t easy, but here goes.

When Sylvester featuring Patrick Cowley’s I Need Somebody To Love Tonight was released in 1979, it was originally the B-side of I Who Have Nothing. Then, when the single was flipped over, came the delights of I Need Somebody To Love. It’s just dark synths and drums hat open the track, before the track starts to build up. In come the rhythm section, keyboards and percussion, before the unmistakable voice of Sylvester slowly and dramatically enters. The track has a spacey, trippy sound with its combination keyboards, rhythm section and percussion, which combines with Sylvester’s vocal. The track doesn’t so much unfold, as meander moodily, while there’s a real loneliness and longing, even vulnerability in Sylvester’s vocal during this spacey, dubby track.

The Saturday Night Band’s Touch Me On My Hot Spot is the complete opposite from Sylvester’s track. Released in 1978 from their Come On Dance, Dance, this track has a much more uptempo and uplifting sound, with an accomplished arrangement that’s drenched in strings, punchy horns, percussion and a funky rhythm section. This is accompanied by a soaring vocal female lead vocal and sensual, almost erotic backing vocalists. Meanwhile percussion, strings and horns augment the vocals, resulting in a sometimes dramatic, always energetic and polished arrangement, laden with hooks and breaks.

While Luther Vandross has had a hugely successful career, before his breakthrough he released Sugar And Spice (I Found Me A Girl), which was released in 1981, on Epic, and would appear on his album Never Too Much. This is one of the best tracks on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-American Hot, from its opening bars to closing notes. Opening with a piano solo and pounding drums, Luther’s vocal enters. It’s impassioned and emotive. Meanwhile the rhythm section, keyboards, rasping horns and cascading strings combine, to provide the perfect backdrop for his vocal. Later, sweet sounding backing vocalists accompany Luther, providing a contrast to his powerful and impassioned delivery. When you listen to this track, you quickly can understand just why Luther would go on to sell over twenty-five million albums, given the talent, passion and emotion he displays during this track.

Elbow Bones and The Racketeers released A Night In New York in 1983, a track from their New York At Dawn album, recently rereleased on Hot Shot Records. Featuring Stephanie Fuller’s gorgeous, inviting vocal, the track is a mass of sultry, rasping horns interspersed with drama and atmosphere. Opening with punchy, prominent drums, they give to rasping horns and flourishes of piano before Stephanie’s sweet and inviting vocal. There’s a sultry, breathless sound to her vocal, while the rhythm section, jazz guitars and percussion combine with the horns, to create a sound that’s roots are in forties big band music. This is given a contemporary makeover by Augustus, with his placing of the pounding drums and its importance in the track’s sweet, swinging horn drenched sound. By the end of the track, the majestic combination of the big band arrangement and gorgeous vocal is absolutely irresistible. I defy anyone not to be won over by its charm and sweetness.

Having been so impressed by the music on Disc One of Disco Discharge-American Hot, and having found it so difficult to choose just a few highlights of the eleven tracks, I was faced with the same problem on DIsc Two. Truly, the music doesn’t disappoint, with nine quality tracks following one after another. With tracks from Elbow Bones and The Racketeers, Luther Vandross, Sylvester, Aretha Frankin, Saturday Night Band and Donald Byrd the music somehow, is even better. These nine tracks combine a few hidden gems with tracks from some of the biggest stars in music. This includes music from jazz musician Donald Byrd and soul stars Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross. Add to this Sylvester’s fusion of Hi-NRG and disco, while Elbow Bones and The Racketeers fuse a big band sound with eighties dance music. Here, Mr Pinks has dug deeper, delving into different musical genres to discover tracks that are perfect for any dance-floor, for the thirteenth installment of the Disco Discharge series. Like its predecessors, Disco Discharge-American Hot doesn’t disappoint, and is a worthy inclusion into the Disco Discharge series. For anyone thinking of buying Disco Discharge-American Hot, then I can thoroughly recommend this compilation. Whether you’re disco novice or disco veteran, then there many disco delights awaiting discovery or rediscovery on Disco Discharge-American Hot. Standout Tracks: Cissy Houston Think It Over, Marilyn McLeod (I Don’t Wanna Dance Tonight) I’ve Got Love On My Mind, Luther Vandross Sugar And Spice (I Found Me A Girl) and Elbow Bones and The Racketeers A Night In New York.

DISCO DISCHARGE-AMERICAN HOT.

Disco Discharge: American Hot

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