DISCO DISCHARGE-MIDNIGHT SHIFT.
DISCO DISCHARGE-MIDNIGHT SHIFT.
Harmless Records say farewell to their Disco Discharge series with Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift, their fourth and final compilation of 2012. It’ll be 2013 before compiler Mr. Pinks makes his next appearance. This is the sixteenth compilation since the series started back in 2009. Since then, Mr. Pinks has treated us to everything from delicious disco delights that take in everything from Salsoul, classic seventies disco, Hi-NRG, Italo Disco and Euro Disco. It seems that regardless of the sub-genre of disco, Mr. Pinks has an encyclopedic knowledge of its hidden gems. Whereas the previous volume Disco Discharge-Europa saw Mr. Pinks dust of his passport and head to the continent of Europe, Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift sees him travel further afield in his pursuit of late-night, midnight sounds and peak-time sounds. In total, there are twenty tracks, with familiar Disco Discharge friends like Bette Midler, Suzy Q, Boystown Gang, Patrick Juvet, Lian Ross, Astaire and Tapps. Newcomers to Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift include Love Twins, The Flirtations, Kim Carnes, Lisa Lougheed and Quartslock. Of the twenty tracks on Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift, will they match the quality of the three previous volumes of the Disco Discharge series of 2012?
Disc One of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift sees Mr. Pinks take the listener on a journey from America over to Europe and visit Sweden, Germany and the UK. From there, he heads over to Australia and finally back to North America and specifically, Canada. This journey sees Mr. Pinks discover discover disco delights from potential disco divas including The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, Suzy Q, Kim Carnes and Lisa Lougheed. Apart from disco divas, artists like Patrick Juvet, Love Twins and The Flirtations are among the other artists helping Mr. Pinks say farewell to 2012. However, of the ten tracks on Disc One of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift, what are the highlights?
Bette Midler, The Divine Miss M opens Disc One of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift with the Original 12″ Mix of My Knight In Black. Taken from Bette’s 1979 album Thighs and Whispers it’s both six minutes of sultry and sleazy music. Accompanied by dramatic piano, pounding drums and stabs of synths, Bette’s sultry vocal grows in power and passion. Punchy backing vocalists, dark synths and piano all play their part in the track, as Bette’s divine vocal soars above the arrangement. They’re key to its success and sound. By now Bette’s vocal is seductive, soaring powerfully as the arrangement grows in drama. Then after seven minutes, the track reaches its dramatic, powerful and sultry crescendo.
Patrick Juvet may be best known for I Love America, but there’s much more to his music than one track. Lady Night, the title-track to his 1979 album on Casablanca proves my point perfectly. This track has one of the best and most polished productions on the compilation. Lush strings cascade, while blazing horns punctuate the arrangement and the rhythm section and handclaps provide the track’s heartbeat. Meanwhile, patrick’s vocal soars soulfully, before being replaced by swathes of luscious strings and percussion. Truly, all this is just disco heaven courtesy of Patrick Juvet, on a track that shows just how talented an artist and producer Patrick Juvet is.
During The Flirtations long career, they’ve donned a few disguises. Originally from Australia, they were Cliff Richard’s backing singers on his TV series, before recording a Northern Soul classic Nothing But A Heartache. They recorded three albums, but Earthquake was released in 1985, two years after their third album. When the track begins, The Flirtations through a real curve-ball, that has you confused. The track starts of slow and thoughtful, before exploding into life. From there, it’s Hi-NRG all the way. Booming drums, backing vocals, flourishes of piano and washes of synths combine. They’re accompanying a vocal that’s powerful and passionate. Strings, cymbals and kettle drums all play their part, before a prolonged breakdown when sweeping synths and percussion aplenty dominate. After that, things get even better, the track driving, dramatically along. Although both the arrangement and vocal are uplifting and joyous, I just wonder what Cliff would think of his old backing singers?
Suzy Q’s Can’t Live Without Your Love (Airwave Mix) is the title-track from a 1994 compilation on the Canadian Unidisc label. Previously, Suzy Q had released two albums, 1981s Get Up and Do It Again and 1982s Don’t You Stop the Feeling. Can’t Live Without Your Love had originally been released on J.C. Records. Straight away, the track is heading in the direction of Hi-NRG. The faster tempo and proliferation of synths and drum machines demonstrate this perfectly. Crispy drums, percussion and synths combine, before rocky guitars join. Then when Suzy’s vocal enters, it’s emotive and dramatic, with backing vocalists augmenting her vocal. Meanwhile, the arrangement reaches 128 beats per minute, with rocky guitars, percussion and pounding drums combining with stabs of synths. Together, with Suzy Q’s vocal they create a track that’s full of emotion and drama, demonstrating just how much dance music had changed since the heady days of disco’s heyday.
For anyone who only knows Kim Carnes for Bettye Davis Eyes, then they’re in for both a surprise and treat on Voyeur, the title-track of her 1982 album. Voyeur was Kim’s seventh album since 1971s Rest On Me. While the style of music was very different to her early music, one thing was unmistakable, Kim’s voice. Buzzing synths, crispy drums and keyboards combine driving the track along at breakneck speed. Then when that husky, throaty voice enters the track comes alive. Quickly, Kim’s voice grows in power, delivering the lyrics with an impassioned style, while the arrangement mixes Euro and synth pop, with even rocky guitars thrown in for good measure. However, what makes this such a great track is Kim Carnes vocal, which is instantly recognizable and full of power and passion. Truly, she brings the track to life seamlessly.
On Disc One of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift Mr. Pinks unearths a mixture of tracks from old friends from the Disco Discharge series and a few newcomers too. Of the ten tracks, the standout tracks are quite simply Bette Midler’s My Knight In Black and Patrick Juvet’s Lady Knight. The Flirtations’ Earthquake, complete with kettle drum quakes is another track that stands out from the crowd. Apart from these three tracks, Kim Carnes delivers one of the best vocals on the compilation, while Suzy Q demonstrates just how a Hi-NRG track should sound. Of the other five tracks there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with then. I could just as easily have mentioned either Love Twins, Astaire or Lisa Lougheed. Will the quality be as good on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift?
On Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift veterans of the previous fifteen volumes of the Disco Discharge series are reintroduced to a few old friends. Among them are Lian Ross, Tapps and Boystown Gang. Meanwhile, Ronni Griffith, Diva and Quartzlock are among the Disco Discharge newcomers, given the responsibility of bidding farewell to the good ship Disco Discharge, as it sails into the sunset, until its return in 2013. This sees Mr. Pinks continue his worldwide tour, making stops in Europe in Germany, Sweden, via South Africa then Canda and America on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift. Will this see Mr. Pinks bidding his adoring disco dilettantes in style?
Lili and Sussie’s pounding Candy Love opens Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift. This is a track from Swedish sisters Lili and Sussie’s 1986 album Dance Romance. It’s a track where synth pop and disco unite, with pounding, drums and percussion combining with the sweet, almost ethereal vocals of Lili and Sussie. Flourishes of piano, washes of synths and cruchy drums replace the vocal, creating drama and sometimes, darkness, a contrast to the beauty of the vocals. Together, they unite, resulting in a satisfactory combination of synth pop and disco.
Roni Griffith released Love Is the Drug in 1982, on Vanguard Records. Here, Roni combines elements of electronic music with shades of funk and soaring gospel backing vocalists. Washes of synths, drum machines and a rhythm section that sprinkle a touch of funk accompany Roni’s vocal. They borrow heavily from Lipps Inc. Funkytown. Later, a piano signals the entrance of soaring gospel vocalists, before pounding drums drive the track to its ending. Sadly, this irresistible track only lasts five minutes. It’s compelling and intriguing, combining elements of songs and styles throughout these five minutes.
One thing any great disco compilation needs is a diva. Here, Diva delivers Double Trouble released in 1981 on Matra Records. This is by far, one of the highlights of Disc Two. From the get-go and the crispy drums, hi-hats and handclaps everything is in place for a great track. Thankfully, it gets even betters. Bursts of synths precede the sweet, soaring vocal, before blazing horns and cascading strings combine. Swathes of drama caused by washes of synths, crispy drums and percussion take the track more in the direction of Euro Disco, whereas earlier the infuence and sound of strings and horns was more a traditional American sound. However, taking the best of European and American disco works well for Diva, who lives up to her name. She delivers a vocal worthy of the description diva-esque on one of the highlights of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift.
People Like Us’ Deliverance has no dueling banjoes, just plenty of synths and drum machines, not forgetting an emotive, impassioned vocal. It’s delivered against a dramatic, powerful driving arrangement. Candy Dickinson is the vocalist, her voice perfect for the track, powerful and soaring, accompanied by backing vocalists. Meanwhile, the arrangement sees synth pop and Hi-NRG combine. Although sometimes, dramatic and powerful, this track is hugely catchy, with Candy Dickinson’s vocal key to the track’s success.
My final choice from Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift is Boystown Gang’s Dance Trance Melody. The original track can be found on their 1984 album A Cast of Thousands on the Fantasy label. This is a fourteen minute epic, from one of the finest exponents of Hi-NRG. Swirling synths, blazing horns and a driving rhythm section get the track underway. Soaring vocals sit atop the arrangement, as one of the best tracks on Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift reveals its charms. Both the arrangement and vocals unite seamless as one. Blazing horns, cascading strings, synths, washes soaring, plus flourishes of guitars and keyboards all play their part in the track’s success. Add to this percussion and soaring, emotive vocals and the Boystown Gang provide the perfect soundtrack to close Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift and bid Mr. Pinks a fond farewell until 2013.
On Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift Mr. Pinks keeps up the same quality of music that we’ve come to expect of the great man. Among the highlights are Roni Griffith’s Love Is the Drug, Diva’s Double Trouble, People Like Us’ Deliverance and Disc One’s Magnus Opus the Boystown Gang’s Dance Trance Melody. Like Disc One, Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift features an eclectic, compelling and intriguing collection of music. Synth pop, Hi-NRG, electronic and disco are among the genres of music on this compilation. For the fourth time in 2012, and the sixteenth time overall, Mr. Pinks has succeeded in compiling a quality and eclectic selection of disco delights and a more than a few hidden gems. Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift, which was released on 7th May 2012, is a fitting farewell to 2012 from Mr. Pinks. For the rest of 2012, Mr. Pinks will sail into the sunset, pursuing the next batch of delicious, disco delights for next year’s installments of the Disco Discharge series. Until then, why not discover the delights of Disco Discharge-Midnight Shift and the previous fifteen volumes of this long-running and high-quality disco compilation series. Standout Tracks: Bette Midler My Knight In Black, Patrick Juvet Lady Night, Diva Double Trouble and Boystown Gang Dance Trance Melody.
DISCO DISCHARGE-MIDNIGHT SHIFT.