DISCO RECHARGE-TANGERUE/STRANGE AFFAIR.

DISCO RECHARGE-TANGERUE/STRANGE AFFAIR.

After the success of Harmless Records’ Disco Discharge series, which celebrated the release of four further volumes in 2012, taking the total to sixteen volumes of the Disco Discharge series, Harmless have launched another new label and series, Disco Recharge. The Disco Recharge series sees Harmless rerelease long out of print classic disco albums unearthed by the mysterious Mr. Pinks, who compiled the Disci Discharge compilation series. Tangerué/Strange Affair is the second in the series, and will be rereleased on 2nd July 2012. Voyage’s 1977 French Disco classic Voyage was the first installment in this new series. From the Euro Disco of Voyage, volume two sees the Disco Recharge series pack its bags and head to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. It was there that Bruce Weedon and Ed Strauman who were proteges of Boris Midney, a true legend of disco recorded the two albums on the second volume of Disco Recharge. They put together a studio band Tangerue in 1979 who recorded just one album Tangerué, full of lush Philly disco strings, infectious melodies and pulsating beats. Tangerué was then released to critical acclaim and since then, has become a highly collectable disco classic. 

By the time Bruce Weedon returned to the studio, this time with Giuliani Salerni of Ultimate, to record Strange Affair’s only album Strange Affair, disco had died. After the Disco Sucks movement had single-handedly destroyed disco, disco albums weren’t selling well. Record companies backed off from anything disco related. This spelled disaster for Strange Affair’s only album Strange Affair. Although the album was crammed full of quality disco music, with a Philly twist, it sold badly. Since then, Strange Affair, like Tangerue, has become a highly collectable album, with copies changing hands for considerable sums of money. Now thankfully, you don’t need deep-pockets to afford either Tangerué or Strange Affair, with Harmless’ forthcoming release ensuring this. However, what makes Tangerué and Strange Affair’s albums so collectable?

TANGERUE-TANGERUE.

Before Bruce Weedon met Boris Midney, Bruce had been a session guitarist. With so many guitarists for hire, times were tough for musicians like Bruce. Then when Boris Midney asked Bruce along to his new, hand built studio, Bruce’s career was transformed. Boris needed a guitarist to play guitar on a project he was working on. When the pair first met, Boris was installing a new mixing desk in his studio. This required some soldering done, and Bruce was able to do this. After this, Boris asked Bruce to stay on, and become his new apprentice. From then on, Bruce played guitar and engineered many of Boris’ recordings, including albums like Beautiful Blend, USA-European Connection and USA-European Connection 2. It was during the recording of USA-European Connection 2 that Bruce met Ed Strauman.

Ed Strauman taught and played piano, often performing in jazz clubs in evenings, augmented his income by arranging and copying musical scores by hand. One man who needed his talents was Boris Midney. He was working on USA-European Connection’s Come Into My Heart, and needed Ed Strauman to copy the string parts for the arrangement. After copying the score, be played piano on the track. It was the start of a working relationship between Ed and Bruce. From then on, the pair would work on a various projects and would be reunited again in Philadelphia.

By 1979, Ed Strauman had signed a songwriting contract with South Philly Productions. One day, he was asked to write a disco track, similar to Donna Summer’s Last Dance. He sat down with his wife Mary Cavallaro, a lyricist and came up with Dance With Me. With the song written, the label wanted someone to record it. Linda Clifford expressed an interest, but chose not to record the track. Then Ed hit on the idea of a studio album. Along with his wife, he cowrote three more tracks. Now they had enough songs for an album all they needed were musicians.

For recording of the four tracks that became Tangerué’s only album Tangerué, Ed enlisted the help of his old friend Bruce Weedon. Ed and Bruce produced the album, with Ed playing keyboards and Bruce guitar. Along with guitarist John Valentino, bassist Jim Sutton, drummer and percussionist Miguel Fuentes. Th Ultimate Players added strings and horns, while the somewhat mysterious Tangerué added vocals. With the album recorded, Tangerue’s one and only album was ready for release.

On the release of Tangerué, it lit up dance-floors, with its combination of lush cascading strings, pulsating beats, beckoning vocals and infectious melodies. Soon, the album Tangerué became a cult classic. Ed and Bruce buoyed by their success must have thought a future as disco producers beckoned. However, what made Tangerué such a successful album?

Tangerué opens with Dance With Me, and from the opening bars you’re hooked. This is the type of music that made disco great. The track literally explodes into life. Pounding drums, percussion, bursts of blazing horns and lush cascading strings welcome the arrival of the sweetest of vocals. You’re swept away, atop the swathes of shimmering strings and punchy horns, with that pulsating beat ever-present. Of course, best not forget that beckoning vocal, full of promise and mystery. Later, percussive breaks, a pounding bass and rasping horns all play their part in the track’s hook laden sound. It’s like being a journey back to 1979, with Tangerué providing the soundtrack, complete with shimmering strings, glamour and glitter balls aplenty.

Everynight, Everyday takes up where Dance With Me left off. Pounding beats and percussion combine, before a dark synth signals a change in sound. When the growling horns and shimmering strings enter, the synth continues to make its presence felt. Hissing hi-hats, flourishes of keyboards and percussion give the track a Latin feel, while the pounding drums remind you it’s a disco album. Strings sweep and swirl, as the wistful, hopeful vocal enters. By now it’s impossible to resist the track’s charms. All you can do is succumb to Tangerue as they take you on a majestic, unforgettable ten minute adventure.

As Doin’ Your Own Thing prepares to reveal its secrets, you’re constantly trying to second guess where the track is heading. Funk and jazz make brief appearances, before another glorious slice of 4/4 disco gives up its secrets. Rasping horns, stabs of keyboards, a driving rhythm section and dancing strings accompany cooing vocalists. When the vocals drop out, the strings shiver and quiver, before percussion, blazing horns and dramatic keyboards take centre-stage. For six minutes, Tangerue fuse jazz, funk and disco are seamlessly, resulting in a track that’s dramatic, grandiose and is a glorious reminder of the heady days of disco.

Ed Strauman must have called upon all his years of experience as a jazz musician to create the arrangement for Tangerué. His arrangement has a vintage sound, that sounds like its from another era. That is, until you add the pulsating disco beat. As the track begins you’re oblivious to what’s about to unfold. Percussion and pounding beats give way to stabs of keyboards, vintage strings and growling horns. Then comes the louche vocal, encouraging you to do the Tangerué, their very own dance. It’s perfect for the arrangement, as they reveal the mysteries of Tangerué. A jazz tinged piano gives way to a myriad of Latin percussion and pulsating beats, before shimmering strings glide in. By then, not only have you been schooled in the mysteries of Tangerué, but have been lucky enough to hear its louche soundtrack, where jazz and disco unite as one, producing the perfect track to close Tangerué.

Listening to Tangerué, it’s quite obvious why the album is so highly rated and collectable.  From its opening bars, Tangerué take you on a magical musical journey, back to the heady days of disco. During that journey, you’re introduced to lush Philly disco strings, blzing horns, infectious melodies and pulsating beats plus hook galore. It’s impossible to resist the music on Tangerué, and by Tangerué, which closes the album, you’ll find yourself doing the Tangerué. Although there are just four tracks on the album, they’re four glorious tracks. For me, I’d rather have an album with just four great tracks, than a longer meandering album padded out with filler. This isn’t the here. Quite the opposite, there are just four great tracks on Tangerué, with Tangerué Melody, which previously was only available as a twelve inch single a welcome and added bonus. With an album as good as Tangerué, then the addition of Strange Affair’s second album Strange Affair is just like a bonus. However, will Strange Affair match the quality of Tangerué?

STRANGE AFFAIR-STRANGE AFFAIR.

A year after the release of Tangerué, South Philly Records would release another studio album, Strange Affair’s second album Strange Affair. By then, Ed Strauman had moved on to other projects. Given that disco was no longer as popular, after the Disco Sucks backlash, this may have been a wise move. Record companies and record buyers were shunning disco music, with disco singles and albums deeply unpopular. So, Giuliani Salerni who would produce Strange Affair’s album faced an uphill struggle. He’d been brought in by Bruce Weedon, after Ed moved on. Bruce knew Giuliani Salerni with the pair working on projects by Giuliani’s group Ultimate. Could he replicate this success with Strange Affair’s second album Strange Affair?

For Strange Affair’s second album, Giuliani wrote the five tracks on the album, while playing piano, synth and clavinet. Bruce Weedon would act as engineer and play guitar on the album. Joining them for the recording of Strange Affair was M.F.S.B. guitarist T.J. Tindall, bassist Timmy Allen and Don Renaldo’s strings and horns. Adding vocals were Brenda Hill, Carolyn Mitchell, Joy Lober and Vansessa Thomas, sister of Irma Thomas. Like the Tangerue album, recording took place at Alpha International Studios. Soon, Strange Affair’s second album Strange Affair was recorded and ready for release. Would it buck the trend of disco albums selling badly?

Sadly, when Strange Affair released their second album Strange Affair, it almost sank without trace. It seemed the disco backlash had claimed another victim. Given the quality of music on Strange Affair, this is something of a tragedy, as you’ll realize when I tell you about the music on the album.

Strange Affair opens with Bad Connection. The funkiest of bass lines and punchy drums combine, before blazing horns and sweeping swirling strings signal the arrival of the vocal. They’re breathy, emotive and sometimes, needy. When they drop out, waves of dramatic music are unleashed. Synths and the rhythm section combine while a sinister sounding male vocal prowls around the arrangement. As he departs, the needy breathy vocals returns. In their absence, a mixture of funky bass, disco and strings and frenzied washes of synths make their presence felt. By then, the rest of Strange Affair, have all played their part in getting Strange Affair of to a compelling, dramatic and disco drenched start.

No, No, No sees distant rocky guitars and handclaps, welcome the arrival of a pulsating beat, rasping horns and chiming Chic-influenced guitars. The tempo is quick, the vocals excitable and emotive, while strings sweep and swirl. Percussion and a pounding bass line augment the pulsating beat, while handclaps accompany the vocal that’s delivered in short, sharp bursts. This results in a captivating and tantalizing track, where Strange Affair mix funk and disco, reminding me of Chic.

When Love Is A Strange Affair begins, the Chic influence is apparent again. Several things lead me to draw this comparison. From the cascading strings that dance across the arrangement, accompanying the female vocalists to the guitar. The big difference is the drum sound. Chic’s drums weren’t so loud or prominent in the mix. While Chic were purveyors of disco perfection, Strange Affair are the new kid on the block. Their sound is best described as Chic with a pulsating, pounding disco beat and like Chic, Strange Affair are capable of creating some quality disco music. Here, they do so with a twist of jazz and lashings of style, paying homage to the doyens of disco Chic. 

Meandering keyboards trail off, before keyboard, pounding drums and cascading strings open I’m Ready / Disco Star. Straight away, you’re smitten by the infectiously catchy sound. Key to this are the vocals, along with bursts of punchy horns, lush strings and jazz tinged guitar. During a prolonged break, stabs of synths and percussion join the arrangement. Those sweet vocals sit atop the arrangement, which dances along, sweeping you along in its wake. It’s impossible to resist the track’s jazz-tinged, percussive charms. I kid you not, resistance is impossible. Once you’ve heard the track, you too will agree.

Closing Strange Affair is Don’t Stop The Music, which is my sentiments exactly. So good is the album, that you just don’t want it to end. Sadly this is Strange Affair’s farewell, with male and female vocalists featuring on a track where the band make diversions into funk and jazz. These excursions prove the band’s versatility, and are a departure from sweeping, swirling strings, growling horns and ever-present pounding drums. Although sometimes, the track is quite different from the other tracks on Strange Affair, the quality is just the same. Strange Affair don’t disappoint,  leaving you with pleasant memories, and pressing play again, to experience their delights one more time. 

Earlier, I wondered whether Strange Affair’s second album would match the quality of Tangerué’s album Tangerué? Well, having spent some time listening to the album, then I can say that this is the case. Where Tangerué left of, Strange Affair takes over. During the five tracks on Strange Affair, producer Giuliani Salern adds funk, jazz and soul into Strange Affair’s lush brand of disco. Like Tangerué’s album, there are strings and horns aplenty from Don Renaldo, who appear on numerous Philadelphia International Records and Salsoul Records’ recording. The final piece in this disco jigsaw were the vocals, with the soulful strains of Brenda Hill, Carolyn Mitchell, Joy Lober and Vansessa Thomas adding the finishing touch to the album. Sadly, by the time Strange Affair released their second album Strange Affair, disco had died. After the Disco Sucks bandwagon killed disco, record companies didn’t want to release disco albums which record buyers wouldn’t buy. This was what happened to Strange Affair. It was released and sank without trace. Since then, music fans have rediscovered the delights of Strange Affair, with the album changing hands for even greater sums of money. Thankfully, after 2nd July 2012, when Harmless Records rerelease Disco Recharge-Tangerué/Strange Affair you’ll be able to afford your own copy of these two classic disco albums, which given the quality of music on them, is a must-have for disco lovers everywhere. Once again, Mr. Pinks has succeeded in unearthing two albums that are absolute disco gold. If the rest of the Disco Recharge series is as good as Disco Recharge-Tangerué/Strange Affair then they’ll be a joy to behold. All I can say to Mr. Pinks is Don’t Stop the Music, not when it’s as good as this.  

DISCO RECHARGE-TANGERUE/STRANGE AFFAIR.

Disco Recharge - Tangerue / Strange Affair

 

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