DISCO RECHARGE: VOYAGE-LET’S FLY AWAY.
DISCO RECHARGE: VOYAGE-LET’S FLY AWAY.
Back in June 2012, when Harmless Records launched their new label Disco Recharge, the new label’s first release was Voyage’s eponymous debut album Voyage. This saw Voyage embark upon a worldwide whistle-top tour, during which they paid homage to various styles of music. Their final destination was America, not just the home of the free, but the home of disco. To pay homage to America, the disco capital of the world, it was with Lady America, the track that closes the album. Later in 1978, Voyage returned with the followup to Voyage, Let’s Fly Away, a Euro Disco classic, which is the third in the Disco Recharge series and will be released on 30th July 2012. Before I tell you about the music on Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away, I’ll tell you about the background to the album.
Voyage released their second album, the followup to Voyage Let’s Fly Away in December 1978. This was the second album of 1978 and had much in common with its predecessor. Not only would Let’s Fly Away become a Euro Disco classic, but matched the huge commercial success of Voyage. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot Disco Dance Charts. Another thing it had in common was it was an album with a message. The seven tracks on Let’s Fly Away have a message that’s carefree and hedonistic. You become a globetrotter, with Voyage taking you to the four corners of the globe. During this journey, you experience the sounds of that include Hawaiian guitars, Eastern sounds, rock, soul and lashings of Euro Disco. This eclectic sounding musical adventure was the brainchild of three men in particular, plus one woman with a very special voice
The seven tracks on Let’s Fly Away were written and arranged by Marc Chantereau, Pierre-Alain Dahan and Slim Pezin. They also played most of the instruments on Let’s Fly Away and co-produced the album with Roger Takarz. Key to Voyage’s sound was Sylvia Mason. She added her crystalline vocals, with the backing vocalists the Birds of Paris accompanying her. Among the Birds of Paris were Madeline Bell, Kay Garner, Sue Glover, Stephanie De Sykes and Vicki Brown, some of whom had sung on albums by Cerrone and Don Ray. With such talented personnel having collaborated on Let’s Fly Away, it’s no wonder the album was such a commercial success.
On the release of Let’s Fly Away, the album headed all the way to number one in the Billboard Hot Disco Dance Charts. It spent eighteen weeks on the charts, becoming a favorite of DJs worldwide. Souvenirs was released as a single from Let’s Fly Away. It reached number forty-one in the US Billboard 100 and number seventy-three in the US R&B Charts. However, what made Let’s Fly Away so successful? That’s what I’ll tell you, once I’ve told you the seven tracks on Let’s Fly Away.
Souvenirs opens Voyage’s second album Let’s Fly Away. It conjurs up warm golden beaches, where the beautiful people mingle. It’s a bold statement of intent, with rolls of drums rumbling, while waves of synths and a proliferation of percussion combine. They give way to elegant melodies with Sylvia Mason’s crystalline, heartfelt vocal. It’s accompanied by lush strings, funky bass and the beautiful backing vocals of the Birds of Paris. They’re augmented by bursts of rasping horns, flourishes of keyboards and ever-present pulsating beats. Together, they provide the perfect soundtrack for the beautiful people’s hedonistic adventures, beneath the golden sun, as they collect Souvenirs, but none better than this track though.
Bursts of frenzied backing vocals, a funky bass and synths combine, to reveal the secrets of this Kechak Fantasy. The tempo is quick, the sound very different to Souvenirs. Drums are beaten by hand, while percussion, jagged guitars and layers of swirling synths are joined by the frenzied vocal. They all play their part in this track’s compelling, exotic sound, before Voyage take you on an Eastern Trip.
On Eastern Trip, Voyage combine elements of authentic Indian music with a pounding disco beat. Guitars reverberate, complimenting the traditional Eastern sound. The result is an intriguing musical fusion, where east and west unite as one, seamlessly. However, that’s not the end of Let’s Fly Away’s eastern flavor, with Tahiti the next stop.
Pounding beats, percussion and a chanted vocal combine as Tahiti, Tahiti begins. Soon, the unmistakable sound of Hawaiian guitars drift in and out of the track. They’re replaced by a lilting vocal, which cascades across the arrangement. It’s accompanied by harmonies, Hawaiian guitars, percussion and that omnipresent pulsating beat. The result is an irresistible, sounding track, as Voyage take you on a whistlestop musical journey.
The title-track Let’s Fly Away has a quite different sound to the preceding tracks when it opens. It’s a harder sound that greets the listener, with layers of synths and punchy beats key to the sound. Softer sounding synths then provide a contrast, hinting at what’s about to take centre-stage and compliment their sound. This is Sylvia Mason’s elegant, crystalline vocal. Her vocal is complimented by subtle and equally elegant harmonies. Stabs of synth, jagged, rocky guitars and blazing horns add drama, while lush strings offer another contrast. While of this plays its part in the track’s sound and success, it’s Sylvia’s vocal that’s what makes this one of the highlights of Let’s Fly Away.
When Golden Eldorado begins, you’re immediately aware of the fusion of rock and soul that are the two threads that run through the track. There’s a hint of mystery in the track’s sound and lyrics. Swathes of strings, Spanish guitar and a galloping beat accompany the male vocal. Sometimes, the track reminds me of a Western soundtrack, albeit set to a pounding disco beat. This become more noticeable when the lone horns drifts above the arrangement and later, rolls of dramatic drums are added. Meanwhile bursts of backing vocals gallop along, accompanying the beat, destination the Golden Eldorado.
Closing Let’s Fly Away is Gone With the Music, a joyous slice of disco music, with a difference. It seems Voyage are determined to close the album on a high, fusing elements of rock with disco seamlessly. Sylvia’s vocal has sizzling, rocky guitars, blazing horns and a driving rhythm section for company. The rhythm section provide a pulsating beat, while the Birds of Paris accompany Sylvia, delivering tight harmonies. During the track, the horns, rock-tinged guitars provide the perfect, irresistible and hook-laden accompaniment. Voyage demonstrate that there’s more than one way to make a peerless disco track. Although the polar opposite of Salsoul, this is a scintillating slice of disco, but not disco as we know it.
Although there’s just seven tracks on Voyage’s second album Let’s Fly Away, there seven great tracks. From the opening bars of Souvenirs, Let’s Fly Away reveals its subtleties, charms and secrets, plus its theme of enjoyment and hedonism. You’re taken on a magical musical journey, where the beautiful people mingle, collecting Souvenirs on sun-drenched beaches, before the secrets of Kechak Fantasy are revealed. After this, you head on an Eastern Trip, destination Tahiti, Tahiti, with Hawaiian guitars serenading your every move. Then Voyage decide Let’s Fly Away, destination the Golden Eldorado where you’re transported, taken away, Gone With the Music. These seven tracks are a captivating and compelling whistletop tour of musical destinations, with Voyage as tour guides and providing the soundtrack to your journey. However, there’s much more to Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away than just this classic Euro Disco album.
On Disc One of Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away, there are also eight instrumental tracks from Voyage’s first two albums Voyage and Let’s Fly Away. Previously, they were available only to a select group of DJs. Not now though. Thanks to Mr. Pinks and everyone at Harmless Records, you too, can hear these tracks and be the proud owner of them. Among the highlights of these remixes, are instrumental versions of Lady America and We’ve Gotta Dance from their debut album Voyage, plus Golden Eldorado and Let’s Fly Away from their second album Let’s Fly Away.
As if all this isn’t enough there’s still Disc Two of Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away to tell you about. It contains eight remixes of tracks from Let’s Fly Away, with the original twelve inch version of Souvenirs and Steve Algozino’s Hot Tracks Mix, plus the twelve inch version of Let’s Fly Away three of the many highlights of Disc Two of Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away. There’s also Dance and Romance, a track Voyage recorded as Disco and Co., which closes the Disc Two.
For me, Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away has whetted my appetite nicely, leaving me wanting to hear the next installments of this new series. Starting with Voyage’s debut album Voyage, the Disco Recharge series got of to a fantastic start. After thiss Euro Disco classic, Mr. Pinks brought us Disco Recharge: Tangerue-Strange Affair. The series headed to Philly, with compiler Mr. Pinks uncovering two hidden disco gems. This brings us nicely to the third volume of the Disco Recharge series, another real Euro Disco classic from Voyage, Let’s Fly Away. It’s two discs of disco delights, brought to you by Mr. Pinks and Harmless Records. With so many delicious disco delights on the two discs of of Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away, then this third installment lives up to its title of Special Edition. Indeed, that’s its understating its brilliance, it should be the Very, Very Special Edition of of Disco Recharge: Voyage-Let’s Fly Away. Standout Tracks: Souvenirs, Eastern Trip, Let’s Fly Away and Gone With the Music.
DISCO RECHARGE: VOYAGE-LET’S FLY AWAY.