GOODY GOODY-GOODY GOODY.

GOODY GOODY-GOODY GOODY.

Often, looking back through musical history, one decision can change forever change a group or label’s future. Whether it was Gamble and Huff’s decision to allow their legendary house-band M.F.S.B. to leave Philadelphia International Records following a dispute with money, or Harold Melvin’s decision not give give Teddy Pendergrass equal billing in Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, both proved decisions that would change the course of musical history. After all, Teddy Pendergrass was the man behind Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ huge success for four albums. Similarly, M.F.S.B. weren’t just a band, they included songwriters, arrangers and producers. Baker, Harris, Young, Bobby “Electronic” Eli and Vince Montana Jr, all played a huge part in M.F.S.B’s sound. Truly, they were irreplaceable. However, sometimes people don’t learn from past mistakes.

Now the former members of M.F.S.B. were The Salsoul Orchestra. They’d brought considerable talents to Salsoul Records, and quickly, made the label disco’s premier label. Their creativity was key to this. There was a problem though. Vince Montana Jr. who founded The Salsoul Orchestra and conducted, arranged, produced and wrote much of its music was locked in a dispute with the Cayre brothers over royalties. When this dispute couldn’t be resolved, Vince Montana Jr. decided to quit Salsoul. He wasn’t short of offers and settled on a major label.

Vince Montana Jr. signed a contract with a major label, Atlantic Records. This was about to start the next chapter of his career. He’d formed The Montana Orchestra, but decided that this would be what Sly and The Family Stone would call a Family Affair. Joining Vince was his daughter Denise, in a group that payed homage to an old Johnny Mercer Goody Goody, which featured Vince’s genius and Denise’s vocal talents. Their eponymous Atlantic debut album was Goody Goody, released in 1978. Would the success Vince Montana Jr, enjoyed continue with Goody Goody’s debut album Goody Goody?

With Vince now out on his own, he set about writing material for Goody Goody’s debut album Goody Goody. He wrote four tracks, Super Jock, Bio-Rhythms, It Looks Like Love and You Know How Good It Is. Vince’s other contribution would prove to be a hugely memorable track. He cowrote Number One DJ with Bud Ross and Len Rocco. The title-track and inspiration for the new name for Vince’s latest project was a cover of Johnny Mercer’s Goody Goody. To record Goody Goody, he headed to one of Philly’s legendary studios, which must have felt like a second home to Vince, Sigma Sound Studios.

Recording of Goody Goody took place at Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios and Alpha International Recording studios. Six tracks were recorded, with Vince conducting, arranging and producing. Denise added vocals, including one track that would prove to be a minor classic, Number One DJ. Once the six songs were recorded, Goody Goody was released later in 1978.

On the release of Goody Goody in 1978, the album reached number fifty in the US R&B Charts. Two singles were released from Goody Goody, proving popular and lighting up dance-floors. Number One DJ and It Looks Like Love proved to be two more classics from the pen of Vince Montana Jr, as you’ll realize when I tell you about Goody Goody.

Opening Goody Goody is Number One DJ, which Vince cowrote with Bud Ross and Len Rocco. A pounding, pulsating rhythm section, percussion and Vince Montana Jr’s vibes combine with keyboards, building up waves and rolls of drama. Having set the scene, a burst of drums signals the arrival of Denise’s vocal. It veers between tenderness and sweetness, to sassy and powerful. Behind her, the band provide a dance-floor friendly, funky arrangement. When her vocal drops out, the band take centre-stage. Keyboards, percussion, the sultriest of horns and the tough, funky rhythm section combine. Then when they’ve had their moment in the sun, it’s Goody time. Denise vocal starts off tender, a sultry horn answering her call. Soon, her vocal grows in power, while dad Vince sprinkles the magical sound of his vibes in the background. After that, this seven-minute epic, of a disco classic comes to a hook-laden high. 

From the get-go it’s drama all the way on Super Jock. Thunderous drums, keyboards and a pounding bass combine with hissing hi-hats and percussion. A burst of Denise’s vocal drenched in echo enters, before the drama continues. Vince adds vibes, which provide a contrast and soon, Denise scats. Her voice soars elegantly and powerfully, as Vince arrangement reveals its secrets. Stabs of keyboards, bursts of vocals, vibes and congas all escape from the arrangement. Add to this slapped bass, pounding drums and flourishes of dramatic keyboards. Although this is what Vince was doing at Salsoul, it’s taken to a new level. He’s incorporating new sounds and ideas. There’s everything from disco, funk, Philly Soul, jazz and prog rock keyboards in the arrangement. While other people were jumping on the disco bandwagon, Vince Montana Jr, was looking to reinvent the disco sound. Still, he remained an innovator, pushing musical boundaries in a bold, dramatic and flamboyant way, as this track proves.

Bio-Rhythms demonstrates Vince Montana Jr’s innovative, pioneering side. Like the previous track, he grabs your attention from the opening bars. Drums see to this. They’re joined by percussion, congas, crashing cymbals and shakers. Then a bass is slapped, before a bank of keyboards and synths joins. The music becomes dark, grand and influenced by both classical music and prog rock. Listening to the arrangement is a bit like peeling an onion, another layer reveals itself. Contrasts are everywhere. From shakers, timbales and percussion to the rolls of drums, bold bass and stabs of keyboards. Again, genres are fused, with funk, disco, early boogie, jazz, Latin and even prog rock all mixed together. The result is a cutting-edge, dramatic, multilayered track, where musical genres seamlessly become one. This seems fitting way to close Side One of Goody Goody.

The title-track Goody Goody, penned by the legendary Johnny Mercer opens Side One of Goody Goody. Rolls of drums, handclaps, keyboards and funky rhythm section combine with Denise to make the song swing. She mixes power, passion and a touch of sassy. Her voice soars above the arrangement, as if she’s determined to pay homage to one of America’s greatest songwriters. Doing their part, are the band. They make sure the song goes with a jazzy swing. To do this, they add soulful harmonies, melodic keyboards as the rhythm section provide a backdrop where jazz, funk and soul combine Later, boogie woogie keyboards, the ever-present, deliberate bass and bursts of harmonies help Denise drive the track along to its joyous, swing high. It’s fitting homage to Johnny Mercer, arranged, conducted and produced by another musical legend, Vince Montana Jr.

A wistful flute opens It Looks Like Love, one the singles released from Goody Goody. Then drums pound, Vince Montana Jr, sprinkles subtle vibes and Denise’s dramatic vocal is drenched in echo. Chic style guitars, sweeping, swirling lush strings and a funky bass are added. Denise then adds a breathy, sultry, sensuous vocal. Gradually, one of the best arrangements you’ll hear unfolds. Vince adds everything at just the right time. Shakers, guitars, keyboards, swathes of strings and a pulsating bass line are added at just the right moment. It’s a masterful arrangement. It marries elements of jazz, funk and disco. Not only does Denise deliver one of her best arrangements on Goody Goody, but it features Vince Montana Jr at his best when it comes to arranging and production. No wonder it’s a timeless, disco classic.

Closing Goody Goody is You Know How Good It Is, which sounds like something you’d expect The Salsoul Orchestra to have released. A bass anchors the arrangement, as chiming guitars, woodwind, keyboards and the rhythm section combine. Banks of keyboards and percussion build the drama before glorious, rasping horns enter. They give the track a real vintage sound. The bass marches the arrangement along, as Vince adds vibes, while keyboards, percussion, strings combine. Then a funky rhythm section and keyboards join forces, taking charge of ensuring the track swings along. Subtleties and surprises aplenty are in store. Later, a jazzy piano slows things way down, giving the track a real smokey, jazzy sound. From there, the rest of this eight minute epic unfolds, taking you on glorious jazzy journey. During this journey, the King of the disco orchestra’s demonstrates his musical versatility. Vince ensures the track swings, taking Goody Goody along to a glorious jazz-drenched high.

Goody Goody, which marked Vince Montana Jr’s first post-Salsoul Records album proved to be a bold, innovative album. This marked the next chapter in the Vince Montana Jr, story. For this new chapter, Goody Goody proved to be a Montana Family Affair. Vince Montana Jr was the King, and founding father of the disco orchestras. His daughter Denise, was a talented singer and would provide the vocals on Goody Goody. The six tracks on Goody Goody demonstrated that Salsoul Records’ loss, was very much Atlantic Records’ gain. Like his time at Salsoul, Vince was an innovator, who kept abreast of musical tastes.

Vince Montana Jr, realized that by 1978 music was changing. Rather than just revisit the Salsoul sound, Vince decided to move his music forward. What he did, was fuse a variety of musical genres over six tracks. Just like on The Salsoul Orchestra albums Vince worked on, Goody Goody, saw Vince incorporate elements of jazz, soul, funk and Latin. To Vince’s musical palette, he added bold prog rock keyboards, classical stylings, hooky Chic-style guitars and some vintage jazz on You Know How Good It Is. The result is an album that’s innovative, bold, brave and genre-sprawling. Like his days at Salsoul, and before that, Philadelphia International Records, Vince Montana Jr, proved that he was one of music’s innovators and trendsetters. 

Throughout Vince Montana Jr’s long career, he was always a leader, not a follower. This had been the case throughout his career. At Philadelphia International Records and the Salsoul Records Vince played huge roles in the critical acclaim and commercial success enjoyed. The same can be said of Baker, Harris, Young and Bobby “Electronic” Eli. Both labels enjoyed huge commercial success and critical acclaim. One must ask, would either label have reached the sane heights without the creativity and genius of these five musical giants?

Indeed, after the original M.F.S.B. left Philadelphia International Records M.F.S.B. were never the same band. While they were good, they never great, never a musical goliath, reaching the same heights. History repeated itself at Salsoul. Once Vince Montana Jr, left Salsoul, The Salsoul Orchestra were never the same. It was Vince who was The Salsoul Orchestra’s inspiration and driving force.  When Vince left, the Cayres tried replacing Vince’s creative genius with DJ remixers. That didn’t even come close to replacing Vince. It was akin to going from driving a Ferrari to driving an old Chrysler. Over the next couple of  years, The Salsoul Orchestra’s biggest names played less and less of a role. The orchestra Vince founded, was soon a very different one. It was with Vince Montana Jr at the helm, that The Salsoul Orchestra were at their best. What Salsoul lost was Atlantic Records’ gain.

Goody Goody proves this. For his Atlantic debut, Vince didn’t recreated the Salsoul sound. While this would’ve proved commercially successful, it wouldn’t have satisfied his desire to produce innovative music. On Goody Goody, he does this, with his daughter Denise’s help. On Goody Goody, Vince Montana Jr, produced cutting-edge music, which thirty-four years later, still sounds as innovative, bold and timeless, as it did in 1978. Standout Tracks: Number One DJ, Goody Goody, It Looks Like Love and You Know How Good It Is.

GOODY GOODY-GOODY GOODY.

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