GLORIA GAYNOR-LOVE TRACKS.

GLORIA GAYNOR-LOVE TRACKS.

It’s almost fitting that the song that the song that rejuvenated Gloria Gaynor’s career was I Will Survive. After all, by December 1978, when Gloria Gaynor released Love Tracks, she was one of music’s survivors. She had to be. The last few years hadn’t been easy. Things had started well for Gloria, her groundbreaking 1975 debut album Never Can Say Goodbye, featured the three song disco suite of Honey Bee, Never Can Say Goodbye and Reach Out, I’ll Be There. Remixed by Tom Moulton, this was a first. Reaching number twenty-five in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty-one in the US R&B Charts, not only did Never Can Say Goodbye launch Gloria Gaynor’s career, but saw her crowned Queen Of Disco. However, three years later, Gloria’s career was at the crossroad. Love Tracks which was released by BBR Records on 29th July 2013, was literally make or break for Gloria.

Since the release of Never Can Say Goodbye, Gloria had released four albums. Each  album proved less successful than the previous one. 1975s Experience Gloria Gaynor stalled at number sixty-four in the US Billboard 200 and number thirty-two in the US R&B Charts. I’ve Got You, released in 1976, reached just number 107 in the US Billboard 200 and number forty in the US R&B Charts. It was Gloria’s last album produced by Disco Corporation Of America. An added and unwelcome complication was having to payoff her ex-manager. 

Polydor would deduct this from her future royalties. Then there was the small matter of the money her ex-manager had borrowed in her name. That too had to be paid-off from future earnings. So, Gloria hoped the Gregg Diamond and Joe Beck produced Glorious, released in 1977, would see a resurgence in her fortunes. Far from it. It fared even worse. Stalling at just number 183 in the US Billboard 200, surely things couldn’t get even worse. Sadly, it did. Park Avenue Sound, Gloria’s fifth album, released in March 1978, had proved her least successful album. Produced by Norman Harris, Allan Felder and Ron Tyson, what was one of the best albums of Gloria’s career failed to chart. With her career at the crossroads, and her record company wondering whether Gloria would ever reach the heights of Never Can Say Goodbye, one of disco’s survivors was about to make a comeback. Before that, there was yet another setback for Gloria to overcome.

Whilst rehearsing a dance routine with her backing singers, Gloria had an accident. She tripped over a monitor. Thinking she was unhurt, Gloria carried on. The next day, when she woke up, she was paralyzed from the waist down. Gloria had to undergo spinal surgery. Recovery took several months. During her time undergoing rehabilitation after the surgery, songwriter and producer Freddie Perren and representatives of Polydor visited Gloria. This was the genesis of Love Tracks.

Previously Freddie Perren had worked with Tavares, Peaches and Herb and The Sylvers. Polydor signing Cout had just had a released a single called Substitute, in Britain. It given Clout a hit single. The representatives of Polydor wondered if Gloria would record Substitute. She decided she would record Substitute and that Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren were to produce the song. They agreed to do so, only if they could write the B-side. Not only did the write the B-side, but wrote six tracks on Love Tracks.

With Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren producing Love Tracks, this was Gloria’s fourth consecutive album with a new production team. Not only were they producers, but songwriters. They wrote six of the eight songs on Love Tracks. This included Stoplight, Anybody Wanna Party, I Will Survive, You Can Exit and I Said Yes. Dino also penned Please Be There with David Van De Pitte. Along with Willie Harry WIlson’s and Goin’ Out Of My Head Penned by Bobby Weinstein and Teddy Randazzo. These eight tracks became Love Tracks, which was recorded at the Mon and Pops Co. Store, Studio City, California.

As recording of Love Tracks began, Dino and Freddie had hired some top session musicians. The rhythm section included drummer James Gadson, bassists Eddie Watkins and Scott Edwards while Melvin Ragin, Bob Bowles and Robert White played guitar. Joining them, were percussionist Paulinho DaCosta and Peter Robinson on synths. Eight tracks were recorded, which became Love Tracks, the album the relaunched Gloria Gaynor’s career.

Before the release of Love Tracks, Substitute was released as a single in September 1978. Its B-side was I Will Survive. Reaching just number 107 in the US Billboard 100 and number seventy-eight in the US R&B Charts. The only hint about what was about to happen, was when DJs started flipping over to the B-side, I Will Survive. So, the Substitute was deleted. Replacing the album version of I Will Survive was an eight minute remix. This would transform Gloria’s career and fortunes.

Love Tracks and I Will Survive were released in December 1978. I Will Survive, with its defiant lyrics about a woman whose suffered a horrendous breakup, then discovered previously hitherto unknown courage and confidence struck a chord. Not just women, but men could relate to the song. It reached number one in the US Billboard 100 and number four in the US R&B Charts and number one in the US Disco Charts. Certified double platinum in the US, I Will Survive sold over two-million copies. Over the Atlantic, I Will Survive reached number one. This helped sales of Love Tracks, which reached number four in the in the US Billboard 200 and US R&B Charts. Love Tracks was Gloria’s most successful album. Fittingly, after such a successful album and single, the final single released from Love Tracks, was Do You Wanna Party? On its release in May 1979, it stalled at number 105 in the US Billboard 100, number sixteen in the US R&B Charts and thirty in the US Disco Charts. By May 1979, disco’s popularity was waning, so the failure of Do You Wanna Party isn’t a surprise.  Although no-one knew it, the Queen Of Disco had regained her crown just as disco died. At least Love Tracks, which I’ll tell you about, was her most successful album.

Stoplight opens Love Tracks, with a myriad of percussion, synths, pounding rhythm section and dancing disco strings. Having set the scene, Gloria struts centre-stage. Accompanied by cooing harmonies, the lively arrangement is driven along. Strings dance, while the rhythm section and synths provide the backdrop for a feisty, powerful Gloria. Urgent harmonies and strings accompanying Gloria, as soul, disco and funk becomes one. As the song ends, you sense that after three years, Gloria’s about to regain her crown as Queen Of Disco.

From the get-go, Gloria’s vocal is soulful and sassy on Anybody Wanna Party. Funk combines with Chic-style guitars and disco strings. Horns rasp, strings dance and the rhythm section provide a pulsating heartbeat. Gloria’s deliberate, dramatic vocal becomes a vamp, the occasional whoop and holler. Sweeping harmonies add to the soulfulness, as the arrangement sounds like a party in the studio. It’s as if when Gloria sang “Anybody Wanna Party” half the neighborhood turned up with their friends in tow. The result is a good-time fusion of soul, funk and disco.

Please Be There sees a change of style. That’s no bad thing, as Gloria is a versatile vocalist. Cooing, sweeping harmonies are joined by Gloria’s tender, needy vocal. The understated arrangement allows her vocal to take centre-stage. Meandering along, driven by the bass, wistful strings, heartfelt, pleading harmonies accompany Gloria’s heartbroken vocal. Bursts of drums add to the drama, as Gloria delivers a vocal that’s heartfelt, emotive and needy

Swathes of dancing strings, bubbling synths and chiming guitars join the rhythm section on Goin’ Out Of My Head. Subtle, tender harmonies provide a contrast as this slice of seventies disco unfolds. Driven along by a funky bass, Gloria sings call and response with her backing vocalists. Sadness and confusion are combined with power, drama and soulfulness, as Gloria and her backing vocalists give a vocal masterclass.

Obviously, I Will Survive was the best known song on Love Tracks. With its defiant lyrics about a woman whose suffered a horrendous breakup, then discovered a previously unknown courage and confidence, I Will Survive struck a chord. Crucial to the song is the way Gloria narrates the song. This she does as the arrangement unfolds. Just piano, guitar, hi-hats, pulsating rhythm section and sweeping strings accompany her. Gloria delivers a feisty, defiant vocal. Flourishes of harpsichord and strings provide the backdrop to her confident, strident vocal. Defiant, feisty and tinged with bravado, Gloria’s vocal is inspirational. As for the arrangement, it’s a mini-musical masterpiece. Everything is dropped in at the right time. Whether its the blazing horn, pounding drums, swathes of strings or chiming guitars Dino and Freddie add it at the right time. What makes the song is Gloria’s defiant, angry vocal as she delivers her ultimatum.

You Can Exit opens with dramatic bursts of drums and cinematic strings. Along with a flute, they glide across the arrangement. Gloria’s vocal is tender, but wistful while strings add to the sense of melancholia. Meandering along, the languid arrangement  is the perfect backdrop for Gloria’s vocal. Tender, veering between melancholy, emotive and sensual, she’s accompanied by harmonies, rasping horns and strings that, like the song tug at your heartstrings.

Bursting into life, I Said Yes sees Gloria vamping while strings dance as the funky rhythm section and piano drive the arrangement along. Soon, Gloria’s strutting her way through the lyrics. Feisty and sassy, a funky bass, strident piano, swirling strings and harmonies accompany the Queen Of Disco on this dramatic, musical Magnus Opus.

Closing Love Tracks is Substitute, which gave Clout a hit in the UK. Of the two versions, Gloria’s version is better. She makes sure the song swings. With soaring harmonies, bubbling synths, funky bass and pounding drums for company, Gloria breathes new life, drama into the song, transforming it in the process.

Following the commercial failure of Park Avenue Sound, Gloria Gaynor got her career back on track. This came about when Freddie Perren and representatives from Polydor, visited her as she was recovering from an accident. Her decision to hire Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren to produce what became Love Tracks was a masterstroke. After all, Dino and Freddie were also talented songwriters. They penned six songs for Gloria, which included some of the best songs she’d ever recorded. Obviously, the best known is I Will Survive, but Love Tracks isn’t just a one trick pony.

Not at all. Love Tracks doesn’t really have any poor tracks. Substitute is probably the weakest of the eight tracks. Even then, it’s still works. The best tracks on Love tracks were penned by Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren. They were on the hottest streak of their career. Proof of this are the six songs they wrote for Love Tracks. Stoplight, Anybody Wanna Party, I Will Survive, You Can Exit and I Said Yes were quality through and through. Dino also penned Please Be There with David Van De Pitte, which allowed Gloria to demonstrate her soulful side. Delivering a heartfelt, needy, emotive vocal, Gloria demonstrated that she wasn’t just a disco diva. This was lucky. After all, disco was about to die.

Two months after the release of the third single from Love Tracks, Anybody Wanna Party, it was official, disco sucked. On July 12 1979, the events of the Disco Demolition Derby in Comiskey Park, Chicago burst the disco bubble. Just as Gloria Gaynor has regained her crown as Queen Of Disco, disco died. However, Gloria Gaynor hadn’t just recorded a stonewall disco classic in I Will Survive. It’s a song that became synonymous with her name. I Will Survive also helped relaunch Gloria’s career. Buoyed by the success of Will Survive, Love Tracks, which was rereleased by BBR Music on 29th July 2013, become the most successful album of Gloria Gaynor’s career. The other thing Love Tracks did, was help Gloria Gaynor, the Queen Of Disco, regain her crown. Standout Tracks: Please Be There, I Will Survive, You Can Exit and I Said Yes.

GLORIA GAYNOR-LOVE TRACKS.

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