During the disco era, it wasn’t just American labels like Salsoul, Casablanca, SAM and TK that were producing disco music. Over in Europe, producers like Giorgio Moroder, Frank Farian, Claude Francois, Don Ray and Cerrone were releasing some of the most cutting-edge dance music. One of these producers, Marc Cerrone started releasing albums in the mid-seventies, and during his career, sold over thirty-million albums. One of Marc Cerrone’s best albums, is his second solo album, the disco classic Cerrone’s Paradise, released in July 1977, and will be reissued on Because Music, on vinyl, 25th January 2015.
Marc Cerrone was neither a stranger to the music industry, nor a recording studio before he released his debut solo album Love In C Minor in 1976. Previously, he’d been a member of the Afro-rock band Kongas for three years. Having left Kongas, Marc decided to record one solo album, before bowing out of music forever. After struggling to find a record label who’d sign him, Marc decided to release Love In C Minor independently.
When by mistake, copies of Love In C Minor found there way to New York, they took the Big Apple’s discos by storm. Atlantic Records realizing the potential of the album, struck a deal to license it through their Cotillion Records subsidiary. Quickly, Love In C Minor became a hugely popular album, resulting in Atlantic desperately trying to persuade Marc to tour the US to promote the album and tour. Marc was insistent that he’d finish his second album, which would become Cerrone’s Paradise. If Cerrone’s Paradise matched the success of Love In C Minor, then Marc agreed to tour the US. The question was, would Cerrone’s Paradise prove as popular as its predecessor Love In C Minor?
While Marc Cerrone had enlisted the help of Alec R. Constansinos on his debut album Love In C Minor, Alec didn’t collaborate on Cerrone’s Paradise. The pair had fallen out due to Alec’s lack of faith in the potential success of Love In C Minor. Instead, Marc called upon Raymond Donnez, known as Don Ray. He wrote the arrangements for Cerrone’s Paradise. Joining Marc and Don, was Alain Wisniak, who cowrote the four tracks on Cerrone’s Paradise. With the songs written, Marc headed to London and the Trident Recording Studios.
At Trident studios, Marc used the same backing singers that featured on Love In C Minor. This included Madeline Bell, Sue Glover, Joy Yates, Joan Stones and Jackie Sullivan. Their backing vocals feature alongside a rhythm section that sprinkles funk among the disco, before Cerrone becomes a balladeer on Time For Love. With steel drums, synths and wah-wah guitars sitting comfortably beside percussion and strings, the four songs on Cerrone’s Paradise follow closely in the footsteps of Love In C Minor. Once Cerrone’s Paradise was completed, the album was set for release in July 1977.
Before the release of Cerrone’s Paradise, a sampler of four edited versions of the songs on the album was released to radio stations and DJs. Quickly, the music became hugely popular in both clubs and on radio.This resulted in the release reaching number six on Billboards’s Dance Music-Club Play charts. After this, Cerrone’s Paradise was released in July 1977, with the album reaching number 162 in the US Billboard 200 and number fifty-two in the US R&B Charts. Marc Cerrone then decided to release an independently funded promotional video for two tracks, Cerrone’s Paradise and Take Me. Sadly, these videos failed to ignite interest in these tracks. With that, Marc headed back to his new home in Los Angeles, where he’d start work on his next album Supernature, also known as Cerrone III. However, it’s Cerrone’s Paradise that is seen as Marc Cerrone’s classic album, and I’ll now tell you why.
Cerrone’s Paradise opens with the title track Cerrone’s Paradise, which is a sixteen minute Magnus Opus, complete with erotic sounding backing vocals. Opening with the sound of background noise and female conversations, chiming guitars, lush, cascading strings and chiming guitars combine with keyboards as the track gets underway. With strings, rhythm section and guitars driving the track along, bursts of rasping horns punctuate the track, while backing vocalists unite, contributing sweet, sultry harmonies. The strings swirl and sweep, drums pound relentlessly, while flourishes of keyboards and percussion augment the arrangement. A searing guitar solo, breathless, sensuous vocals and swathes of cascading strings, combine with the relentless pounding drums and percussion. Later they give way to erotic sounding vocals as the track reaches 126 beats per minute. For sixteen majestic minutes, a true, timeless disco classic reveals its charms, subtleties and sensuous sound.
Although Take Me has the same relentless pounding drumbeats, lush sweeping strings and sweet backing vocals, the track sees Cerrone add steel pan drums and a sprinkling of funk to the track. It has the same lovely lush sound, thanks to the strings and sensuous backing vocals. This is a much shorter track, coming in at just under six minutes. Similarly, the tempo is slower, at 119 beats per minutes. Later bursts of blazing horns are added to the disco strings, while the steel pan drums add a slight funky flavour. That’s not all. The track has lush and catchy sound which is absolutely laden with hooks aplenty.
A surprise awaits the listener on Time For Love, with the track seeing Cerrone transformed into a balladeer par excellence. With a slow, almost pedestrian tempo of just 65 beats per minute, the arrangement has a floaty, pensive sound. The verses are sung English, while the chorus in sung in French. Here, the backing vocalists unite to deliver some of their most beautiful, subtle vocals. This they do against an equally gorgeous arrangement, where slow, beautiful strings, meandering percussion and keyboards combine with the rhythm section and keyboards. Together, they play with a subtlety, resulting in a very beautiful, romantic sounding track with some lovely lyrics and that pensive, subtle arrangement.
Closing Cerrone’s Paradise is a reprise of Cerrone’s Paradise. The track gets underway with pounding drums, swirling string and bursts of punchy horns, before the backing vocalists unite to deliver some more of their almost trademark sweet vocal. They’re joined by sizzling guitars and percussion, while dramatic strings cascade and the drums drive the track along, as the song and album heads to a close. Like the Magnus Opus that was Cerrone’s Paradise, this reprisal has the same beauty and quality of the opening track, demonstrating the considerable talents of Marc Cerrone. With talent like this, it’s no wonder he sold over thirty-million albums.
Although there are just four tracks on Cerrone’s Paradise, they’re four of the finest tracks Marc Cerrone recorded. For many people, Cerrone’s Paradise was his finest hour, where he combined three delicious slices of disco music with the balladry of Time For Love. Whereas other albums recorded in the late seventies that featured synths haven’t aged well, Cerrone’s Paradise, still retains a contemporary sound, one that has an almost timeless sound. Given the timeless nature of Cerrone’s Paradise, it should’ve been a bigger commercial success in America. Instead, Cerrone’s Paradise only reached number reached number 162 in the US Billboard 200 and number fifty-two in the US R&B charts.
When Cerrone’s Paradise was released in 1977, disco was at the height of its popularity. Cerrone’s Paradise should’ve been a much bigger success. However, Cerrone’s brand of Euro Disco didn’t find favour with American DJs, dancers and record buyers. They preferred the classic American disco sound. Despite that, Cerrone’s Paradise, which will be reissued on vinyl, by Because Music, on 25th January 2015, is now perceived as one of the finest European disco albums. Indeed, Cerrone’s Paradise is regarded as Cerrone’s classic album.