THE LADIES OF TOO SLOW TO DISCO.
THE LADIES OF TOO SLOW TO DISCO.
Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence in interest in the West Coast sound. It fell from grace in the late seventies. Before that, the West Coast sound had won over the hearts and minds of record buyers, and provided the soundtrack to much of the seventies. This wasn’t surprising.
The West Coast sound was slick and full of hooks. Trademarks of the West Coast were clever chord progressions and lush harmonies. This proved to be irresistible combination, and why across America, radio station playlists were dominated by the West Coast sound. However, like all good things, the success story that was the West Coast sound had to come to an end. However, over the last couple of years, the West Coast sound has been on the comeback trail.
This comeback began around 2014, when several compilations of the West Coast sound were released. However, it seemed that the West Coast sound had been rebranded. It was referred to as Yacht Rock or Vanilla Funk. Nothing it seems is sacred. At least though, compilers were rediscovering the West Coast sound. This included the DJ Supermarkt and the good people at the How Do You Are label.
They were responsible for a new compilation series that was launched in May 2014.,,,Too Slow To Disco. This nineteen track was compiled by DJ Supermarkt, who had dug deeper than most compilers and was responsible for a compilation where familiar faces and hidden gems sat side-by-side. Too Slow To Disco was well received, and it was no surprise when Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 followed in June 2015. Just like the first instalment in the series, new names and old friends featured on Too Slow To Disco Volume 2. It was welcome addition to this nascent series, and most people thought it was only a matter of time before Volume 3 followed. Wrong.
Instead, the How Do You Are label announced the release of a new addition to the Too Slow To Disco family, The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco. It’s a nineteen track compilation that features Evie Sands, Rickie Lee Jones, Melissa Manchester, Valerie Carter, Carole Bayer Sager, Carly Simon, Lauren Wood, Carole King and Lynn Christopher. They’re just a tantalising taste of the music awaiting the listener on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco.
Opening The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco is Evie Sands’ You Can Do It. It’s a song Evie cowrote with Ben Weisman and Richard Germinaro. You Can Do It featured on Evie’s third album, Suspended Animation. It was released on RCA Victor 1979, but failed commercially. Suspended Animation was the only album Evie released for RCA Victor. One of Suspended Animation’s highlights is You Can Do It. Against a sultry, funky arrangement, Evie’s delivers a vocal that’s sassy and sensual. This is a reminder of a truly talented singer, who sadly, never enjoyed the commercial success her music deserved.
Chuck E’s In Love is the song that forever will be synonymous with Rickie Lee Jones. That’s despite a recording career that’s lasted thirty-six years. Rickie Lee Jones began in 1979, when she released her eponymous debut album on Warner Bros. It reached number three in the US Billboard 200, and was certified platinum. The lead single was Chuck E’s In Love, which reached number four in the US Billboard 100 and number eighteen in Britain. Since then, Chuck E’s In Love has become an AOR classic. However, it’s just a tantalising taste of one of the most talented singer-songwriters of her generation, Rickie Lee Jones.
Laura Allen was another talented singer, songwriter and musician. She who played mainly stringed instruments, including the dulcimer and zither. Later in her career, Laura dividing her time between music and making musical instruments. They were often bought by musical luminaries like Joni Mitchell and David Crosby. However, Laura’s career began in 1978, when she released her eponymous debut album on Elektra. The opening track was Opening Up To You, a Laura Allen composition. It’s a beautiful heartfelt and soulful ballad, with a folk rock sound. Sadly, Laura’s career was cut tragically short when she died in 2008, aged just fifty-six.
Just like Laura Allen, many people won’t have heard of Franne Golde. She released a trio of albums between 1976 and 1980. Having released her 1976 eponymous debut album on Atlantic Records, Franne released her 1978 sophomore album Franne on the Portrait label. On Franne was Isn’t It Something, which Franne cowrote with Cynthia Weil. It’s melodic, memorable and soulful. Especially with strings and harmonies accompanying, one of the West Coast’s best kept secrets.
Although Carole Bayer Sager is best known as a songwriter, she released a trio of albums between 1977 and 1981. In 1978, Carole released It’s The Falling In Love as a single. It was released on Elektra, and was taken from Carole Bayer Sager’s sophomore album Too. It’s The Falling In Love was written by Carole Bayer Sager and David Foster, and is another dance-floor friendly track with AOR leanings.
Carly Simon however, was one of the stars of the West Sound era. By 1978, Carly Simon had just released her seventh album, Boys In The Trees on Elektra. It featured the single Tranquillo (Melt My Heart), which saw Carly Simon heading in the direction of the dance-floor. This wasn’t surprising, as disco was at the peak of its popularity. Despite its disco influence, doesn’tTranquillo (Melt My Heart) see Carly Simon turning her back on her AOR roots.
By 1979, Lauren Wood was signed to Warner Bros. and preparing released her eponymous debut album. One of the highlights of Lauren Wood, was Gotta Love, which Lauren had written. It showcases a talented vocalist. Seamlessly, Lauren’s vocal veers between tender to powerful and sassy. As she showcases her versatility, an all-star band accompany her. Along with synths, a sultry saxophone and gospel-tinged harmonies, Lauren breathes life and meaning into the lyrics, and in the process, delivers one of her finest vocals on the album.
Maria Muldaur’s ccareer began in the early sixties, when she was a part of folk music revival. By 1973, music had changed and the West Cost sound was part of the soundtrack to America. This was the perfect time for Maria Muldaur to release her eponymous debut album. It was released on Reprise Records, and reached number three on the US Billboard 200, and was certified gold in 1974. The lead single from the album was a cover of David Nichtern and Philip Steir’s Midnight At The Oasis. It reached number six in the US Billboard 100, and nowadays is regarded as a classic. Despite being an oft-covered track, Maria Muldaur’s version is the definitive version of Midnight At The Oasis.
Having released her eponymous debut album in 1979, Leah Kunkel returned with her sophomore album I Run With Trouble in 1980. Just like her debut album, it was released on Columbia. One of the songs Leah Kunkel had written for I Run With Trouble, was Temptation. It’s a track the epitomises the West Coast sound circa 1980. The arrangement combines elements of blues and folk rock, as Leah delivers a vocal that’s a mixture of despair, disbelief and frustration. So good is Temptation, that one can’t help but wonder why Leah Kunkel didn’t enjoy a linger career. I Run With Trouble proved to be her swan-song.
By 1978, everyone was jumping on the disco bandwagon. This was a way of transforming a failing career. However, Carole King’s career wasn’t failing. She was still one of the biggest names in music. Despite this, Carole released Disco Tech, as a single. It was penned by Carole and Navoarro, and featured on her 1978 Columbia album Welcome Home. Although Catchy and dance-floor friendly, Disco Tech was a far cry from Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow and It’s Too Late.
My final choice from The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco is Lyn Christopher’s Take Me With You. This is a track written by Kaplan Kaye and Navarro. It featured on Lyn Christopher, which was released in 1973 on Paramount Records. Soulful, sensual and dance-floor friendly, it’s a real hidden gem, that leaves you wanting to hear more from Lyn Christopher. Sadly, she only released the one album, and her career was almost over before it began. The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco compilation is also over.
That was only part of the story of The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Although I’ve only mentioned eleven of the nineteen tracks on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco, I could just as easily have picked any of the tracks. That’s how good The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco is. It’s all killer and no filler. That’s thanks to compiler DJ Supermarkt. He’s dug deep to find the music on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco.
Classics, hidden gems and rarities sit side-by-side on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco. There’s contributions from, Rickie Lee Jones, Melissa Manchester, Carole Bayer Sager, Carly Simon and Carole King. They’re West Coast royalty. There’s also contributions from Evie Sands, Valerie Carter, Lauren Wood and Lynn Christopher. Many of the tracks aren’t the artists biggest hits.
Instead, many are album tracks. This makes a pleasant change. Usually, compilers look no further than singles. However, that’s not DJ Supermarkt’s style. He eschews the obvious for long forgotten album tracks. Many people won’t remember these tracks. No. They’ll only be remembered by diehard fans. Not any more. Now a new generation of music lovers will get the chance to hear these tracks. The same can be said of the West Coast sound.
The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco is a welcome addition to the Too Slow To Disco series. Along with the two instalments in the Too Slow To Disco series, this is the perfect introduction to the West Coast sound. This hopefully, will the start of a voyage of discovery, where newcomers will discovers the delights of the West Coast sound, including The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco.
THE LADIES OF TOO SLOW TO DISCO.