TOO SLOW TO DISCO VOLUME 3.

Too Slow To Disco Volume 3.

Label: How Do You Are?

During the last few years, there has been a resurgence in interest in the West Coast sound which sadly, 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 a truly irresistible combination, and why across America, radio station playlists were dominated by the West Coast sound. Sadly, 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.

The comeback began about three years ago, in 2014 when several compilations of the West Coast sound were released. By then, the West Coast sound, like so many things had been rebranded. Now it was being 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 who have just released Too Slow To Disco Volume 3. This however, is the fourth instalment in Yacht Rock series.

How I can hear you ask? Last year the Too Slow To Disco series took a break, and the first volume of The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco was released. It was a welcome addition to what’s becoming an annual event. This year, normal service has been resumed and Too Slow To Disco Volume 3 has been released. It features eighteen songs from the likes of Lee Ritenour, Bob Welch, David Gates, Weldon Irvine, Vapour Trails, The Fifth Avenue Band, Dwight Druick, Rob Mehl and Billy Mernit. They’re just a few of the names that board the yacht on the West Coast and take the listener on a journey back in time on Too Slow To Disco Volume 3.

Opening Too Slow To Disco Volume 3 is Lee Ritenour’s 1981 single Is It You, which was released on Elektra in 1981. Is It You also featured on Lee Ritenour’s eighth album Rit, which was released in 1981. Rit was the second album the Los Angeles born guitarist and composer had released on Elektra. Is It You is smooth and soulful and showcases the contemporary jazz sound that Lee Ritenour specialised at that time. This proved successful and resulted in over thirty contemporary jazz hits for the man known as Rit.

Guitarist Bob Welch’s career began in 1964 when he joined The Seven Souls as a nineteen year old. After a spell with Head West, Bob Welch joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971. He was with Fleetwood Mac for three years, and departed in December 1974. After forming the trio Paris,  who released two albums, Bob Welch embarked upon a solo career. His debut album French Kiss was released in 1977, and two years later in 1979, Bob Welch released his third album The Other One. Don’t Let Me Fall was released as a single, and almost epitomises the West Coast sound. That is apart from a rogue synth. However, this doesn’t spoil a quite beautiful song, that is a reminder of Bob Welch’ solo years.

Pratt and McClain released their eponymous debut album on Reprise Records in 1974. Two years later, the pair returned with their sophomore album Pratt and McClain Featuring “Happy Days” in 1976.  By then, Pratt and McClain were well-known on both sides of the Atlantic for singing the theme to the television show Happy Days. However, Whachersign which was released as a single in 1976, is much more representative of the music that Pratt and McClain were capable of creating. It’s combines elements of jazz, pop and disco on a song that epitomises the type of music that features on the Too Slow To Disco Volume series.

The Cornelius Bumpus Quartet only ever released the one album, Beacon, which was released on cassette by Broadbeach Records in 1983. The highlight of Beacon is Inside You, which was penned by Robert Rosenstein. It’s an understated and soulful slice of jazz funk that is the perfect showcase for this tight and talented band.

In 1980, David Gates released fourth solo album, Falling In Love Again on Elektra. David Gates had written, arranged and produced all the songs on Falling In Love Again. This includes Silky, which was one of the highlights of the album. It’s a slick, carefully crafted track where elements of jazz and funk are combined to create a track defines where the West Coast sound was circa 1980.

By 1976, Weldon Irvine had released five solo albums. However, five became six when the Virginia born singer, songwriter, arranger and producer released Sinbad on RCA. It features the single I Love You, which was penned by Don Blackman and released in 1976. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt ballad, and is a reminder a truly talented artist whose music is sometimes overlooked.

Two years after releasing their eponymous debut album, The Markley Band returned with On The Mark! It was released on the Accord label in 1982, and featured Fallin’ In Love. Sheila Lowe takes change of the lead vocal and delivers a soulful, vocal powerhouse. She’s accompanied by gospel-tinged harmonies as the rest of The Markley Band combine with jazz, jazz-funk and with the soul supplied by Sheila Lowe on this stepper.

Some groups only released the one album, and that includes the Vapour Trails. Warner Bros had high hopes for the Vapour Trails when they released their eponymous debut album in 1979.  It was produced by Larry Carlton and featured the genre-melting singe Do The Bossa Nova. It’s a catchy, mid-tempo track where the Vapour Trails combine elements of jazz, funk, pop and soul. Alas, nothing was heard of the Vapour Trails after their eponymous debut album. However, Do The Bossa Nova is something of a favourite among DJs on the Yacht Rock and Vanilla Funk scene.

The earliest track on Too Slow To Disco Volume 3, comes courtesy of The Fifth Avenue Band, who released their eponymous debut album on Reprise Records, in 1969. It features One Way Or The Other which was the B-Side to The Fifth Avenue Band 1969 single Nice Folks. However, One Way Or The Other is a beautiful ballad that shows the West Coast Sound taking shape. Sadly, despite the quality of sings like One Way Or Another, it was another eleven years before they returned with their Really in 1980.

Mark Capanni released I Believe In Miracles as a single on Capitol Records, in 1974. It was the first of two singles just two singles released. That is a great shame as Mark Capanni was a talented singer and songwriter. This is apparent from I Believe In Miracles, a string-drenched ballad that is a long-lost Yacht Rock hidden gem that features the talents of Mark Capanni.

Very few people would think to include The Greatful Dead on a compilation of Yacht Rock or Vanilla Funk. However, Shakedown Street, the title-track to The Greatful Dead’s 1978 album for Arista has been added, and works well.  Against a funky arrangement, the harmonies accompanies the vocal and play their part in The Greatful Dead’s adventure into  Vanilla Funk.

Canadian singer, songwriter and musician Dwight Druick, is another artist who only released one album. This was Tanger, which was released on WEA in 1980. It featured the jazz-funk of Quand Tu Te Laisse Aller which showcases the talents of Dwight Druick and his band.

Archie James Cavanaugh released his one and only album Black And White Raven, in 1980.  Nowadays, original copies of this soulful private press are incredibly rare. However, it’s been reissued several times, including for Record Store Day 2107. One of the highlights of the album is Take It Easy, a joyous and uplifting track with a real feel good sound.

When Rob Mehl released his debut album Taste and See in 1980, it was on the Ministry Resource Center label. Nowadays, original copies of this genre-melting album change hands for upwards of $300. Elements of jazz, funk, gospel, pop rock and soul combine on the album. That is apparent on the title-track, which is one of the highlights of this little-known Yacht Rock album.

Five years after releasing his sophomore album, Larry Carlton returned with his eponymous album in 1978. Larry Carlton’s third album was the first he released for Warner Bros Records.  It featured Where Did You Come From, which is a smooth slice of soulful and dreamy jazz. It’s very much atypical of the Yacht Rock genre and is a welcome addition to Too Slow To Disco Volume 3.

Prior to forming The Jeremy Spencer Band, its founder Jeremy Spencer had been a member of several groups, including Fleetwood Mac. However, in 1979,  The Jeremy Spencer Band  released their debut album Flee, on Atlantic Records, in 1976. When it came to released the debut single, Cool Breeze was chosen. It sounds as if it’s been influenced by Fleetwood Mac, and is a memorable and melodic song that brings back memories of the heyday of the West Coast Sound.

Stars ’N’ Bars were a short-lived band that released just two singles between 1981 and 1982. Their debut was Stars and Bars which was released in 1981 on the Moonshine label. It’s a fusion of jazz-funk and proto-boogie and pop that obviously was made with the dance-floor in mind. 

Closing Too Slow To Disco Volume 3 is Billy Mernit’s Special Delivery. This was the title-track to Billy Mernit’s 1973 album on Elektra Special Delivery was also released the lead single from the album. It’s a quite beautiful, heartfelt ballad that showcased a talented singer, songwriter and musician and is a reminder of the West Coast Sound in its prime. What better way to close Too Slow To Disco Volume 3.

After a two-year absence, the Too Slow To Disco series makes a welcome return with Too Slow To Disco Volume 3. It features old friends, new names and a few surprises from music’s past. Classics rub shoulders with hidden gems and rarities sit on what’s without doubt the most eclectic compilation in the Too Slow To Disco series. 

While all the tracks showcase the West Coast Sound, the ingredients in each track is different. The eighteen songs contain elements of disparate musical ranging from contemporary to jazz to funk, jazz and jazz-funk through to disco, pop, proto-boogie and rock. However, when they’re combined, they create tracks that transport the listener back to the heyday of the West Coast Sound.

As has often been the case with previous instalments in the Too Slow To Disco series, compiler DJ Supermarkt often eschews the familiar. While there’s a number of singles on Too Slow To Disco Volume 3, there’s also B-Sides and long forgotten album tracks. Sadly, not many people will remember many of these tracks. Instead, they’re  remembered by connoisseurs of the  West Coast Sound, or as it’s now known Yacht Rock or Vanilla Funk.

It seems that nothing is safe from a rebranding exercise nowadays. While many purists will find this unpalatable, the main thing is that at last, the West Coast Sound is back on the comeback trail. There’s a huge body of music awaiting discovery, and compilations like Too Slow To Disco Volume 3 are the perfect introduction to that music. 

For a newcomer, the three volumes in the Too Slow To Disco series, plus The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco is a perfect starting place. Songs on these compilations are the start of a voyage of discovery through the music of the late-sixties through to the early eighties.  That is the case on Too Slow To Disco Volume 3.

On Too Slow To Disco Volume 3 DJ Supermarkt dig deeper than other compiler in the search for rarities and hidden gems. He strikes musical gold on a number of occasions, and they join tracks from familiar faces and new names. These tracks slick, full of clever hooks, melodic and memorable. In a way, it’s no surprise that nearly forty years after the heyday of the West Coast sound, the music is just as popular as ever. It’s just a shame that it’s taken so long for all this wonderful music to fall back into fashion. 

No longer is Yacht Rock a guilty pleasure enjoyed by discerning record buyers. Instead, record buyers everywhere are jumping onboard the yacht and enjoying the party. However, the music on Too Slow To Disco Volume 3 aren’t dance tracks. They’re Too Slow To Disco, and are best described as mood music. It’s what the beautiful people listened to in the seventies. That comes as no surprise, as much of the music oozes quality. It’s mellow and laid back with the lush harmonies, swathes of strings and clever chord progressions part of well written and carefully crafted songs. They play their part in the West Coast sound’s slick, hook-laden and timeless sound.  A reminder of this can be found on Too Slow To Disco Volume 3, which like previous instalments in the series, epitomises everything that’s good about the Yacht Rock.

Too Slow To Disco Volume 3.

 

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