THE LADIES OF TOO SLOW TO DISCO VOLUME 2.

The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2.

Label: How Do You Are?

Ever since the birth of rock ’n’ roll, musical genres have fallen in-and-out of fashion, and what’s popular today can be consigned to the dustbin of musical history tomorrow as tastes change. That happened to everything from psychedelia and progressive rock to disco which suddenly sucked, to the West Coast sound. However, many of these genres made a comeback, just like flares, fishtail parkas and in some places, double denim and desert boots.

Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence in interest in the West Coast sound which 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 was 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.

Then around 2014, there was a resurgence in interest in the West Coast sound, and several compilations were released. However, the West Coast sound had been rebranded and was being referred to as Yacht Rock or Vanilla Funk. Nothing it seems is sacred. At least compilers were rediscovering the West Coast sound. This included DJ Supermarkt and the good people at the How Do You Are? label.

They released a new compilation in May 2014, Too Slow To Disco. It was so successful that Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 followed in June 2014. Then there was a new addition to the series when The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco followed in April 2016. The new addition was a welcome addition to the Too Slow To Disco family, and it was hoped that a followup would soon be released.

Four years later and somewhat belatedly, The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 has just been released by How Do You Are. It features sixteen tracks from the likes of Terea,  Diane Tell,  Karla Bonoff, Martee Lebous, Kristle Murden,  Janis Siegel, Ullanda McCullough, Nicolette Larson, Elkie Brooks and Holly Near. These tracks tell a much more political story as the latest Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco make their way in a music industry what was still  predominantly a man’s world.

Despite that, many talented singer-songwriters emerged during late-sixties and seventies, and some enjoyed commercial success and critical acclaim. Some of the artists on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 were signed to majors, while others were signed to smaller indie labels. Meanwhile, Holly Near and Linda Tillery setup their own labels to release their albums. Just like all the artists on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 they were part of the Women’s Music movement and were determined to make their way in what was still a man’s worlds. They played their part in bringing about change and four decades later their music is celebrated and features on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2.

Opening The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 is Terea, who will be  familiar face for fans of Leonard Cohen, Sharon Robinson. She had two spells as one of his backing singers and also cowrote, arranged and produced the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter. However, in 1977 Terea released her eponymous debut album Pretty Bird on the Baby Grand label. It was different to most labels.

The albums that labels like Baby Grand released weren’t meant to make a profit. Instead they allowed wealthy investors who set up the company to realise a tax credit in excess of their initial investment. That was as long as the album didn’t make a profit. One way to ensure that didn’t happen was only to press a few copies of the album.

That was why when Terea was released the album sank without trace, and record buyers failed to hear songs of the quality of Pretty Bird. It was written by Sharon Robinson and was produced by Dennis Dreith and John Seiter. Their jazz-tinged arrangement provides the perfect backdrop for Terea’s impassioned vocal as encourages the “Pretty Bird fly to your freedom now.”  It’s a beautiful song and sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

Marti Caine was a British light entertainer who was popular during the seventies and eighties.  Away from acting and comedy, she released five albums. This included  Point of View, which was released in 1981 on BBC Records and failed to find an audience. Part of the problem was an ineffective promotional campaign. That was a great shame as the album featured the sensuous groover meant that music fans  Love The Way You Love Me.

Award-winning singer-songwriter Diane Tell’s career began in the-seventies, and in 1982 she released her Chimères on Polydor. It’s an album of the smoothest AOR and features Mon Amie-E, where the chanteuse from Quebec City delivers a heartfelt and emotive vocal.

In 1977, twenty-five year old Karla Bonoff released her eponymous debut album on Columbia. By then, she had been a songwriter since she was fifteen, and wrote eight of the ten songs on her debut including the ruminative ballad Isn’t It Always Love. When Linda Ronstadt heard the album, she decided to cover three of the songs. This was a huge boost forKarla Bonoff’s career and she went on to write songs for some of the biggest names in music and has enjoyed a successful career.

Another successful songwriter is Chicago-born Frannie Goldie, who contributes  Here I Go Fallin‘ In Love Again to the compilation. It’s taken from the album Frannie which was released on the Portrait label in 1979. From the opening bars of this soulful and funk track Frannie delivers a sultry vocal as she sings of the inevitability of falling in love again. She’s accompanied by a carefully crafted arrangement where tender harmonies, sweeping strings and a stunning saxophone solo play their part in the sound and success of what’s the best track on the compilation.

In 1974, Lonette McKee released her debut album Lonette on Sussex Records. It features The Way I Want To Touch You, which was written by Toni Tennille. The album was produced by Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore. They’re responsible for a carefully crafted and slick arrangement that is dancefloor friendly, funky and jazz-tinged. This is the perfect backdrop a Lonette McKee’s lovestruck vocal which is the perfect introduction to a truly talented vocalist whose music deserves to be heard by a much wider audience.

Ullanda McCullough’s career began when she was thirteen,  and by the early seventies she was singing on jingles. She graduated to signing backing vocals for everyone from Ashford and Simpson, Carly Simon, Chic, Diana Ross and Luther Vandross. Still,  Ullanda McCullough found time to record three solo albums including her 1981 eponymous album. It features I’ll Just Die where pop, funk and soul combine with disco strings to create a hidden gem of a dance track. 

Nicolette Larson’s contribution to the compilation is a plucky and feisty country soul cover of Marvin Gaye’s Baby, Don’t You Do It. It’s taken from her 1978 album Nicolette, which was her finest hour and also features her best known song Lotta Love.

By 1978, disco was at the peak of its popularity, former Vinegar Joe vocalist Elkie Brooks was signed to A&M Records. A decision was made that she should record an album of disco and soul and she was recorded Live and Learn with an all-star band at the Record Plant, in Los Angeles. One of the highlights of the album was The Rising Cost Of Love where for one night only, Elkie Brooks transformed into a strutting disco diva.

Closing The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 is Holly Near’s Back Off. This is one of her own compositions from her 1982 album Speed Of Light. Above a slow, smouldering groove where elements of funk, jazz and rock combine, sits a vocal which veers between tender and sassy. It ensures that the compilation ends on a high.

That was only part of the story of The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Although I’ve only mentioned eleven of the nineteen track I could’ve picked any of them. That’s how good The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 is. It’s all killer and no filler thanks to  compiler DJ Supermark’s crate-digging skills. He has  dug deep to find the music on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 is.

Singles, album tracks hidden gems and rarities sit side-by-side on The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2. There’s contributions from familiar faces, old friends and new names on this lovingly curated compilation. 

Instead, many are album tracks. This makes a pleasant change. Usually, compilers look no further than singles. However, that isn’t DJ Supermarkt’s modus operandi. Instead, he eschews the obvious for long forgotten album tracks which most people nether know nor remember. They’ll only be remembered by diehard fans. However, that is about to change as a a new generation of music lovers discover the delights of these tracks. The same can be said of the West Coast sound.

The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 is the latest addition to the series, and the perfect introduction to the West Coast sound. Hopefully The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2 will the start of a voyage of discovery, where newcomers will discovers the delights of the West Coast sound, with its clever chord progressions, lush harmonies and slick, hook-laden sound.

The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco Volume 2.

2 Comments

  1. Someone gave me this CD. I haven’t got around to listening to it properly.

    • You’ll enjoy it, there’s some great tracks on it. I’ve got all the Too Slow To Disco releases and it’s a great series.

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